Ratburger.org Code Base Repository Now On-line

The GitHub repository for the Ratburger Code Base is now on-line and accessible to anybody.  The code base is a live mirror of the software and documents which run the site, less its content (the posts, comments, uploaded images, etc.)  Here is the README file for the repository.


Ratburger.org is an online community where a wide variety of topics are discussed in a civil manner among an international membership whose only common denominator is their distaste for the sewer that so many Internet fora and comment sections have become.

Anyone can read all of the content at the site. By joining, which is free, users can write and publish their own posts and comment on the posts of others, and participate in discussion groups on various topics and create their own new groups. A chat room is available for real-time conversations. There are no advertisements on the site. Members whose behaviour is deemed not in keeping with the goals of the site may be banned at the sole discretion of the administrators.

Ratburger.org is built upon the foundation of WordPress and BuddyPress extended by a number of freely available plug-ins to those packages and site-specific customisations.

This repository represents the code on which the production Ratburger.org site runs. The site also uses a few proprietary plug-ins (for example, the CometChat package for the chat room and the BuddyDev Editable Activity plug-in to allow users to edit posts and comments in groups. These packages, whose source code cannot be redistributed under the terms of their licenses, are excluded from this repository.

To bring up a site similar to Ratburger, install this repository in the Web document home of a HTTP/HTTPS Web server. The MySQL database used by WordPress and BuddyPress is not included in the repository; you’ll have to create your own, adding users and passwords for administrators. Also, since Git does not preserve file permissions, there are several directories into which the server needs to write for such functions as image uploads on which you’ll have to manually set the appropriate ownership and permissions. See a WordPress installation reference for details of these matters.

About the Name

The name Ratburger was dreamed up in November 1984 by a bunch of Autodesk old-timers having dinner in a Las Vegas casino buffet after a long day working our booth at Fall COMDEX 1984. We envisioned it as the name for a screen-oriented text editor we’d developed and briefly sold under the name AutoScreen and then set aside when AutoCAD took off, leaving us no time to pursue other products. We continued to use the editor in house, and thought it might still attract users if made available at an affordable price with a catchy name. We further thought about bundling the editor with a number of other in-house tools, such as a diff utility that ran on MS-DOS, as RatPack. Nothing ever came of this.

In 2004, remembering this, I registered the domain name ratburger.org, which I subsequently used as my own equivalent of example.com in software and documentation, but the domain was otherwise unused. While setting up the prototype of the new discussion site in December 2017, I used the domain as a placeholder while testing the prototype of the site with the co-founder and a few bleeding edge early adopters. Although it was originally a joke, we found the name to curiously grow upon us, lending itself to numerous humorous spin-offs. So, when the time went to go live, Ratburger it was.

The name, and the site, has nothing whatsoever to do with the eponymous children’s book, which was published thirty years after we coined the name and a decade after I registered the domain ratburger.org.

About the Repository

The main purpose of this repository is to implement the principle of radical transparency which I adopted for the site’s implementation, to serve as a worked example and “code mine” for those wishing to set up similar discussion sites, and a means for code-savvy members of the Ratburger community to chip in and help improve the site’s user experience.


Contributing to the Ratburger.org Code Base

You’re welcome to use this repository as the starting point for your own online community site. If you find and fix any bugs or make extensions which might be useful for users or administrators, you’re welcome to submit them via a pull request for incorporation into the Ratburger site and this repository.

The design goals for Ratburger are speed, reliability, minimalism, and ease of use. Consequently, the site deliberately eschews features which require contacting dozens of other Web resources and downloading hundreds of files to display a simple page. These gimmicks may be superficially attractive, but they result in frustratingly slow page load times and render the site vulnerable to points of failure all over the Web. You’re welcome to adorn your own site with such frippery, but Ratburger isn’t interested in it.

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Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

One thought on “Ratburger.org Code Base Repository Now On-line”

  1. The design goals for Ratburger are speed, reliability, minimalism, and ease of use.”

    Love this!! Clean, Clear, Convenient, and Quick.

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