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These days it seems like MeFi is down constantly
May 16, 2005 4:03 AM   Subscribe

Can I just make a frustration-vent post? These days it seems like MeFi is down constantly, several times a day, and to be honest... I'm getting to the point where I'm about ready to move on to another spot. The problem is that, for me, my main community site is like comfort food; it's a place that I can always pop into to see posts and comments from the people I know, and I can always fill in a time gap or soothe my real-life-related nerves by browsing there. But one of the things about comfort food is that it has to be easy and accessible, and lately, MeFi... isn't. So I have some questions...
posted by taz to Bugs at 4:03 AM (154 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Item: Besides MonkeyFilter (which is way high on my list of travel destinations, and may become my new homespot), what other community spaces do you hang out at?

Item: Do you think there's any chance of a successful outside ancillary to MeFi, where people can go to chat and discuss MeFi stuff generally, that would also serve as a morphine drip for all those times MeFi is down? (not so much IRC, which doesn't have such a leisurely format in terms of dropping in and commenting on previous comments, etc.)

Item: Has anyone considered trying to create a MeFi replacement? Sorry to be so crass, but... Well, why not? If enough MeFi people go there, and it can withstand the rigor, why not?
I really don't want this to become, in any sense, a bash-mathowie thread, or a complain-about-the-baby thread; let's just deal with the situation as it is, and offer ideas about what the possibilities are outside strictly-MetaFilter parameters.

(Sorry about the weird formatting, but I tried to do an unsorted list - xhtml-worthy, and otherwise - and it broke the page in preview, so I didn't want to risk it.)
posted by taz at 4:05 AM on May 16, 2005


I feel your pain. Remember the grand redesign contest at the end of last year? I suspect that this place is breaking down more often because #1 is attempting to get MeFi 2.0 up and running. Why spend the time band-aiding this pony if there are new ponies in the wings? If you can't deal with the frequency of problems and you need to move on, feel free, but check in from time to time and see if the redesigned site is up. As a poster who's not part of the inner ring, that's the best I can offer.
posted by Doohickie at 4:08 AM on May 16, 2005


it's an experiment, taz, remember? a bunch of behavioral scientists -- they own most of the sockpuppet accounts, and their lab is quonsar's basement -- are monitoring everybody's reactions. and the man we knows as mathowie is actually an actor living in Los Angeles who poses for the fake blog pictures. the baby? she appeared in two ads for baby formula last week. she's playing a part, too. the only reality is the users' addiction.
as for me, I wouldn't like MetaFilter is it was actually as accessible as the rest of the Internet, lamely, is. loading MeFi's front page is like playing roulette -- I like it. a site that's always there when you want to read it would be very banal.

and by the way, if you want to leave for monekyfilter, well, their site wasn't accessible, too, just the other day -- billing issues or something. crazy scientists beat billing issues every day of the week. don't leave. you'll get bored.


part of the inner ring

ring as in circus ring or boxing ring?
posted by matteo at 4:21 AM on May 16, 2005


*hugs taz*
posted by matteo at 4:23 AM on May 16, 2005


Hah! You see, that's what I need, all those times I need it, multiple times a day.

* sighs with satisfaction *
posted by taz at 4:28 AM on May 16, 2005


Sorry to be so crass, but... Well, why not?

Money, effort & time. Mostly money, I guess, since you can always appoint moderators and webmasters, like the hundreds of forums out there. Anyone care to take a guess as to Mefi bandwidth consumption and server load? I say, about 500GB/month atleast. About $

what other community spaces do you hang out at?

Straight Dope Message Boards. Not a substitute in terms of content and nature, but a good stimulating procrastination zone.
posted by Gyan at 4:37 AM on May 16, 2005


One last thing.

Do you think there's any chance of a successful outside ancillary to MeFi, where people can go to chat and discuss MeFi stuff generally

A wiki with a good commenting plugin.
posted by Gyan at 4:40 AM on May 16, 2005


I've thought about the money thing, as well... But people here are always offering to chip in for help, upgrades, or bandwidth, though maybe this is misleading about what can be expected. But, you're right: effort and time are certainly real stumbling blocks. It would depend on how many people really got involved, I guess. If there was a mass flurry of activity toward any kind of site like this, that could be sustained, the odds are that all those problems could be pretty easily covered.

Also, "Wiki with commentary" sounds very pretty for MeFi-related thingy.
posted by taz at 4:49 AM on May 16, 2005


Initiation and gaining critical mass are, err.. critical. It'll take about a couple of weeks to set something up, once the money and commitment become concrete.
posted by Gyan at 5:24 AM on May 16, 2005


You leave, young lady, and you're gonna get such a spanking.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:30 AM on May 16, 2005


The downtime does suck, and being in Europeland we tend to get the worst of it. And why is that whenever I've written a comment full of sparkling wit and bon mots (I do this for free you know - no, thank you) the server crashes before I get the chance to post it.*

Has anyone considered trying to create a MeFi replacement?

Hmmm... it did cross my mind once. Heh. Actually if anyone wants to go down this road again then I'm happy to offer the existing code and any help I can. Having said that Viewropa is terribly under-utilised at present and I would be delighted for people to post there more often - even if that meant posting policy was losened up or whatever.

Of course the problem with creating a new MeFi is - well you can't. MeFi is a community at war with itself, constantly being pulled in different directions, some towards news and politics, some towards Farkisms or b3taisms, some towards arts & culture, some towards web design and pepsi blue viral marketing. The only thing people here have in common is MeFi itself and once you try to recreate it then you'll get splinters as the various factions try to build the site in their own image. MoFi is pretty close though - I should go there more often - but it has had the advantage of building a loyal user base when Mefi was closed to the heathen hoardes.

Do you think there's any chance of a successful outside ancillary to MeFi

Do you mean a sort of area for chatter but in the same format as Mefi? That'd be easy to do, it's just the Field of Dreams element: if you build it, will they come?

* Oh the irony. I click Preview and the bloody site has crapped out again.
posted by dodgygeezer at 5:32 AM on May 16, 2005


With some luck, the new redesign will use a platform more robust than ColdFusion. Keep the faith.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:33 AM on May 16, 2005


An area for chatter

All you need is a blog with an open thread for whenever Mefi is down.
posted by dhruva at 5:41 AM on May 16, 2005


Good thing that huge influx of cash with all the noobs is paying off in spades.
posted by crunchland at 5:46 AM on May 16, 2005


Or even the shortlived google group.
posted by dhruva at 5:54 AM on May 16, 2005


Also, "Wiki with commentary" sounds very pretty for MeFi-related thingy.

I just happen to have a nearly naked wiki (with a comment module) sitting around -- if anyone actually uses it I can clean the cruft out and spruce it up.

On preview: Oh yeah. The link.
posted by cedar at 6:04 AM on May 16, 2005


I hang out on Tagsurf some. It has a lot of potential, but there aren't enough people there yet.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:33 AM on May 16, 2005


you could try barbelith, but i think membership is a bit random (i asked over a year ago, and was only added a month or so back). it's not really "clicked" with me yet, but i remain hopeful...
posted by andrew cooke at 6:34 AM on May 16, 2005


With some luck, the new redesign will use a platform more robust than ColdFusion. Keep the faith.

Please, please stop beating that drum. The problem is not CF. The problem is running a site of this size, app server + database, on a single tower running Windows. Matt's managed to squeeze A LOT out of that box, but a site this size simply needs bigger iron.
posted by mkultra at 6:37 AM on May 16, 2005


Gyan wrote:
Anyone care to take a guess as to Mefi bandwidth consumption and server load? I say, about 500GB/month atleast. About $

No need to guess, Gyan. I've asked, and Matt has answered.

That was a year ago, so I'd put money on your guess being very, very close.

dodgygeezer wrote:
MoFi is pretty close though - I should go there more often - but it has had the advantage of building a loyal user base when Mefi was closed to the heathen hoardes.

This next part is composed of gross generalizations of varying (in)accuracy.

This is going to upset some people, but I think it's worth some discussion: the problem with Mofi is that in some ways it's the inverse of #mefi. Where #mefi provides - in comparison to MeFi - a slightly smarter, jaded, and completely democratic/populist atmosphere with doses of transgressive humor, MoFi seems to provide a slightly less intelligent, more naive (the reaction to angry modem was precious) and tightly controlled atmosphere in which some of #mefi's humor would be deleted outright. More upsetting from my point of view is the apparent delight in authoritarianism ("bring out the banhammer!") that seems to permeate MoFi. I don't want to sound too down on MoFi - I think it has a lot of great moments and intelligent, funny people. But I don't think that in a very general sense it provides the sort of experience I'm looking for in a web forum, and for some reason I doubt I'm completely alone in this.

Feel free to yell at me using a lot of profanity for the above paragraph, though.

Coldfusion wrote:
With some luck, the new redesign will use a platform more robust than ColdFusion. Keep the faith.

I really hope so, but I'm not counting on it. I probably don't give Matt enough credit and I think he's certainly smart enough to realize that his problems are more grounded in his choice of the Coldfusion platform than in any serious lack of innate programming ability on his own part, but I get this weird feeling we haven't seen the last of of our old nemesis.
posted by Ryvar at 6:42 AM on May 16, 2005


Sorry, Civil_Disobedient wrote that, not Coldfusion except in the most disgustingly literalist sense.
posted by Ryvar at 6:43 AM on May 16, 2005


I've been through the new baby thing.... twice, so I have a feeling that Matt's time is rather taken up just now. I'm willing to give him some time to find the balance that is needed when a family grows.

*Hugs Matt and family.

*Hugs taz
posted by mmahaffie at 6:49 AM on May 16, 2005


I don't know why, but MeFi's downtime has never been an issue for me. If it's not up those moments when I pop onto the net, "oh well, maybe next time".
posted by mischief at 6:55 AM on May 16, 2005


Item: Do you think there's any chance of a successful outside ancillary to MeFi, where people can go to chat and discuss MeFi stuff generally, that would also serve as a morphine drip for all those times MeFi is down?

9622.net, doye.
posted by adampsyche at 7:00 AM on May 16, 2005


The problem is not CF.

I disagree. A properly configured Apache+PHP server doesn't crash the server under load and require reboot. Not to mention the added complexity and overhead CF requires. Throwing money at the problem may keep it at bay, but isn't going to make it go away.

Also, it would be a shame to be tied to a platform that isn't open source. Not because of any alliegance to the philosophy, but because with the new Adobe+Macromedia merger, it would be a shame if the platform were obsolesced. I wouldn't want to bet the longevity of a site this large on some company's bottom-line.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:03 AM on May 16, 2005


I have to agree with Ryvar re: Monkeyfilter. I did not have a happy experience there; made the mistake of posting a few less-than-popular opinions in a fairly unapologetic style and was whanged with the "Banhammer" in no time at all. The tendency to scream "Troll! Ban him/her!" over there is almost as tiresome as the astonishingly juvenile and embarrassingly constant references to "nannas" and kitty cats.

But hey, I'm not bitter. Well, no more than I was to start with, anyway.
posted by Decani at 7:22 AM on May 16, 2005


Actually has Matt ever explained the precise cicumstances of these crashes? Is it just a service crash or does the server lock up or blue screen?

Even if the crashes can't be stopped in the short term we should be able to find a dirty fix to restart the server or services unsupervised when a crash does occur. We could even have a whip-round for a remote reboot device for when the server is totally unresponsive...

I've had to keep unstable servers alive in my time and can probably suggest a few things (as I'm sure can many others around here).
posted by dodgygeezer at 7:29 AM on May 16, 2005


Metafilter has grown and evolved, and any other site will grow and evolve in different directions. MoFi was a waiitng room for MeFi, and has grown into its own community. Matt's moderation has provided strong direction, but the community has also shaped the site. I've no idea how to start a site with a lot of smart, funny, interesting people, peppered with weirdos, trolls, and a quonsar. I figure Matt needs some time to get through the babymoon, and then he'll be able to pay more attention.

Having Jessamyn available to clean some messes is good, but I'd like to see at least a 2nd site admin, and less comment deletion.
posted by theora55 at 7:33 AM on May 16, 2005


2nd site admin requires, at a minimum,
1) trustworthiness
2) full access
3) programming nous
4) availability
5) judgement

I know there are a lot of code monkeys out there, but how many is Matt comfortable enough with to let them run their coffee-stained paws over the codebase?

Also add my voice to the clamour for a CF cull in the near future. Never had to work with something so unwieldy and poorly implemented.
Except perhaps HTML. And the German language.
posted by NinjaPirate at 7:51 AM on May 16, 2005


less comment deletion.

not to derail, but either the metafilthy plugin doesn't really work or there are very, very few deleted comments here. I seldom see any "deleted comment by X"
posted by matteo at 7:58 AM on May 16, 2005


I think the quality of posters on Metafilter is good, and I writhe under the guillotine wit.

That said, I was once an active member of kuro5hin, until Rusty took $70K from members and the site suddenly began to fall apart. That left a really bads taste, so I left.

That said, I think at least a minimal, courtesy breakdown on where the money goes would be nice. Like, 6000 new members at $5, did $30K get eaten up by bandwidth? And what about the donation fest after the Suicide Girls debacle/ban fest?

These don't really need an answer, I suppose, I like MF very much. But I agree with taz, a site breaking down 5 times a day is really embarrassing, and not kind to the users.

That said, if this place is just a hobby, a stepping stone for indy web cred and a future lecturing tour, I'm glad to have been a part.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 8:13 AM on May 16, 2005


Good thing that huge influx of cash with all the noobs is paying off in spades.

and hoes. don't forget hoes.
posted by quonsar at 8:20 AM on May 16, 2005


not to derail, but either the metafilthy plugin doesn't really work or there are very, very few deleted comments here. I seldom see any "deleted comment by X"

huh? a deleted comment is purged from the database. there is no way for a plugin to know it was ever there. deleted threads aren't actually purged, but only in the blue.
posted by quonsar at 8:23 AM on May 16, 2005


theora55 writes:
MoFi was a waiitng room for MeFi, and has grown into its own community.

Exactly. My point wasn't to slag on them, because judgements like 'better' or 'worse' are as ridiculous as they are impossible. They cater to a very marginally different crowd, and that's OK. The whole contrast was just something that I'd talked about recently with a couple people familiar with both. It seemed relevant to the thread given the obvious inclination towards suggesting MoFi.

theora55 wrote:
Having Jessamyn available to clean some messes is good, but I'd like to see at least a 2nd site admin, and less comment deletion.

I don't know. Assuming for the sake of argument that Matt would be so inclined (which we've no indication of), over the entire spectrum ranging from quonsar to Matt I can't think of one person as likely to be agreed upon as Jessamyn. Also, you'd probably want to find someone who consistently sleeps inverted hours due to Matt and Jessamyn having similar schedules - perhaps someone from central or eastern Europe? Eliminates a significant chunk of the potential candidates in any case.

Mean Mr. Bucket writes:
That said, if this place is just a hobby, a stepping stone for indy web cred and a future lecturing tour, I'm glad to have been a part.

We've all made that joke at some point, but if it's actually true I'll eat my hat*

*note that I do not actually own a hat.
posted by Ryvar at 8:24 AM on May 16, 2005


but a site this size simply needs bigger iron

no, a site this size on Windoze needs bigger iron.
posted by quonsar at 8:26 AM on May 16, 2005


That said, if this place is just a hobby, a stepping stone for indy web cred and a future lecturing tour

I-I-I'm not your stepping stone...

sorry
posted by jonmc at 8:34 AM on May 16, 2005


there is no way for a plugin to know it was ever there.

q, every once in a while, MetaFilthy detects them -- and you see "deleted comment by X" in the thread, where the comment used to be. I use Firefox of course, the newest MetaFilthy plugin, on OSX
posted by matteo at 8:36 AM on May 16, 2005


it must be doing something very cumbersome then, like caching and comparing the current page to the previous. i wonder then why it doesn't just display them?
posted by quonsar at 8:42 AM on May 16, 2005


Item: Do you think there's any chance of a successful outside ancillary to MeFi, where people can go to chat and discuss MeFi stuff generally, that would also serve as a morphine drip for all those times MeFi is down?

9622.net, doye


That's what I thought when I clicked through and saw that this is 9522.

I tend to see the downtime as part of MetaFilter's charm, myself (presumably a case of absence making the heart grow fonder).
posted by jack_mo at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2005


The site does seem awfully dodgy lately, no question. At times it seems charming, kind of like an old car that you're never sure if it's going to work or not. Other times, it's annoying - jeez, I actually have to get some work done!

I was happy when status.metafilter.com was introduced as a way of letting people know what's up when it's down... But that hasn't been updated for months. Why it matters, I have no idea, but I enjoyed having a way of knowing what was going on when the site was having troubles.

dodgygeeser - these days I always copy my sparking posts before pressing the preview button, so I can just repaste them in if they vanish.
posted by jasper411 at 10:02 AM on May 16, 2005


Just seconding the frustration. My impression is that Matt continues to run the site basically by himself, which I never understood. I know jessamyn helps with the modding duties, and he got some help last winter on the codebase IIRC, but he's obviously still spread way too thin based on the continuing uptime problems around here, and the self-imposed upgrade deadlines that just get forgotten (new design, mefi projects, etc.) I'm not saying he's not improving the site but his reach has way exceeded his grasp at this point.

I don't think he owes anyone an accounting of the registration revenue spending, but I do think it's odd that someone can care and know so much about usability and still allow his site's backend to fail his users so regularly. I would think just the professional embarrassment would be enough at this point to make him want to bring in some regular help.

[and now the site won't let me post this. I guess I'll throw it on the clipboard for later.] OK, after one hour outage...
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:14 AM on May 16, 2005


Somewhere along the way I thought I heard that http://status.metafilter.com was the designated EKG for MeFi brown-outs, but I notice that it doesn't look to have been touched since February.
posted by blueberry at 10:16 AM on May 16, 2005


jasper411: There's a current status page on the wiki but it's user-edited - you still don't know what's going on, but you can at least verify that it's not just you having problems.

It's pretty clear from that page that problems have been a lot worse recently...
posted by blag at 10:17 AM on May 16, 2005


...I'd like to see at least a 2nd site admin, and less comment deletion.

...there are very, very few deleted comments here.

A 2nd admin and less badpost/comment deletion probably will not go hand in hand. There is almost no comment deletion as it is. I'd like to see an Australian/New Zealander admin just to get as much timezone coverage as possible. Where is I Am Joe's Spleen when you need him?
posted by jessamyn at 10:23 AM on May 16, 2005


Don't worry; he'll have a lot more time this summer.

*Smiles enigmatically; throws up on last clean sleeper.*
posted by mathowie's baby at 10:27 AM on May 16, 2005


Who wants to contribute to the "Buy Ryvar a Hat" fund?
posted by boo_radley at 10:27 AM on May 16, 2005


not because I agree with this being a stepping stone, but because it makes me sad that he doesn't own one. Everyone needs a hat.
posted by boo_radley at 10:31 AM on May 16, 2005


Ryvar should wear a porkpie.
posted by sciurus at 10:42 AM on May 16, 2005


Where is I Am Joe's Spleen when you need him?

asleep?
posted by matteo at 10:43 AM on May 16, 2005


Where is I Am Joe's Spleen when you need him?

Somewhere near I Am Joe's Stomach
posted by dodgygeezer at 11:39 AM on May 16, 2005


matteo writes "every once in a while, MetaFilthy detects them -- and you see 'deleted comment by X' in the thread, where the comment used to be. "

quonsar writes "it must be doing something very cumbersome then, like caching and comparing the current page to the previous. i wonder then why it doesn't just display them?"


It caches the user name and the anchor, but not the comment text. The rationale is to provide an indication that a comment was deleted, so that deleted comments don't confuse the reader who previously saw the comment, and then wonders "did I just think I saw that comment?" But the text of the deleted comment isn't kept because a) that would be too cumbersome, and more importantly b) that would undermine matt's desire to have the comment deleted.

Of course, MeatFilthy only detects that a comment is missing if MetaFilthy had a chance to "see" the thread after the comment was posted but before it was deleted. That's why you only see the deleted comment indication "once in a while".

The other reason for caching is that it speeds up other processing when a thread is reloaded, like putting each comment into its own div and highlighting specified users, functionality not available in the released version of MetaFilthy. It's not particularly cumbersome: if you scroll all the way to the very very bottom of the thread, MetaFilthy displays the time it took to process the page.

Unfortunately, the latest version of Firefox (1.0.4) changes the way it indicates the user has gone "back" in the browser history, which breaks MetaFilthy's check for that, causing MetaFilthy to scroll to the last read comment on a browser-back, which MetaFilthy is designed not to do. The work-around is to turn off the "scroll-to" option in MetaFilthy (leaving on the "indicate last-read comment", if desired), but an update to MetaFilthy isn't yet available.
posted by orthogonality at 11:41 AM on May 16, 2005


porkpies are sexy.

When downtime happens on euro-hours always head to viewropa. :)
a-ha! downtime when I try to post this, of course! Mefi-server is feeling very poorly today. :(
posted by dabitch at 11:51 AM on May 16, 2005


How many outages during the time this thread has been open alone? I've noticed several.
posted by gramschmidt at 12:07 PM on May 16, 2005


How many outages during the time this thread has been open alone?
Misread that as How many outrages.
posted by boo_radley at 12:45 PM on May 16, 2005


Netcraft server uptime for metafilter, which only really tells you how long the server has gone between full OS reboots, is pretty instructive in this case. (of course, connection refused while trying to post this). :-)
posted by jba at 12:55 PM on May 16, 2005


thanks for the enlightenment, ortho!
posted by quonsar at 1:40 PM on May 16, 2005


Netcraft confirms - mefi is dying.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:13 PM on May 16, 2005


Sites with longest running systems at ThePlanet.com Internet Services, Inc.

Linux = 47
FreeBSD = 3
Windows = 0
posted by airguitar at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2005


thanks ortho
posted by matteo at 2:51 PM on May 16, 2005


*hugs taz, can't be left out*
posted by Shane at 3:00 PM on May 16, 2005


It is awful when an addict can't get a MeFi fix. I would write more, but my hands are still shaking.
*pretends to hug taz, surreptitiosly slips handcuffs on her, chains her to MetaFilter*
posted by Cranberry at 3:11 PM on May 16, 2005


oops, surreptitiously. i don't know what is wrong with me, but I think I will improve soon. Matt's baby is already posting so she will probably be advanced enough to take on some site maintenance duties in the summer. Then every thing will be fine, right?
posted by Cranberry at 3:18 PM on May 16, 2005


The site's been patchy for me lately as well and it does seem to carve a hole in my surf time. When it happens, I try to actually get some work done just to keep my boss guessing.
posted by fenriq at 3:30 PM on May 16, 2005


Matt's baby is already posting so she will probably be advanced enough to take on some site maintenance duties in the summer. Then every thing will be fine, right?

Baby don't do ColdFusion.
posted by mathowie's baby at 3:36 PM on May 16, 2005


*fusses from 3:00am to 5:00*
posted by mathowie's baby at 3:43 PM on May 16, 2005


can we hire a nanny to look after the server?
posted by matteo at 4:38 PM on May 16, 2005


This is a reason that I stopped visiting another MeFi spin-off site, the oldest one that I'm aware of, way back when, which shall go nameless because I really like the folks there and they're happy to keep their community small and intimate, I think.

That is an excerpt from a MeTa thread that I saved - I am not positive about who posted it and the search metatalk function is timing out.

I imagine that a member taps you on the shoulder (or sends you an IM) and says, "[name of secret MeFi spin-off site]: do you accept?"
posted by mlis at 4:57 PM on May 16, 2005


Is there a secret carrier handshake?

/modem humor
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:04 PM on May 16, 2005


*also hugs taz cuz I wuv taz* Sorry, but I've been to MoFi and to 9622.net and there is way more noise than content on both sites, especially the poo-flinging. Are they still doing that horizontal scroll-thing on 9622.net? Man, that was annoying! I guess that until the MeFi infrastructure becomes more robust, taz and I and the other junkies will have to treat it like a fine wine, rather than comfort food; little sips now and then, just enought to whet the appetite and leave us wanting more....
posted by Lynsey at 5:12 PM on May 16, 2005


weird, I made a change to the java engine behind CF and the site seems rather zippy. I'm sure it's short-lived though.

I am working on fixing the uptime issues this week, looking into every possibility.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:51 PM on May 16, 2005


slightly less intelligent, more naive (the reaction to angry modem was precious)

Right, because you have to be dumb and naive to object to someone being a complete asshole. Nice try.

Everyone needs a hat.

Yes!

*hugs taz*

On preview:

*squeezes eyes shut, tries to believe*
posted by languagehat at 5:56 PM on May 16, 2005


I imagine that a member taps you on the shoulder (or sends you an IM) and says, "[name of secret MeFi spin-off site]: do you accept?"
posted by MLIS at 4:57 PM PST on May 16 [!]


SOMEBODY PLEASE GIVE ME A LOGIN TO FILE PILE OH GOD PLEASE
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 6:01 PM on May 16, 2005


Pearls before swine, orange c-, er, Mean Mr. Bucket, pearls before swine.
posted by mlis at 6:14 PM on May 16, 2005


9622.net: way more noise than content

Works for me.

and don't let the chicken hear you talkin' trash about the horizontal-scroll thing, either
posted by yhbc at 6:35 PM on May 16, 2005


Can I hug taz even if I have no idea what the fuck all the technical stuff means?

If not, can I at least hug ortho?
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies at 6:44 PM on May 16, 2005


*hugs yhbc and "the chicken"*
posted by Lynsey at 6:47 PM on May 16, 2005


Could the cranky, fussy server be fixed by throwing a bunch of money at it? (Cranky fussy babies are another thing ...) Maybe Matt just has too much on his hands at the moment and needs to hire a contract programmer or two, and buy a new server while he's at it. So how about changing MeFi accounts to yearly subscriptions for some really modest fee? I'm thinking $10 per year, which is less than a buck a month (you could still lurk for free). Even if only half of the current members agreed, that's still 10^4 members x $10, which is $100,000 a year for Matt to throw at hardware, software, and whatever contractors he needs. If there's some left over for the baby's college fund, that's fine too. I get a lot more than a dollar's worth of pleasure out of MeFi every month, except when it's down and then I get cranky and fussy. Waaaaahhh!
posted by Quietgal at 6:51 PM on May 16, 2005


I am also generally frustrated by the downtime, because Jrun ate one of my posts today. It sucks to sit there typing a careful response in AskMe or whatever, only to have it vanish into the void. This is above and beyond not being able to read the site when I want to.
posted by scarabic at 6:55 PM on May 16, 2005


Ah, quietgal, but that would mean he'd have to make MetaFilter a full-time thing, which means we'd probably expect a lot more out of him. There would be tons more MeTa threads about deletions if we were paying subscribers to the site. And more complaints about downtime (if there was any).

Right now, when MeFi's down, it sucks, but I don't worry about it. If I was paying for the site (which I would have to...it's high quality smack), I'd probably be pissed.
posted by graventy at 7:05 PM on May 16, 2005


I am working on fixing the uptime issues this week, looking into every possibility.

Just be sure you hold Fiona on your lap while you do this. I hear a baby bjorn works wonders. Gotta teach her to code while she's young enough to learn, you know....
posted by anastasiav at 7:07 PM on May 16, 2005


I always post my posts to my clipboard before posting them anywhere. Heh. I'm so addicted to this damned site that I don't even notice the downtime.
I just sit in front of my pc, shivering, banging on the left mouse button, cursing at firefox and blaming the wrong people.

I'm going to go see if the people at MoFi are talking about us.
*runs off.*

*comes back.*

Nope. Looks like they've got their own shit to deal with. heh.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:15 PM on May 16, 2005


a site this size simply needs bigger iron

One way to pay for things (I'll defer to others as to what things - server, bandwidth, part-time administrative support, etc.) would be to have Google (or other) text ads on older posts (blue and green, not gray). In particular, many AskMe pages are potential treasure-troves for Google (and other) searches, and advertisers would be happy to pay for the viewers.

Minimal inconvenience to members:

* Put the ads on older pages (say, seven days or more older, or even only closed threads)

* Or ads not even visible to those logged on (via the wonders of ColdFusion)
posted by WestCoaster at 7:19 PM on May 16, 2005


Another way to make money: sell t-shirts.
posted by dhruva at 7:25 PM on May 16, 2005


Even if only half of the current members agreed, that's still 10^4 members

nowhere near that many accounts are active, though. And a lot of members pay more than $10 a year towards the site either through donations, buying text ads, or opening sock puppets. I dunno that he would necessarily make more money by making it official...
posted by mdn at 7:31 PM on May 16, 2005


WestCoaster, that's exactly what I do currently -- google ads on mefi and ask mefi, for those not logged in, ad-free for folks with accounts.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:00 PM on May 16, 2005


Another way to make money: sell t-shirts.

well, mr. marx and I took a beating with the "I DON'T WANT TO BE EXPOSED TO ANUS" t-shirts
just so you know
posted by matteo at 8:24 PM on May 16, 2005


I wonder how many flat screen tv's and recumbent bikes a guy could buy for $100k?
posted by crunchland at 10:05 PM on May 16, 2005


but that would mean he'd have to make MetaFilter a full-time thing, which means we'd probably expect a lot more out of him

I've never felt much of this "I'm your customer dammit so give me what I deserve" feeling about MetaFilter. It's just this cool thing that we all like, most of all Matt, and it's a shame that it's down so much. It's not so much a question of whether he's giving us what we're owed. I'm sure he cares more than anyone here about the quality of the site. By the same token, it doesn't do much good to complain. He has limitations and they seem to exclude licensing a battle-proven platform to run the joint on, and the time to completely rewrite and optimize everything. I certainly don't have the time, money, or skillz to do it either.
posted by scarabic at 10:09 PM on May 16, 2005


Very few people do. However, to me it's frustrating that there are many people here, who if allowed, might be able to pull together to come up with a solution. I know for certain that if money is needed people would be willing to donate towards a goal.

As is it is, it seems like the situation is that Matt is saying I don't really have the time or the [X-factor] to do it myself, but I don't want anyone else doing it either. There's never been a proposed task, problem or situation for which we haven't had many volunteers offer their services - from programming, to legal aid, to admin. or labelling. And to me, this is really what the internet and community sites are all about - many people coming to together to do what would be impossible or very, very time-consuming for one person or a small group to do alone.

On the other hand, I'm loving all the hugging, so I could just take advantage of this, and complain a lot more often!
posted by taz at 10:44 PM on May 16, 2005


and don't let the chicken hear you talkin' trash about the horizontal-scroll thing, either

*glares menacingly*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:28 PM on May 16, 2005


Also, I'd say the point (or a point, at least) of 9622.net is noise. It was created to we'd have an outlet for the pointless goofiness and jocularity that was stinking up Meta*. It has grown and changed, of course, but that was a big part of the idea.

Not that it helped the overall picture much, but it was done out of respect for the community here, and siphoned off some of the silliness at the time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:33 PM on May 16, 2005


As is it is, it seems like the situation is that Matt is saying I don't really have the time or the [X-factor] to do it myself, but I don't want anyone else doing it either.

Since you mention it, yeah it does seem that way. This topic has been to discussed to death both in MeTa and the various MeFi orbitals, and I've never really seen anyone seriously suggest otherwise. The conclusion I've more or less always seen from anybody who runs a site greater than or equal to MeFi in terms of traffic/transactions is that a switch to a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) or something very similar (FreeBSD?) is needed. MeFi does run on Apache, so props are due there at least.
posted by Ryvar at 11:40 PM on May 16, 2005


As is it is, it seems like the situation is that Matt is saying I don't really have the time or the [X-factor] to do it myself, but I don't want anyone else doing it either.

While it may appear that way, it's not the reasons behind it. Back in 2001, a few php-minded members got together to produce a clone of mefi, but it was a bit of a nightmare to manage the volunteer effort and the group ended up talking for two months but producing nothing, but a couple early mefi clone offshoots came out of individuals.

The reasons I've held off on open sourcing the codebase or trying to organize a big volunteer coding effort is that coding the backend, maintaining that code, and extending it is a major thing -- I'd argue moreso than managing the social admin duties. It's a big effort that can create more problems than it solves. The main problem I've seen in similar software projects is that coding teams need to be as small as possible, all the way down to one person is best (no miscommunication or ownership issues arise). Going to two people and beyond opens a can of worms and if early attempts at producing an open source mefi clone are any indication, it's a tough road to follow to the end.

Ideally, I'll likely continue hacking on it myself, but I'm currently looking for outside CF help so that at the very least, the current site can continue to operate and be somewhat more stable.

After that, porting major parts of the site to php or ruby is a definite possibility.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:40 PM on May 16, 2005


Thanks, matt. That's the explanation I've always been sort of looking for as to the state-of-the-blue. Greatly appreciated.
posted by Ryvar at 11:51 PM on May 16, 2005


taz: You're one of the few people on the site I'd be genuinely disappointed to see leave. (Not that I don't love you all, but urmm, it's the taz) I understand your dissatisfaction, and you've got to do what you've got to do, but really I woud hate to see you go.
posted by seanyboy at 12:13 AM on May 17, 2005


I wonder how many flat screen tv's and recumbent bikes a guy could buy for $100k?

i'd say 1 nice flat screen and 1 nice recumbent bike. of course that doesn't have anything to do with the money raised from metafilter, right?
posted by puke & cry at 1:25 AM on May 17, 2005


thanks for that information, Matt. And seanyboy, you're just a big plush-toy softie deep down, aren't you? *kiss*

So, look, here's my idea: I've registered METACHAT.ORG, and I have this layout idea that I stole from my MeFi redesign submission (ignore the sample "post text", of course):

*****************************************

LOOK! LOOK! LOOK! (gif image)

*****************************************

I've emailed dodgygeezer to see if he feels like hosting and doing the cms, because we've worked together before, so we're used to trying to deal with the integration of design and function. But, he may be full up and unable to take this on. If so, if anyone else feels like taking on this task, that would be cool.

Maybe no one at all will ever use this, or maybe it will be handy for blabbering beyond the confines of MetaTalk, and being able to touch base when things go kaflooey. It can be linked from the Wiki, especially on the status page, and if Matt wants to link it here, that would be great.

At least it's worth a try? The morphine drip?
posted by taz at 1:36 AM on May 17, 2005


Hey taz - send me the usual and I'll set it up ASAP
posted by dodgygeezer at 1:53 AM on May 17, 2005


Woohoo!!
posted by taz at 1:56 AM on May 17, 2005


The main problem I've seen in similar software projects is that coding teams need to be as small as possible, all the way down to one person is best

MetaFilter: doesn't play well with others
posted by Doohickie at 4:33 AM on May 17, 2005


taz: Interesting idea... another MetaOffshoot birthed.

By the way, ain't-cha lovin' all the huggin'?

I had a thought, reading through this thread, that if we tried a MefiGroupHug -- all 23,800 or so of us -- we could probably pause the web for a moment.
posted by mmahaffie at 5:06 AM on May 17, 2005


Sorry, what I meant to say was *glares menacingly*.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:30 AM on May 17, 2005


taz, you make the prettiest things! I'll come just for the design, even if I don't have anything to say.
posted by languagehat at 6:58 AM on May 17, 2005


* ponders the idea of languagehat with nothing to say; shudders. *

Well, it's going along pretty swimmingly; I'm nearly done with what I will call the "beta" CSS, and dodgy is tapping his foot waiting for me to send it on over... It shouldn't be terribly long before we have something up well enough for everyone to start playing with it a bit.

That doesn't mean that you can all stop with the hugging, though; I might just fly off the handle again.
posted by taz at 7:13 AM on May 17, 2005


and if Matt wants to link it here, that would be great.

But if MetaFilter is down, no one will be able to access that link.

That being said: MetaChat has potential.
posted by gramschmidt at 7:57 AM on May 17, 2005


Sorry, what I meant to say was *glares menacingly*

Strangely enough, Stav, that's always been just exactly how I've pictured you.
posted by anastasiav at 8:39 AM on May 17, 2005


Well, I'm thinking it could also be used for just plain blathering that shouldn't be done here - basically, really chatting, but post/thread style...

So, I'm just about ready to send dodgy the stuff now, though I haven't yet managed to get my middle column liquid, as I want it to be; it'll do to start, I think.
posted by taz at 8:39 AM on May 17, 2005


though I haven't yet managed to get my middle column liquid

I can't even imagine what that feels like.
posted by dodgygeezer at 8:49 AM on May 17, 2005


*hugs taz, again*

MetaFilter -- I'll come just for the design, even if I don't have anything to say.

MetaFilter -- *hugs taz*
posted by matteo at 9:01 AM on May 17, 2005


hugs a middle column.
looks at the mess on the floor.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:16 AM on May 17, 2005


I think my middle column just prematurely ejaculated!

Er... I guess I meant "fluid"; I should know that - it's seminal!

So, I've sent it to Mr. geezer - let him hiss and spit at it a while, I'm getting a glass of wine.
posted by taz at 9:52 AM on May 17, 2005


*gropes hugs taz*

Please don't leave. I'll throw a hissy fit and you know no one wants to see that.

Oh, and I looove the idea of MetaChat.
posted by deborah at 10:24 AM on May 17, 2005


Pretty metachat site. Wonder how it'll handle mefi loads.

In any case, I was wondering--how much does it cost to run this place? Or does it make money?
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:50 AM on May 17, 2005


Oye. We've had that question before, but now I've had too many wines to look it up.

At any rate, no way MetaChat will have to deal with MeFi loads... It will only be MeTa people, for the most part, and only some of them. In fact, it's much more likely to die a lonely and ignoble death, if history is any indication.

Still, just speaking personally, there are many times when I'm sort of sparky and playful and into chattering with MeFi people, but feel (rightfully) constrained about how much I post/comment here in MeTa, and then during the down times I'm kind of desperate to connect with mefites, but really feel kind of embarrassed to go to #mefi, or the monkey palaces to only jabber about why MeFi is down. Maybe this is an alternative... We'll see.
posted by taz at 12:06 PM on May 17, 2005


i'm in : >

when does it go live?

*hugs taz too, comes away all sticky*
posted by amberglow at 12:28 PM on May 17, 2005


can't wait!

what with all the downtime, i've been getting too productive lately, they might start expecting it of me!
posted by jasper411 at 12:32 PM on May 17, 2005


A couple of technical things.

First, the bigger part of the problem is almost certainly CF. That's not necessarily CFs or Matt's fault, though. This site is heavily loaded enough that at least one of three things needs to be present: 1) more than light-duty hardware (not commodity PC stuff); 2) more than light-duty software (including OS); 3) more than light-duty site architecture. I don't know about #1, but we do know there's not redundancy. Mefi fails at #2 because it's on Windows and its running Cold Fusion. It fails on #3 because while Matt's a smart guy and wrote a book about design and mefi, the truth is that mefi wasn't coded from the ground-up for this kind of traffic.

I'd wager that just satisfying one of the above criterion would alleviate the problems significantly. 1 is money. 2 is time and/or money. 3 is time and/or money. 2 would probably allow for 3 without too much more time invested.

A piece of advice: almost every step closer to the end-user has an opportunity for caching. The closer you cache your data to the end-user, the less your bandwidth use (including processing bandwidth!). Move everything as close to the user as possible. Note the your web server is closer to the end-user than is the database. (D'uh.)

To taz and co.: when I talked about a companion site to metafilter last year, my chief architecural concern was one that no one really understood my rationale for. And that is that it would be essentially ownerless and zero-maintainance. You can achieve something close to this if you try. If you don't, you'll end up with something buggy, unreliable, a pain to administer, and a site that's reliant on you or someone else continiung to have active owenership and taking responsibility for it. Who wants that? It's fun for a while, then it's not. And this consideration isn't really about you, it's about your users who will take the site's availability for granted. Does all this sound familiar? :)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:17 PM on May 17, 2005


The main problem I've seen in similar software projects is that coding teams need to be as small as possible

As a project manager for a major web company I can totally agree with this. Unless the team of folks managing MeFi can get a LOT bigger and more efficient, it shouldn't get ANY bigger. The loss of efficiency in moving from 1 to 2 owners/developers is so great that it's hardly worth it. You only gain some kind of benefit after 3-5 of them are all on a project, and at that point managing them is a significant undertaking. More significant than the occasional bug-fix and annual big-upgrade schedule this place has been on.

So no, taz, et al, I don't see any illogical reluctance on Matt's part to accept "volunteers." I have seen it that way in the past, but I've abandoned that point of view as impractical. It sounds good, and believe me, it's the same everywhere. Show me a site that has a community and I'll show you a site that's got 1,000 armchair developers who think they can make it better. Yet few if any of those sites actually accept "volunteer" help. Open-sourcing it all would be another avenue, and worth considering, but with many of the same conversion costs.

"MeFi does run on Apache"

In as far as accepting incoming requests from browsers, sure, but I don't think it's that component that's going down. As EB says, the problem is ColdFusion.
posted by scarabic at 2:05 PM on May 17, 2005


So no, taz, et al, I don't see any illogical reluctance on Matt's part to accept "volunteers."

I didn't actually have any problem with this either, until the site started constantly crashing. Not accepting an arm when you can continue to stand on your own is one thing; refusing help when you are rolling helplessly around in the gutter is a bit different.
posted by taz at 2:24 PM on May 17, 2005


I used the downtime to find and feed new addictions...

*hugs taz*
*doesn't let go*
Taz: No leaving for you.
posted by schyler523 at 2:33 PM on May 17, 2005


It is entirely inaccurate to blame the system stability problem on ColdFusion or Windows. Macromedia's site is based on ColdFusion, receives far more traffic, and doesn't have long-standing load or up-time issues. Microsoft's site runs on IIS, receives far more traffic, and doesn't have stability issues. I'm a Unix geek too, but the list of large sites running CF and/or Windows without stability issues is very large.

In looking at the differences between MeFi, MeTa, and AskMe, it is obvious code optimization and modular architecture is not present in Matt's code base. This site is a mish-mash of functionality and hobbyist tinkering that is not suited to the load it handles. Blaming the backend products for the poor performance is silly. It is like blaming Ferrari for making an inferior product because Michael Schumaker occasionally loses a race.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 2:50 PM on May 17, 2005


Taz: I'm willing to host, I've got some space on the ol' server. Let's tawk over martinis, you fabulous thing.
posted by moonbird at 3:14 PM on May 17, 2005


For what it's worth, the site and server have been up consistently since last night when I applied a handful of fixes. I know that sounds pathetic on one level (celebrating 20 hours of uptime!), but considering how dodgy the thing has been these past couple weeks I've spent mostly offline, that's saying something.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:22 PM on May 17, 2005


I didn't actually have any problem with this either, until the site started constantly crashing.

I appreciate that the frustration level goes way up when the site goes down, but volunteer help isn't the answer. Critical uptime bug-fixing is the worst place to drop volunteers in. Matt has accepted help from others in developing new features in the past, and adding functionality is an easier thing to farm out to enthusiastic third parties than figuring out OMG SHTI WHYS THE DBLINK DEAD???

When you don't have time to spell "shit" properly... well, you get the idea.
posted by scarabic at 3:42 PM on May 17, 2005


Metafilter: celebrating 20 hours of uptime!
posted by amberglow at 3:53 PM on May 17, 2005


You should get one of those boards.

There have been 20 hours since the last downtime.

(I can't remember the actual wordage and googling images gives me nothing, but you know what I mean)
posted by seanyboy at 4:04 PM on May 17, 2005


I'm addicted to taz
posted by matteo at 4:32 PM on May 17, 2005


I've got nothing brainy or solution-oriented to add except that I'm taz-addled, too. (You can't leave, dollface -- there's way too many of us giving you the business end of a hug for that.)
posted by melissa may at 5:35 PM on May 17, 2005


seanyboy
: >
posted by amberglow at 6:02 PM on May 17, 2005


Wow, taz - you may be the first to turn a MeTa whinge into pure social capital. You've been MeTa-laid how many times in this thread, now? What's your secret, miss? :)
posted by scarabic at 7:14 PM on May 17, 2005


*farts*

anyone still here?
posted by jonmc at 7:30 PM on May 17, 2005


*gasps for air*

Actually, it seems to be running really fast too.
posted by graventy at 8:14 PM on May 17, 2005


Amberglow: when does it go live?

Dodgy's already got it up for testing, so it's likely to be up some time today (by today I mean May 18 - it's around 7 a.m. where I am, and pre-dawn for dodgy). Anyway the url (metachat.org) is now forwarding there, so anybody who wants to see how it's coming along can drop by, though I don't think he's ready for us to start commenting or posting quite yet. The registration seems to be working though - I registered and got a "logged-in" view.

Anyway, I'm totally celebrating the 20 hours of uptime for MeFi!

who pulled jonmc's finger?
posted by taz at 8:52 PM on May 17, 2005


Uh-oh, late to the part again. Hope I am not too late to hug taz and beg a little.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:24 PM on May 17, 2005


Can't wait! Hugs for both Taz and dodgygeezer.
posted by Tarrama at 9:42 PM on May 17, 2005


mjjj: Late to the part

oh, I'm not going! How can I when when mathowie is such a good lover has given me 20 hours of uptime?
posted by taz at 9:57 PM on May 17, 2005


Yeah, I always get drawn into the platform religious wars, but sometimes my emotions get ahead of me :-)

Certainly this is not an underlying software stack problem. Windows Datacenter 2003 coupled with Java 1.5.0_03 is as solid or more so at load as any LAMP solution. Netcraft statistics can be very misleading since 1) Many Windows boxes do not report uptime statistics in the headers and 2) Windows admittedly needs more reboots during scheduled OS patches. However, scheduled downtime during an OS patch and a service crash are completely different things.

At work we run 2003 (and previously 2000 Server and before that NT 4.0) with a J2EE stack and have had exactly 1 unscheduled non-application code related downtime event in 5 years (and that was due to a bad CPU module in the db server)

How many of you LAMP advocates have designed fully dynamic solutions to handle 500gigs/month of traffic.

Now, LAMP can fully do this, but so can Java, Perl, Lisp, Python. They key is designing the solution from the start for scalibility.

Metafilter, being an organically gown system, probably has a couple of issues with this. Scalability is a tough nut, no matter the tool.

Matt, I do have some experience with this, in Java, not CF, but the general principal apply. If you need any help, it would be a pleasure.

I would start first with a good Java service wrapper with a health watchdog. The watchdog pings the service and checks things like db connection health, app server stack health, and performance numbers. If anything goes awry, it can restart the service.

A watchdog is no replacement for bulletproof code, but if your stuck in a situation with less than reliable code, it can vastly improve the end users experience.

(And switching to LAMP from Java for scalability issues is like plowing the field with the Ox because you can't figure out the tractor)
posted by PissOnYourParade at 12:09 AM on May 18, 2005


At metachat, the registration form will only go as far as 'stavrosthewonderchic' which makes me cry, and stamp my little feet and not register.

*cries, etc*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:12 AM on May 18, 2005


Opa! But you are ever so chic!

I'm sure dodgygeezer will be able to do something about this.
posted by taz at 2:36 AM on May 18, 2005


I've mailed him.
posted by taz at 2:40 AM on May 18, 2005


Don't cry stav, I've fixed it just for you.
posted by dodgygeezer at 2:41 AM on May 18, 2005


*hugs taz too, comes away all sticky*

Oh, man, that is really starting to smell - you need to take a break from all this group love and have a shower. Need someone to scrub your back?

While I applaud your initiative, taz, I can see one major flaw - how the hell am I supposed to get any work done now?
posted by dg at 3:35 AM on May 18, 2005


*tap-dances naked*

Thanks, taz and dodgygeezer.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:41 AM on May 18, 2005


"Blaming the backend products for the poor performance is silly."

and

"How many of you LAMP advocates have designed fully dynamic solutions to handle 500gigs/month of traffic."

Let me be clear: I'm not a LAMP advocate in this context. My bias is from my background, enterprise-class stuff. But, c'mon, these high-traffic sites where people expect no downtime...that's enterprise-class. It's just that a whole bunch of web sites are serving these kinds of loads on load-end hardware and software.

Also, I'm experienced with the Win-centric platform in comparison to the Unix-centric (not Linux/BSD, but Solaris/AIX/etc) platform in the same high-traffic, high-reliability environment such as major corporate external websites (for example, one of the major credit card companies) (also, sometimes even making a transition from one to the other at the same company) and although it's been a few years and I can't speak to 2003 Server, the Windows platform is not remotely as reliable as the Unix platform. If you've worked for a multi-platform vendor like I have, you know this is true.

I mean, I can't believe anyone is arguing about this. Speaking as someone who's had to troubleshoot these big websites, the underlying OSs reliability is as much a factor as anything. More, really. Switching to Win32 Apache almost certainly was an improvement for Matt over IIS, but you still can't avoid the flaky Win architecture.

Cold Fusion is not very good. It plays in the low end of a space that it's not robust enough to be in. A lot of what happens here at mefi is proof of that.

But my point above in breaking down site design for something like mefi into three components, as I did above, was that you can get by with 2/3 low-end stuff if at least 1/3 of your configuration makes up for it. As someone says above, if you're stuck with commodity hardware and cheap software, then you can design a fairly reliable high-traffic site if you do so very carefully from the ground up. Or, conversely, better hardware and a more reliable operating system will make a large difference in reliability.

So there's no single answer. I know there are very high-traffic, high-reliability LAMP sites out there. But they don't just happen. Someone who really knows what they're doing has to make it happen.

But I want to revisit something:

"...designed fully dynamic solutions"

It's been a half-decade now since dynamic websites have become commonplace, and designers are still generating new pages/serving completely gratuitous and wasteful dynamic data with every page request. It's just silly. There's a lot of parsing and db activity that could be eliminated from metafilter and the users would hardly notice.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:40 AM on May 18, 2005


*tap-dances naked*

Awww man, put the giblets away!
posted by dodgygeezer at 8:40 AM on May 18, 2005


the registration form will only go as far as 'stavrosthewonderchic'

try "stavrosthemegachicken"
posted by matteo at 9:05 AM on May 18, 2005


uh-oh. As if I needed more time-suck than this place. *gets sucked into swirling chatty vortex*
posted by raedyn at 9:32 AM on May 18, 2005


try "stavrosthemegachicken"

I think that would be "stavrosthemegachicke"
posted by nobody at 10:17 AM on May 18, 2005


try "stavrosthemegachicken"

I think that would be "stavrosthemegachicke"


The obvious fix is "stavroselmegapollo"
;)
posted by schyler523 at 1:26 PM on May 18, 2005


Maybe someone involved in this new effort (taz? dadgygeezer? ?) should make an announcement post to the front page of MeTa for the people who didn't bother to read this whole thread (especially because it has now rolled off the front page). And maybe poke Matt to see if he'll add it to his MeFi related projects page.

ps - much as I personally love the elegant solution of "stavroselmegapollo", he's already gone and registered as his full MeFi handle. (Or someone did anyway.)
posted by raedyn at 1:41 PM on May 18, 2005


I know no one is looking hereanymore, but I still gotta register my slight disagreement with Ethereal Bligh.

I know this isn't a popular opinion, but I think Windows NT 4.0 sp6a was one of the most stable and most reliable OS's of the past decade. And this is with financial industry production experience with Windows, Solaris and RedHat ES.

We still have a couple of old Compaq DL 3U boxes running management apps on NT (shhh, don't till IT) that have had 0 unscheduled downtime days in their 7+ year lives.

Especially when running Java apps, I have found the JVM's in the windows space considerable more performent and reliable than their linux brethren. (Especially the JRockit and IBM 1.3 era JDK)

Now, I don't know terribly much about coldfusion. I work in a shop that uses a J2EE stack, but my understanding was that is was preprocessor in front of a java servlet. And as such, I don't understand what a switch in OS's will do for reliability. Even leaving behind which infrastructure is ...better... I certainly cannot believe that the current difficulties have anything to do with OS or platform, but rather organically designed non-scalable code.

So I guess in as much, we are in agreement.

The problem is mostly likely designers doing programming. And hey, I love the fact that this particular designer (Matt) happened to code up this little chunk of system. But EB, whether its been going on for a decade or so doesn't matter, it's still hard.

To me, saying "It's been a half-decade now since dynamic websites have become commonplace, and designers are still..." is like saying, "People have been building bridges for thousands of years, why can't I just go out and cobble together my own."
posted by PissOnYourParade at 2:23 PM on May 18, 2005


Yeah, I fixed it so longer names could be registered so you can finish with the stavros chicken naming debate, amusing as it is.

I'll do a few little tweaks and then announce the site tomorrow, all being well....
posted by dodgygeezer at 2:34 PM on May 18, 2005


"but I think Windows NT 4.0 sp6a..."

I disagree. In fact, NT 4.0 took a big step backward from 3.5. 3.5 was the famously stable version of NT. And it should have been—that's when you could still claim it was Dave Culter's baby.

"And as such, I don't understand what a switch in OS's will do for reliability."

The Windows platform is relatively fragile. You take the (essentially) same code and it's more likely to fail on Windows one way or another. Have you ever done any actual cross-platform development (not web development, applications development)?

Six years ago when this type of thing was really getting going, the enterprise vendor I worked for made the same db-driven web software for both the wintel and the Unix platforms and the major webservers and databases. This was the first opportunity I'd had to compare apples to apples, from both a development (application and web) and production side of things regarding MS and Un*x. I was a PC-person (and still am in my personal life) before I went to the Unix world in the early 90s. I like both platforms...for different things.

Yeah, 10 years ago everyone I knew was laughing about MS trying to enter the server space. But they did it, and they've done well. Had they designed NT to be a network operating system, they'd have done a lot better. As it is, it wasn't, and MS has typically thrown a bunch of crap at the OS ever since, adding cruft and destabalizing it. They have smart people working for them, 2003 Server is pretty decent in spite of themselves (or their marketing folks, I dunno).

Anyway, I've watched MS make big strides, both in the 90s and the 00s. But my experience then, and I've not seen anything that deeply contradicts it, is that it seems foolish to me to put a mission-critical app on Windows, especially in networking. That's not stopping everyone and their brother from doing so.

By the way, you wrote: "...and this is with financial industry production experience with Windows". In the financial industry, there was some early adoption, rightly so, of NT 3.0 when it shipped for a certain class of apps. Running those, and left alone, it doesn't surprise me to see zero unscheduled downtime for many years. Well, NT 4, not 2K. And if you have something that runs on 3.5 and you didn't need to upgrade, the better for you.

"To me, saying 'It's been a half-decade now since dynamic websites have become commonplace, and designers are still...' is like saying, 'People have been building bridges for thousands of years, why can't I just go out and cobble together my own.'"

Well, I probably could. That's very much involved in what my professional experience was six years ago. I'm talking about, as a real example, American Express and some other companies like that regarding their global external websites. Yeah, it's hard to design these things the right way. So, yeah, it's not a surprise that people don't. On the other hand, it's also surprise that they don't learn to build their "bridges" better, or get someone else to do it, when the bridges keep falling down and people drown in the river. People design dynamic web content stupidly. They do; and at this point I don't think there's the excuse there was, say, eight years ago when this stuff was shiny and new.

"So I guess in as much, we are in agreement."

Yes, site design plays a huge role. But everything plays a huge role, if that makes sense. Systems hardware design plays a huge role and systems software design (meaning OS and other choices) plays a huge role. You can compensate for a weakness in one with strength in another. In the real world, this is usually the case because rarely does anyone do everything the "right way" in each area.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:14 PM on May 18, 2005


The obvious fix is "stavroselmegapollo"

Actually, I registered long ago at Barbelith and Yayhooray as El Pollo Magnifico or something similar, and promptly forgot the passwords to both accounts. Ah well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:20 PM on May 18, 2005


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