Fanfare Errors / IMDB API Removed December 28, 2017 12:56 PM   Subscribe

You may have noticed over the past few days (approximately since the 25th) that adding new shows or movies to Fanfare has come up with nothing but errors. This should now be fixed, but other errors are possible.

IMDB removed their machine-readable data API (, which we were relying on for verifying TV show and movie names. This meant that any attempt to get them was failing. I've now replaced that with roughly-equivalent queries against the OMDb API, which uses IMDB data.

What does this mean for you?

The biggest thing is that for the moment, search results are crappier. IMDB offered ranked results, and Fanfare gave the top few. Instead, we now get all movies or TV shows that match. That's not great, and I'll try to find a better answer than what's there now.

Secondly, since the change was made without forewarning, I've had to rush a fix. That means that, in all likelihood, I broke something, so if something on Fanfare isn't working for you, please let me know either here or via the contact form.
posted by frimble (staff) to Bugs at 12:56 PM (17 comments total)

Dumb funny side story: because of the way we fetched that data, and the way IMDB served it, and how they're now serving an html 404 page instead of JSON-parsable structured content, the error messages from ColdFusion that this error manifested as were big ugly messes (even by CF-generated error standards) built around a failed attempt to parse one of several Clever 404 Pages involving quotes from movies.

And because this whole thing proceeded as a rug pull (I eventually found IMDB's CEO saying something vague and corporate-spinny about the changes on a third party website, yeesh), my experience was just suddenly, around Xmas day, getting these goddamn walls of text the middle of which was something like:
Webpages? Where we're going, we don't need webpages.
Which, yeah, no.

Anyway, kudos to frimble for diving in on this this morning when I threw this their way. We were planning on getting a minor bit of site feature stuff rolled out this morning but suddenly-completely-broken-feature wins out on the priority list.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:12 PM on December 28, 2017 [7 favorites]

Thanks, frimble!
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:13 PM on December 28, 2017

Thanks, frimble!


Are we still allowed to point and laugh?

We were planning on getting a minor bit of site feature stuff rolled out this morning

I hate it when you do that...
posted by Melismata at 1:23 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Are we still allowed to point and laugh?

*gestures at bumper sticker noting that it's paid for*
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:24 PM on December 28, 2017 [20 favorites]

> Secondly, since the change was made without forewarning

It's amazing how often this happens. Just because you provide a service for "free" doesn't mean you're not being jerky when you retire it without telling anyone. So much of the Internet is based on the shared prosperity of giving something away knowing that it will likely help you in some way later on, but these days it seems like companies just nuke things they don't see providing value to them without any sort of heads-up to people who might be using them.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:25 PM on December 28, 2017 [7 favorites]

In this case, it's an unadvertised, but widely-used, API, so I wouldn't be surprised if other sites that wanted to use a little bit of IMDB data without needing the whole dataset lying around were also frustrated at the moment.
posted by frimble (staff) at 1:47 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I recently listened to the Talking Simpsons podcast about A Star is Burns. And I needed a movie that has been remade and ripped off a lot, but never posted to Metafilter. Ben-Hur is perfect for that.
posted by frimble (staff) at 8:51 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanks for your hard work, frimble!
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:32 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks, frimble. Thrimble
posted by aubilenon at 11:37 AM on December 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

Since we're talking about Fanfare bugs, could I mention an inconsistency I discovered a few days ago? In brief: the order of the episodes, going by the Previous/Next links, sometimes behaves as if the list is ordered by episode order, and sometimes as if it goes by posting order.

Go to the Fanfare page for the first Steven Universe episode. Notice at the bottom it has a link to the next episode, but not the previous episode.

The problem is, Steven Universe was not added to Fanfare in the order the episodes were shown in, we started in the middle, then I went back and did the earlier ones. If you click Next Episode you'll get the second one, the next page will be the third, but because I skipped ahead at that point the one after will be the seventh. The episode browse order is the order the pages were posted, but the first episode doesn't let you go to episodes that were posted before it. The order is all weird. I haven't tried noting if all the episodes are browsable starting from #1, but I note that, if you go by the order in the show's episode list, and load the episode right before the first one, which is S1E35, then click next episode, it goes to S1E36, not S1E1.
posted by JHarris at 12:23 AM on December 31, 2017

Ah, that's actually something else; the "Previous Episode" and "Next Episode" links are, in fact, going to consistently go in episode order, filtered by Rewatch tag to avoid accidental spoilers.

The idea is: we have folks watching shows as (explicitly or implicitly) first watch, no-future-spoiler discussions, and we have folks explicitly doing a rewatch of a series where the thread is tagged as such and series-wide spoiler discussion is okay.

And if you're doing a non-spoiler watch and you click into the next thread and folks are getting into "oh hey but eventually Corbin dies and gets digitally resurrected as the consciousness of Amygdala's refrigerator, so when he says that her 'lunch was totally cool' it was actually a psychotemporal brag about his own transhuman future, which confirms the writers had planned to fridge him all along!", well, let's say that's gonna make for some unhappy first-time watchers catching up on MetaFilter's thoughts about Goat Patrol: Enceladus Nights.

So the ep navigation skips along within matching tags, to keep those streams from mixing. The nav on a "Rewatch"-tagged ep will jump to the next and previous episodes with same; the nav on a post with none or with an explicit First Watch tag will jump to the next and previous with that same configuration. For the occasional show that uses a Books Only tag, same deal.

Usually the answer when this is manifesting itself as missing episodes is unintended inconsistent tagging on the eps; if all those SU episode discussions are meant to be Rewatch-style—with full series spoilers permissable whenever—then they should all have the Rewatch tag. Or if not, they should all not. But there's also the possibility of having both a Rewatch and a first watch thread for any given show episode. And in fact if you're doing a Rewatch-style discussion of a show that's already had a normal first-watch type of discussion, making a new thread instead of adding spoilers to the tail end of the existing one would be the way to go. In general, it's okay to double-up on FanFare.

But confusing nav notwithstanding, there's no requirement that folks watch and discuss the show linearly like that so we don't enforce anything. I'm happy to go retag stuff as needed though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:23 AM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

While you are fixing things, is it possible to revisit this issue: The mega threads are so much more pleasant when these buttons work.

Yes it is. I'm pretty sure that, after digging since that thread, I know what's up there and as soon as I can test on an Android device (first week of January), will fix it or work around the problem, with varying levels of annoyance depending on which variant on the theme is actually causing it.
posted by frimble (staff) at 8:07 AM on December 31, 2017

Aaaah that explains things cortex. Because I can personally vouch, the Steven Universe threads are very inconsistently tagged, because me. Steven Universe is a show with lots of spoilers, that are constandly revealing previous episodes in new light, so much so that it's hard to be consistent about them. ("Hey did you know that Garnet is a [notary]?! Or that Amethyst [has a bottle cap collection]?!! Or [Anything about Pearl [SERIOUSLY anything about Pearl]]?!!!!") Plus, sometimes I just forgot the Rewatch tag, because the other shows I post to FanFare are not spoiler-vulnerable by nature.

I'm at a loss for how to remedy the SU browse order. Maybe fill in the gaps? Possibly all of my Steven Universe FanFare posts should be tagged Rewatch.
posted by JHarris at 2:21 PM on January 1, 2018

Not fanfare related but didn't askme used to have that thing where your written/previewed but unposted question would be saved locally, somehow, using sorcery, idk, for a certain amount of time?

did i imagine that

anyway it doesn't happen now
posted by poffin boffin at 12:14 PM on January 2, 2018

Looks like movie posters are broken on the FanFare page?
posted by ODiV at 12:58 PM on January 3, 2018

Looks like! Maybe related to the API issue, will take a look.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:46 PM on January 3, 2018

Looks like movie posters are broken on the FanFare page?

Thanks for telling us. It stemmed from a slightly different issue, but after glaring at it for a while, I have it working again.
posted by frimble (staff) at 4:38 AM on January 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

« Older Who Are The Bloggers of Metafilter?   |   Metatalktail Hour: RESOLVED! Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments