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*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day

Thursday, Mar 22, 2018

* I was tearing my hair out Tuesday night when my site went down. Hopefully, the problem has now been fixed. From my Springfield-based hosting service, which also helps with site maintenance…

[Tuesday], the biggest bottleneck was MySQL using CPU. It is due to the way your old version of WordPress works. It has to search through every post you have ever made to query what to display on the front page. Since your server is very large this works fine for medium levels of traffic. When you see a spike, it would get behind. At around 10:20pm [Tuesday] night, we were able to optimize the MySQL cache to greatly alleviate this issue. We saw the MySQL process go from using 90% of your CPU resources to no longer even being the number 1 user and let your Apache processes complete on time.

I know that is a bit technical but we used the onset of high utilization to find issues that are hidden at regular loads and correct them for better performance. This along with assigning more resources ahead of time should keep your site working well for November.

However, because they optimized the MySQL cache, you may have to refresh your page when you visit. Something’s gotta change.

All I know is, I can’t go through yet another early Tuesday night ever again. Too much stress. The ol’ blog is in dire need of an update. Yeah, I know, the last redo was a disaster. But something has to be done.

* The Question: Your suggestions for a newly revamped

*** UPDATE *** Some of you have reported problems with commenting. That should now be fixed, unless, of course, you’re in automated moderation.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Just Me - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:34 am:

    FYI - I’ve also been having making comments on my phone, but not my laptop or tablet. I get an error message about viewing with different IP addresses. I don’t think I posted anything ban-worthy but maybe I did in the frustration of the weekend?

  2. - Annonin' - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:36 am:

    We suggest a good mimeograph machine and ample supply of stamps.

  3. - Ivory Tower - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:37 am:

    Just don’t lose sight of the fact you are already the gold standard in this state.

  4. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:38 am:

    You just need to boost your oomph a little bit.

  5. - Arsenal - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    “Pivot to video.”

    If I even need to say it, heavy, HEAVY snark.

  6. - Not a Billionaire - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    You have to work on mobile friendly. I use the web version but I am nearsighted and have no problem. The mobile version is not visually appealing.

  7. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:44 am:

    I post by phone, so I’m often failing to post.

    Go mobile. Desktops are for gramps.

  8. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:45 am:

    Just a bandwidth boost and an update of the layout and color scheme. Maybe move the feeds and the archives on the right side to tabs or a dropdown menu.

  9. - JoanP - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:48 am:

    A search function would be helpful for finding older posts.

  10. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:48 am:

    a like button for comments

  11. - a drop in - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:49 am:

    Schedule regular load testing (aka: bang the heck out of the machine and see what happens). Got to keep steps ahead of problem, if you can.

  12. - Ray del Camino - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:49 am:

    Don’t go all New Coke on us. We aren’t here for the flash.

    Ask the techies about back-end fixes

  13. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:49 am:

    I like the old school column design because it still works for the audience and content. Maybe boost the back end capabilities and add more data features replacing some of the feeds. Some of the feeds are not useful anymore IMO.

  14. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:50 am:

    ===A search function===

  15. - JoanP - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:50 am:

    Adding to my previous (hmm, how about an “edit your post” function?), move the “Archives” and “Main Menu” to a more visible spot.

  16. - AC - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:50 am:

    My suggestion is to keep the user interface simple and straightforward, continue to have links that look like links and avoid the trend toward “flat” interfaces. Wordpress is a popular platform, it will scale, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move to a newer version. Redundancy never hurts either, both for parallel processing and failover. Doing some housecleaning on the RSS feeds wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

    This is annoying: Your comment was rejected as an anti-spam measure as your IP address has changed since you viewed the post. Note that this can happen if you are accessing the Internet through a proxy server, or if you disconnected from the Internet and re-connected.

  17. - JoanP - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:52 am:

    Ha. I actually never found that! So make it more visible?

  18. - TopHatMonocle - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:53 am:

    For design, make sure it’s responsive so it works as well on phones as it does on a desktop.

    For performance, look into a CDN like Cloudflare for election nights when there will be a lot of traffic. Also might want to look into caching plugins for WordPress which is different from MySQL cache.

  19. - siriusly - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:01 am:

    Dude bandwith and color scheme changes are fine

    Don’t get too fancy, your post and comment features are simple and engaging. We don’t want to log in - be tracked or identified. Even though you probably personally know who we are . . .

  20. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:01 am:

    The current design works so don’t mess with it very much.

    Do a multi-stage upgrade.

    First new underlying more powerful software. Been out of the game too long to make a specific recommendation. Get it tested and stable in real life before adding functionality.

    Then add some new features.

    A “like” button would be good.

    An “edit” feature would be nice for us that mis-spell things but I see it being a nightmare for you if it bypasses the current filtering system.

  21. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:02 am:

    “Your suggestions for a newly revamped”

    I’m not knowledgeable enough to offer any suggestions, but wanted to commend you for keeping this site running as well as it does for as long as it has.

    – MrJM

  22. - Ole General - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:02 am:

    If you have the money, a complete website overhaul is necessary.

    Clearly, your backend system isn’t optimized for modern internet usage and the site needs a general forum for discussion.

    I’d say 20k would get you a pretty snazzy website, but don’t know what exactly you want.

  23. - Downstate - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:04 am:

    Another blog I visit offers the ability to like a comment, in addition to responding. Also, comments can be viewed in three different formats (Newest, oldest, or most liked)

  24. - We'll See - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    Maybe that Rauner guy will have some free time towards the end of the year to lend a hand.
    PS I hear he’s good at fixin things and assemblin best teams.

  25. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    I don’t mind the text-based site without all the bells and whistles at all. I do experience the problem with messages sometimes not posting (sometimes with error messages, sometimes not, sometimes it looks to me like they didn’t post but later I see they did).

    My $0.02: drop the media stories on the far right side of the page - I’m here for CapFax baby! - you could use the space to highlight some of the paid spots or give them more space (this site doesn’t run on air).

    And thanks.

  26. - Just Me - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:11 am:

    I would love the ability to “like” someone else’s post, even if the like was anonymous. Sometimes people post such excellent and well-developed comments that I would like to congratulate them for a job well done.

  27. - JS Mill - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:14 am:

    I like the way the site looks and works and I post from my notebook and phone . So I wouldn’t want any of that to change.

  28. - bored now - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:15 am:

    i think i would disable certain functions for high-bandwidth periods (iow, when you purchase more bandwidth). search would definitely be one of them. on election day, we don’t need access to the whole site after the polls have closed…

  29. - Saluki - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:16 am:

    Call me crazy, but I would leave it just how it is.

    I do like this suggestion…

    “the ability to like a comment…comments can be viewed in three different formats (Newest, oldest, or most liked)

  30. - bored now - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:18 am:

    == I get an error message about viewing with different IP addresses. ==

    it’s hard to tell if this is on rich’s side or our’s. it is responding our dynamic IP changing; the work-around i use is to click “back” on my browser, copying my comment, refreshing the page, and then posting. it has worked so far…

  31. - Blago's Hare - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:21 am:

    I would like to see each individual comment numbered.

  32. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:25 am:

    ===drop the media stories on the far right side of the page===

    Don’t think I want to do that. Those links are mainly for me. :)

  33. - BigLou - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:26 am:

    “Oscar’s Corner” where every week he salutes a bad political/governmental item by a lift of his leg or a good job by a lick of the face. And pics of him and his friends which are comprised or readers photos of their dogs (no cats allowed).

  34. - BigLou - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:27 am:

    I got same error as Bored Now

  35. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:29 am:

    An “anti-suggestion” if I may. Stay away from the trend of autoplaying videos and gumming up the front page with a lot of flash. News media sites are especially guilty of this. Make things impossible to load to the point of frustration and giving up on whatever you planned to view.

  36. - illini - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    As much as I respect this site I admit to having some frustration at times.

    I have had the same experience, as others have, with getting the WordPress notice about the anti-spam issue ( 3 times yesterday ). But my problems with commenting have been relatively infrequent. Yet, sometimes, it takes quite a while to see my comments posted.

    And I do agree that an easier search option for previous topics and posts would be helpful. I am getting older and find myself periodically “forgetting” some facts and details that I have failed to save on my laptop.

    I am not a nerd who has any technical suggestions for this site, but I am a faithful reader who values the content provided and the platform provided to comment for these many years I have been following.

  37. - AlfondoGonz - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:33 am:

    Allot each commenter 5 swear words per calendar year.

    For eff’s sake, already. ;)

  38. - siriusly - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:36 am:

    No Word Cloud?!

    Leave the media links, it’s the only traffic some of those outlets get

  39. - Colin O'Scopy - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:41 am:

    Awww, come on Rich, it’s so simple maybe you need a refresher course. It’s all ball bearings nowadays. Now you prepare that Fetzer valve with some 3-in-1 oil and some gauze pads….

  40. - HangingOn - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:43 am:

    ==(no cats allowed)==

    Hey! *dislike* My cat is made of awesomeness. :)

  41. - Tom - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:46 am:

    I have had this conversation with you before, but I think you should allow the site to auto refresh if an individual so chooses. You could design so it is an option for those of use who would find it useful.

  42. - Colin O'Scopy - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:48 am:

    On a serious note: I agree with Lucky Pierre: a like button for comments. Also, a reply thread for comments that cascade from the original comment. That way, I don’t have to put = signs when I want to reply to Wordslinger or Oswego Willy.

    If that’s not do-able, then number the comments. That way, I can write “in reply to commdent number 10…blah blah blah”.

  43. - Lt Guv - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:50 am:

    ==An “anti-suggestion” if I may. Stay away from the trend of autoplaying videos and gumming up the front page with a lot of flash. News media sites are especially guilty of this. Make things impossible to load to the point of frustration and giving up on whatever you planned to view. ==


  44. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:51 am:

    ===Stay away from the trend of autoplaying videos and gumming up the front page with a lot of flash===

    I will never, ever do that. I hate it when others do it. No way will I do it.

  45. - DuPage - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 12:02 pm:

    @- VanillaMan - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:44 am:

    ====Go mobile. Desktops are for gramps.====

    There are a lot of “gramps” out here!

  46. - anon2 - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 12:10 pm:

    I like Colin’s suggestions for a like button and a reply option to particular comments.

  47. - Streator Curmudgeon - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 12:13 pm:

    I got a new Mac last October. Since then, many of my posts never appear, and I know there’s nothing offensive in them that would cause Rich to delete them.

    I’m just not an offensive kind of guy. :-)

  48. - The Way I See It - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 12:35 pm:

    First, this is an amazing resource for those who want to follow the sport of Illinois politics. It is world class, wish that there was one that was as smart and civilized at the national level. Thanks for all that you do in terms of content and keeping the discussion at a high level.

    My wish list - a like button (wish that I could acknowledge smart comments) and a threaded discussion mode so that when commenters get into the weeds with one another, I could skip the back and forth and go see what everyone else has to say. Sometimes you will see posts with 40 comments and a third of them are dialog between 2 or 3 that don’t always add much to the subject of discussion.

  49. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 12:36 pm:

    Would it be possible to have a “text only” version =at peak times”? Not advocating no feeds, etc., just no pics / gifs / etc. at peak times. Would that help?

  50. - revvedup - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 12:48 pm:

    Is it worth (in time and effort, let alone money) to migrate to the newer WordPress software? That could prevent all the back end tweaking which might still not solve the overload issues. Maybe your IT people can try load testing the fixes also to see if they hold up, but sometimes the major upgrade is the long-term solution. The site content itself needs no changes.

  51. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 12:55 pm:

    Hire Dan Proft?

  52. - Casual observer - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:04 pm:

    The problem with adding bandwidth is you have to have the processing power to handle the increase in load. I think you found that out. A good load balancer with multiple V-machines on the back will give you the ability to expand when needed.

    I’m curious if your opinion on net neutrality has changed after Tuesday night?

  53. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:05 pm:


  54. - Winnin’ - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:09 pm:

    Refreshing isn’t so bad.
    You’d need some kind of real-time technology like the financial sites.
    Blockchain is just around the corner.

  55. - G'Kar - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:19 pm:

    I’ll just second what others have posted. I would like a “like” button and the ability to edit.


  56. - Flapdoodle - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:30 pm:

    Whatever under-the-hood changes might be desirable, and whatever visual appeal changes are made, it’s *content* that matters. That’s why the site is (as someone has already said) the gold standard in the state. Content and easy access to it — keep these at the top of your list.

  57. - Postbot 45592 - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:34 pm:

    A feature to let you ignore individual’s comments in the comment section would be great. Let everyone see all the comments if they want but it can get really tedious around here with broken record commenters say the same thing over and over and over the the 4,000 time in 6 years.

    I realize that some people use the capitol fax comments section as a full time job. More power to them. There are others of us who use it as an invaluable resource for short periods during very busy days. The gummed up comments section with redundant comments and constant inside jokes really diminishes the value unless you’re keeping up at a full time pace.

    For those who want, it would be great to have the option to hide certain commenters from our individual feed to make the site more useful. I’d even be willing to sign up for an account and give up my anonymity to be able to access the feature.

  58. - Casual observer - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:38 pm:

    A good old fashio, regularly scheduled, DB purge is always, ahem, cleansing. Moving un-touched content to near-line keeps the important stuff up front.

    You could do what the state does and hire Delloitte for a gazillion. Just be sure to do the opposite of everything they say. Not sure if this is snark or not.

  59. - Streator Curmudgeon - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:38 pm:

    Many of my comments, which always follow the site rules, never get posted. This started when I got my new Mac last October.

  60. - Northsider - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:39 pm:

    b>Definitely make the site mobile friendly.

    And for comments/discussions, Daily Kos has a nifty system that make it very easy to see who is responding to whom within individual posts. Would something like that be good for here, too?

  61. - Dan Johnson - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:40 pm:


  62. - Angel's Sword - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 1:49 pm:

    Just keep it simple please. Over-complicating stuff is always the problem with revamps. I like the basic comment section with no accounts in particular.

  63. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:15 pm:

    This begs the question what kind of offline archive you have so we aren’t robbed of a Capitol Fax anthology.

  64. - Illinois Resident - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:17 pm:

    Rich, I have had problems commenting as well. Says comment rejected as anti spam as IP address changed et al.

  65. - Illinois Resident - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:19 pm:

    Been going on for 2 days now. Can only comment via phone.

  66. - Suburban Mom - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:21 pm:

    You load 10 trackers and more than 50 scripts on every page load (in addition to a ton of images in the sidebar which slows you WAY for a text-based site) — it’s the slowest-loading site I visit and the number of trackers and scripts is really unreasonable. You have way too many resource-heavy scripts that do very little.

    Perhaps you could turn the sidebars into a landing page or a splash page or a news ticker on its own page, and reduce the script weight that loads on every. single. post. It’s really way too much, and it’s very privacy-unfriendly.

  67. - West Sider - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:27 pm:

    My suggestion would be: encourage membership, and profitablity, by making it more affordable for more out of pocket readers. This is outstanding journalism and the commentary is the best- hands down- that I can find anywhere. I want an opportunity to contribute.
    Also, as noted, a ‘like’ option on comments would be great.

  68. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:38 pm:

    == I get an error message about viewing with different IP addresses. ==

    That is pretty much an anti-Spam feature. It’s caught me occasionally as I move around to different WiFi hot spots, but I can live with it if it helps cuts down on the bits and spam.

  69. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:40 pm:

    == Would it be possible to have a “text only” version =at peak times”? ==

    Use the mobile version. It works on your desktop also.

  70. - Illinois Resident - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:40 pm:


  71. - Illinois Resident - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:41 pm:

    Just tried on the computer and comment went through. Maybe this was a short term glitch.

  72. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:50 pm:

    == Just tried on the computer and comment went through. Maybe this was a short term glitch. ==

    I think it has to do with how the mobile version of the page caches things and the amount of activity on the page. My comments usually show up if I wait long enough.

  73. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 3:41 pm:

    Let guys like me who get put in the cooler for awhile know we wont be posted. Just let me know……thanks

  74. - Kyle Hillman - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 3:56 pm:

    I would love Facebook integration or at least Gravatar for commenting.

  75. - KBS - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:00 pm:

    I’d love a button that lets you jump back up to the top. If I’m way down on the page & hit refresh, it takes forever & sends me to somewhere in the middle of a refreshed page.

    And a ‘like’ option on comments would be great!

  76. - Lincoln Parker - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:12 pm:

    Two huge items on my wish list:

    Threaded comments - much easier to see the discussing progress & ignore if it is irrelevant

    Upvote/like/star for comments - Some way users can acknowledge good comments (and possibly downvote bad ones). This would be helpful because I don’t always have time to read all the comments on a post I’m interested in, but I would be able to skim the ones that people felt were the best.

  77. - James - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:13 pm:

    None of my last 3 comments have been posted.

  78. - HeraC - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:20 pm:

    A floating “back to top” button, a like (or upvote/downvote) button, and be responsive to viewport width are my top three, in no particular order.

    The scripts and trackers all take forever to load so I like mobile view for speed no matter what, but scrolling horizontally for comments is tedious.

    It’d be nice if the like button were honor-bound non-partisan, meaning voted to the quality of the post rather than its red/blue content.

  79. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 6:49 pm:

    A “bottom” button would be nice for me … but I get the same thing by searching on “trackback”.

  80. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 8:50 pm:

    ==- Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 11:25 am:==

    Maybe put them on a dedicated “feeds” page similar to Political Wire before that section of PW was moved to members-only?

    Move the back dated posts from the side to a dedicated archives section?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the rest of the week
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