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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

no reviews, and you couldn’t post comments: what’s up?

I know: you’re wondering where all the new reviews of this week’s flicks are, why you haven’t been able to post comments for the last 48 hours or so.

The latter is not, as someone suggested to me in email, that I had turned off comments because the feedback on Apocalypto had gotten too heated. Not true at all.

What happened is something that has happened several times over the last few months: my Movable Type backend simply stopped seeing my database. I have MT publishing static Web pages from the database, so once the pages are out there, this database issue is obvious only on the user’s end when you try to do something the requires accessing the database, like posting a comment. But for me, on the back end, it meant I could not do anything to the site: couldn’t post reviews, couldn’t delete junk comments (which could have been part of the problem with the database shutting down, if indeed that was the problem), couldn’t even let you guys know what was going on.

Both my Web host and Movable Type were just about worse than useless in helping me figure out what the hell has been going on. Probably something is making too-great demands on the server — could be spammers, could be some weird function of MT, who knows? MT Support told me to check error and access logs and see if, say, a search engine bot was spidering my site too frequently… but when I asked them to define “too frequently” or indeed to tell me how to identify a bot’s visits, I got nothing. I simply don’t have the expertise to figure out what the problem is, so now I’ve gotta spend a weekend I don’t have learning this stuff. I’d rather be writing reviews.

Anyway, I’ve done a couple of things immediately that I think will reduce the load on the server, the biggest one being the elimination of the monthly archive lists. Those archives had been getting really big since I’ve been migrating old, pre-MT reviews into the MT database, and they may have been using too much server mojo to generate. So they’re gone, which I don’t feel too badly about: I think the category archives (as well as the list of every review, which is a static page, demanding nothing of server processes to generate) are much more useful and important.

I do have reviews ready to post, so I’ll be doing that today, in between my crash education on MySQL servers, search engine bots, spammers, and so on. Someday, maybe, the site will be big enough to support an actual technical Webmaster… till then, I guess I’m it.

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