4chan : W.T. Snacks vs. Moot

AnonIB : W.T. Snacks


I had known about the break up of moot and snaks last year, but did not know much about the background.
I very rarely pop into /b as it is just a bit too anarchic for me. I stick to /a to satiate all my anime needs.
But the event of snaks leaving under mysterious circumstances briefly popped over even my disinterested horizon.

And the link above is a transcript of the IM/IRC conversation between moot, 4chan site owner and übermod, and snaks, one of the sites main coders.

The issue is really one of personality, and both of these individuals personalities create the issue in the first place and prevent any real dialog.
I agree with moot that a coder should not have full administrator access to a production server.
This, at least in the business world, is a well known and sensible dictum.
It is spurious to say that it is because, as moot does, a disgruntled coder could OMG PWND the server.
[I have known disgruntled coders in my time and none have ever tried it. Although they did talk about it…]
It is because a coder can unintentionally create secondary problems by rolling out fixes in an unrestrained manner.
The average coder wants to see his/her fixes to site problems implemented ASAP as soon as they are developed.
Their natural enthusiasm for the fixes can blind them to unexpected consequences.
Limiting access to a production server is purely to ensure that any patch or fix has been adequately tested on the test or staging environments beforehand.
Of course, I have no knowledge of the server set up for 4chan.
But even with a single server set-up, with developers developing code on a webserver on their home machines, coders should only have access windows to a production server.
These windows should be coordinated between the coder and the system administrator. [These roles should preferably be separate to avoid the issues described above]

Now even saying all of this, moot comes across as the one in error. He fails as a site manager, to be quite frank, even though he is doing the right thing by restricting the access of the site coders to the production server.
He is a poor manager because he brought personality and feelings into describing the decision instead of staying on the logical side.
He also makes the mistake of not including all those involved into the decision discussion before it was made. He arbitrarily made the decision and then passed this decision down. Like moses on the mount.
This is poor management.
He should have set up a meeting between the administrator, himself and the coders. He should have chased everyone up to make sure they attended it. Then he should have talked about his decision to restrict coders access to the servers, as it is a non-administrative role. He would say he understands this may cause pain in the near term for the site, but that in the long term it is best to separate the different roles into different levels of access.
He should NOT have brought up failure to achieve to-dos as part of the reasoning to remove administrative access.
This is a separate discussion, one that should have a separate meeting with the coders.

Of course, 4chan is a volunteer run website. Expecting people to achieve tasks in a list that they personally do not feel for is difficult.
It is important in such cases to use basic project management skills to make sure such items are implemented.
Waiting silently for 8 weeks, then suddenly ranting about lack of progress, and then immediately saying too little too late is not an effective form of project management.
It makes more sense to; put forward the task list to the coders, ask for durations for each task, prioritize tasks based on coders duration estimates and personal opinion, return list to coders with estimated due dates for each task based on their estimated durations and task priorities, check up on coders progress at the half-way point for each task estimate.
This simple bit of project management will do wonders. Primarily because it involves the coders in the process. Also it gives them responsibility to keep to their own estimates of durations.
Good coders will inform the project manager of any slippage, but it is always best for a project manager to keep low-key tabs on their progress just in case the coder is not so proactive an individual.

Of course, all of the above personal opinion comes from my own experience working on software projects and commercial websites.
The individuals involved in the internal 4chan dispute are both teens with little to no experience of working in project teams or commercial websites.

I hope that both have come away from the dispute with a little more experience so they can avoid such things in future.

2 thoughts on “4chan : W.T. Snacks vs. Moot

  1. W.T. Snacks says:

    So glad you feel the need to write blog entries about over year-old things that you really know nothing about, nor can you grasp the situation based on a few chatlogs.

    System administrator? Hahaha. I did the administration 90% of the time, because 4chan’s sysadmin is never around.
    Main coder? More like ONLY coder. I was the only programmer for 4chan until a couple weeks before I was fired, and even then, they had only done one thing, adding the Blotter.

    Access restriction was never his intent, it was simply a means and excuse to remove me from having anything to do with the site.

    Also, it puzzles me as to why you call me “snaks” throughout this.



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