eat.at announcements and updates

Announcements and updates relevant for members and visitors of the eat.at community.

What's going on with membership?

New member options, old issues.

The Recipe Swap has been around for a LONG time. 

When we first started, we had two corporate sponsors.  This was my small, software company and a client who was a retailer in the kitchen appliances industry.  These sponsors foot the bill for all of the custom programming, hosting, maintenance and upkeep.  Our core members of the Recipe Swap, had some very specific requirements for how they wanted the Recipe Swap to look, feel and function.  The development team included myself, two professional designers and two skilled programmers, who made this happen over several months of effort.  We were fortunate to maintain this sponsorship relationship through 2008.

Unfortunately when the economy tanked in the U.S., retailers were the hardest hit and our retail sponsor went out of business.  Since then, I've maintained the site by myself with the occasional voluntary and invaluable help of our friend, Mimi.  Since technology and in particular, Internet related technologies, move forward and develop at an incredible pace, there are many challenges to maintaining any type of custom coding.  For us it has been a real challenge because of that particular "look, feel and function" that we have tried to maintain in accord with our original core group of members' preferences.

While it may seem logical to think that maintaining something old is a cost saving measure, when it comes to code, it increasingly becomes the reality that the opposite is true.  So for me the challenge is both one of the cost and of the time that I need to dedicate to it.  Over the past few years a handful of loyal members have made donations towards these costs.  I cannot properly express my gratitude for this.  The fact that people find our little site valuable enough to voluntarily make a donation (especially in these challenging times), has been an inspiration and a motivator.

Recent Troubles:

So getting back to the subject at hand: In 2013, we were getting inundated with spammers and automated systems attempting to create false accounts for spamming and whatever other malicious purposes.  I spent many hours pouring over thousands of accounts weeding out the spam and bot accounts.  Almost all of these accounts originated from places like China, India, and Indonesia.  Initially this was just a few per day but it began to increase and became relentless with 10,000+ of these for me to weed through.  I realized that we needed to get more serious and I started to address this by setting up some standard filtering methods such as integrating "recaptcha" into the signup process.  With modern code this is a fairly simple process.  For the Recipe Swap, not so much.  NONE of this affected the front end of the Recipe Swap and actual spammy content did not reach the threads of the Recipe Swap.  Some random accounts made a few spam posts linking to sites but these were live/actual people, rather than the automated bots that were inundating the account system. 

These efforts resolved most of the problems, however in mid-2014, this became an issue again and I didn't have any more options short of some extensive re-coding.  I made some more band-aid fixes that I had initially hoped would simply work as a better filter against automated signups.  The end result was that almost all new signups regardless of whether or not they were from real, and well-intentioned people, were also getting filtered out. 

I actually did not realize this for quite a while.  I was just patting myself on the back, happy that the influx of spammer accounts had been halted.

So for a couple of months I worked sporadically to address this issue (giving it a higher priority than the other items on the large ToDo List).

SOLUTION:

What I finally came up with is a replacement of the old membership system using modern code and hooking the Recipe Swap onto this new system.  This again is an intermediate solution.  It is not ideal for many reasons which I will not go into here. We ultimately need to do a complete rewrite of code that powers the Recipe Swap.  But the current solution is a step in the right direction and there are some additional benefits to this that I have alluded to in some of the recent site updates.  This includes a new private messaging system.  The private messaging system of the existing Recipe Swap has been troublesome for a long time and this should be superior in every way.

Keeping in mind that I am doing all of this on my own, I have very limited time to address all of the necessary steps to ensure that everything is fully functional.  So necessarily we need to do the implementation incrementally and during this first increment new members will require some staging.  What I mean by that is, the system will accept new members but they will not have immediate access to full functionality such as making new posts to the Recipe Swap.

REFER A FRIEND:

If you are a regular member of the Swap, and have a new member that you would like to recommend, you can contact me and I will ensure that their account can be expedited with full privileges.

 

 

 

 

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Dec 10, 2014 site updates: home page

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