Content syndication isn't a new idea altogether. There are a lot of sites (including slashdot et al) that have rdf feeds and other "tickers" that allow you to syndicate content to other places. If you want a slashdot or everything2 "What's new" box on your homepage, it's really quite easy. With a bit of XML::Simple and basic knowledge of CGI/mod_perl you can cough one out.

What s_alanet has put together is really quite interesting. It has a lot of features of E2 and has some interesting ideas as to the right way to syndicate content, but what's the long term effect of this? It is tough to imagine a website that exists completely as a collection of content hubs (to use his language), working as mirrors of the whole. There are a lot of issues with breaking down a website into a distributed application as such.

The first of which is authentication. Now you can always shortcut this and say that this is guest user only, but that severely strips out the feature set that is available. In essence, you are using a third party to authenticate. It's like telling your friend or secretary what your password is, and to fetch your messages and preferences. The same problem exists with things like the XP tracker from cowofdoom. Now I've met Will, and I'll go kick his ass if anything happens to my password (I still don't use it anymore), but the point remains is that you simply can't trust a random third party with your authentication credentials.

Another issue for full time syndicate use is that you can't guarantee that a particular hub would be syndicating the content correctly (ie: non-maliciously). There's nothing to stop them from redirecting your votes to their writeups or other things. Similarly, there is no safegaurd against people changing words inside of your messages or otherwise misreport what is available here.

dem bones says "Get the hell off my website."

You simply can't trust a downstream publisher. There is no secure end-to-end connection that can be guaranteed or authenticated in any way. Even open source websites don't have to report their source correctly. There's not really any way that you can compile the source yourself and run a "pure" binary. Before we ship any binary version of an E2 client on this website in an official capacity, I'll have to inspect the code myself thoroughly (or any other code administrator), and build it on one of our machines here. Trojaned binaries are a problem.

Some of E2's features, such as leaving softlinks, won't work if you are using a third party website to view it. Right there, I feel that that this is a great drawback. Sure there are technical ways around this that I can think of, but they involve a lot of pageloads to the e2 server, and break a lot of the caching that is done.

The temptation to want to reduce load from E2 is great. I personally would love to see pages load lightning fast without kicking all of your asses off ;). The problems that exist with non-first-party endeavors as such is the same as trust in any P2P application. Without some sort of crazy encryption or verifiable digital signatures, this sort of thing wouldn't work because of the security implications.

On the other hand, what this does make is some cool ways to keep your writing on E2, and your contributions here on another webpage in sync. Until we have some of the cool content management features due in later this year, there are some neat things that you should be able to do on a homepage with this sort of item. I can see wanting to collect certain writeups and format them differently, or want to perhaps make your own sort of collections of writeups. We as E2 are merely publishers (under a legal sense), and you're free to reproduce your writeups wherever you see fit. Syndication of things like softlinks and stuff are kinda cool (if not an excusable rip-off of our content here).

In the end, the point of E2 on one hand was to create a website where you could read for hours and days without leaving. Seeing as you've all been here for years, I'm assuming it's working. Spreading it across hubs is a neat novelty idea, and I definitely applaud its efforts. It's quite a cool trinket, but it isn't right for E2 full time.

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