AO3 News

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Published:
2013-11-20 14:45:01 -0500
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Update December 14, 18:00 UTC: As of this week, all systems should be back to normal. We're still working on optimizing our server settings, so very brief downtimes for maintenance should be expected. If bookmarks still won't sort correctly for you - we're working on a more permanent fix to the underlying issue, but it might be a short while yet. As always, we're keeping an eye on Support tickets and messages to our Twitter account, and will react as quickly as possible if anything seems off. Thank you all for your patience.

Update December 3, 16:00 UTC: We have re-enabled the sort and filter sidebar on work listings only. Bookmark filtering and sorting is still turned off and will likely be off for a few more days. (The filters are the sidebar that allows you to narrow down a list of works or bookmarks by character, rating, etc.) We will continue to work on the underlying issue. In the meantime, we suggest using the Works Search to help find what you’re looking for.

All works and bookmarks should be showing up normally. Work re-indexing is complete, so we hope to be able to turn on filtering for works again in the next day or two.

Bookmark re-indexing is still ongoing, so it will be several days before we can turn bookmark filtering back on.

Please follow the @AO3_Status Twitter feed or check back here for further updates.

Update 2 Dec: Listings for works, bookmarks, tags, and pseuds are unavailable due to issues with our search index. Our coding and systems volunteers are currently looking into it, and we will keep you updated on our progress. Our Support team is working on a back log, so there might be delays in getting back to users individually. Please consider checking the @AO3_Status Twitter feed or our banner alerts instead.

Update 30 Nov: All bookmarks have been re-indexed and should show up correctly again. Any issues that might still be lingering will be sorted out when we upgrade Elasticsearch, which we're planning for mid-December. Downloads should be working without the need for any workarounds now. Thank you for your patience!

The Good

We recently deployed new code, which fixed a couple of very old bugs and introduced improvements to the kudos feature. Behind the scenes, we've been working on setting up new servers and tweaking server settings to make everything run a little more smoothly during peak times. The end of the year (holiday season in many parts of the world) usually means more people with more free time to participate in more challenges, read more fic, or post more fanart, resulting in more site usage.

One way to measure site usage is looking at page views. This number tells us how many pages (a single work, a list of search results, a set of bookmarks in a collection, a user profile, etc. etc.) were served to users during a certain time frame. Some of these pages can contain a lot of information that has to be retrieved from the database - and a lot of information being retrieved from the database at the same time can result in site slowness and server woes. During the first week of January we had 27.6 million page views. As of November 17 we registered 42.9 million page views for the preceeding week.

We've watched our traffic stats grow dramatically over the years, and we've been doing our best to keep up with our users! Buying and installing more servers is one part of the solution, and we can't thank our all-volunteer Systems team enough for all their hard work behind the scenes. On the other hand, our code needs to be constantly reviewed and updated to match new demands.

Writing code that "scales" - that works well even as the site grows - is a complicated and neverending task that requires a thorough understanding of how all parts of the Archive work together, not just right now, but in six months, or a year, or two years. As we're all volunteers who work on the Archive in our free time (or during lunch breaks), and there are only a handful of us with the experience to really dig deep into the code, this is less straightforward than a server acquisition and will take a little more time.

The Bad

As such, we've been battling some site slowness, sudden downtimes (thankfully brief due to our awesome Systems team) and an uptick in error pages. We can only ask for your patience as we investigate likely causes and discuss possible fixes.

For the time being, we have asked our intrepid tag wranglers to refrain from wrangling on Sundays, as this is our busiest day and moving a lot of tags around sadly adds to the strain on the current servers. We sincerely apologize to all wrangling volunteers who have to catch up with new tags on Monday, and to users who might notice delays (e.g. a new fandom tag that's not marked as canonical right away). From what we've seen so far, this move has helped in keeping the site stable on weekends.

The Ugly

We are aware of an issue with seemingly "vanishing" bookmarks, in which the correct number of bookmarks is displayed in the sidebar, but not all are actually shown. The most likely culprit is our search index, powered by a framework called elasticsearch. All our information (work content, tags, bookmarks, users, kudos, etc. etc.) is stored in a database, and elasticsearch provides a quicker, neater access to some of this data. This allows for fast searches, and lets us build lists of works and bookmarks (e.g. by tag) without having to ask the database to give us every single scrap of info each time.

It appears now that elasticsearch has become slightly out of sync with the database. We are looking into possible fixes and are planning an elasticsearch software upgrade; however, we must carefully test it first to assure data safety.

This problem also affects bookmark sorting, which has been broken for several weeks now. We are very sorry! If you want to know if a particular work has been updated, please consider subscribing to the work (look for the "Subscribe" button at the top of the page). This will send you a notification when a new chapter has been posted.

(Note: Since we're sending out a lot of notifications about kudos, comments and subscriptions every day, some email providers are shoving our messages into the junk folder, or outright deny them passage to your account. Please add our email address do-not-reply@archiveofourown.org to your contacts, create a filter to never send our emails to spam, or check the new "Social" tab in Gmail if you're waiting for notifications.)

A problem with file downloads only cropped up fairly recently. We don't think this is related to the most recent deploy, and will investigate possible causes. In the meantime, if a .pdf or .mobi file gives you an error 500, try downloading the HTML version first, then give it another shot. This should help until we've fixed the underlying problem.

What You Can Do

If you have not already done so, consider subscribing to our twitter feed @AO3_Status or following us on Tumblr. You can also visit the AO3 News page for updates in the coming weeks or subscribe to the feed.

We thank everyone who has written in about their experiences, and will keep you all updated on our progress. Thank you for your patience as we work on this!