Those Aren’t Bugs, They’re Easter Eggs

[E] Selena MacIntosh*Public Service81 Comments

unicorn

My name is Selena MacIntosh (not really, but 1000 points to the first person who can name the reference in the comments), and I wear a lot of hats. As some of you have noticed, this site has quirks. This post explains all the basics on our little idiosyncrasies, what we’re doing to fix them, and how you can work around them. 

First, some background. We’re 100% volunteer, with some staff members putting in serious hours outside of what we do to feed and shelter ourselves and our loved ones. We make enough from advertising and our generous reader donations to keep P-Mag on a dedicated server, which lives with thousands of other servers in a place much warmer than Indianapolis. Dedicated servers don’t tend to be cheap to rent. We get too much traffic to share a server; in our early days we were kicked clean off a shared plan, with no warning after we got Stumbled Uponâ„¢. Good times. Our little server is a champ, and we frequently push her beyond what she’s technically supposed to be able to do, and we have a series of supports in place to keep her live most of the time. We’ve got a lot going on under the hood, and it takes a certain amount of juggling to make all the parts play well together while not being an unnecessary drain on resources. Don’t get me wrong, I totally love this shit, but I’m not an expert. Yet.

A lively community + fancy pants add-ons + frequently changing front page + one badass but limited server = quirks. The first three variables aren’t changing, and we wouldn’t want them to, so the answers lie in the server.

One thing we do to keep the P-Mag server from shitting itself is use a third-party caching service called CloudFlare. CloudFlare takes all the static resources and stores a cached version of them, which it serves up to users who are not logged in. CloudFlare is awesome, but it’s not perfect. Without regular purges, it can sometimes serve up a cached version of the entire site, sometimes from weeks ago. Solution: We’ve got a regular scheduled time to dump the Cloud Flare cache once per day. CloudFlare is also responsible for the periodic CAPTCHA messages that pop up. It tries to catch malicious visitors, but it seems to throw a lot of false positives. If you get the dreaded CAPTCHA, contact me, I can add you to a whitelist. Spam is a HUGE problem on a blog like ours, we get almost none, so overall the extra pain in the ass is worth it.

The image uploader in the comments is a pain in the ass. If you’re struggling, make sure your images are small enough to fit in the comment box (it will refuse to upload anything that will bleed into the sidebar) and that the file size is small. The limit is 1mb, but the smaller the size, the better your chances of the uploader taking it on the first try.

Embedding YouTube comments also has proven to be a hit or miss thing. Your best chance is to copy the short URL that appears under the video, in the sharing area. Paste that URL into the reply box, then highlight it and click the broken link. The vids only work when the URL isn’t a hyperlink. I’ve noticed recently that the software will second guess us and make the URL a hyperlink anyway. At this point in time, I have no idea how to fix it.

Several folks have noticed a bug when they try to reply to a comment on a post with many comments. The reply box has been appearing in random places, from under the comment to the bottom of the thread to the bottom of the page. I’m pretty sure I fixed it, but I’m not positive without a little more testing. The comment box should be where you expect it to be now. I hope.

Every once in a while, a new member will get stuck in account activation purgatory, and they won’t receive a confirmation email. If that happens to you, use the contact form under the About tab at the top of the page to send a notice. We can resend the email and manually activate users. It only happens when we get a ton of registrations at the exact same time, I think it’s a bug from too many server requests at once. (Also, check your spam folder.)

Sometimes the pages can get stuck while loading during really busy times. Usually, I can stop the dreaded endless load by hitting shift-reload.

We’re close to bringing in enough ad monies to expand to a second server, which will give us much more power under the hood. We’re also constantly working to optimize the site so it uses the server resources efficiently. There will be other glitches along the way, but the long term plan should have us running like a well-oiled machine – with all our whistles and bells intact – in a couple of billing cycles.

I think that covers the main foibles, if you’ve got other issues, let me know in the comments and I’ll let you know what we can do about it!

Profile photo of [E] Selena MacIntosh*
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[E] Selena MacIntosh*

Editor-in-Chief at Persephone Magazine
Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.
Profile photo of [E] Selena MacIntosh*
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[E] Selena MacIntosh*Those Aren’t Bugs, They’re Easter Eggs

81 Comments on “Those Aren’t Bugs, They’re Easter Eggs”

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      1. Profile photo of Kristin Jeannie
        Kristin Jeannie

        Hmm, they are still not working for me. I just checked. The “Forum” tab works, but the “Home” tab for every group I click on has this message. Gah.

        Nothing else on this site is giving me problems.

  1. Profile photo of LoveSunshine
    LoveSunshine

    I’d like to take this moment to say thank you to the person who helped me get in here. I had accidentally typed in my e-mail address wrong when I signed up for my account and was probably destined for activation purgatory, but I sent in a message via the contact page along the lines of, “Crap! Help!” and within five minutes, I got a reply from a real person with a truly can-do attitude, and she got me all set up in no time. And this was at like the middle of the night.

    So thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. Profile photo of
    Kortney Thoma

    Thanks for making this post, Selena! I would really like to be whitelisted (if you are taking requests here) because I sometime hit the wall when I’m uploading photos. I also wanted to say that I finally got a smart phone and I tried the web version of the site–I liked it! Thanks for working so freaking hard to keep this place together!

  3. Profile photo of Magenta
    Magenta

    I’m not sure if this is entirely within your control, but when I try to view the site on my phone (Safari on iPhone) the browser crashed when I tried to view the comments on the most recent OT thread.

    In addition, I can’t reply to friend requests. I haven’t tried accessing groups yet on the mobile site. I tried turning the mobile theme off, but it doesn’t seem to stick. Of course, it’s entirely possible that there’s something I should be doing that I’m currently not, but it’s making it somewhat difficult to comment, etc. on the site when I’m at work and don’t want to view it on my work computer (my supervisor can see everything I do).

    And thanks so much for all of this!

    1. Profile photo of [E] Selena MacIntosh*
      [E] Selena MacIntosh*

      Okay, so I’ve added a whole new Center of Mobile Operations. Mobile Safari still crashes all over the place on posts with a bunch of comments, and it seems to have no bloody idea what to do with BuddyPress, but it’s cleaner and faster. The rest will have to come later, I think.

      Mobile Android is shiny.  and we have pretty icons.

      1. Profile photo of [E] Selena MacIntosh*
        [E] Selena MacIntosh*

        Okay, I just tested the mobile site on Android and Safari, and you’re right, Safari totally craps out on the comments. Android seemed to be okay, and the bigger devices (I do tech writing, that comes with perks.) all tend to use the fancy layout instead of the mobile, by default.

        That could be either our fault or a bug in Safari, I’ll test some things and see what I can suss up.

  4. Profile photo of Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone
    Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone

    I still have my old issue of the comment field not readjusting to fit the space alotted.

    At this point, I’m open to doing soemthing on the user end. I’m on Chrome using windows 7 starter. if anyone has an extension for me to use to fix this, let me know.

    The only place it isn’t giving me this issue is in status updates, but I think that’s because that’s an entirely different form.

     

    Also, I really miss getting the option of getting ALL the comments to a post instead of just direct replies to my post. I feel more disconnected from the community now. *sad face*

    1. Profile photo of [E] Selena MacIntosh*
      [E] Selena MacIntosh*

      The extra subscribe ticky box can’t come back, because it conflicts with the one that lets you subscribe to replies to your comments. What you can do is subscribe to the feed with all the comments.

      Stephanie is working on the comment box issue. The best advice for now is to make sure you’re in full-screen mode for your browser. As the comments get more deeply threaded, the editor gets a little testy, but I’m going to try re-arranging the editing buttons so it’s doesn’t have to be as wide and see if that helps.

      1. Profile photo of Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone
        Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone

        Is there a way to have a button- not in the comment box area, more in the area near the sharing the post options!- to email subscribe?

        Not an urgent issue, again. but yeah. just a thought. would that mess with how to comment box area works since it’s a post associated function that way and not a commenting box one?

        (Also, replies that aren’t directly to my comment I just never end up seeing because I don’t get an alert. :-/)

        Hm. . . I’ll keep brain storming, and I might hassle some of my code friends who have more experience abotu their thoughts.

        Awesome work!

    2. Profile photo of Stephanie
      Stephanie

      I think the only thing you could change is your screen resolution size. You see, the content part of this layout is fluid (basically, using percentages of your screen size, so you have the same percentage of white space and content space no matter what screen res you use), but the fancy plug in we use to have the awesome visual text editor for comments is static (which means it uses a forced size—in this case 60 columns, I think). I know where it is, but I can’t bloody figure out how to override the thing. It’s a pain in the ass, and it probably happens to everyone once they get deep enough in a commenting thread, because the space in which the reply box is is smaller than the forced size required for the comment editor. Does that make sense? So um. For now, love us? Until we can figure something else out? Because we need this plug in for other things in the back end, so it really can’t go anywhere :\ I am really sorry!

      As for your other question, I don’t know why you can no longer subscribe to comments for the entire post. @Selena may be able to answer that one, though :)

      1. Profile photo of Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone
        Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone

        IT’S FIXED. I knew my faith wasn’t misplaced!

        Seriously, though, I knew y’all were wworking your asses off on the other bugs that were more urgent, and that this bug was going to be a HUGE pain. *I* even looked at the code and cried. Not that I’m a code genius, but I have a general idea of where to find the WTFery. (Normally my codiing skills are used to tweak sites for accessibility.)

        I just wanted to let y’all know I was still having this issue, nottrying to rush y’all.

        But I must say I’m BEYOND super thrilled to see this fixed!

        cartoony unicorn with rainbow hair and a gold star on its rump.

  5. Profile photo of christi
    christi

    once i tried to post a comment and it logged me out when i hit submit.

    also i notice daily that i will be able to see the most recent front page of posts, but when i click “previous entries” it will jump to the posts from one to two days prior. therefore i have to scroll through article by article, quite time consuming.

    thanks!

     

    1. Profile photo of [E] Selena MacIntosh*
      [E] Selena MacIntosh*

      Are you logged in when it happens? If not, you’re getting CloudFlare’d.  Since I can’t get the to code itself to set an expire on the caching through CloudFlare, I have to hit a button on their website at least once a day to have it fetch a new version of the site. I’m doing it more frequently now, so even users who aren’t logged in should see a (relatively) fresh version of everything each time they reload.

      If you’re logged in and seeing that issue, that’s a new one, and I’ll tinker around with the settings I have access to and see if I can fix it.

      The reply->log out bug is also a new one, but my logic says it’s a fluke, you may have hit reply at a peak traffic time, or in some other combination of events that made Ol’ Hera (our server) hiccup. Let me know if you see that bug again, and I’ll give her a tune-up.

      As an aside, I totally know how Kaylee felt about Serenity now.

       

    1. Profile photo of [E] Selena MacIntosh*
      [E] Selena MacIntosh*

      Ms. Helen Van Patterson-Patton,

      It was with joy in my heart that I beheld your most recent offering of Animalia: Insecta. I rang up Petunia Weatherbottom, post haste, and begged her to come nigh and view them. We shared a laugh, and a few nips from the flask she keeps at her bossoms.

      While MacIntosh laboratories are in fact busy, busy, busy creating a find and replace system to put charming ladybugs (Insecta: Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in place of the mysterious and spiteful server bugs (PITA:Motherfuckingwhynow:Thisisbullshit), sadly the “Eureka!” moment is still miles away.

      Fondly,

      Ms. Selena MacIntosh

  6. Profile photo of Cesy
    Cesy

    My favourite bug is the comment box, where your comment goes across into some white patch and you can’t see what you’ve written, like the comment box is too big for the bit of page it’s been put on. That’s a little annoying.

  7. Profile photo of Juniper
    Juniper

    Vonnegut!

    But yeah, the CAPTCHA thing came up for me earlier today while saving a draft and I was just glad Juniper Junior wasn’t in the room, because there may have been some expletives, uh, “uttered”.

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