Boring technical blog – When things get used a lot

Boring technical blog – When things get used a lot

WARNING! What follows is another boring technical blog post. This time I’ll be covering something that wasn’t working, that got missed by everyone here, until it got really popular. So if you are not interested in finding out that that was, how about you check out this post featuring an awesome GoPro video!

You may have noticed that we are running a second contest on Animal Photography (if you didn’t know, have a look). This contest has been wildly popular and we have had 100’s of awesome photos, many more than we expected, and they are continuing to pour in. The influx of submissions has made two issues painfully obvious to everyone. Let me tell you what they are and what we are doing to fix them.

I’ll start by apologizing though. We do our best to test everything and make sure that all bits work with all the other bits, in as many situations as we can. Occasionally we miss something and sometimes that effects you, the user. Believe me, the team here is working really hard to avoid that.

So the first problem was that the process we had for reviewing and publishing the photos required a few manual steps on our end. And as we know, manual usually equates to time-consuming.  Multiply that by 100s or more entries a day and we quickly fell behind; people started to wonder where their photos were. Our short term fix is to have more people working on this process.  But in the next month or two we will get the computers to do some of this work and the review process should only be a couple of clicks.

The second problem really sucked! This one was discovered by you – the people sharing their excellent photos and entering our contest. The issue was the worst thing possible… votes for photos were disappearing. We dug into things and finally discovered that a single setting on the web server that should have been switched to “on” wasn’t. So from time to time the votes that we had stored would get overwritten with older sets of records. Needless to say this is fixed now.

Some people have asked “How could you miss something like that when you did your testing? You did test right?”.  Yes we tested, we even ran a couple contests internally to make sure it was all working. But that issue didn’t present itself during that time. What made the issue apparent was the volume of photos and votes. Every single vote is important to us and we want to make the contest as enjoyable as possible.

So with those issues fixed, I have received other feedback about the contest pages, layouts, photo sorting, and other great ideas. I am always open to constructive feedback and suggestions about the website. (You can even add them to the comments below, or submit them through our Feedback page.)

The Discovery Center team wants this site to be THE place you come to be inspired, learn about creative projects and enter fun contests. So please share your ideas so that we can be the best! Whether you know it or not, you are part of our team.

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