Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Website problems at The Union

Update, 3+ weeks later: never did get a reply from The Union editor Jeff Pelline or IT Director Tom Harbert, to my email about these 3 problems - RSS feeds, commenting, and a 3rd issue that I tried to resolve via email (potential security issue; still present as of Aug 5).

First, The Union's RSS feeds are incomplete; contrary to their statement (here) that "You will receive new stories [on our RSS feed] when our web site is updated", web updates - e.g. these right now:
11:39 a.m. PT - Tree branch caused Monday power outage
10:44 a.m. PT - Families still in need of school supplies
9:35 a.m. PT - Two taken to hospital after bridge collapses on truck near Oroville
8:50 a.m. PT - Air Force reservist announces GOP challenge to Rep. Doolittle
8:15 a.m. PT - Republicans seek to revive tax relief as part of budget talks

do not appear on their News feed* - items in their RSS feeds appear all to have been updated this morning at 1am.

Second, I've been told (by a reader) that commenting was silently and sporadically broken on at least some stories recently, and that rather than post a warning on the paper's website, a newspaper representative encouraged one reader to inform others of this failure behind the scenes via email(see below). (Maybe it still is broken; unfortunately since I can't remember my password or the name of my favorite teacher I can't comment. At The Union password resetting is taken very, very seriously.)

(and, though it's unlikely, maybe they did post a "your comments may silently go into a black hole" warning at some pt; if so I'm unaware of it)

I'll email the paper's webmaster and editor and update this with their responses.
Aug 5 update: re my "a newspaper representative encouraged one reader to inform others of this failure behind the scenes via email" above, I don't think I paraphrased the 'encouragement' very well; here's the relevant part from the rep's email:
"The best workaround I can see for now is for you to forward your comments via email and I will post them on your behalf. Your help in communicating this to any others is much appreciated. Kindly ask they be sent to webmaster@theunion.com

I expect to also be able to add a note to this effect under the "Post Your Comment" tab on the website."
I'm still curious as to whether such a note was provided, since historically this newspaper's pattern has been not to alert readers to deficiencies like this (search ncfocus for 'archive search', for 1 example).

No comments: