Update on Site Problems

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Eleven days after launching the new site format, TSL continues to struggle with speed and reliability issues. We are making progress homing in on the problems, but the solutions we’re coming up with are not trivial and are taking time to implement. Here’s an update on what’s going on and how we’re proceeding with solving the problems.

Originally, we had planned to do the site changeover to the new format on August 1st, in order to have problems worked out by the time football season started. Unfortunately, programming projects that were ahead of TSL’s changeover in the pipeline took longer than expected, pushing the changeover into football season. We obviously don’t prefer to undertake major projects in the middle of football season, but putting it off until next spring or summer was not an option.

TSL is owned by the same company that owns TheSabre.com (a UVa web site) and RamNation.com (a Colorado State web site), and the changes that we recently implemented on TSL had been fully tested and implemented on both of those sites. We therefore felt pretty confident about our prospects for changing TSL to the new architecture and proceeding smoothly.

As our pal Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend.” The sheer size and enthusiasm of TSL’s readership always (always, always) presents special problems, no matter how well architecture and programming have been tested elsewhere. Such is the case here. The “Internet Dominators”, as VT’s large online community has often been referred to, has brought another web site to its knees … ours.

We’re getting a handle on the problems and are making progress, but we’re still not out of the woods yet, and we have a lot of work to do. Many of you are upset and angry, and we understand and even sympathize. I personally am upset, too. It’s the middle of football season, and I want TSL to be humming along smoothly just as much (or more) than you do. I don’t like it when the site is running poorly, because it means I can’t do the things I like to do: write and post content and hang out on the message boards.

While it’s easy to criticize and pass judgment, please remember that TSL, relatively speaking, is still a very small company. We can’t bring the resources to bear that ESPN.com, Sportsline.com, or even Rivals.com can. Those companies are large outfits with teams of programmers that they can apply to any problems that arise. We’re a much smaller operation, and sometimes it takes us longer to wade through things. This is one of those times.

The solution at this point is to move TSL over to a newer, more powerful server. This will require the services of some outside help, and at this point, I’m not sure how quickly that can be done. It might be done as quickly as tonight (Monday night), or it may take considerably longer. I’ll try to keep you posted.

We have disabled ads for the time being in an effort to make things run more smoothly, and we are also taking steps with the “Hokie News” daily newslink – a database-driven part of the site – to make it more efficient. For the time being, that means you can’t search Hokie News archives, you can only access updates for the current day.

Rest assured that we are working ourselves silly trying to get through things, and we’ll get it all straightened out as fast as we can. We’ll try to get updates to you along the way to keep you abreast of what’s going on.

— Will

P.S. Speaking of Lee Corso, that was my own personal “God is a Hokie” T-shirt that he held up at the beginning of College GameDay Saturday morning. Pretty cool, huh? Except, uh … I didn’t get it back. Oh, well, I don’t mind taking one for the team.

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