Changes Are Coming

So, here’s the deal:

1. Whatever is definitely changing hosts. The daily server errors have just become totally ridiculous and have gotten to a point where I can’t tolerate them any more. I’m not entirely spitting venom at 1&1, my host provider, because when it comes down to it I’m hosting a site that gets two million page views a month on a shared server. But it’s still a problem.

The new host will solve this problem — I’ll be switching to WordPress.com and taking part in their VIP program, which is designed to accommodate the needs of high traffic sites (that use WordPress, obviously). This backend robustness and knowledge of the WordPress platform appeals to me, especially after a couple of months of banging my head against a wall trying to do things on my own.

2. The changeover to the new host will come very soon. “Very soon” in this case means “probably in the next couple of days but almost certainly within the next week.” You’ll know because I’ll shut off comments to facilitate the final transfer. Don’t worry, they’ll come back on when I’m done. If you’re nice.

3. Hopefully you will not see problems with the switchover, but hey, you never know. Both I and my new hosts are working hard to ensure the switchover will be painless as possible on the reader end — in fact, if everything goes well, you won’t have to do anything but come and visit like you normally do. But technology is capricious and cruel, and inevitably there will be some glitches and bugs, not in the least because we’re porting over 1,200 posts with attendant comments. Please be patient as we work on these things. Related to this:

4. Don’t ask me how this will affect the RSS feeds. Honestly, I don’t know. But here’s a hint: If the site hasn’t updated on your RSS feed in a day or two, you’ve probably dropped the feed somehow. Come back and plug in again. Also, for those of you who use Bloglines, and who have complained to me recently that it’s no longer working, well, I don’t know what to tell you, since I’m pretty sure I didn’t set up that feed anyway. I use Google Reader, personally. Seems to work.

5. The switchover is a harbinger of future changes. Once the hosting issue is settled down, I’m going to move on to a redesign of the site to make it more functional and — hold on to your hats — maybe a little prettier as well. But as they say, one thing at a time. And rumor has it I have other things to do as well. One change to be aware of:

6. Advertising is (probably) coming to the site. Because of some of the reasons I outlined here, at some point in the reasonably near future I’m going to start incorporating some (non-obnoxious) advertising on the site. I don’t expect it will be immediately because I have backend stuff to address first, and I’ll make note of it before it makes its first appearance, so you’ll have some time to adjust. But I wanted to give you all advance notice of it; I know how you hate surprises.

In any event, this is all in process now. I’ll keep you in the loop as things get closer to the switch.

36 thoughts on “Changes Are Coming

  1. Must comment while I can………what do I say?

    GO national politician and/or issue advocacy group!

    There, that covers it.

  2. Bless you Mr. Scalzi. I thought it was just me, or that somehow your soon-to-be former host didn’t like us left coast people.

    Recently it has taken so long for Whatever to come up, that Firefox has timed out.

    Go for the advertising. I’m here every day, and I promise if your advertisers sell anything I’ attracted to, I’ll but it.

    Keep on truckin’

    Rick York

  3. “Pricing begins at $500/month per blog with a one-time setup fee of $600, but may be flexible depending on your circumstances or number of blogs.”

    o.O…. I hope they’re cutting you a deal because you can have your own dedicated server (and i mean an actual server, not a virtual one) for a fraction of that.

  4. Oh god, not WordPress. Please email John Cole over at Ballon-Juice.com and ask him about his experiences with it first. He recently moved to a different host. His blog was down so often that when it was up, people would make jokes about the “WordPress Server Error” being down.

  5. Scalzi.com & Whatever…

    brought to you by the fine folks at:

    – Jimmy Dean Sausages
    – G.E.
    – Sony Pictures Classics

    and

    – Fred’s D.I.Y. Coffin Kits.

    (Just doing my part to get everyone accustomed to the new look. You’re welcome.)

  6. EarBucket:

    I don’t think that’ll be a problem in the particular program into which I am going.

  7. Good luck. I hope it all goes as smoothly as you expect it to. Just don’t pretty it up too much, OK? That would ruin the whole character of Whatever.

  8. This is most excellent.

    @EarBucket – WordPress.com VIP hosting is a whole ‘nother level of hosting. It’s actually better than most hosting services with a dedicated server plan—and sounds like John’s getting the specific technical help he needs particularly for WordPress from the WordPress folks themselves, which is definitely miles and away the best thing for any WordPress site that pulls 2 million hits a day.

    From looking at other customers at VIP level (rather than nominal paid level, which doesn’t win you anything in terms of extra support or hardware or availability), it sounds at the very least like:

    a) Database server will live on a separate host, optimized for WP’s query patterns, with dedicated slaves for backup purposes

    b) Multiple front-end servers that can easily scale up and scale down with hosting needs

    c) Multiple datacenters in separate buildings across the country, which most hosting solutions actually do not have

    You do not get a, b, or c with pretty much any hosting solution. But very serious upper-scale business solutions require all three. That’s star treatment.

    By the way, Bloglines apparently is on the fritz; it’s a small but significant background noise on Twitter. And I just heard Warren Ellis complain about it, which usually means that something has been festering for a while.

  9. Will there be Hope as well as Change?

    If it goes seamlessly, is that Change Who Is Not Change?

    Can I come up with even more innane questions?

    Tune in last week and miss next week’s episode of MarkHB’s Insipid Half-Hour!

  10. In a “normal” circumstance, WordPress can be an absolute dog. It’s designed for ease of use and to support a fairly resource-intensive (but incredibly flexible) API; high traffic is poison to anything like a one-click install.

    So good on Scalzi for his choice. The problem isn’t that WordPress sucks, because nothing could be farther from the truth… the problem is that it needs server resources in proportion to its flexibility and traffic.

    Being mad at WordPress because it doesn’t work like a charm on a shared host is like being mad at GTA 4 because it won’t run on an SNES.

  11. “Don’t worry, they’ll come back on when I’m done. If you’re nice.”
    If comments are off, how will John know whether we are being nice or not?

  12. Yay, advertising!!!

    Now before all of you go ‘idiot!’, understand my logic:

    Advertising = more $ for the great Scalzi
    More $ = better cost to benefit ratio
    Better cost to benefit = More bloggy goodness for us to read!

  13. John

    1. no more internal sever errors, check.
    2. less time spent by host trying to fix stuff, check.
    3. some tasteful ads so said host can afford to keep us entertained, check.
    4. time saved used to write more stuff that we like, not only here, but also in (put your favorite paper or electronic medium here) that we can purchase, check.

    I’ve been trying to find a downside to this change and figure that the only one will be the inevitable up and downs of starting up a new system, which I can live with since we’ll get the 4 things above.

    Good luck on the move and know that we’ll all cheerfully wait through any transitional issues and come back all comment deprived and ready to go 8 )

  14. Oops, forgot one step

    Better cost to benefit = The great Scalzi writes more on the blog = more bloggy goodness.

  15. Do you still plan to import the old static HTML/MovableType archives in the WordPress blog sometime in the future?

  16. I started using WordPress this year as a total n00b, and thanks to some patience from friends, I was able to set up something simple and (I think) pretty, but which is still powerful enough to surprise me on occasion. Good luck with your transfer!

  17. But I usually LOVE surprises…
    I guess you just don’t know anything about me at all John. This relationship just can’t work.

  18. Well, I’ve not been seeing new stuff from here in days, so I popped by, saw some new stuff that isn’t being seen with Bloglines, which is reporting an error with the feed (funny, my browser loads it just fine…), and just told them that they are showing errored feeds that are actually working. Since the big blow out a couple of days ago, they may still be working on getting the spiders and squirrels up to speed yet.

  19. Re: advertising — have you thought about having a fund drive for Whatever? For example for a week during which readers have the opportunity to contribute towards the hosting costs of the site?

    Of course, it’s a little trouble setting it up, but at best it might carry the costs for a good while and not having to go throught the hassle of setting up the ads; and at worst it would just mean you might do the ad thing a couple of weeks later.

  20. John, I’ve never read your work, but will follow your blog and look into your books. I’ve recently published my own science fiction novel, “Purusha’s Urn”, which is currently on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Unlike you, this is my first book, and finding a publisher took me 8 years. It is a cruel genre for first-tiime writers, and the conditions of the market don’t help, either. Would like to correspond with you, but not in this forum.

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