Xaquseg 714 followers

Xaquseg is the system administrator for FIMFiction, as well as various misc. development, especially related to security. Non-technical problems are probably best asked to other staff members.

News Archive

  • 201 weeks
    Downtime & Server Move

    Hi all. Firstly, apologies for the extended period of unexpected downtime. Obviously any kind of downtime is non ideal, but unexpected is more annoying all around.

    On Friday morning (GMT) we experienced a hardware failure on our database server. To our knowledge there is no data loss of any kind. We have fairly regular backups hosted off-site, regardless. The exact cause isn't entirely clear at this time, but instead of wrestling with trying to get the hardware sorted (it was a dedicated server) we decided that this was a good opportunity to make a server move we've been planning for a long time over to Digital Ocean.

    Read More

    236 comments · 15,375 views
  • 278 weeks
    BBCode updates

    Performance improvements

    Over the last few days I've been working on improving the performance of the BBCode parser. I've managed to implement a few major optimizations, reducing the run time in common cases to around 1/4th to 1/20th compared to the older version. This has reduced total server-side render times on some of the more complicated test pages I've been using to around 50ms–70ms, which should be a noticeable improvement.

    New features


    Read More

    49 comments · 4,893 views
  • 300 weeks
    Recent Changelog

    We've done various unannounced changes of the past few weeks so I thought I'd group up the things we've done so you guys know what's changed.

    • Added account linking page for Patreon / Twitter
    • Added ability to cross post stories, blogs and bookshelf additions to Twitter
    • Added twitter userpage module
    • Added account deletion page
    • Reorganised user toolbar dropdown to better fit more items
    • Added session management page to see logins and active sessions on your account
    • Added new articles system and moved some existing ones into it
    • Redesigned PM page a bit to be cleaner
    • Increased font size in major places across the site to improve readability
    • New cookie consent controls for EU users and updated privacy policy
    • Recommended groups list on groups page - WIP
    • Tooltips in many locations around the site with helpful tips

    Read More

    114 comments · 6,019 views
  • 301 weeks
    Help Articles

    Something I've worked on the last couple of days is adding the ability for us to add arbitrary "articles" to the site which we can use for various things. Sort of an extension on the manual articles we've added in the past like the bbcode page, writing guide, etc.

    So far I've added 3 guides:

    I'd love to know if you guys have any idea for articles that would have helped you out when starting out or anything else that comes to mind.

    65 comments · 5,181 views
  • 329 weeks
    Night Mode

    I've been working on it for ages but only really got the impetus to finish all of it off over the last few days. In the "settings" dropdown at the top on desktop, or the bottom of the slide out bar on mobile you'll find a toggle for night mode. Enjoy!

    Oh, and although I've tried to cover everything there is a 100% chance I've missed styling some things so apologies in advance for any funky pages.

    246 comments · 6,798 views
  • 330 weeks
    Additional Search Update

    Hey folks,

    Over the last few days I've added a few things to the new search system. A lot of people were unhappy with not being able to filter various things as quickly as they used to be able to. To that end, I've added a little filter dropdown to the right of the search box which effectively contains everything the old sidebar used to. It even has some niceties like quick word count filters and a highly rated filter.

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    132 comments · 5,299 views
  • 330 weeks
    December 2017 Update

    Hey guys, got a whole bunch of updates for you today.


    This is a small but important step on our way to the tagging system I envision. The existing way we handled things like characters and genres has all been merged into a single tagging system. That won't result in much difference for you viewing and using the site but it makes it a lot easier to add new tags especially.

    We now have a couple of new tag types: series and warnings.

    The series tag is for identifying what series (franchise) your fanfiction contains. I've added a whole ton of various TV shows, movies, comics, books and games but clearly we will have to add a ton more in the coming future. Stories must also contain one of the four MLP tags which are FIM, EqG, Movie and Comic, as this is a pony fanfic site after all. Feel free to bug me on Discord if you have a requirement for a series to be added.

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    630 comments · 13,770 views
  • 330 weeks
    Math BBCode tag

    I've added [math] and [mathblock] BBCode tags, which can be used to display formatted math. We've had a few requests for this, particularly for group forum threads and blog posts. Most math-related TeX syntax is supported. (We are currently using MathJax to handle the layout.)

    The documentation from the BBCode guide is repeated below for your convenience.

    Read More

    84 comments · 4,409 views
  • 353 weeks
    Fimfiction API

    If you're not a developer you can probably ignore this post.

    It's been like 6 years, but hey, things take time. The API is currently very WIP still but it's ready for people to get working on in our development chat room.

    API documentation can be found at https://www.fimfiction.net/developers/api/v2/docs and you should join the Discord Chat and PM me to add you to the private API channel and I can help you get started. The functionality is very limited right now but I'm dedicating all my time to it at the moment and would love to have people add their input to the process.

    60 comments · 7,397 views
  • 358 weeks
    New BBCode Tags

    Hey guys,

    One of the features in this new update was reader-side paragraph formatting. This helps improve consistency for readers across the site, especially for those of us who can’t stand reading indented text on a computer screen.

    However, one thing that wasn’t accounted for was the legitimate need for specific indenting of passages and for certain blocks of text to have no paragraph formatting. Some examples would be lyrics and poetry.

    Taking this into account, we have come up with a couple of new tags that remedy this situation which are documented below (copied directly from the bbcode guide)

    [indent] Indent

    The indent tag can be used to, unsurprisingly, indent portions of your text.

    [indent]The indent tag can be used to, unsurprisingly, indent portions of your text.[/indent]

    It also support levels of indenting

    Read More

    168 comments · 6,392 views

Site Update » Vote hiding for stories with low vote counts · 3:48am Jul 25th, 2015

To eliminate problems where stories that have very few votes can be sunk by only 1-2 people disliking them, stories with under 15 votes no longer display rating data to anyone but the author. This should give everyone a fair chance at success, even with a couple early haters, but actually-bad stories should quickly-enough accumulate enough downvotes to show as negative that you can still easily avoid them.

We will adjust the number of votes required for visibility later if needed.

Edit: the threshold is now 10, looking into some time-based stuff for older stories.

Report Xaquseg · 9,342 views ·
Comments ( 470 )

Close to a middle ground for users that want required comments for voting.

I'm happy to say I personally agree with this choice. THANK YOU ALL ADMINS!

I'm not sure if this is actually all that useful - most actually-bad stories never accumulate even 15 votes to begin with.

Moreover, I think it is going to reduce overall interest in stories in the New Stories box - I would sometimes click on something there if it had 7-10 upvotes (standing out from the usual crowd of "pretty much none"), but now only a story which gets a ton of upvotes while in New Stories is going to actually have its vote count display at all.

Moreover, it means that if you look at a author's gallery, and they don't have many views on any of their stories, everything is going to be gray, so you can't tell if they're all 10-0 (could be good) or 3-10 (probably awful).

We'll see how it goes after a week, but I'm not sure if I see any real value here.

Hrm, guess that solves the need for a seed vote to prevent a completely new story from showing as 100% negative, too.

Not that people will stop upvoting their own stories…

This should be a good change to avoid some of the weird psychology of early voters influencing other peoples' responses. Gives everyone an equal chance, and avoids stuff like disgruntled mass-downvoters making a story look bad when it's only been up for five minutes.

I like it, thought I'd let upvotes be shown though.

Minor nitpick.

Just read and voted in a story that fell under that window; when I gave it a thumbs up, the vote counter incremented to -1/-1.

I'm on the mobile site with an android phone.

3267291 I kind of agree; I think 15 total votes is maybe a wee bit high. Try more like 10, or even 8.


The exact threshold's still in the works. We'll keep an eye on the voting counts for the near future and see if it might need adjustment.

This could hurt new authors who start with little to no reader base as they won't be getting any votes except from readers who will diligently go through and read new items. It might make it harder for them to stick their foot in the door without the ability to see that initial 7 likes or so.

For anyone else, I think this change is really good.

Time will tell how it impacts the new stories box though, but for now, I'll just have to observe. I think it's a good idea on paper. Time to see how it works in the field.

A great idea, really. My only qualm is for stories that never gain any popularity at all and never get 15 votes. Perhaps there could be something like a two-week time limit for stories that never reach the minimum votes. If the votes don't reach 15 after two weeks, they'll automatically be displayed. It'd be a shame to contribute to a story's rating only for your vote to never see the light of day because the story got little recognition.

I have no idea what a single word of that meant.

I like this, although it might hurt an author who doesn't get many views on their stories. Maybe make it an optional setting that the author can turn on and off?

I don't think 15 is a good number. Many stories by new authors never get so many votes in the first place, even after a long time on fimfic.

I think this is a step in the right direction, for not only this site, but all sites that have an upvoting/ downvoting system.

It also helps to discourage people who might want to use a vote manipulation system in some way.


At that point though, if they didn't get enough exposure, they won't get any more from coming onto the radar. New stories come in pretty fast. We'll just have to see how this plays out.


The green and red numbers on stories are only visible to the author until the green number plus the red number equals fifteen or higher.

I think this is genius. It's a defense against priming.


It'd be a shame to contribute to a story's rating only for your vote to never see the light of day because the story got little recognition.

My comment was never about stories getting more recognition.

I agree with this, though I think you could probably lower that time to a day or two - if your story has <15 votes in total, the only place it is going to show up on at that point is your user page anyway, which means the only people who are going to see it are people who are interested in you, personally.

I don't think this is really important for your vote "counting", though, so much as being a useful service to future readers - if a story has a 1-8 or 3-10 ratio, that tells me something, in a way that a 8-2 ratio doesn't.

I'd also make it so that you can't vote unless you're on the story page or in a chapter. I know for a fact that there are people who just browse and mass-downvote whatever they can without even reading anything about it. Make 'em go into the story, it at least gives people a chance to read the story before they vote.

I see where this is going to lead to better stories in the long run. It will give new writers a fighting chance.

I'd prefer if it could be optional for an author, as most of my stories don't have 15 upvotes. Aside from that, this is a wonderful concept! :pinkiehappy:

Yes, this would be good. There's no reason to allow people to vote without having actually opened the story, as it doesn't tell you anything useful, and it makes doing it more of a pain.


3267331 Any hurdles you want to put onto voting like forcing people to comment or forcing them to do some menial task won't really address the problem. People will either comment "this sucks," make the extra two clicks required to navigate to the chapter, or worst of all just not even vote at all because of the hassle. Making story voting more tedious is not how you address the problem of malicious votes.

I like this idea, it'll give new writers a fighting chance!
This is approved by Dustchu.

Nice going Admins.

If there are roving bands of mass downvoters, isn't that an administrative issue? If you can see this behavior, shouldn't it be flagged for administrative action?

I mean, I know there are people who just go and downvote every story someone has out of spite or whatever, or downvotes the entire front page of top rated or what have you, but it seems like that sort of behavior should be... detectable?

I dunno. I mean, I agree that it is a problem, I'm just not sure if this is the optimal solution.


Perhaps there could be something like a two-week time limit for stories that never reach the minimum votes. If the votes don't reach 15 after two weeks, they'll automatically be displayed.

What are the chances that anybody will see the vote displayed after two weeks if it didn't reach that threshold? Just my opinion on it is all.

My take on it is around 7 votes should be enough to show. Eh, still a really good idea.

Being the overly thinking prick that I am, I'm here to talk about the pros and cons of this new site addition.

Pros 1) People will be more curious to read other stories. They won't know how many dislikes the story will have, so they can't go off of what other people think. They'll have to come up with their own opinions.

Cons 1) Say you published a story. Racks up just under 15 likes. Say, 14 likes right? But, it stays with it's current stats and say it's over shadowed by say... A certain writer who I swear to God takes up a whole stage with one story. Thus leaving your clopfic between RD and Pinkie forgotten and hidden away, and won't be revealed of it's stats until a lucky fellow just so happens to stumble across your little saucy fest.

Pros 2) NO MORE DR. EVIL BRONIES!! We all know the Dr. Evil bronies of the site. You know the ones. These ones.

I haven't read this story, but it has 14 dislikes, and 14 likes... I can make or break this guy's story.


Cons/Pros 1) It'll give readers a 50/50 chance of either liking the story, or hating it. While this is great news for those who really want to read and actually enjoy what's given to them
Me in a nutshell
Others will read the story midway through and hate it. Making them feel as if they've wasted their time with something they could have easily looked over if they were to see the dislike to like ratio. Thus turning off the reader and in worst case, an unfollow will occur. But God forbid that happen to you or me.

I really can't think of anything else to say so... Yeah

Trump for president, it's snowing on Mt Fuji.

This should be helpful for a story I have. It's ranked at 8-5, but best I remember, it's racked up more Favorites than Likes. I can't double-check, though, the notifications disappear after two days...:ajbemused:

Oh, I think I found a bug or something. Once you click into a story's chapter, you can see the vote count, regardless if it's over 15 or not.

Edit: seems to be fixed. Never mind.

3267288 I was going to say, this might encourage people to comment, which is always helpful to the author as well as prospective readers. I think it seems like a good idea, hopefully it works as intended.


We can't be everywhere at once, nor is it really possible for us to sort out some of the haziness involved in peoples' voting habits, and trying to hunt people down over suspected downvoting trends leads to some weird witch hunting.

There are some long-term plans in the works that'll help mitigate mass downvoters and people with generally sketchy voting habits. In the meantime, though, preventing casually malicious wackos from ruining a story's reputation right out of the gate seems like an overall win.

Stories typically show on the front page for only a couple of hours after they're updated, so most people never see a story - good or bad - unless they were searching for those tags.

I think the only way to prevent a story being tainted by sudden downvotes is to require all votes to include a comment. That way blanket haters would have to reveal themselves and bad writers would at least have a hint about what it was their readers didn't like.

(If all of your downvote comments just said, "because f you, that's why" you wouldn't have to feel bad about your writing)


3267358 I think you might be confused in how this operates. It's 15 total votes, not in one direction or the other. A story with 14 likes and 14 dislikes has 28 total votes. That's well over the necessary 15.

Also the entire vote count is displayed once it hits 15. It's not like pushing a half-and-half story over the 15 mark is going to change its rating to unilaterally positive or negative.


3267366 As I've said many times and I'll say many times again, all that'd do is stop people from voting because they don't want to deal with the hassle. You cannot stop abusive voting by adding tedium. It's hunting gophers with dynamite. You cause way more damage than you fix.

3267288 It will certainly help, though the hidden thumbs up/down ratio for low votes may make it harder to determine if new stories are worth checking out.


This is the solution all up/down voting systems need.

If you actually cared about your problems with the story being fixed, you'd leave feedback. A downvote without a comment is a permanent black mark on a story; your way of saying "this is bad and you should feel bad."

"If you can't say something useful, don't say anything at all."

More people need to remember this advice from school and heed it, because downvoting a story is a pretty strong statement that is going to bring the author pause. You'd better have a good reason for it.

I tentatively say this also applies to upvotes without comments (since they're not giving useful feedback either), but they are definitely the lesser of two evils. It's basic human decency - literally, it's hardwired into our brains - to find it much easier to leave a mild compliment than to make a criticism.

This is why it's easy to smile (or even nod) at someone passing you by on the street, but you'd think twice before frowning at them.

Unfortunately, the internet's culture of trolling has made it "cool" to be a dick to people for no reason.


Well I guess you'll just have to read and make a decision yourself, or find stories by searching instead.

3267345 Allow me to make a counter-argument. First off, my suggestion says nothing about forcing people to comment in order to vote. That's a horrible idea; some people just want to read a story and leave a quick upvote or downvote depending on what they thought. That's fine. I also don't see how making people actually navigate to the story page in order to vote creates any problems at all. In fact, in my mind, it solves (at least in some ways) a whole lot of them.

Let's take a look at the trolls who browse and downvote everything. They don't have the attention span to go to every single story, downvote it, back up to the browsing page, and repeat for the next one. Make it a little more tedious for the people who seek to downvote stories for no reason other than trolls, and you begin to root out a good chunk of your problem there. And I'm pretty sure a lot of authors will thank you for it, as well.

Then there's the people who actually read. And also, let me say this: I've no quarrel with allowing potential readers to see the upvotes and downvotes on a story from the browsing menu; that allows a lot of people to figure out if a story will be worth their time. However, should they choose to read, then they'll be informed as to the quality of the story, which makes the votes that much more representative of the people who've actually read the story.

As for the people who may "not vote at all". If they read the story or even look at it beyond its' browsing page result, then they're entitled to vote. It's not making it harder on them at all. And if they're not going to even consider the story, then do we as readers and/or authors really want those people having influence over whether or not others will read our story?

Maybe there are some other reasons not to implement my suggestions, I dunno. I just personally feel that it would be a good idea.

It's about as good a solution as I could hope for. Still, if it was a perfect world, and I ran the show, I'd disable the voting buttons for individual readers until they open a chapter and wait out a timer based on how long it is. At least that would cut the number of drive-by votes from users who didn't even read anything.

Welp--I didn't necessarily think the old system was all that broken, or anyway, not worse than any replacement, but I guess we'll have to see how it shakes out. It's probably not going to fix the problem of people piling on and hating anything with the "human" or "Flash Sentry" tags, but I'm not sure what would prevent that other than the basic admonishment to readers not to be dicks.

This won't work, because some people are jerks and will go and downvote your stuff in response.

Moreover, it will result in almost no one voting at all; if you have to comment to vote, most people won't bother voting or commenting at all.

People already struggle to downvote stories (which is why the average story has something like an 8-10 : 1 upvote : downvote ratio, even though most stories aren't very good); doing this would result in even fewer downvotes (and upvotes, for that matter); having to tell the author, basically, your story stinks is not really condusive to people doing it, and a lot of people will get upset by it.

Passive-aggressive bookshelves already bother some folks; actively getting a "You got downvoted" on a comment would bother them even more.

Huh. Just earlier today I'd been talking about how extrapolating the quality of a story from a small number of votes (The story in question having only 12) was likely to be inaccurate, but I never considered the idea of acknowledging that fact by hiding the votes until a certain number is reached. I rather like the idea.

I also like the idea mentioned of only allowing voting from within the story itself, but it sounds like there are other plans on the way to address the issue of drive-by voting. I look forward to seeing what that is.

As that guy constantly bitching and moaning about shit the admins pull, and an avid hater of bad fanfiction who is completely unafraid to tell the author so, I have to say I think this is a great idea. Really. Like, no sarcasm. I hate bad fanfiction with the passion of a thousand impotent neckbeardy suns, but I'm at least willing to say why I downvote a story so the author has a chance to fix it. This will hopefully help quite a bit for those who are willing to accept criticism, and might act as a deterrent against those who aren't.

However, this also would seem to pose a danger for spamfics ("displaced" fics, most notably at this moment) to be all but unkillable, especially when they have a dedicated cadre of auto-upvoters like the LoHAV community, and I would like to see the leadership tackle that issue as well in future updates.


3267379 Upvoting and downvoting should be treated exactly equally. If it's a good story, it gets positive votes. If it's a bad story, it gets negative votes. Downvotes are not a personal insult to the author. More people on this site need to understand that fact. Whenever you're envisioning a problem with downvotes making the story look worse than it is, envision how the solution would address the opposite problem where people upvote aimlessly just because they "feel like being nice." In this case, imagine a world where every single user has to comment explaining just what about a story they liked. I can only imagine that making fewer people want to vote entirely and just ignore the ratings system wholesale, which in turn stops stories from getting the ratings they deserve and makes genuinely good stories harder to distinguish from the rest.

What I find funny is that most often the people who complain about bad downvotes are also the people who complain about the feature box being dominated by the "Fimfic elite," or whatever. I hear a lot of speculation that the only reason those people/stories can get to the box is because they have followers who upvote everything they write. Except downvoting aimlessly is always demonized so much more than upvoting aimlessly, for some reason.




Let's take a look at the trolls who browse and downvote everything. They don't have the attention span to go to every single story, downvote it, back up to the browsing page, and repeat for the next one.

You're kidding, right? The whole point of internet trolls is that they spend insane amounts of time just pointlessly antagonizing people for kicks. An extra two clicks is barely going to slow them down.


If it's a good story, it gets positive votes. If it's a bad story, it gets negative votes. Downvotes are not a personal insult to the author. More people on this site need to understand that fact.

If everyone who downvoted also left a comment as to why and then removed that downvote when the problem(s) is/are fixed, I'd agree with you. But most people don't. They leave a downvote there as an eternal reminder: "don't bother fixing the issues, because your story is still bad and will forever be bad."

It's the equivalent of a teacher giving a student a 65% for their test, and then not letting them retake it under the reasoning that "it doesn't matter if you do better this time; all that counts is your 65%."

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