We mentioned in some earlier posts and email newsletters that sometimes we have to remove sites from the system when they stop working. However there is a second problem that has been affecting us recently – some sites are blocking IMAutomator submissions which of course causes them to fail.
We’ve had to get rid of several more today and that has brought the number of live sites down to below 20 when we want to be above 50 right now! Currently we have a single, large-capacity server running our submission engine. If a site decides that it does not want IMAutomator submissions it only needs to block the IP address of our server and that site stops working. We have a 3-phase plan of action to deal with this problem:
Phase 1: In the short term, if a site blocks our submissions we don’t delete it because the site itself still works, but we put the site into trial mode to prevent further submissions from being scheduled. This allows us to keep the site in play whilst we address the problem.
Phase 2: Over the next week or two we are migrating to a server-farm so that instead of just one server running our submission engine – we’ll be running on a whole bunch of servers. If a site blocks one of them, the submission can be re-tried on another server. This should solve the problem, but we still need to address the cause.
Phase 3: The most important point this raises, is why are IMAutomator submissions being blocked in the first place? Unlike some other similar services – we play nice with the sites that we submit to and do nothing but offer a time-saving solution. We don’t duplicate submissions or manipulate them in any way. So we know that it is not the system itself that is the problem, but what is actually being submitted – the content that is being bookmarked.
With a service that is so easy and quick to use like IMAutomator, people forget what it is they are doing – when you submit a bookmark, you are sharing that content for users of the bookmarking site to enjoy. But people get so caught up with the SEO aspect that they completely lose sight of the social aspect and end up submitting what can only be considered spam. Thus, we need to start being a bit more restrictive about what can be posted using IMAutomator.
Content & Language Filtering Coming Soon
So far, we have trusted members to submit good quality content and have put together training materials to advise people on how to use the tools effectively but human nature is such that this stuff is rarely read. Even this blog post will be read by only a tiny proportion of members! However, the changes we will be making will soon become apparent to any member who is submitting poor-quality content!
There are two main areas that are going to address. The first is the subject material of the content being posted. Right now we don’t apply filtering but we’re going to start weeding out subjects such as adult material, piracy, gambling etc – we’ll be using the guidelines of the sites we submit to, to form our own rules. I know that will mean that our service is no longer viable for some of you but we have to maintain the integrity of the system as a whole.
Another major area is language. We use mostly English-speaking sites and whilst some don’t mind what language is used, most do – especially article sites. Therefore we are going to restrict content to the English language only. I know this will be a disappointment to some of you, and speaking another language is certainly not ‘wrong’, but again, we have to consider the integrity of the system as a whole even if that means that our service is no longer viable for some members.
I’m writing this post to give you some warning as to the changes which are on the way as I’m sure they will upset some people. If you think that your content is not going to be suitable with these new rules, then now is the time to start looking for an alternative service.