As the Newzbin resurrection sage continues, the boss of Team R Dogs has been answering a whole range of questions about the site’s return. More than $40,000 has been invested in the project so far, a coder hired and they aren’t scared of the MPA either. “We’ll just do a Pirate Bay on them,” they say. “We can run faster than them and shapeshift.”
Last week a group calling themselves Team R Dogs contacted ex-members of Newzbin with a message claiming that they would soon bring back the site.
That news was quickly followed by the revelation from an ex-director of Newzbin that the site’s domain names had been sold to a Seychelles-based company in order to clear debts. A couple of days ago the company, WCIS Limited, told they did not wish to tell us about their intentions for the domains.
Run by an ex-Newzbin editor, the DeepSharer blog has now managed to secure an interview with Team R Dogs boss Mr White. Here are the main points, plus those from the later Q & A.
DS: How are you Mr White? May I call you Caesium/Freaky/Kalante now?
W: You can, but I think they might be a bit upset & I’d get confused, but I like the Bond reference 😉 Srsly, we are not the Newzbin guys, I mean, the old Newzbin guys. But I guess you’ll never believe me till you get my phone number?
DS: which is?
W: (202) 456-1414
DS: yea, right. So how did you get the code?
W: We liberated it. Code just wants to be free. Specifics don’t matter.
DS: So you’ll opensource it?
W: No. That said, if we have to shut down at any stage we’ll try to opensource it.
DS: Why did you steal the code?
W: I nicked it initially just because I could, that was a while back. There was no real ‘plan’, I just kinda did it, but I didn’t want to copy the site and didn’t even really plan to use it. Then when I saw the legal news I thought Newzbin was looking like it really might fold. Since they didn’t say they would opensource the code I chatted to a couple of mates and we talked about running a site ourselves. We didn’t do anything for ages but when Newzbin suddenly closed without any warning at all we decided to make a move.
DS: So when are you going open this site? What’s the url going to be?
W: We’ll let you know the domain name later. The site is gonna open really really soon.
DS: Are you planning to change the way Newzbin works or is it going to be a straight clone?
W: We’ll be running a straight clone to start with but we want to change it eventually. Unfortunately the site backend is mega mega complicated so we’re concentrating on just getting the systems running with a minimum of falling over in the beginning. Plus, we also greatly underestimated the number & power of the servers needed to run this stuff so we’ve been trying to raise a metric fuckload of cash to buy gear.
DS: Doesn’t sound promising…
W: no it’ll be fine but I’m just saying that for a while it may all be a bit wobbly 🙂
DS: what are the longer term plans for the site?
W: we want to raise retention time. 240 days is a bit crap. We want to get it to at least 400 days soon and then up to 600+ days within the next 9 months. Kinda pulling figures outta my ass but something like that. Plus I want to do a redesign of the site. I reckon some people wanted the old site to have lots of features so it’s become complicated as thy added them in, but others want it simple & less confusing. It’s a tough design issue and we need to think how we can do this. We’ll probably do A/B testing on the site and maybe do polls, start a design/features discussion with users. We’ve also discussed adding non-Usenet search results to the site like torrent or Rapidshare results, but we’ve just kinda floated that idea and we don’t know how we’d incorporate it. Should all be fun.
DS: The MPA are gonna come after you. You got a plan?
W: 🙁 yea, it’s inevitable, we’ll just do a Piratebay on them. We can run faster than them and shapeshift.
DS: Do you reckon users will return?
W: we hope to hell they do or we’re in a money hole. I reckon we’ll lose a few users of Newzbin1 but I’m hoping over time many will join us and if we can get increased retention and more services I think we may even improve over the old site in time. I’m certainly appealing to the editors and editor admins to join us, purty purty please!
DS: Good luck. I’m rooting for you. Make it come back soon.
W: a lot sooner than you think I expect 😉
After reiterating that they are nothing to do with the original Newzbin staff, Mr White said that since they already had the Newzbin code, bringing the site back after their legal problems was just the opportune thing to do.
At least to begin, the site will be a “straight clone” of the old site, but a redesign is on the agenda. This process could carried out with the help of users who could be asked to vote on the inclusion of new features. There is even talk of adding non-Usenet search features such as BitTorrent and Rapidshare. And the porn will return on Newzxxx too.
As for retention, the aim is to reach at least 400 days as soon as possible and then move to 600+ days within 9 months from launch.
So will ex-users of Newzbin return to the site? Team R Dogs certainly hope so as they say the whole thing is costing a fortune and quite frankly, they need the money.
“I have personally signed cheques for an $22,000 Sun server and 2 x $9,000 Sun servers to help run this site and I expect to sign more. I have hired a fulltime coder on good salary, I am recruiting another expensive geek to keep the site up,” explains Mr White.
Although the site will probably launch for free for a week or two, the site will revert to a pay venue.
“Let me be clear. We have a profit motive in this. We haven’t tried to ‘steal’ from Newzbin1 guys – they got shutdown by the MPA, not by us. The MPA have given us an opportunity to make money. Thanks MPA,” he continues.
“Does this mean we intend to shit on users & ex-Newzbin1 members? Fuck no. We want to provide a good service and take the same profits the Newzbin1 guys did. Yea sure we are using their works to do so but they have abandoned their works and they have SAID so themselves. There is no moral ambiguity here: they have dropped out of the scene and we are replacing them.”
Part of the support for ex-members will be the continuation of any credit they had on the site, although how far back that will go will remain to be seen. For those adding new credit, a 3rd party payment system will be used.
But let’s not forget about the fate of Newzbin at the hands of the MPA – how will Team R Dogs fend off that inevitable attack?
“We’ll just do a Piratebay on them,” they say. “We can run faster than them and shapeshift.”