|Why is Soapblox Important?
Soapblox is an inexpensive, community-building content management platform developed by Paul Preston and currently used by over 100 progressive blogs. For only $15 / month, Soapblox has offered most of the features available on sites like Daily Kos and MyDD: user diaries, recommended diaries, promoted diaries, interactive comments, comment ratings, tip jars, and even things like quick hits. It is a lot of functionality for not much price, making it ideal for independent, progressive, grassroots media. As such, it has been adopted by about 90% of the fifty-state blog network, and also by several national sites including Pam's House Blend, My Left Wing, Swing State Project, and my own Open Left. Collectively, the blogs on Soapblox received over 50,000,000 page views in 2008, and provided a huge percentage of the state-level, local politics coverage in the progressive blogosphere.
Why Is Soapblox in Danger?
On Wednesday morning, Soapblox was hacked to within an inch of its life. A quarter of all Soapblox sites went completely offline, and their databases were gone. Most others were threatened, as My Left Wing and Open Left temporarily lost all of their diaries. The hackers were in so deep, that Paul temporarily threw in the towel and declared defeat. Dozens of bloggers that I knew were all frantically emailing each other. Desperate attempts were made to try and copy all of our data before The End. At one point I was, literally, running up and down the stairs in my apartment building freaking out, as there are few things I fear more than my website's content being wiped out. It was an impending blog apocalypse, where the entire archive and operation of over 100 blogs were almost wiped off the Internet with no hope of return.
As the day went on, through a lot of effort Soapblox was able to fend off the attack, save all data, and restore full service. However, the threat remains.
How To Solve The Problem
Here is what Soapblox needs in the immediate short-term to become safe and secure once again:
--Recharge ten servers
--Perform a full security audit of the SoapBlox server/unix infrastructure to prevent hackers from gaining access
--Ensure all backup process are working and functional to guarantee that if hacking happens, data is preserved
--Perform a security audit on the SoapBlox code itself so that hackers cannot exploit the SoapBlox code itself.
--Migrate to new, secure servers
The good news is that, in addition to restoring full service for Soapblox, Paul has already found a system administrator who lives in his area and is able to help. All of the work listed above is currently underway. Here is what it will cost:
--Recharging ten servers at $100 apiece: $1,000
--Purchasing new, secure severs, and migrating the data: $8,000
--One month of full-time work at $50 / hour in order to complete all of the tasks listed above: $8,400
So, for a total of $17,400, we can secure Soapblox, and ensure that yesterday's dangerous attack can never be replicated. Let's make this happen. Save Soapblox and secure online progressive media. Contribute today.
No doubt, many people will ask why the money for this fundraising is going to BlogPac, rather than directly to Soapblox. The answer is two-fold.
First, BlogPac can transparently raise money across several blogs at once through Act Blue. As you read this, dozens of other Soapblox blogs, along with BlogPac's membership, are currently participating in this fundraiser. Also, as a federal PAC, BlogPac will have to disclose the payments to Soapblox, thus leaving a public record and complete transparency for the fundraiser.
Second, over the past two years, BlogPac has been proud to be Soapblox's main contributor. Since January 2007, as part of our fifty-state blogging program, we have paid the website hosting fees of a few dozen state blogs. Also, as part of the BlogPac infrastructure contest, Soapblox was granted $5,000 to help upgrade their service. Now, we are proud to serve as the financial vehicle that will save, secure and help build up Soapblox for the future.
As such, in consultation with Paul and several Soapblox state bloggers, it was agreed that BlogPac would serve as the financial vehicle for the Soapblox fundraiser. We are honored to do so. It is BlogPac's opinion that Soapblox is too big a part of online progressive infrastructure to fail. Also, all money raised in this fundraiser beyond $17,400 will go toward continuing the fifty-state blog grant program, and building up Soapblox over the long-term. For this effort, becoming a contributing member to BlogPac would be a great help. $5 a month goes a long way toward building progressive infrastructure.
For the past three years, Paul has developed and maintained Soapblox on his own. It is a part-time job for Paul, netting him about $10-$12K a year. Given the service he provides, it is the least he deserves. However, to go beyond merely preventing Soapblox from imminent destruction, and building the service up over the long-term, this will need to become a full-time position for Paul. Also, while Paul is working on improving Soapblox, he will need a regular, part-time systems administrator to guard against future attacks.
Paul and I have discussed a wide range of options to pull this off. It will require a mix of increased hosting fees, larger institutional support than BlogPac can provide, and larger donors who can give directly to Soapblox. Once this fundraiser is over, and the work listed above is completed, our first priority will be making sure that this happens. While there is a certain romantic charm to operating on such a shoestring, in order to build the base of power needed to make a progressive America, we need more organization, infrastructure, and resources. Saving, and then building up, Soapblox is an important part of that goal. Send in a contribution to save Soapblox now.