Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

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Paul_Schatzkin
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Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by Paul_Schatzkin »

.
Greetings from behind the curtain.

Frank and I have been talking about the present and future of these forums over the past couple of weeks and have made a few changes:

1. We've had enough of the "Hello World" first time posts, especially those from new registrants who never post again. Therefore, we have changed the policy regarding new members and first posts. The Registration Rules page now reads:
2 New registrants are no longer required to post an introduction. Before posting, remember: this site has been online for more than twenty years. Every possible question re: to build or operate a fusor has been asked and answered. It is imperative therefore that you SEARCH THE SITE FOR ANSWERS before making your first post(s). Your first three posts will be moderated by the site admins. If you ask questions that have already been answered your post will be rejected. If you don't see your first post(s) within 72 hours, please search the site again before posting again.


2. The "Please Introduce Yourself" forum has been locked to prevent further posts, but left online for the time being. In 60 days we will revisit archiving it and making it invisible to all but the admins.

3. For the past several years (since the last meltdown and thanks again to The Coal Man), the site has enjoyed robust, responsive and secure hosting from the ISP KnownHost. This reliability, security, and redundant backups costs $87/mo.* This past week I made a payment of ~$1,000.00 to cover hosting for the coming year. Fortunately –– and thanks again to long-term members for their generous contributions –– there were sufficient funds on hand to cover the cost. The treasury is now down to ~$500. We are by no means in dire straights, but those who are inclined to contribute to the continued operation of the site can make a contribution via GoFundMe:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/continue-fusor-net

Any contributions to that campaign go directly to an account that is sequestered and dedicated to the maintenance of this site.

4. Truly, there have been moments of late when the continued usefulness of this site has been questioned. It's been pointed out that there are other resources on the web now. Google 'build fusor' and the first thing that comes up is not this site but YouTube videos -- posted, it turns out, by people who have learned how to build one... wait for it... from this site.

The challenge then, as reflected in the new #2 Registration Rule, is that much of what newbies need has been covered, sometimes dozen of times.

Still, I think fusor.net has a purpose to serve as a warehouse of useful knowledge in a still promising field. The site will go on, and I am going to start making plans for its continuity beyond the life expectancy of any of the principals. Stand by for news on that.

We return you now to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thank you for your time and attention.

--PS

_______
.
*Anybody who suggests that their brother or cousin can host the site for less than what it presently costs will be taken out back and shot.
Paul Schatzkin, aka "The Perfesser" – Founder and Host of Fusor.net
Author of The Boy Who Invented Television: 2023 Edition – https://amz.run/6ag1
"Fusion is not 20 years in the future; it is 60 years in the past and we missed it."
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Liam David
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Re: Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by Liam David »

Paul and Frank, and all others who have contributed to this site's existence, your continued behind-the-scenes work to keep everything up and running is extremely appreciated. I'm sure much discussion has gone into these changes and certainly many opinions, affirming and dissenting, have been voiced by forum members these past few years. Paul, if your post isn't a solicitation for responses, feel free to relocate or remove this reply.

Some thoughts on the numbered items:

1. Responding to posts in the "Please Introduce Yourself" section comes across as a chore. I respond to maybe one in a hundred; others welcome newcomers much more often, but the atmosphere is more "no one else has responded so maybe I should write a quick, generic welcome" than genuine interest. I'm not blaming forum members for this. On the contrary, the number of one-and-done posters, those with lofty goals and ideas but little grit, or those who are in over their heads but don't yet know it, is large. Not that I care much about random people's life stories, but I still think some means of introducing oneself is necessary, even if only a formality. At least it should be an option in a dedicated place.

2. All that in (1) said, I don't particularly like the idea of hiding the current "Please Introduce Yourself" posts as admin-only. I not infrequently search for specific users' intro posts so that I can get a better idea of who I'm responding to in other threads. Moreover, while it certainly isn't the header under which detailed questions or builds should be posted, much material has made it in there anyway, particularly in posts that date before the newbie floods. I would hate to see that stuff disappear, even if I personally make no use of it.

3. Again, many thanks are in order.

4. I maintain that this forum is the #1 source for any and all fusor-related knowledge. Perhaps tied or a close second is the published literature on fusors, although that information is much less accessible, is typically focused on physics rather than engineering and so not very relevent for most here, and perhaps most crucially, cannot be queried like the minds of forum members. While the information here is typically diffuse and it is at times difficult to pinpoint specific information or find a single, definitive answer to a question, it is here nonetheless.

The videos that come up when searching "fusor" or "fusor build" on Youtube are awful when weighted by popularity. For example, the three most popular by view counts are:

-"Building A Nuclear Star In A Jar (Fusor)" by Plasma Channel (1.1M views): Somehow a build worse than even the Make fusor, and a video full of misinformation.

-"Making a Desktop Fusion Reactor" by Will From London (800k views): Perhaps the worst of the three, simply because of the mind-numbing amount of misinformation and dumpster fire of a comments section.

-"WE DID NUCLEAR FUSION" by Cleo Abram (680k views): Essentially an advertising stunt by Helion that borders on fraud, I would say (an opinion not a legal statement, you over-zealous Helion lawyers). Most of the fusion info isn't wrong per se, but stellar it is not.

The rest (typically <10k views each, at best) are a mix of crap to some that are pretty darn good, but they show up only in searches mixed in with the above three because of the nicheness of the topic. Of those that are good, none are in the style of a tutorial or answer particularly technical questions that a newbie might ask themselves during a build... not that I think tutorial-style videos are a good medium for furthering the field.

Speaking only about Youtube, such problems aren't unique to fusors; there has been an explosion in number and popularity of AI-generated and stolen, repurposed content driving massive science misinformation. Titles like "Scientists Make FRIGHTENING Discovery on Neptune" on hour-long videos tell you all you need to know in the context of this discussion.

Dedicated personal sites are a mixed bag in terms of usefulness and certainly offer incomplete information even in aggregate. The Make fusor and associated materials, well..... no comment.

All that is to say, I don't think the usefulness of this site is questionable. I think the (multi-part) question, fundamentally, is "How can we encourage only serious newcomers to effortfully pursue building a fusor while not diluting both the information already present and the slow innovation that more seasoned members drive?"
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Re: Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by JoeBallantyne »

I agree with everything Liam said about introductory posts.

I also have just recently specifically looked for some members introductory posts. They sometimes contain useful information about the person. I was trying to track down Dave Cooper, and found his introductory post on the earlier iterations of this site - it had very good info in it. (I did manage to track him down, and he is alive and well...)

I think it is good to require folks to introduce themselves. In my mind the introductory posts should require a few things:

1) your name
2) what city state and country you currently reside in
3) a few words about your background - what you have studied, what you currently work on, maybe what languages you are fluent in
4) why you want to join the fusor.net community - what do you want to get out of it

In some ways, I think the intro posts are a necessary evil...

One idea, is maybe we could make it official policy that intro posts will NEVER be responded to.

Maybe we could make that enforceable on the site. Everyone makes an introductory post. It cannot be responded to.

Then no one would feel obligated to respond - because they can't anyway, no one would feel bad when there are no responses to their intro post because responses are not possible.

I also think that fusor.net is irreplaceable, and certainly NOT irrelevant. In my mind fusor.net is as much or more about building a community, than building a fusor.

Joe.
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Liam David
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Re: Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by Liam David »

I like the idea of a required intro post that does not allow replies. I would loosen the requirement on city+state as many people would rather not share and it's not necessary for discourse.

Indeed, as Joe said, the community aspect of this forum cannot be understated.
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Re: Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by Frank Sanns »

The site does an evolution every couple of years. Those that have been around for the last couple of decades have seen quite some changes. All or most of them keeping the integrity of the site and keeping a high standard while making it accessible to most. This is not a trivial task.


In the first days, there was near zero information of how to build a fusor. Nobody told us much about anything. We had to scratch and dig for our own information in an old items called books and some internet content was becoming available. Information was scattered and not compiled. When people came to the fusor site and its precursors, songs and intranets, it was all for contributing and learning from each other. That was then and this is now.


Now the information is entirely compiled in the FAQ thanks to Richard Hull. He has distilled his own work as well of the work and knowledge of many others. It is all in one place to find the answers. With all of the answers in one place, one need not even register for the forum because nothing pertinent is hidden. It is all public with no membership or login required. Still, there are questions and the New User Chat area has done its job from keeping the noise from creeping into the technical resource area. The Chat area can still be searched so I have not deleted or archived any of it as it is part of the site resource.

The Please Introduce yourself is also a resource and I do not think it will be hidden but rather may not be the way forward as a first post. While it is GREAT to hear about people and their participation, that also gets diluted by people who speak before they read. It is a dilemma for sure as we want to hear from the serious but are fatigued by the trivial and impulsive. Behind the scenes, there are TONS of zero and one post registered people on the site. The number is actually equal or larger than the people that actually post. The situation has worsen over the past years and is not letting up.

There is no reason to jump on the site in the middle of the night on a whim, registering, and posting that you are going to build a fusor never to be heard from again. Had these people read a little before the did a Hello World, I am Here post, (no insult to anybody that may have posted that it is illustrative and not directed at anybody) then they would have SOME idea of what they were up against. We are looking to encourage people to participate IF and ONLY if they are serious and understand the undertaking.

I like the idea of Please Introduce yourself but it yields lots of noise for a first post. The concept was to leave it viewable but not allow New Users to post there unless they have already contributed some substance to the site. Right now, that requires three posts to get out of the New User group and to become a registered user. That happens automatically so no person (Paul nor I) need to manually do anything.

Still open to thoughts on all of this. It is just time for some minor evolution especially with the BOTs and AI creeping into the registration mix.
Achiever's madness; when enough is still not enough. ---FS
We have to stop looking at the world through our physical eyes. The universe is NOT what we see. It is the quantum world that is real. The rest is just an electron illusion. ---FS
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Richard Hull
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Re: Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by Richard Hull »

Frank and I have discussed this over the telephone recently and at many stages of the evolution of this site. For me I have seen this site evolve rather naturally and in a fine manner for the most part since I was the second poster after Paul started the effort on "Songs" in December 98, I believe.

Actually, No one ever built anything but me at first. (first demo in 1997 before songs). The early songs attracted a lot of good technical, competent and informative info. from solid non-doers of good background. I found this exciting! Still, not much was actually done in hardware on Songs beyond my early assemblies of two demos and my early true fusor III. Once the work outgrew the defunct songs, Paul moved us to the Intranets and then things started to pop with builds and the superior fusor of Joe Zambelli in 2001. Demo fusors soon morphed into real fusors by 2003. The rest is history, as they say.

Many old hands like myself and Frank look back like so many "old boys" here and declare them "the glory days". Realistically, everything since 2003 are glory days, too. However, without my being able to give a begin date, the noise factor increased right along with the building efforts. Both Frank and I decry this, but I now just consider it as being part of the cost of doing business on this growing site. Newbies have often been the very bane of my existence here, while a tiny fraction of them have "stuck" and are now "old boys" who have and still contribute mightily.

More newbies mean more "noise" and necessarily more attrition for the many reasons. Contributing factors for joining us here are, youthful exuberance, DIY folks looking for a new challenge or project, often with no knowledge of fusion nor a desire to learn about it, and those who are classic "joiners" and "hangers-on" claiming feet planted in many internet pies and discussions.

Attrition occurs rapidly due to no real money to pour into the effort, No real usable or useful skill sets, of which many are deemed an asset if one wishes to stay and succeed. Also, there is often no real verve and "sticktoitiveness" in the soul of many. Finally, many ignorant souls think they will be able to get power out of the fusion effort here.

Few realize this site stands, first, as a learning experience, a chance to apply skills and learn new ones and a place to do what few others have succeeded in doing while sharing with others. For me these are all noble and laudable goals for making an "able and ready person".

In a growing city-state and in our growing site, there will always be "noise". True worker folks here just learn to live with it but always retain the right to grumble about it. The Brits have a saying when asked how things are going for them that I love and take to heart as relates to this noise level here, having gotten use to it....."Musn't grumble."

As for introductions and the like, I couldn't really give a fig as long as a few rare stars arise from the noise, which, blessedly, always seems to be the case.

I read every post daily and, as Bacon suggests in his writings, I "weigh and consider". There is always grain among the chaff.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
The more complex the idea put forward by the poor amateur, the more likely it will never see embodiment
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Re: Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by Frank Sanns »

Yes, there were many contributors back then even if not builders.

For me, I was reading in 1999. I knew plenty about vacuum and HV. My first plasma was done without any internet or guidance in my teens. Knowledge from books. It was a hand cranked vacuum pump and a step down transformer run in reverse to give me around 300 volts to light the plasma. Still, it was over a year of reading the site to move on to the neutron quest.

What I needed to educate on was the metrology and the nuclear reactions to make the neutrons and the conditions that had to be met. My first post on my original account was in early 2001. I already had the chamber and had read enough to be able to start doing. I think it was within 2 months of posting that I was up and running. I could not have done this without the work being done by Richard and the contributors at the time. Still, the information was scarce. What pulse hight was a neutron traversing a plastic scintillation crystal vs gamma and cosmic rays. How to distinguish? Then moderators for the BF3 tubes. RF noise, just so many things to consider in the design and analysis.

Today it is a walk in the park. Deuterium pressures are known, voltages, currents, bubble detectors. Seriously, anybody in HS science can do it today with a week's worth of reading and pondering.

A demo fusor is just a fancy sealed container with a partial vacuum on it and a few hundred volts. I think that is the frustration here as too many of the casual people registering need to just go to a simple plasma globe. That is not fusion. It is far from fusion. This is one of the reasons the plasma club disappeared as a recognition area. It used to be that many of those in the plasma club were on a path to the neutron club. It became the plasma club were people that had no intention of making neutrons but wanted a pretty plasma with the least work and only with off the shelf items. There are plenty of internet places to do that. This site is for the serious amateurs in quest of learning much about many different systems and contributing and DOING.
Achiever's madness; when enough is still not enough. ---FS
We have to stop looking at the world through our physical eyes. The universe is NOT what we see. It is the quantum world that is real. The rest is just an electron illusion. ---FS
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Re: Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by Dennis P Brown »

If the idea is to get only serious people in the forum, then to join the site they must first research a neutron detector system, and power supply (20 kV. 100+ watts) with costs. Then create a post showing these items via links (proving they did it.) They need no real knowledge just search skills but boy, will they be enlighten in the cost and difficulty that they are trying to undertake.

Then only a moderator can see this post. If approved, their in. I guarantee this will exclude 97.6% of the fly-by-night people and likely any bot's.

Maybe think of this as a very mini-white paper proposal to join the forum :)

My $0.02 worth
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Re: Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by Richard Hull »

Way too elitist for my liking, and I would think Paul would be appalled at the suggestion.

Many people who arrive and ultimately see fusion as a daunting task, actually "find themselves" or "wake up" to view this not so much as a challenge but what we would want them to cherish as a learning experience.

Whether they turn this into a doing experience is not a major issue. They are learning about fusion, earnestly and honestly.

Let's not task all comers with an elitist over burden of hoops to jump through. The intrinsically worthless, and lazy landing here will realize soon enough through a tough love approach via admonitions from the serious people here that they are just noise makers and filter away. We have seen this work before. If we keep scolding the weak who will not read the FAQs and harping constantly that self-directed study is a natural tendency for all who would be of value here, we would not need elitist tasking of every one who this site attracts. I'd rather they leave via scolding designed to kick them into some valuable regimen they just will not accept than to limit the input of new folks here via tasking.

Sure, they may leave with a bad taste in their mouth, but that taste was due to their own indolence expecting a free ride in fusion science. This site is not grade school pats on the head where you will be spoon fed. This is a site that expects and applauds one's own application as adults to learn and hopefully do.

Here in the U.S. we say, Give 'em some tough love. The Brits would say Give them a bit of stick. Do this to test the newbies if they seem to be more noise and bother than serious learners or contributors.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
The more complex the idea put forward by the poor amateur, the more likely it will never see embodiment
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Re: Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by Dennis P Brown »

OK. Well, just a suggestion and not too radical considering what others were suggesting. Still, like you Richard, I do prefer just allowing people to introduce themselves to join but since this was being frozen out (as I understood the post) I was just trying to suggest an alternative that did make people more likely to do fusion after joining (again, as I understood the 'gist' of the new goal.) That is, through letting people fully understand the two biggest obstacles to building a real fusor really are; through, certainly this is the issue that any 'newbie' will really face once they start approaching this task in a logical manner; that certainly has separated the wheat from the chaff, in the past, one might say. ;)

Still, looking at the cost of two pieces of equipment, placing it in a post here doesn't exactly strike me as something even any high school student couldn't do.
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Paul_Schatzkin
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Re: Housekeeping, Fundraising and Continuity

Post by Paul_Schatzkin »

.
Time for a quick update:

First, and sincerely, thanks for all the thanks.

Re: 1 & 2: Locking down / no longer requiring Introductory posts: the sentiment expressed about on that topic seems fairly evenly mixed, so I think it's OK to leave it this way for a while at least. There is no imperative to archive that forum (i.e. making it invisible to all but admins) at any time in the future, so we can revisit that later, maybe sometime during Q3.
JoeBallantyne wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2024 5:25 pm I think it is good to require folks to introduce themselves. In my mind the introductory posts should require a few things:

1) your name
2) what city state and country you currently reside in
3) a few words about your background - what you have studied, what you currently work on, maybe what languages you are fluent in
4) why you want to join the fusor.net community - what do you want to get out of it
Joe raises a valid concern, the flip side of our recent experience. I just had a thought that perhaps, when we revisit in a coupla/few months, we might find a way to alter the registration process to that there is an actual form that new members fill out with those specific info points. Having a prescribed format would dispense with the "Hello World" nonsense and assure that new users have sufficient interest to fill out a few fields. Let us ponder on that one.

Dennis P Brown wrote: Tue Mar 26, 2024 6:01 pm If the idea is to get only serious people in the forum, then to join the site they must first research a neutron detector system, and power supply (20 kV. 100+ watts) with costs. Then create a post showing these items via links (proving they did it.) They need no real knowledge just search skills but boy, will they be enlighten in the cost and difficulty that they are trying to undertake.
As Richard surmised, that sounds a tad extreme, but something like that could conceivably be part of an 'intake form.' At the very least, a checkbox that says "I have perused the FAQs and have a basic idea what is involved..." or words to that effect.

The whole thing just dawned on me as I'm typing this update so, like I said... something to 🤔

Re: #3: Fundraising. I am gratified beyond measure to report that due to the unexpectedly generous contributions of several members, the future of this site has been assured for at least two more years (until March, 2027). These member have asked to remain publicly anonymous but I have thanked them personally. Y'all know who y'are and... thanks again.

Liam David wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2024 4:20 pm 4. I maintain that this forum is the #1 source for any and all fusor-related knowledge.... The videos that come up when searching "fusor" or "fusor build" on Youtube are awful when weighted by popularity. For example, the three most popular by view counts are...

...All that is to say, I don't think the usefulness of this site is questionable. I think the (multi-part) question, fundamentally, is "How can we encourage only serious newcomers to effortfully pursue building a fusor while not diluting both the information already present and the slow innovation that more seasoned members drive?"
Yeah, I took a closer look at some of those videos. Typical Internet "Hey, look at MEeeee!" stuff. Their purpose is to attack eyeballs, clicks, and ad revenue. Our site serves an entirely different purpose and will continue to do so. I think Liam has correctly identified the challenge going forward, which we will continue to do our best to address.

As for the longer-term continuity, I am talking with some personal advisors about setting up a 501c3 non-profit org (The Waterstar Foundation dab fusor-dot-net) and taken some preliminary steps in that direction but nothing is die-cast yet. My intent would be to dedicate a modest portion of my vast estate (🤪) to assure the site's continuity for at least the infinite 20 year cycles before fusion become a reality. If I proceed with this path, I'll need a couple of individuals to include on a board of directors, and some way of creating a 'vault' that has all the necessary access info to to keep the site going. If anybody has any thoughts on that prospect, please add them below.

Thank you again for your time attention.

--PS
Paul Schatzkin, aka "The Perfesser" – Founder and Host of Fusor.net
Author of The Boy Who Invented Television: 2023 Edition – https://amz.run/6ag1
"Fusion is not 20 years in the future; it is 60 years in the past and we missed it."
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