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Ask HN: passing the torch on userscripts.org
71 points by anotherjesse on Aug 4, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments
I'm unable to find the time/energy to give to userscripts.org lately. My startup is currently focused on building Nebula & Nova, and I cannot see finding time to devote to the site I spent 5 years building/running.

The site has been in "maintenance mode" since starting Nebula, but it deserves more.

The site is still very active (Google Analytics for last month): * 2,474,330 Visits * 9,532,743 Pageviews

The site is quantified: http://www.quantcast.com/userscripts.org

But it needs someone who can do the right thing for the community.

There will be technical issues scaling (rails 2.3, postgres, git). Legal issues (dealing with DMCA takedown notices/people who don't like scripts that "fix" their site). Community issues (the site lacks a nice directory and community aspects).

Companies or individuals are welcome but I need to know your intentions with the site going forward :)

Private inquiries to anotherjesse (at) gmail.com

seriously? It's a massively popular resource. The number 1 destination for greasemonkey users. There's real value there. I am a little shocked that you're ready to turn it over to someone else.

Obviously I know nothing about you or your situation - your startup may well be the next big thing. It just seems to me that you've got a big thing in userscripts.org already.

"I am a little shocked that you're ready to turn it over to someone else."

I am very conflicted about it. I have spent thousands of hours developing and operating it - but I don't even have time to sleep right now with the work going into Nebula/Nova.

I don't want to turn it over to someone who would destroy the community. Any transition would require them understanding the community and a solid plan for how to improve it.

could you not retain control and attempt to hire someone to do the legwork on it? i have a feeling that the community would rather put up with something like adsense, a sponsored ad, or donation requests in order to help fund the community if the alternative is pushing ownership onto someone who might wreck the place.

Woah. I am totally going to be contacting you about this. (For those who don't recognize the name, I'm the guy who runs the distribution system for software and other hacks on jailbroken iPhones, Cydia.) I have absolutely no fear of DMCA issues regarding this and believe strongly in post-facto program modification, and already manage a large community surrounding this. I even spend a lot of time dealing with system and site scaling (we get a lot more traffic than that in Cydia). Expect an e-mail from me shortly! ;P

OMG I love you and I didn't even know it. Congrats on Nebula's and UserScripts' success. You have made my internets much more enjoyable.

FWIW I'm with user24: life is long and you'll have many years to regret the sale/dispensing of UserScripts if you ask me. It's very hard to acquire a user base like you have.

The technologist in me loved being able to write and deploy software accessed by over a hundred of thousands users a day.

I've learned so much about running a (relatively) large website from userscripts.

I used to have time to watch munin, new relic, ... every day - it has been a month since I've checked http://munin.userscripts.org :(

I don't really want to get rid of it, but my life is too hectic to give it the time it needs. The site went down for half a day last week due to a DMCA takedown request that occurred while I was traveling for work. It needs someone who can pay attention.

Maybe I can find a product / hacker / designer who can run it with me - but I don't want to make myself the bottleneck, so if someone comes around who can do a better job, I should probably step down :(

Maybe this is the wrong place to ask but doesn't the site make enough money that you could hire someone? I see you have "sponsors".

How much time on a weekly basis do you estimate would be required to maintain the status quo?

the "sponsors" is buysellads.com - which brings in ~400 a month. That said it used to make $100+ a day on adsense but I didn't like the ads. (funnily after I removed adsense google offered their custom packages/...)

I'm purposely minimizing revenue since:

1) if the site made money those who don't like what greasemonkey does might seek damages for the money 2) it sends the wrong message to the community if I'm just making money and not giving it the attention it needs

Before Nebula I had planned to work on userscripts and make it pay for itself and my time. I tried to spend some time on it each day, but working on Nebula is really 2 jobs - working for NASA (the client) and working on my company (ansolabs) - and I rarely get any time for the company, let alone my non-nebula open source work.

Status quo would take an hour or so once I have procedures in place for how to deal with DMCA issues. But I think it needs a lot of community features (moderation, groups, directories of good scripts, ...)

Thanks for taking the time to answer so thoroughly. I wish I had the time to play with it or could offer my time to help but, like you, I am busy with my company. If you think I can help in any way, feel free to email me (email in profile).

Best of luck and keep us posted!

"Maybe I can find a product / hacker / designer who can run it with me" - This seems like an excellent idea.. you've obviously got a lot invested in the site, and ideas about where it ought to go.

You should deploy to heroku and not worry about munin, new relic, etc. Let someone else sysadmin.

For DMCA takedown requests, establish a process that allows the company to remove the script (a lot like youtube) without taking down the whole site.

I'd gladly work on any number of these types of issues.

Freedom to customize an interface and add features that are missing is something I feel quite passionately about. The web is suppose to be about freedom and setting people free from being forced to use repeatedly anything that feels unsatisfactory. With user-scripting one is no longer a slave to the interface that's presented. Anything that is so insecure or incomplete in and of itself deserves to be exposed, and the person who does so deserves credit. If anything scripting only serves the greater good, that anyone would get angry about their own site's problems and try to force a take-down as if they can't control their own server is truly unacceptable from any of the parties that would enforce this policy of fighting those that are informing them.

Working with rails would be great. I've got some postgress and scaling experience.

Hopefully you can post the results of your sale here and anything you learn along the way...good luck!

For a point of reference, I just remembered a similar, but much smaller site called Snipplr recently sold at auction; you can see the results here:


I definitely think you should consider re-opensourcing the site. I'd learn ruby just so I could help improve it and I'm sure there are many others who use the site that would also like to help. You or someone you found would still need to run the admin side and deploy updates, but I think it would help lighten the load.

This being pretty much the setup I help maintain at MashLogic today, and while I would join erikvold and sizzlemctwizzle in supporting and maintaining (mainly the technical side of) the site, I think you're right in passing on the torch to someone with a bit of a passion for the field, and maintaining the (a fair bit less pleasant) legal angle on it.

I feel the same way.

That's really said news. I was very active in the beginning, but I too have moved on. It's that I haven't learned any rails (yet), otherwise I'm interested. Maybe you can make it more an community afford, opening the site up for multiple active people.

Nebula looks awesome. I say this as someone who has a slice of what it is like inside a government IT department. Is Nebula going to expand outside of NASA as well?

We already host usaspending.gov and a few other sites for non-NASA users - but our focus is on NASA scientists, researchers and engineers.

That said our work is open source, so others inside and out of government can adopt our work. For instance Rackspace has started OpenStack and it adopted Nova (our python powered compute framework).

You should enter the RedGate challenge. It isn't 100% up their alley, but if your user-base is primarily IT and Devs, it might be.

Heh, I still remember the first notice (not DMCA, just German law) that made me drop the domain :)

Good luck!

URL for nova/nebula?

userscripts.org now doesn't work at all

you either get %00 internal server error or please wait message

userscripts.org has now stopped working

either get 500 internal server error, or please wait message

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