Confessions Of The Professions Overhaul of 2018
November 12, 2017 — Confessions of the Professions is slightly ahead of schedule in a new redesign. Although it was not planned, an update to the entire website was necessary in order for it to continue functioning. Over the weekend of November 11, 2017, the website began experiencing major issues including high resource usage, slow loading times, and downtime. In order to keep the website functioning, the server was moved to a very expensive computer server (one that is way beyond our budget) for a few days until we could figure out what to do. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and have moved to a completely brand new server to [hopefully] avoid future issues.
To add more complications to the issue, and number one priority, was the fact that I, Matthew Gates, got married to my girlfriend and fiancee of almost seven years. Thanks to her patience and understanding (love you babe), she was extremely supportive and helpful during my time of stress, while hers was getting through our wedding, and hoping I showed up. Of course I was going to show up! She knows where I live and work! (Ha) Anyways, she was also the one who helped me find a minimalistic theme, and after sending me several, I wanted to stick to my favorite style, which is plenty of whitespace and minimal distraction.
The old theme of Confessions of the Professions was known as Shadows, written and created by AJ Clarke from WPExplorer.com. It had been discontinued shortly after I downloaded and installed the template, so a search in Google will be a hard find. It looked fairly different than what it started out as, having had a sidebar, and was not mobile-friendly at all, no top bar, etc. All of this was customized and added by me. Shadows was extreme minimalism and was perfect from the start, never really needing any updates and never complaining or running into issues with the WordPress core until now.
In my attempts to debug this issue, believing that it may have even been a DDoS attack, it was not. Disabling all plugins, trying everything I knew I could do, I was not fully able to isolate exactly what happened, but I strongly believe it had to do with a corrupt database and theme which were no longer playing well together. Over this weekend, I had tried almost everything to get the website functioning back to normal, including switching the default theme back to 2017, attempting to load it on a new server, attempting to load old data from a month ago back into the site, and even at one point almost switching to the Ghost framework, though Ghost technically could not prove useful because it was unable to import the 1,750+ confessions on this website, though we were definitely rooting for it. After running completely out of ideas, a whole new theme was put in place and only parts of the database were loaded. This showed improved performance immediately, and we believe our issue resulted in two potential culprits: The Shadows theme being so old and outdated, mixed with PHP 7.1 which is brand new, and the database.
We do hope you enjoy the new look of the website. There were some things we decided to let go of and not transfer, specifically:
- the comments section
- the “full” menu
- all social media icons for authors
- email addresses of authors
- many plugins and old scripts not migrated over
- quick glimpse (temporary)
- footer: popular confessions, recent confessions, viewing confessions, and random confessions
- flag confessions
- darkness removed
- facebook like button removed
- mature adult content
- confessions metrics
The comments section. We removed comments completely. After looking at months worth of comments, we discovered that while there were dozens to hundreds of legit comments, there were far more that were spammy. Comments attract spammers and unnecessary traffic to the site, so all comments were completely eliminated to avoid a cluttered database and spam.
The “full” menu. Our menu bar was very cluttered and contained too much information that we’re sure, not a ton of people were using. We will be restoring it to other obvious parts of the website, but we felt that we no longer needed so much data on the menu.
All social media icons for authors. While social media is very important for the Internet and most authors, bloggers, websites, and companies, we felt this was just a distraction away from what we were truly after: focus on content. We also feel that we do not need to list that type of information on this website. With that being said, author name and author website will still be used in all confessions. If you have no website, but a social media account, that will be used if given. As far as social media websites themselves, if the author has a website, it would likely be listed there.
Email addresses of authors. In a world full of spam and annoyances, and email being a very important of most of our lives, we felt the need for email was no longer necessary. Only about 1% of our contributors ever gave their email addresses or wanted them listed, but in order to further protect our contributors, we will no longer be listing email addresses.
Not many plugins and old scripts not migrated over. If there may have been issues, we feel that our debugging would have led us to old scripts and plugins that were in use. While we did try to keep our plugins to a minimum, we ended up using between 25-30 plugins to keep Confessions of the Professions functioning. On the new Confessions of the Professions of 2018, we are using less than 20 plugins.
Quick Glimpse: a feature we included with all of our confessions long ago for our lazy readers or quick skimmers to give them a quick glimpse of the confession. While we have not included it on the new Confessions website yet, we may be implementing it again in the future.
Footer: popular confessions, recent confessions, viewing confessions, and random confessions: While these have not been transferred over, they may be considered to be re-added in the future. We believe these helped our visitors find new confessions all the time and allowed them to see what was going on with confessions, including the most popular confessions, the most recent confessions, the confessions that were currently being viewed by our visitors, and random confessions.
Flag confessions. People could report confessions if there was anything wrong or they noticed something odd. This feature was not used once in its entire existence as a function, and therefore, had no need for continuation.
Darkness removed. While darkness has been removed from the main menu, it can still be changed within each post by clicking on the light icon.
Facebook like button removed. Facebook is quite the popular platform and great for SEO, but “liking” a confession vs. sharing it are vastly different. If you support or really like a confession, we encourage you to share it. Liking it really does not do anything for anyone, except to have that “feel good feeling” of liking something. To remove the call to a Facebook script, which we feel does not provide much value, we have decided to remove it.
Mature Adult Content. No, it was not removed from Confessions of the Professions. However, the stamps that are used to denote Mature Adult Content from regular content will no longer be prominent. We will, however, attempt to alert you that the confession does contain adult material not suitable for children in the confession itself.
Confessions Metrics. A great many tools that we had on the old website was that we were always transparent and provided the ability for our visitors to see our public metrics, from each confession to how many authors published and their confession count. Unfortunately, this was not carried over, and will now only be released once per year to the best of our ability, in the Confessions Data Metrics post that we write up every year.
If you miss something or want to let us know what you think of the new look, we’d be delighted to hear from you! Feel free to contact us and let us know!
In Memory of Shadows (2012-2017):
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