I also wanted to thank elynross and astolat, the amazing administrators of the Yuletide challenge, as well as the coders at the Archive of Our Own [ETA, reminded by jadelennox: and the great folks at OTW Systems, who do largely invisible and completely necessary technical work to keep the computers talking to each other], who kept slogging under heavy fire. The previous software was held together with spit and baling wire, neither of which are pleasant to work with (ick and ow). Given that the transition to the AO3 coincided with the continued uptick in participation, surviving was its own Yuletide miracle, and offers the prospect of easier future years.
Since a lot of people are doing "the decade in review" things, here's a retrospective of Yuletide challenges (pun intended): We begin with 300+ participants! Yuletide was huge in 2003! Too bad the software couldn’t handle smart quotes. .txt only to be sure it was right, no takebacks! In 2004, with over 500 participants, the site was hacked due to the host's failure, despite astolat's warning, to correct a security vulnerablity. Result: server move mid-uploading crunch, with extra fun propagating a new domain name, and resulting comment glitches. 2005: Growth continues apace, with ~850 participants. Still no editing without modly intervention. 2006: Delays due to server load; incrementally backing up after every single story was uploaded, necessary because of creakiness of database, took time. There were bizarre uploading database issues, the kind of things it takes a computer to screw up. Last minute archive lockdown! Still no editing without modly intervention. And who else recalls the spam comments flood of 2006?
2007, with [edit with info from elynross] 1266 people signed up: Remember having to save your emailed comments, because otherwise you couldn’t respond after the author reveal? Heavy server load issues are scary. Yes, modly intervention still required for edits. This one’s just a well-titled post: We’re working on the problem! (At one point, a couple hundred stories were stranded in database hell.) I wrote you a story but the server ated it. Strangely prolific author, whose name just happens to be the first on the list. The archive goes down Dec. 28, and not in the good way.
2008, another year of growth [edited: 1599 signups]: Pre-Dec. 25: Various small but nervewracking bugs, heavy server loads, representative database crashes, including one when astolat herself had crashed, leading to database nervous breakdown, and up and down again (note that these aren’t even all the instances, just a representative sample: something needed to change). Post-Dec. 25, server load still heavy, links still wonky due to size of database, server load so heavy that the quicksearch links couldn’t even be fully generated. Slowness due to heavy server load continues through the author reveal.
From what I observed from the outside, this year there were the kinds of bugs one expects on new software with a new posting interface, but what I didn't see--characteristic of past years--was a database overloaded and broken down merely by attempted uploads as the deadline approached. The server's definitely been hammered today with people reading, just as the former server was last year, but at least there are greater resources available now. I’m exhausted just thinking about the huge amount of work, under extraordinary time pressure, the switch to the AO3 represents. I’m really glad there are more wonderful coders around now to share some of the load.
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