would it be possible to do a bulk email to all users in the event of a lengthy outage? During the latest episode, I got to the point where I wondered if WCP was going to be offline indefinitely. Should I check in daily? Weekly? That sort of uncertainty will kill the site, as people will migrate elsewhere. It would have been helpful to get an email saying, "Hey, this is the situation" and another saying, "Hey, we're back!"
If we can help it, the WCP will hopefully never (at least in our lifetime) go offline indefinitely!
Beyond some of the spam attacks which have brought the site down in the past, the more recent outages were apparently due to a misconfiguration that the hosting company made to the site without
our knowledge, leaving the admins in the dark as to why it happened. If this occurs again, we will likely look into migrating the site to another host, but that is a very complex task that frankly we'd rather not have to resort to. Time will tell.
For any expected outages, like maintenance and upgrades, we post a top-of-page banner on the site a few days in advance to let folks konw when the site will be unavailable. In terms of unexpected
outages, there are some caveats for bulk emailing users; First, we don't want to opt people in by sending them unsolicited emails. Secondly, if the forum is down, we also don't have access to the user list. Third, as there are 8,315 users registered (legit or not) on this site the logistics around sending a bulk email to that number of registrants is simply outside of our capacity as we'd have to either build a custom application just for that purpose, or import that many into a separate, paid tool. Again, there's still the issue of unsolicited emails.
Instead, a more practical approach for notifications is to use the same free service that Philip and I now (as of yesterday) are using, called UpTimeRobot
, to be informed of whether and when the WCP forum's availability has changed. You could create an account (only requiring an email and password, necessary if you want to be notified), set the interval to check on https://www.westcoastpaddler.com/community
, and then you'll be informed by email whenever the site's status has changed. I personally have it set to check every hour and email me when its down, whereas you might want a daily check. It will only notify you on a change.
We certainly appreciate the users of the forum and do our best outside of our full time jobs, family, etc to make sure the site is available in and in good health as best we can.
I hope that helps. Let us know if you have any other questions.