Man, there are weeks that just don’t quit, and end up as months.
We’ve been on a rocket roller coaster ride over at the Greenpeace web team’s secret mountain laboratory.
First there was Iceland’s decision to return to whaling, which required emergency surgery on our old pledge site, which was calling Zope functions that were more like Nope functions.
We got an alternate counter working in our new e-activism application. We added 20,000 new pledges to visit Iceland in the space of days. We sent out our supporter e-zine. And CRASH, down came the server as a tidal wave of folks tried to take action, and the new counter software failed. (This was partially due to fixing our mass mailing software: mailings that used to take a day to dribble out 200,000 pieces of mail can now go out in the space of an hour. That’s a lot of strain on our Geriatric Servers.)
As anybody in the web biz can attest, a server crashing due to excess load is the worst kind of good news/bad news combo you can have. “Too many users” intones the software error message. “THERE’s NO SUCH THING AS TOO MANY USERS” screams the appoplectic Chief Web Editor, with much tearing of hear and rending of tie-dye.
At the same time, our Green my Apple team was getting kicked out of MacWorld for the heresy of asking for higher environmental standards from the coolest company on Earth. Add more traffic and more strain, as the software writing letters to Steve Jobs is the same software running the pledge now.
On top of THAT, we launched “Son of Cybercentre” — the return of the Greenpeace forum, Louder than Words, where that wiley bunch of online activists who’ve been making life difficult for eco-lax governments and corporate evil doers around the world for years can kick back on the couch and discuss plans for world domination.
We were all pretty aghast at HQ when we realised that the house-cleaning we started when the old cybercentre started crashing had turned into a year-long remodelling. We basically had to tear the place down and start from scratch.
But how times have changed. When Radagast first built the Greenpeace Cyberactivist Centre, online forums were a relatively new thing. He grabbed code from Slashdot (Squishdot) and modified the hell out of it to make it do what we wanted. Which it did, admirably, for many years. Until it fell over. See “Too many users” above.
Today, just about every feature we’d want from an online forum can be had out of the box for the princely sum of about a hundred bucks. Martin and Eoin evaluated a stack of options, and went with Vbulletin, and I’m pleased as punch with it. Highly configurable, lots of bells and whistles.
Heck, I’m even happy to see the Icelandic trolls!
There’s been a big piece of our work missing for the last 12 months: the voice of the audience. Good to have it back.