Unscheduled AVfM outage–but some good news

If you’re a regular at A Voice for Men, you may have noticed we were unavailable late last night (August 1) and most of today (Friday, August 2). A long string of events caused this, first a malfunction in a recently-added WordPress plugin and then, adding to further confusion, a major outage occurred at our web hosting provider, Hostgator. The crash of the AVfM server had us down for a few hours and is unlikely to be repeated; it first looked like a Denial of Service attack to us but subsequent postmortem investigation has made that look unlikely and that it was just a more mundane sort of crash. But adding to our confusion was the fact that a few hours after we thought we’d solved the crash, AVfM was periodically unavailable and we only eventually figured out that a whole bunch of people on Hostgator were offline, not just us.

So far as we’re concerned Hostgator has not given sufficient explanation for this unacceptably long service outage but we will be having further words with them about it. In the meantime, as a result of frantically trying everything we could, we wound up somewhat prematurely rolling out changes to the AVfM server we thought we’d be doing slowly in the next few weeks.

So assuming that Hostgator does not screw the pooch again, and our connection to the internet remains solid (be assured, if it does not, then Hostgator will be losing our business and we will be looking elsewhere for reliable service) you should notice some pretty cool changes. Without going into boring technical details involving geeky acronyms like PHP-FPM, MySQL, XRLQ, MXYZPTLK, and other words that are as bizarre-sounding to the normal human ear as Amanda Marcotte’s voice, you should find that A Voice for Men is now suddenly quite noticeably snappier and more responsive. The scheduled maintenance we had a few weeks ago started the improvements, and the rush to fix the crash wound up having us install even more improvements along the way.

The interesting part of that being, while the site will now seem snappier by far, we aren’t done, and it’s going to get faster and more responsive still… and the long-awaited new design of AVfM will, we hope, be part of that continually improving experience, soon.

What may also interest you is that we have also finally added another frightening and bizarre technical term called “SSL.” Only the most sharp-eyed among you will have even noticed this, but if you log in to your AVfM commenting account, you will notice up above where it used to say http://www.avoiceformen.com it now says:


Along with the little “s” on the end of “http” you may notice a little “lock” icon.

What this means is that it has now become massively more difficult for anyone to break into our systems using your account or anyone else’s, causing mischief or destruction or stealing confidential information. Although we fully encourage as many Men’s Human Rights Activists as possible to fully publicly self-identify–the more of us who do, the less they can hurt all of us–we fully understand why you can’t all do that. Well this new, practically invisible security system makes it even harder for anyone to be able to get into our systems and and get to crap that’s none of their damned business or monkey around where they don’t belong. We take your security and your privacy seriously here, and your donation money does not go to waste.

So, to summarize: middlin’ level server crashed followed by a (really, truly) unrelated catastrophic failure of network connectivity from our service provider which, should we not get sufficient explanation and reassurance that it won’t happen again, will cause us to find a new hosting provider. But bonus: AVfM is now faster and more secure than ever. We’ll call it a net plus, even if it made Friday pretty much suck for the whole team here.

(An editorial team that’s grown, by the way, and expect an announcement about that, and about some more openings we’ll be having in the near future, also very soon.)

Thanks all for your patience. This Managing Editor is going to bed. Massive thanks to Strix, Victor Zen, Asha, Peter, Della, August, James, Lucian, and everyone else who offered to pitch in and/or was inconvenienced in trying to get stuff done today but patiently sat through it.

Onward and upward.

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