New Host, Fresh Community

Well, if you saw the fireworks last week and over the weekend, you’ll know that Biofortified has just moved to a new host. A faster host, and a greener host!
We started having site errors that coincided with our move to Dreamhost – but we couldn’t tell if it was entirely due to that, or the large assortment of plugins we have installed on the site to make everything from the Forum, Community pages, Syndication, and GENERA work. It seems that the problem was a combination of both issues. Each plugin takes up a certain amount of server RAM to run, and the hosting account only let us use so much. Unlimited disk space, yes. Unlimited Bandwidth, yes. But should our site use more than a certain piddly amount of active memory – comments are lost and authors have trouble saving their posts. We had to pay more for more memory, but it did not fix the problems. When our site went down (again) due to server errors early last week, within hours we were in agreement that it was time to get off of Dreamhost.
You learn a little bit along the way, that Unlimited space and bandwidth doesn’t mean much without the memory to process it. And a website host with no uptime guarantees? I went through a lot of hosts looking for these essential requirements, and one that we came across, and eventually decided upon, was GreenGeeks. We settled on a virtual private server of sufficient memory, and signed up. A little shakiness with the transfer, and we were done.
Immediately, I have noticed a remarkable difference in load times, and upload and download times via FTP as well. I am impressed with the speed, indeed. But that’s not the best part about GreenGeeks. They’re wind-powered. So we can blog only as long as the wind is blowing! Just kidding. They purchase wind energy credits for three times the amount of energy used by the servers, so now by blogging more we’re actually making the environment better! (It’s the neoliberal dream. Quick: alert Michael Pollan) So I hope you will all do your part to heal the planet and comment more frequently! Pitch in – Biofortified is triple-green! (Note: this does not include your home computers, you energy-grubbing Earth-wreckers!)
Now that we have moved to a more capable place, I’ll be making a few changes to make things more accessible. Believe it or not, we actually have 791 registered users on the blog – and more come in daily. This is not a good thing, because most of these are automatic spam registrations that seem to bypass the required fields that people need to enter to sign up for the blog. Our community page, which displays all registered users, was getting choked with these and so I added a temporary fix that filtered out all users that haven’t left comments. The result is odd numbers of users on each community page, if you have noticed. Awkward to navigate.
This must change, and so now I am announcing the Great Biofortified User Purge of 2011. In a week, I will delete every user account that has zero comments. Only those who are actively a part of the community will have their accounts saved. Just one comment saves your login form the chopping block, and when it is all done, we’ll have a more secure block against registration spam to ensure that the community pages are for the blog community, and not web-crawling bots. I will send an email to all registered user accounts instructing their holders to log in and comment just once to make sure that they don’t have to register again. If you have commented before with your account you are already done. If you are reading this, and signed up recently but have yet to comment – now’s your chance!
That’s the news, so I’m looking forward to seeing how much awesomeness we can pack into our new server space. Happy biofortified blogging!

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Written by Karl Haro von Mogel

Karl Haro von Mogel serves as BFI’s Director of Science and Media and as Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. He has a PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison with a minor in Life Sciences Communication. He is a Postdoctoral Scholar at UC Riverside and works on Citrus genetics.

8 comments

  1. I think you are right–it does seem speedy!
    You might want to consider a special de-lurking post to call out some people who might not open the whole post about maintenance.
    Spammers though–I really don’t understand how this stuff makes them money. And I spend a ridiculous amount of time lately cleaning it off the blogs and filtering it on my twitter stream. What a nuisance.

  2. Mary M,
    Comment spam on blogs etc. is done to establish inbound links to websites, to boost the Google ratings of those websites. Such spam will only go away when it’s found not to work. Doubtless some of the spam you’ve encountered involves Search Engine Optimization for a fee. That’s what they do. India is known for its ‘spam farms’, and for cruising advertising revenues. In the latter case, they have people who merely click on Google ads all day long, to generate ad revenues for website owners. Again, for a fee. It’s hard to imagine such a mind-numbing career, but it’s likely better than spraying non-GM brinjals six times a week.

  3. Thanks for all of your work on this, Karl. We still have a lot more to do, but this is a huge step.
    One question: what will happen to anyone who has commented in the forum but not on a post?

  4. I’m checking on how I can do that. The problem is, forum comments don’t show up in the dashboard like regular comments do. But I’ll figure out a way to cross-check, no worries!

  5. The site runs much better. Even so, this morning I got an error page warning of insufficient memory. So you’ll want to keep an eye on things. Does your dashboard keep a count of error pages?

  6. OK, just got it again:
    https://biofortified.org/2010/05/morgellons-2/#comment-53104
    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 30146560) (tried to allocate 7680 bytes) in /home/bioblog/public_html/wp-includes/class-simplepie.php on line 11659
    Your migration to a new server may not have fixed everything.
    You should also consider that you might be under a denial-of-service attack. Gaia is known to encourage ‘hacktivists’ in such efforts.

  7. Thanks for pointing this out. I have been able to track a few memory problems – and our new host is much better about keeping logs of this happening. I can make memory allocation mods! O_O

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