Based on current forum chatter, Associated Content is experiencing a slew of bugs right now. Some are new, but others we’ve seen in the past. If the threads are believable (and by the sheer number, I’ll take them at face value), currently AC participants:
- Are having submitted articles raped and pillaged by the submission template
- Are experiencing extremely long waits after offer acceptance and publishing
- Can not leave comments on articles
- Can not use the private message system with any reliability
- Can not rate articles
Template Trashing Articles
By far this is the most serious bug. This is more than the old “I pasted directly from MS Word and now it looks funny” complaint. The template parser seems to be doing consistently violent things like rearranging/deleting entire paragraphs. This bug seems to be related to Firefox and/or Display Only articles, but who can say for sure. Forum complaints are notoriously light on details so a complete picture is hard to paint. I can only say that the complaint-o-meter is off the scale suddenly.
Article Processing Lag
The time between accepting an offer and the article publishing on AC has grown exponentially in the last month. AC tried to explain away this issue by saying they have instituted new policies where someone is double-checking copyright issues, but if that’s the case, they need to hire three or four more reviewers. Complaints about this show that the current processing time is approximately 10+ days. If you are trying to submit time-sensitive information on to AC, you might as well forget it. Combine this with the bug above and you might as well not even submit anything to AC.
I don’t consider not being able to leave a comment a huge problem, but, judging from the fact that a new thread about this complaint is started about every hour, this seems to bother a lot of people. The real bug here is that this is a reoccurring bug. It’s happened in the past and will probably happen again. It always seems to crop up right after AC makes some other minor tweak else where.
My biggest concern with this is version control. We know that different AC techies are responsible for different aspects of the site. When bugs like this get fixed then pop up again, it usually means one programmer is stomping on another programmer’s code. Here’s the scenario.
- Programmer A and B are both given their own copies of the baseline code, version 1.0
- A bug like “Can’t leave comments” is reported
- Programmer A fixes the bug problem, rolls up the code, and deploys it
- Now we have version 1.1a
- A change is made by Programmer B, He rolls up the code and deploys it
- We now have version 1.1b
The crucial step missed is A did not share his changes with B. If he had, we would now be at version 1.2 which would include both the fix from A and the change from B. The sad thing here is there are simple, free software packages like CVS that would handle this situation.
Private Message System
At best, it’s spotty. Some are getting through, some are not. Probably a result of the scenario outlined above combined server load balancing.
I haven’t experienced this bug and really don’t care if it’s bugging or not. The silly ratings don’t mean anything and if they don’t work, who cares?
The Bugs and Complaints forum has gone crazy and there isn’t an ACer in sight. One of the techies did post in one of the threads, but no one from AC has even acknowledged the submission template problem. The upside is the Other Online Writing Gigs forum is still going strong as the processing lag time is forcing writers to seek other outlets. The forum design/layout still blows. At no time in my two-plus years with AC have there been so many bugs simultaneously.