without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
You have certainly noticed the problems during the past few days. I'm not entirely sure what happened myself, but I'll try to give the gist of the issues to the best of my knowledge...
On Christmas day, the same day our credit card got charged for the hosting, the site went down with a "403 Forbidden" error. I contacted the hosting's technical support, and they underwent the routine of asking my domain name and the problem. When I told them, their response was, to my great horror and surprise, that our domain name did not exist in their database. This made no sense to me, of course, but the technical support was completely uncooperative and said I had to contact the sales/billing department.
Which I did, except, of course, that it was Christmas evening, and everyone was on vacation. I got an auto-responder saying they would be back on December 27th. Of course, when that day came, the site was still down and I still had no response. Then a strange "under construction" sign appeared, which for the record was a placeholder page they had put up - it was not from us.
Then, I saw that a senior technician on my instant messenger contact list (the only one who has ever managed to really help me in the past) was online. So I contacted him and explained everything. Strangely, he does not work for that hosting company anymore, but he still kept contact with his former employer and managed to get something done. He told me that the company had underwent major changes in their services: they had changed their administration control panel platform, but apparently had "missed us" during the migration. We didn't even enter their new billing cycle (which was scheduled to start on Jan. 1st, 2008). How anyone could "miss" what is no doubt their largest client is anyone's guess...
As of right now, I still have no response from the sales/billing. But the site is back online for some of us, thanks to this guy, who is actually hosting us temporarily on his own server. If your friends tell you they can't access the site, tell them to restart their computer or flush their DNS cache (under Windows X, command line, ipconfig /flushdns). It worked for me, but not for others, so I guess it's a matter of DNS propagation or something...
On my end, the images are broken. It's probably the case for many of you. The images are hosted on another server, and fetched via a subdomain, which may be wrongly configured. We're looking into this at the moment. To be on the safe side, image uploads have been disabled until we are certain the images will be displayed correctly. Worry not, though, the image files themselves are safe.
So for now, you can browse and use the site (minus the images, but at least all the data is there). Our contact will attempt to resolve the matter with the host tomorrow, so it's possible that the site goes down again for a bit (I say this because I don't exactly trust them to do it right, for obvious reasons).
Sadly, this isn't completely over yet, so we thank you for your patience. Don't worry about one thing: nobody is trying to shut us down, and we aren't going anywhere. As soon as we are able to, we will get a powerful dedicated server to make sure this does not happen anymore.
Thank you again for your patience and comprehension. Stay tuned for the updates as soon as I get them.
By now you've no doubt noticed the new merchant links appearing on the site: Amazon, eBay, and gemm.com. I'm sure everyone knows Amazon and eBay; not the most underground stores, to be sure, but they do have a huge selection of metal albums. Gemm.com is a marketplace-type site, that sellers from around the world can use to sell stuff online without having to maintain a webstore. They also have quite a few metal releases, including some very rare ones, though the prices do vary in affordability.
We've had a few requests from other stores wanting to be featured on the site, so I'll give a few notes about that here. The main thing is that you will need to have an affiliation program set up in order to have your store appear in our merchant links on the bands and releases pages. This would include tracking of sales coming from this site, a payment system, and hopefully some reporting features. Not everyone has the means to develop that, so there are companies specialized in the matter that can save you most of the work by integrating their software on your site. A big one I know of is Commission Junction; eBay uses them, along with a lot of other stores, though I'm not sure what their terms are. There are a lot more out there too, though remember that your software must allow payments to Canada (payments in USD is fine, even preferred since we pay our host in USD): some of them require an European bank account, for example, so that wouldn't work.
Feedback on this new feature has generally been positive, and stats indicate it is very popular, but in case anyone really can't stand those links I just added an option to the profile page to hide them when you're logged in.
You might notice a new section on some band pages entitled "buy their stuff" (just under the additional notes). This section will contain, as you might expect, links to sites selling merchandise related to the band in question. How is this different from the merch links users can already add? Well, these links will be to sites running affiliate programs that we are members of, i.e. we will be getting a cut on each sale referred from here. Is this selling out? We hope it is actually a useful feature for people wanting to buy albums and merchandise from their favorite bands, and an easily ignored one for the others. We will definitely keep the links discreet and far less obnoxious than banners, pop-ups and the like. The goal with this is mainly to get funds to pay hosting costs and especially to get a new powerful server for the still upcoming MA version 2 (yes, that is still seriously being worked on; no, I can't give you a release date). Thank you very much to everyone who donated money to us, but as we rather expected from the start, the donations slowed down to a tiny trickle after the first month and this is unfortunately not reliable enough to base monthly expenses on.
We will be adding other stores in the coming weeks and months, but for now we started with just one, namely fearshop.com. They sell mainly metal shirts (and a few CDs and DVDs), for a small variety of bands of different genres and popularity, from Iron Maiden to Nattefrost. They also have a bunch of horror movie t-shirts, if anyone's interested.
The e-mail problems should be fixed now. Sorry about the trouble.
It has recently come to our attention that just about no one receives notification and activation emails anymore, whereas before it was only the occasional user. We have contacted our host about this multiple times, but so far we have not had much luck.
I would encourage all our visitors to not register in the meantime. You can still try, but you probably won't receive anything, and if you contact us for a manual activation it will probably take a lot of time for us to respond. We have updated the registration page in consequence.
We greatly apologize for those who are inconvenienced by not receiving the notification emails. We are trying to find a solution, even if it means using another email server.
The FAQ has been updated. The first two questions are new, since more than half of my inbox is about those. Please read.
I set up caching for release pages as well as band lists in order to relieve our poor overworked database. Please warn me of any strange behavior that might be related to this. The release cache is refreshed when something on a cached page changes, while the band lists refresh every 10 minutes.
Maintenance is done, and the images and uploads are back.
The image server will be down for a bit for a hard drive upgrade, so images will be broken and uploads will be disabled for a little while. Sorry for the trouble.
Uploads are back. Thanks to Matthew from melodyscape.com for offering his server to be used as our new image server while we find a more permanent solution. Please signal any error you find while using the site to me.
So apparently just hosting our images is lethal to shared hosting. The image host is kicking us out so we'll need to move the images again, hence uploads will have to be disabled for a little while. It should be faster than last time though. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Some of you have been waiting for this for a while, so here it is: check this page (or the link at the bottom of the left menu) to find out how your contribution can help us defray server costs.
Please make sure you read the donation FAQ on that page before you send us something. Thank you!
Image uploads are back, as you might have noticed.
The uploading and modifying of pictures will be disabled for a few days while we move all the images to another server in order to save bandwidth on the main server, sorry for the inconvenience. Please report to me any page I might have missed that still allows uploading, or any bug that might have appeared as a side-effect of this change.
Good news, for once!
So I finally got ahold of the senior technician to look into things, and it turns out that some other staff guys did change the MySQL configuration recently, which explained the recent server fuck-ups (even though they said they hadn't when I complained to their support). Go figure.
I've put the search back on, and I was told to keep monitoring the server status until evening. So if anything goes wrong, don't be surprised if it gets removed again. Hopefully though, that won't be necessary.
Thanks again to everyone for their patience.
Not really an update, but I wrote a lengthy forum post about the issues described below. For those interested in the longer story, you can always check here.
By the way: some of you must realize that the Google search will have different behaviour. The results are not in real-time, as the Google crawling bots make their rounds only at certain time intervals. Therefore, it's possible that you see, for example, a band listed by Google but that has recently been removed by our staff (and thus seems to be a dead link), or a band recently added that has not yet been picked up by the Google bots.
It's meant to be a temporary helper, not an equivalent.
So it seems that the problems of old, pre-migration days, are happening again - just as we came back from the March bandwidth cycle. Coincidence? I think not, but our hosts seem to think that there is no link between the two. Nevermind that the site had been running flawlessly fast in the past three months or so and now, suddenly, the server can't take it anymore... go figure.
In any case, we're currently getting help (not much from our host, ironically, but from a helpful third party) to investigate what causes all these ghastly performance problems and constant database errors. We thought to never see them again since the migration but apparently we were wrong, so we're back on it.
In the meantime, search is disabled - it has been made clear that it was having a significant impact on the server load, so for the time being we'll replace it a Google search. Not quite t same functionality-wise, but better than nothing, surely.
Oh yes, we are seriously considering receiving donations now, after getting so many comments about that. ;) Stay tuned.
This Firefox extension adds a small "M" icon next to band entries on www.last.fm, which performs a quick search on the band names.
Useful for quickly looking up Last.fm band entries here, I suppose.
Or so it seems. Thus new user registrations are now opened again.
We apologize again for the inconvenience.
There seems to be a problem with the new account registrations. The required activation emails are currently not getting through properly, due to (as usual) server issues.
Our host is currently working on fixing the issue, but in the main time, we have temporarily disabled user registrations. So: if you want to register, please be patient, it will return shortly.
If, however, you registered today (Feb. 5th) and still have not received the activation email, you probably won't receive it at all, we're sorry to say. Please try again with another email when it's back up. If you really want to keep your username, you can email us for a manual activation, but we can't guarantee we'll respond very quickly due to our backlog, so unless your username matters a lot to you, it will be simpler for you to simply re-register.
Addendum: This also means that email notifications for submissions approvals/rejections will not work. So don't be surprised if you didn't receive the notification after a submission gets accepted or rejected.
We apologize for the inconvenience. We still don't know what causes all these email problems and all we can do is wait for the server admins to fix them.
Thank you for your patience.
You can find it here, or check this forum thread.
Reminder for the Firefox users, there is a similar plugin here (the auto-install may not work for all versions anymore). And you can find even more such plugins at the official Mozilla site here.
We encourage all of our users and visitors to use a decent browser like FIREFOX or OPERA.
Quick note for everyone:
Expect to see more intermittent bandwidth problems this month. We are arguing with our host about the issue, and we don't expect this to be fixed right away, but we are yelling as often and loudly as we can.
In the mean time, just relax - the site isn't going anywhere and we aren't dying or anything. Just try again later if it doesn't work.
We apologize for the massive inconvenience, and thank you for your patience.
As you no doubt noticed, yesterday our wonderful hosting company decided to move us to another server. They were upgrading everyone to new machines and yesterday was our turn.
As usual, they fucked up it - majorly. I was promised a smooth transition and no downtime, so I did not write a news post about it. Of course, in hindsight it was not such a good idea, and by the time I decided I should write about it, the site was already unavailable.
Late last night they had finished moving most of the content, but there were a few database tables that needed re-indexing (resulting in a buggy forum), the server configuration was wrong (which resulted in the broken search and 404 errors for user profiles and band pages), logging in didn't work, and a whole lot of other things. For a while, our email and access to the server no longer even worked, so we were powerless.
To those who emailed us, or anyone else: in the wise words of Douglas Adams, don't panic. Your profile is not gone, you are not banned, the band pages were not deleted, everything's still there - the display was just screwed up for a while but everything's still there.
Speaking of which, some emails might have been lost. So if you emailed us yesterday (December 10th) with something other than complaints related to the server issues (i.e. with something that requires an answer not found in this post), please resend it. Anything sent before that has made it.
Only this morning, after screaming at them, have we finally managed to get things back on track.
Some images might still be missing - I am told they are currently being extracted and transferred. Kind of makes you wonder what exactly it was that they did all of last night, but there you have it. On the plus side, it seems like no actual updates and data were lost (please correct me if I'm wrong).
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenient caused. Believe us, we're even more frustrated by this disastrous migration than you are. Hopefully, the site performance will be improved from now on. *knocks on wood*
Thank you for your patience and comprehension.
It has been brought to my attention that there have been several submitted reviews sent by users who did not write them.
Please note that any review you submit must have been written by you and only you. Do not send reviews anyone else wrote. It does not matter if you give credit or not, since it's still submitted under your name. Doing that will get you banned permanently, so just avoid it completely.
This does not apply to reviews that you did write, but for other websites, of course. But the rules are very clear and unambiguous about this: you must be the author, without exception.
The review rules have been slightly edited.
Please take note of #7 - track-by-track reviews are generally frowned upon and have higher chances of being rejected. Check the review forum for tips about writing better reviews.
It has recently come to my attention that dubious bands claiming to be "metalcore" keep plaguing the site, despite some efforts to ward them off.
The rules have officially been updated to reflect the policy about metalcore bands. The following section has been added to the list of bands to avoid submitting:
"Metalcore, unless it's clearly more metal than core (e.g Shadows Fall, The Red Chord, Mastodon are OK: Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu, Bullet For My Valentine are NOT). If you are uncertain, best avoid submitting metalcore bands altogether."
Note that it's possible that you find suspicious bands that should not be here. If you think a band falls under this category, you may report it through the usual channels. There are around 500 results for "metalcore" at the moment so the staff may not know about them all. That is no reason, however, to hysterically flag every band found under a search for "metalcore". Please be reasonable.
Wow, two news posts in one day!
It has recently been brought to my attention that the site is plagued with submissions of "bedroom" side-projects, with only a MySpace page or maybe a CD-R limited to 10 copies. The site's primary focus being actual metal bands, it has become increasingly troublesome to deal with other projects barely anyone is interested in. The mod team has hence devised an additional rule for the submission of side-projects: the band in question must have at least one release on a label with worldwide distribution. We hope this will help reduce the number of irrelevant submissions.
N.B. Of course this new rule does not apply to metal bands.
Due to popular request, we have set up a new forum for musicians. So if you want to discuss instruments and equipment, playing tips, recording, tabs, or whatever musician-related topic, use this forum.
You can also use this forum to seek out new band members, or to post samples of your work for others to evaluate, if you want (but that doesn't mean spamming and advertising is allowed).
In an effort to improve server performance, I have implemented a basic caching system for the band pages and the home page. For this reason, you might notice (if you are very observant) that there's a slight lag in the main page updates, as the page now refresh every minute instead of being in real time. This might seem silly, but it actually saves hundreds of queries to the database. The band pages don't have such a lag as their cache is refreshed whenever an update is made.
On the plus side, the stats at the top are back... if anyone cares.
There was a bug in the report submission, triggered recently. It was not noticeable, and all submitted reports seemed to go through as usual, but in truth, they didn't.
The bug has been fixed, and now reports are working again. However, if you have sent a report within the last few days (around a week or so from today), and the correction you requested has not been made, please resubmit your report. Feel free to mention if this is a re-submission if you are not sure it has been lost or not.
I am deeply sorry for the inconvenience - this bug was completely internal and transparent and so it took us some time to notice it.
Thank you for your comprehension.