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New RISC OS news site opens

By Chris Williams. Published: 1st Jan 2004, 17:41:36 | Permalink | Printable

Bring it on, AcornEvolution

AcornEvolution tagline: News and viewsAllow us to let you in on a little secret. Do you know what RISC OS is lacking the most right now? News websites. Wouldn't it be great if, say, news of events and announcements concerning our platform was reported freely and independently online? Whoever could pull off such a thing off would certainly be onto a winner, mark our words. But before you get your hopes up and your head filled with dreams of being the next Mark Moxon or Rebekah Wade of the RISC OS media, Gavin Smith has beaten us to it.

AcornEvolution, edited and run by Gavin, was launched today with the fresh aim of providing coverage of "RISC OS news in a comprehensive, accurate and timely manner", with opinion articles to boot. In fact, Gavin's already penned an editorial on a subject that's guaranteed to always draw attention: the Acorn brand name and why the platform should stick to it. Our view, by the way, is real simple - the nut's dead, get over it.

Seriously though, we know Gavin's willing to make a real attempt at running the site, seeing as he did surprise us a few weeks ago by consulting us on how to run a news site, and so we're looking forward to seeing how this new rival site develops. Admittedly, using a PHP based forum as your CMS is novel but we're sure Gav and his merry band of writers have got it all planned.

God, yet another portal, you cry? The AcornEvolution site FAQ actually does a good job in justifying why you should read the site. This bit here had us ultimately convinced, with a little blushing:

"Drobe is the only [RISC OS news site], however, that features good, comprehensive news articles, and they do it regularly. None of the others do that. Drobe do a great job and I sincerely urge you to check it out (as I'm sure you already do), but at the same time they have gone unchallenged in recent times - in essence, there has been no alternative voice."

In other words, as Gav told us privately, "I mean to give you a run for your money in terms of news reporting". Accusing us, dear reader, us of being a media monopoly, Gavin added in his announcement that, "there will be an emphasis on serious investigative journalism".

"We'll try our best to offer the full story in a fair but rigorous manner - do allow us a few weeks to settle in before judging us though", Gavin continued.

Flailing egos aside, the whole point anyway of running a news site is to be of some positive use to end users. It's essential to get information and informed opinion out to punters, to pressure companies when they've crossed the line and to highlight good work done in the platform. Also, news and information sites help in the battle to get RISC OS noticed outside our cosy little bubble - Acorn had the right idea when they tried getting as many Clan users online as possible with webpages and so on, in order to generate the most noise.

If AcornEvolution is willing and able to contribute in such a way to the RISC OS scene, then welcome aboard.


AcornEvolution website

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All the best to the dude, but the look and feel of the site lacks a little, erm, originality to say the least.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 1/1/04 5:48PM
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It's just the start, our logo wasn't finished in time (due to me not requesting it early enough probably) but it'll be with us shortly hopefully. It'll evolve (no pun intended) over time into some more attractive :)

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 1/1/04 5:50PM
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Nice idea, but you really need to cut the phpBB and limit it to the forums. A nice custom script like TIB or Drobe would be a good idea for the front page.

phpBB bores me with its bland look.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 1/1/04 6:11PM
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Andrew Duffell: Surely you mean that *the default phpBB look bores you* rather than just phpBB..

Personally, I think I'll reserve my judgement on the site until It's been going long enough to actually make a judgement on it.

That aside, well done Gavin, good luck with it.


 is a RISC OS Userandypoole on 1/1/04 6:38PM
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poolie: I am yet to see a phpBB theme that doesn't give the bland effect. I'm not just talking about the colours, but the layout of phpBB.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 1/1/04 6:48PM
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Good luck with it and I hope it does well.

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 1/1/04 7:04PM
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Andrew Duffell: First things first, don't call me Poolie.

Secondly, I thought that phpBB was customisable.. saying that though, I haven't used it for a long while so could be wrong. But surely you could hack the code ;-)


 is a RISC OS Userandypoole on 1/1/04 9:15PM
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It's very customisable and there are loads of mods available for it - I think personally think phpBB is great although the site certainly needs its own look and feel.

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 1/1/04 9:29PM
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The one really annoying things about phpBB are that:

(a) it sends you cookies when you visit the site, even if you're not logged in, which I get a little paranoid about, and (b) sometimes you get links looking like "portal.php?sid=910157ea9f3b53bf5a0ec4a526862429", which look awful, aren't readable, and fill up my address bar with rubbish.

I'd question your use of phpBB, though, since it's forum software, not news site software, but it seems to work, so I'll let you off ;)

 is a RISC OS Usertakkaria on 1/1/04 9:51PM
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Rather than starting /another/ news site, if Gavin really wants something that's alternative to Drobe, wouldn't it be better to be an Iconbar editor ?

There was a time, in the very dim past now it seems, that drobe was just a portal - a gateway to sites - and was utterly irrelevant to most users (that's what hotlists are for, after all). Iconbar was The Place to check for your news, having apparently overtaken Cybervillage for relevance and regularity of updates a year or so earlier. Over the years Drobe has expanded quite massively through

Recently, it seems that Iconbar's news focus has slowed to a near standstill, providing brief "this is the stuff that's happened whilst we weren't reporting things" news, and (I'm told) instead providing websites for others (*.iconbar.com) and various forums. Similarly, Iconbar's recent outages are bothersome (that little red 'x' pops up far too often for the large site it is).

Whether you see that Drobe fills the gap left by Iconbar, or Drobe has allowed the Iconbar team to be feel there's nothing else to say is something I can't comment on ('cos I don't have an opinion either way), but Iconbar updates have been so slow that I've been tempted on occasion to remove them from the RSS monitor completely.

So anyhow... a new news site which will, I expect, vanish into obscurity in a few months. But I'll watch with interest. Or would if it had an RSS feed.

On a semantic issue... can you /have/ an FAQ on a site that's just been launched ?

 is a RISC OS UserGerph on 1/1/04 10:20PM
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gerph: FAQ? I asked myself the same question when I launched riscos.info, but the questions weren't really about the site per se, and I figured it was an idoim in any case.

I'm not too concerned about AE at this point, however, I really think the time has come for MyRISCOS, Cybervillage news and riscos.org. Both severly lack behind even TIB's sometimes meagre updates, and the former's promised updates have failed to surface. I would really like to see the people behind these sites devote their enegies elsewhere when they do find time to do news.

Six sites for such a small minority platform is just _way_ too many.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 1/1/04 10:54PM
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"Both" = "all three". There's so many now it's hard to keep track of them :-|

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 1/1/04 10:56PM
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What on earth is the point of all these bloody portals? It's a lame excuse for nobody writing any RISC OS code any more I think.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 1/1/04 11:03PM
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People keep pointing out how many news sites there are but if they aren't being updated, they are no use, so in my eyes, there *aren't* a whole load of them. There's Drobe, and that's it. It's a free world, if you don't like it, don't read it.

As for it being a lame excuse for not writing RISC OS code, I am writing code, and I'm working on some hardware items being released soon too, so I don't much like the insinuation.

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 1/1/04 11:21PM
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since, "nobody writing any RISC OS code any more," is complete rubbish, people don't need any "lame excuse"s. Your persuasive argument skills are obviously not in use, how about what I presume you really mean, "All this making excessive portals is distracting people from what RISC OS really need which is more coding effort."

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 1/1/04 11:46PM
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I agree with Gavin; as a TIB editor I'll freely admit that it's only Drobe that provides a *real* news service at the moment; excessive portals talk is really misrepresenting the situation, when there is really only one which is of much use and that much time is spent on.

Good luck to Gavin, anyway. Any alternate voice is good, even though 99% of the time I agree with Drobe's take on things.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 2/1/04 2:47AM
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To be frank, Drobe do such a good job these days reporting the news that there's little incentive for the smaller news sites to keep up to date. Even if Drobe doesn't get their first, the format means it can win on depth. Most software updates or user group happenings aren't the sort of news items you can look at from a different angle, so once it's reported it becomes stale news anywhere else. Nobody's interested in re-reading boring old news items.

To maintain visitors, each site needs a particular niche - and TIB is guilty for not repositioning itself after Drobe stole all the news. So: Drobe for news, TIB for forums and hosting (and the odd news/opinion piece when Drobe oversteps the mark), riscos.org for links? Perhaps.

Drobe is always banging on about its competition (or lack thereof) - but personally I don't care about that: reporting news isn't some ego thing for me; sadly I'm not often in a position to write a news item when the news comes along. Chris obviously has a keen interest and talent for journalism (I notice he's also involved with his student paper), and as a student he has the flexibility and opportunity to pursue this. It's good to see Gavin with a similar enthusiasm; I hope he manages to keep up the pace. Perhaps it would have been wiser to bolster an existing site, since apart from writing all the content, there's the design and upkeep to consider too.

Having said all that, I'm tapping away a few articles for TIB right now. It must be Christmas!

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 2/1/04 2:55AM
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Spot the deliberate mistake: "Drobe doesn't get /there/ first." I speak English proper, I do.

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 2/1/04 2:58AM
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moss: Given that you've not given any reasoning, I fail to see how talking about too many portals is "misrepresenting the situation". The fact of the matter is that there _are_ 6 RISC OS portals, all which proclaim to have news. Just because drobe is the most popular one doesn't make the others magically vanish.

Indeed, with the concern about exposure to RISC OS or "Acorn" as the topic of AE's first article, what you should be worrying about is precisely these portals - new or potentially new users have no idea which portals are most appropriate, and looking at "news" on most of them would _indeed_ be misrepresentative of RISC OS news situation.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 2/1/04 9:28AM
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I do think TIB should realign itself as a Forum site (and Drobe, in turn, drop its general forums). I think MyRISCOS.org should give up, I don't see the point, and RISCOS.org is a fantastic site but the news section lets it down. Acorn Cybervillage should be the scene's Sales/Wants board.

It's a big wide Internet, and there are plenty of sites that are left not updated. It doesn't mean that other people can't come along to fill the gap. I think there is room for 2 regularly updated news sites.

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 2/1/04 2:08PM
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I think....

Drobe should continues as it is posting lots of relevent news and keeping the forums more as a low key part of the site.

Iconbar should keep the everything the same except get more enthusiastic people to post news regularly. There are people who have offered, but just get ignored.

I can't comment much on AcornEvolution atm because of the short existance.

riscos.net should stop hogging the domain. Waste of space.

MYRISCOS should post more news in depth with less articles (last time I looked) consisting of User group stuff.

Cybervillage is before my time, so I've only looked there once.

riscos.org should remain as it is. A useful site for people new to the OS

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 2/1/04 2:20PM
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AD: you seem to have missed some of the earlier commentary.

If you want to know about Cybervillage, then how about the novel approach of taking a look? In short, its news section has very little. riscos.org's is much the same. Both are of no benefit to anyone, and arguablly doing damage. This has nothing to do with their other content, which was never in question.

I can't really see MyRISCOS being a whole lot different - what makes you think their maintainers have time or enthusiasm or motivation to update in this way? I suggest that they do not.

As for TIB's forums - has anyone taken a close look as its content? Most of the posts are by a core 10-20 posters, and the large majority of them have nothing to do with RISC OS. It's hard to argue it's an important resource, no matter how much the regulars like posting to it.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 2/1/04 2:34PM
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Drobe comment filtering strikes again, I fear. The asterisked words are 'of' and 'taking'

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 2/1/04 2:37PM
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Chocky: OK: I'll rephrase my comment. There aren't enough RISC OS portals that update properly. (As in: there is one.) If a new one comes along that *will*, then I think that's brilliant. As for the other portals: I'm never convinced that it matters if there are portals out there that never update much. Let them do what they want. There are a huge amount of moribund Red Dwarf sites out there; I'm not worried that they never update. I'd welcome a few new RD sites that *did* update, though; just in the same way that I'd welcome another RISC OS portal that updated.

I'd actually be more worried if all six or whatever RISC OS portals *did* update reguarly (with more than a link, or a couple of lines of news) and they all said the same thing - now *that* would be a waste of effort.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 2/1/04 3:01PM
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RISC OS isn't RD, and with respect, RD is essentially static, so please don't try and draw parallels with it, since they aren't really relevant.

We're trying to attract new users here, and you haven't addressed my point about having stale content. Yes, sites are more than welcome to "do what they want", but I think it's valid to object when they claim to be news sites, and doing what they want happens to be nothing.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 2/1/04 3:12PM
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RD certainly isn't static. A new movie coming, new DVD releases, new merchandise being released. Of course it's relevant. It's also something that was once very popular and now is far less so, of course.

As for the stale content argument, I suppose I can see that point; I suppose I just see it as part of just what happens on the net. Either way, we're probably getting off the point - a new site that does update properly is a good thing. Let's hope it happens.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 2/1/04 4:51PM
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Sorry moss, you're letting your RD obession get in the way. It has nothing to RISC OS - it is a completely different topic, in the same way we object to pointless car analogies. It is _not_ relevant - and as for the "static" comment, I believe you know full well what I meant.

So yes, the above is off topic, but stale content is very much the same topic - and a facet of the quite valid objection to having yet another RISC OS portal. The people maintaining the said sites are still active in RISC OS scene, and able to do something about it, so dismissing it as "something that happens on the net" is a bit weak.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 2/1/04 5:10PM
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I'd hardly call it an obsession. And I do think it's relevant - we're really talking about websites here, not specifically about RISC OS and (apart from my comment about once being very popular), that's what I'm drawing the parallels with. And I genuinely don't know what your static comment refers to, so enlighten me.

I'll concede on one point, though: The other RISC OS news sites should do something; reposition themselves in some way mind you, not duplicate content. I still don't have a problem with a new one starting up though, if it's going to provide something worthwhile. I think that's a very good thing; that's all I'm really trying to say, albiet clumsily.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 2/1/04 5:27PM
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Chill folks... No need to argue over this.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 2/1/04 5:31PM
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It appears that the 1% of Drobe I don't agree with is Chocky's posts ;)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 2/1/04 5:34PM
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moss: at which point did I move away to talking about websites in general? I didn't. My points are _specifically_ about RISC OS news websites. If you want to talk about RD or any other generalities about websites being updated, then you're talking about a completely different topic of your own devising.

In short, there is a serious issue here about them not being updated, which was the only point I made, and which you finally seem to have agreed with, and for which I thank you ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 02/01/04 5:42PM
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Could one portal merge the RSS feeds of itself and the others into a latest news RSS channel providing links to all the stories less than a week old?

The other sites could use this to autocreate a latest news section, meaning they would always be useful and look current to visitors even if not manually updated for a while. (and it would look better to potential new RO users if they stumble across it.)

If a simple html page was also created by the site than merged the feeds, then static sites (ie not primarily RO, but with an RO section) could either link to it or put it into a frame providing even more exposure for RO.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 2/1/04 6:23PM
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Can I just say that I watched Red Dwarf for the first time in ages last night? It was rather funny, despite being one of the episodes I always end up seeing. There must be loads of the earlier ones that I've missed. The most surprising thing was discovering the Gnelf was played by Ainsley Harriot.

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 02/01/04 6:34PM
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I still don't quite see why the comparison with Dwarf sites isn't relevant, though (nor do I understand the static comment). Whether it's RISC OS or Dwarf, a discussion about out-of-date sites is relevant to any subject. I kind of agree that sites should be updated; but I just can't find it in me to worry about those that are not, is my position. Just making sure that decent information is out there is the main priority; which we both do, of course.

Anyway, this is getting silly, so have your say and then we'll forget about it :)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 02/01/04 7:03PM
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I'm interested to know how much RISC OS news RD sites cover. As I pointed out earlier, it's much like the pointless car analogies, which invariably fall over.

If you're going to change the subject to the generic issue of website updates (which has _nothing_ to do with what I'm talking about), then obfuscating the issue by bringing up an unrelated type of website will help no one and only confuse matters.

If you have something valid to say about RO news sites, then please do, and stick to the topic.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 02/01/04 7:26PM
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Go on Moss, put a RISC OS news item on G&T... ;)

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 02/01/04 8:01PM
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monkey: need something else to obsess over ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 02/01/04 8:05PM
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Man, what *is* your obsession with my apparent obsessions? I'm not obsessive about anything!

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 02/01/04 10:20PM
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In response to Jess about an RSS site merging the news from others...

If you're bored, look at the Moreover science news aggregators. They produce the top 15 stories on particular topics, every 15 minutes (for free - if you want more, you have to pay). Now, set your RSS reader up to fetch these every 15 minutes. What you'll see is that 'real' stories are buried because every bloody news site under the sun is regurgitating the same story again and again, usually word for word from a press release or Associated Press article (or press conference, or space.com, or whatever happens to be the predominant source for that subject area).

After the 8th article with exactly the same summary and (when viewed) identical content, you begin to wonder why you're bothering with automatic syndication. Sometimes it works. For 'important' events such as the Columbia disaster, or 9/11 the articles are usually varied because people want to make themselves read, but for small stories - Beagle 2 is a good example - you just get the same thing thrown back at you.

Within such a small subject area as RISC OS there's only so much you can say. And it's very obvious from Iconbar's RSS feed that you might as well just ignore them and make sure you read Drobe and csa.announce irregularly. Whilst RSS is intended for syndication, it's a whole lot easier to manage it yourself than to have someone else determine the stories and the relevance.

Remember, it's not just 'news' sites that produce RSS feeds. There are RSS feeds for projects (q.v. SourceForce) and other sources of RSS that are important (to some) but not to others.

 is a RISC OS UserGerph on 03/01/04 00:05AM
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"And it's very obvious from Iconbar's RSS feed you might as well just ignore them and make sure you read Drobe and csa.announce irregularly"

Gerph providing some much needed motivation, there. Thanks.

I'll just forget my new year's resolution and give up now, shall I?


 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 03/01/04 01:34AM
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gerph: I take your point, but if the situation were that all the portals were covering the same stories, we wouldn't be having a discussion about portals not being updated. In the *current* situation Drobe would dominate obviously, but the other portals do occasionally cover something first. I would think it would have the potential to avoid duplication of effort.

I am thinking more of presenting the most positive image possible to potential risc os users, than just convenience for existing ro users.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 03/01/04 03:07AM
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I think the 'discussion' is in danger of drifting away from the point.

Talking about who's first with stuff is a red herring since quite often c.s.a.announce is first. What is important about places like Drobe is that they aren't just somewhere to distribute bare news, but they have editors, articles, opinions, biases, etc. This is what makes them interesting. They don't just say what the news *is*, they wrap it in an article and discuss it, and then (quite often) we all jopin in.

Now *provided* a site is kept up to date with a stream of new articles, the more the merrier. Just one main portal for RISC OS would be unhealthy, in the same way that just one newspaper would be unhealthy. Does anyone here think the world would be a better place if all newspapers were owned by Rupert Murdoch?

I certainly agree that if a site is not kept up to date it would be better if it were not there, and *perhaps*, as has been suggested, it might have been better if the effort being put into the new site were directed at imporving Icon Bar. However, it might also be that the arrival of something new will encourage more people to submit articles to it, so it could grow into something worthwhile.

We'll just have to wait and see.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 03/01/04 1:18PM
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Comparing Chris Williams to Rupert Murdoch, there. :P

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 03/01/04 1:59PM
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I've said before, elsewhere, that I did think about asking if Icon Bar if they wanted me to contribute, but after some consideration I felt that there were just too many things I'd like to change about IB. I don't mean that to be insulting, but things like the categories sections are being left barren and should be removed but I was told they wouldn't be. It seemed easier to start from scratch.

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 03/01/04 2:16PM
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I also meant to add that I agree with Drobe's view that news reporting shouldn't just be about who can get the news up as quickly as possible. Whilst I'll make every effort to keep the news bang up to date, I'll happily wait half an hour if I can squeeze a better article out of it by getting in touch with the relevant parties for more info.

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 03/01/04 2:19PM
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As long as SparkY can sustain it then I'm all for another 'take' on the news. I think the name is fine - Acorn is where all of this came from and I don't see any point in trying to distance ourselves from it.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 03/01/04 2:23PM
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I think TIB and Drobe are sufficiently different for them not to be in direct competition. The style of Drobes layout allows for much more indepth view of each article/review, whereas TIB layout is suited better to brief news items on each thing.

Different people like different styles. All TIB really needs is more dedicated news updaters (for starters anyway).


 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 04/01/04 10:02PM
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[Posting only in order to be fair]

TIB's RSS feed has popped up a few little articles in the time since I posted my comments. Whilst it's true that there were times last year where I was expecting to go a whole month without hearing anything from IconBar, maybe this year will show a turn around. That said, ISTR that there was a similar situation at the beginning of last year.

Regardless, Drobe and Iconbar are still in the list, and maybe I'd add AcornEvolution if it had such a feed as well.

 is a RISC OS UserGerph on 04/01/04 11:33PM
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Go on, moss, put a RD article on TIB ;)

 is a RISC OS UserMENTAT on 05/01/04 12:49AM
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