Blog Post

"Comment" failed ... so did "Feedback"

Over the course of 2 or 3 decades I did a lot of technical support. That was my way of staying close to the game while avoiding the worst of the careerist entanglements.


It's 2012, and everytime I try to use a system I get the same sort of SNAFU I was dealing with in 1995, or 1988, or earlier.


Moments ago I got totally frustrated by the way Google Plus manages "pages", a system that's supposed to sophisticate identity management. (The system works well enough for people to play with. So it succeeds, in one sense: it works as a toy, but not as a tool.)


Just now I tried to post a comment to Ernesto Priego's "On Academic Uses of Social Media and Blogging as Public Engagement". I tried repeatedly. Each time I tried, I got "Validation error, please try again." And when I clicked the Feedback widget (lower right) I got "Server not found. Firefox can't find the server at"

I got paid well enough for my work in technical communications. But I can't say people cared. I don't see the evidence of caring. I see the evidence of 80/20. (Oh, I need to complete the word verification? Alright. But I have to wonder at the fact that the form only appears after I have clicked Save.) So? So I am ever more willing to dedicate myself to the project of public discourse on policy matters. Because things most definitely are not getting better! Addendum: the Feedback widget is now working. Intermittent faults are a serious challenge!


What I tried to post:

Journalism and academia; an impedance mismatch?

At one point in "Journalism and Digital Media" (C-Span) Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland; Global Editor at Large; Reuters) talks about "the lack of a common space" and somewhat later on (just after the 41 minute mark) makes a lovely point about how social media like Twitter sometimes surfaces very fine academic papers via outlets such as Thompson, Reuters, and Bloomberg. What I've been working on (for years and years) is a way of bridging that disconnect by tapping into individual's urge to discuss, or debate, or converse. I chose an approach that focuses on discourse. What if there was a "space" (i.e. a web system, in the sense that Wikipedia is a "space) where the nuts and bolts of issues could be explored at a very fine grain?


"Everyone can have their own opinion, but not everyone can have their own facts" is something I approached using cog-psych and historiography. (I'm resisting the urge to bring in post-modernism!) What I realized is that, by exploring the "facts", we end up exploring the subjective narrative that gives material its meaning.


This by way of greets. :-)




So sorry the system failed you. Was it a 503 error?  Ruby will be in touch for more detail.  As you may have seen, on the front page we have one of those pathetic I HAZ A SAD kittens and that was our banner for weeks as we've been trying to figure out what the problem is.  HASTAC, which is free and does not sell anyone's information, runs on a shoestring, including this amazing site which we have been told by the developers of Drupal Commons is the single most complex and trafficked such social networking site on the World Wide Web.   It is also fragile and it doesn't always serve us.   You get what you pay for---and thanks to the generosity of the developer, Message Agency, we have a Bentley of a site for a used VW bus price.    But sometimes the tires need kicking.    Most of us (such as moi and most of the HASTAC team) run HASTAC as almost a sideline on top of "real jobs."   We do our best.  Sometimes we fail.  I'm especially disturbed the Feedback system failed.  I'll try it now and Ruby will find out more details later and we can add it to the list of problems we're working mightily, around the clock and, again, with limited human and financial resources, to fix.  Thanks for letting us know.  And thanks for patience. 


Hi Bernard. Sorry about the problems you had with the site. As I replied to you by email last night we had an uptick in server issues (503 errors) yesterday, which may or may not be related to your experience. As you probably know, it's difficult to tell with intermittent issues on a remote computer. I'm glad to hear the feedback widget did work for you after the initial failure. (It sounds like a domain lookup problem, which could be related to your Internet connection. Again, hard to tell.) 

The reason the word validation doesn't appear until after you save your comment is that it is using an algorythm to decide whether to present that challenge at all. This is generated by Mollom, which is one of the leading spam-detection systems availble for consumer websites like ours. HASTAC has a very open disposition compared to other sites our size, in that we allow anyone to register and begin posting without human moderation, but as a consequence we do try to filter out at least the most egregious spam with tools such as Mollom.

I hope you will reply here or to my e-mail if you continue to have any problems using the site! Thanks for the feedback, it's always helpful to know more about the member experience, especially if it's not going as designed.


Hi Ruby - In the end I didn't comment. The software became the issue, instead of journalism and academia. So I'm very really distracted; instead of dealing with the actual subject matter, I find myself dealing with the software.


Easiest fix? I can just ignore those inconveniences. I hate doing that.


Since my skill set is all about getting things to work right, when that doesn't matter I find myself pretty much completely devalued as a person. And there's just nothing positive about that.


So I'll just step back and thank you for your good efforts.


p.s. I can't say I understood what you wrote about the word form. All I know is that I have to click Save, wait for the page to reload, find the word form, fill it in, and then click Save again. That's all I know for a fact. That it works differently in this case? My head swims ... I give it a shake ... I go get a cuppa coffee and shift my attention to another site. #CognitiveDissonance #Confusion


It's entirely possible that the Mollom system did something wrong, there's just no way for me to tell from your report. If you can reproduce it, I'd be glad to lok into it.

As you have obviously found it possible to comment since then, I hope you will add your reponse to Ernesto's post. 


It happens (when it happens / if it happens) as I describe above. Replicate? It happens consistently. Why does it not happen here? I don't know ... I can't tell. Posting an item, it happens as described. Commenting on a post, as above. With "Save" here ... different. I read "it is using an algorythm to decide whether to present that challenge at all" and so resign myself.


Sensible: input text; fill in word form; click Save.

Silly: input text; click Save; watch page reload; read "word form must be filled in"; cursor to bottom of page; fll in form; click Save.