Recent move followup

As you all know, the sites moved to a new location and even onto a new platform. During the move the platform changed and that led to some unexpected issues.

  1. Temporary SSL Certificate issue: Some people, namely those on IE7 and IE8 and a few on Android phones were getting an error about untrusted security certificate when they try to log into the site or use any secure pages. It turned out to be a configuration problem and it’s fixed (needed to configure and specify unique IP addresses for each secure domain).
  2. Kindle eBooks didn’t work: Due to the platform change new updated binaries for the kindlegen software from amazon were needed.
  3. Zip files issue: Some members reported inability to expand zipped archives generated on the new servers. I couldn’t duplicate the issue, but nonetheless, changed the zip archive generation algorithm to use my own hand-rolled zipping solution. Hopefully that solves it. I haven’t heard any complaints since the change.
  4. Slow site during peak time: The new set up doesn’t handle text search well. I’m not sure if it’s a hardware problem (not enough processor bandwidth) or a software configuration problem. Whatever it is, I couldn’t find a solution quickly. I’ve moved text search to a small server that I had lying around. It’s slow but for now it does the job and now text search works without affecting the main database server.
    I’m still working on this one. I will be installing a different indexing software (something more efficient than MySQL’s own built in full text index) and rewriting the text search scripts to use the new software. Hopefully that would solve it.

If there are any outstanding issues that you’ve encountered, let me know. You can leave a comment here or send me a message directly through one of the sites’ webmaster forms.

Reader Feedback 101

Some authors on the site often beg for reader feedback, and some others contacted me and complained that the site’s feedback system is not working for them, or is broken.

I took it upon myself to test various issues with the feedback system.

The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is that authors explicitly asking for feedback or complaining that the system does not work, do not answer their fan mail. How do I know that? Well, simple, I tried it.

I emailed many of the authors who complained about the lack of feedback from readers through the system with comments about their stories. Some were simply a ‘thank you, keep up the good work’ notes and other more detailed feedback. I sent three messages to each author, and the three messages to prolific authors that don’t complain. Of course, I used different email addresses to identify myself.

I received no reply from the authors that complain and received a reply to each message from the authors that don’t complain.

So, what’s the verdict?

Well, just as authors want readers’ feedback, readers want to know that the author received their feedback and appreciates it. A simple ‘thank you for your note’ is often enough.

In the past, when I had more time to read stories, I’ve always sent feedback to authors and always felt disappointed when I don’t hear back from authors, and quit sending feedback to those authors that never replied. I understand that not everybody has enough time to answer each message, and I’m fine with ‘thank you for your note, I appreciate it, but I don’t have enough time to answer all my email’ type of response.

So, to all authors seeking reader feedback, answer your email or you won’t be getting more feedback from disappointed readers. You don’t have to send a two page response back, but you have to send something back. Anything, whatever it is, is better than nothing.

And if you’re a reader: authors need feedback to feel that their work is being appreciated. Votes are good, but email messages are much better. If you like an author’s work, let them know about it, otherwise they may feel that they’re not appreciated and stop writing.