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Many of you have been writing in about the technical problems Lightstalkers has faced lately. Here’s an update for all of you.
The most severe bug we’ve seen is the “cascading delete” issue. In April of this year, I had fixed a long-standing issue, where some of you were unable to delete images (and consequently were not able to delete your own profiles). This was successful, but a regression happened. In some cases, requesting an image deletion would cause a cascading deletion, and the app would delete the image’s User profile. It’s impossible for us to know how many people this affected, because our system is not mature enough to include audit records. I’ve been able to restore some profiles, and in those cases have contacted you about it. If you lost a profile and haven’t been contacted, it’s because your data’s not recoverable. It’s truly unfortunate and I apologize.
In general, Lightstalkers is like any modern Web application: It depends on a number of external services and APIs for its core functionality to work, and it runs atop Amazon’s elastic EC2 service. This is a tradeoff: We have an efficient and flexible architecture, but it also requires constant monitoring and tweaking. Each of those services can fail, or change on the other side; EC2 itself has a spotty record when it comes to uptime. The reality is that a service like this continually needs human developers to maintain and extend it, and we don’t have any at this time.
For several years, I did all of the development, bookkeeping, operations, and customer service for Lightstalkers, and like all good things, this era has come to an end. It’s been fun, and difficult, and extremely gratifying to work for all of you. I have huge respect for the work you do and the risks you take, and I truly hope to find new ways to support this community in the future. Now, however, my role has ended.
My sincere regret is that I did not act on this realization one or two years ago, and begin building a transition plan which would have saved you from recent stresses. If I am ever lucky enough to find myself in this situation again, I will know better. My last act will be to help Teru, Balazs, and the rest of the November Eleven team a new technology team, and to watch them build Lightstalkers into its next great phase.
Thank you for your support, and I wish you all the best of luck!