Since there has been a large outcry for transparency of what's going on in the background, we are going to start posting a series of updates, at least once per month, until Recode is finished.
We will warn you up front. This post is going to be very candid and strong, so we apologize if it comes off as a little brash, but this is HackThisSite; you need tough skin to survive here. We will also warn you, this post is going to be a very, very lengthy read. There will be a TL;DR at the bottom, but to truly be informed, you really ought to read this thoroughly, perhaps a couple times.
- First, let's have a look at the current code. HackThisSite was established around the early-mid 2000's, and some of the code that runs this website dates back that far. Some not-too-old versions of the source code are available on the internet by a simple Google search, and from those one can easily see, it is atrocious. As such, the current code is in a feature-freeze and will only be maintained as needed until Recode is completed.
- Content.. Man, do we get a lot of flack about the quality of content on HackThisSite. And we will be the first to admit, it sucks. It's old, outdated, too simple, too single-focus. Further, we simply do not offer the appropriate tools for users to contribute quality content. This is something else that will change with Recode.
- Community.. Ask any user who has logged into our IRC within the past year, and they will immediately tell you, it's worse than 4chan. The trolling is almost purely vicious, intelligence is constantly insulted, and racist remarks are tossed around flagrantly. This is something that has been curbed dramatically, and is being dealt with extremely, extremely strictly. We welcome community involvement, but the air about it has become so angry and spiteful that few fruitful discussions can occur anymore, and this is something that WILL stop.
Some of these problems are easier to fix than others, and we are diligently working on finding solutions to all of them. From now on, we're making an effort to be more open as to what we are doing, and will make an effort to involve the community more on important actions, but we must also ask that you understand one thing: Everyone has an idea, and everyone wants theirs used, and almost no one wants to actually contribute anything of substance. There is only so much we as HackThisSite staff can accomplish, but we implore the community, do not simply throw your opinions and ideas at us (since, to be honest, we likely won't use most of them immediately, if at all), actually do work. If you can't code, produce content. We want your interaction, and simply ask that you work with us.
There has been a lot of talk of this "Recode" project now, and not a whole lot of information. So, "what is it," you may ask? Recode is HackThisSite version 5 (notice we have skipped version 4, for various reasons). One of the main considerations of Recode is that this is our "clean slate." Many, many things are being redone from the ground-up for Recode, primarily the code itself and infrastructure. The code itself is a custom-designed, highly scalable Model/View/Control+Dispatcher framework called BlueElephant, utilizing MongoDB (No SQL!) and LDAP for database backends, designed for a multi web-node infrastructure across multiple data centers for redundancy and reliability.
Code and infrastructure are cool and all, but what about content? Well, here are a few things we plan to accomplish with Recode:
- Completely Community Driven: The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that no one gets paid at HackThisSite. Every single person, even our administration, volunteers their time (and sometimes even their personal income) with no fiscal or material reward. Everything we have, every bit of content, comes from you!
- Open Source: Once we have a secure public beta version, we plan on releasing the entirety of the HackThisSite source via Git (sans critical Missions components, for obvious reasons). This will allow any random user to do whatever development he feels would help improve HackThisSite for staff review and potential future inclusion.
- Peer Review: Think of HackThisSite a little like Wikipedia. Any user may submit content, and after a quick review process by our dilligent staff, that content may be published on HackThisSite. Further, immeidately-posted content (ie. on our Third-Party system or via forums) may even be nominated by the community for official inclusion. Which brings us to...
- Third-Party Content: HackThisSite will have an API system of sorts that will allow for the community to offer third-party content, hosted off-site. For example, if a user designs a mission, once they have it hosted somewhere, they may add it to our third-party missions, where other users will have the opportunity to unofficially complete them. If nominated by enough of the community, that third-party mission may become officially included and maintained.
- New Ideas: HackThisSite wants to become revolutionary. As mentioned previously, we are using LDAP for a database, namely our login system, such that HackThisSite logins can be ported to anything that supports LDAP, including any forum, web portal, Linux shell, Windows Domain, and so on. Further, we are actively working on new ideas for missions, including Shells and Phone Phreaking.
- Government: It has been some time since HackThisSite has been involved in anything political, and we wish to change that. We face a very scary time right now, particularly since the Julian Assange Wikileaks news. Net neutrality is a key issue, but so are privacy and internet rights, and HackThisSite should get involved in these issues again. We can only do that by you, our community, speaking up.
All that said, Recode needs your help! We need extremely competent PHP developers, very fluent and profficient in PHP OOP and MVC coding styles. We need people willing to develop fresh content of any sort that would be of particular relevance to HackThisSite (articles, lectures, etc.). We need politcal-savvy users to speak up on issues important to every one of us.
The easiest way to get involved, is to proceed to our forums.
TL;DR: HackThisSite sucks right now, we're making it better, and we'd like you to help.