When Stuff Breaks

Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 7/6/2009

I used to what my website statistics like my life depended on it. I would check it everyday, wanting to see if I had gained any footing. Then life happened. I went off and wrote a few books. I ended up on a few church committees. I got busy at work. I spent several week flying back and forth between Texas and Georgia. You know how it isólife. But in the meantime, I havenít been keeping up with my website, like I should. Thatís embarrassing, yes, but thatís also the point of some of what Iíve said about website development. Develop your website in such a way that when you go off an leave it for a while, it runs all by itself. A website shouldnít break just because youíve neglected it for a few days, weeks or months.

There are a few things we have no control over. For quite a while, I have had a comment section for the articles on my website. I designed it so that the website would tell me when someone leaves a comment. It was working fine. Every one in a while, I would get a message telling me that someone had commented. At that point, I would go look at the comment and respond as needed. At the time I got busy, the comments were sporadic, so I didnít even notice when the method I was using broke. I suppose the hosting company changed something on their server or something, but whatever the case, the code I was using to receive notification stopped working. Unfortunately, a few people left comments that I didnít get to until weeks later. Had I known they were there, I would have made time to respond, but I was too busy to go look for comments that I didnít think were there. It was a simple fix, but Iím sure a few people thought I was ignoring them.

So, the lesson here is that you should rely on your website to an extent, but you need to verify that it is working from time to time. We need to have the automated features where we can, since they keep us sane, but we need to remember that in the background the hosting company may be changing the web server without telling us of the possible impacts. If that causes something to break, then we need to be in a position to fix it as soon as we can.