What’s Up with bayweekly.com?

bayweekly.com is not the Emerson College Lady Gaga lipdub. (Find that link below, in Correspondence.) Considerably fewer than a million people read Bay Weekly online.

Nor are we the viral video How to Wrap a Cat for Christmas, which brought the Hartford Current 3,800,442 viewers on You Tube. (See for yourself at http://www.courant.com/news/breaking/sns-viral-video-wrap-a-cat,0,1352538.htmlstory.)

But we’ve got enough viewers to crash the server that hosted Bay Weekly’s own web site.

That puts us in the class of Mastercard, Amazon.com and PayPal, websites overwhelmed in this month’s WikiLeaks cyberwars.

Popularity put us down for seven days, as many of you have noted in emails and phone calls. 

Here’s what happened.

Traffic at bayweekly.com, compounded by the site’s density, so bogged down the server that all its other unrelated sites were compromised. Thus with four hours notice (considerably shorter than the seven-day clean-up time we’d been promised), bayweekly.com went dead on December 15, and all Access was Forbidden!

Matthew Grasmick’s redesign of bayweekly.com is neat, clean and modern. It’s got neat rolling photo flashes that take up some room while luring you into all the week’s stories. That and other modern touches were part of the weight that brought down the host server.

Depth was another contributor. Even before Grasmick went to work, our until-then-chronological website was stacked up 13 years deep, containing all our the issues since 1998, when Brianne Warner created our online edition, plus throwback additions, including all our first year of life, 1993.

Grasmick’s bayweekly.com stacked the new design on top of the old site, adding to that depth.

So bayweekly.com was big and had its share of bells and whistles. But who knew that it was a monster?

Certainly not Matt, who’s lived, breathed and slept bayweekly.com for more months than he bargained for going into this partnership with Bay Weekly.

Now he’s repairing the crash, which has been something like rebuilding a house after a fire, with every room needing reframing. But he’s a skilled craftsman, and bayweekly.com went back online, on a new server, on December 21. 

Now our email is down, for each mailbox is a new room that needs rebuilding. And bayweekly.com service is still flickering. 

Yes, success is a heavy burden.


Navigating bayweekly.com

While we’re on the subject of bayweekly.com, here’s advice on how to use its two different navigational systems, new and old.

Each week’s stories appear on the online title page, from top to bottom, pretty much as you’d read from front to back in the paper edition.

New and old stories are also cross-referenced in the menu bars at the top of the homepage. I admit that’s a skill we’re still learning. Columns, correspondence, play reviews are easy to find. But indexing stories by subject under such headings as environment and profiles: That’s a work in progress. As we get better at it, so will you.

The third way to find stories that have appeared since August is to use the new navigational system, at the upper right-hand corner index on bayweekly.com. Type in a key word remembered from the story — or a subject on which you hope to find Bay Weekly stories — and with any luck, electronic searchers will find and retrieve the link to it. Search oysters, for example, and expect rewards.

But that navigational system searches only the issues we’ve published since the new webpage went online with the issue of August 5, 2010. 

To search earlier stories and enrich your subject search, use a different index. Begin with the menu item Editor’s Desk. When it pulls down, choose Archives (our old site).

Once there, you can search the archives by key words or by date.

To search by keyword — subject or author’s name, for example — use the Google Custom Search button in the upper right hand corner. Again you can search oysters, and you should find a dozen years of stories.

Or you can search by author. Either way, hotlinked briefs of stories containing that word pop up directly under the button. Easy as pie.

Searching by date works if you want a particular type of story, like Christmas stories. Click on a year in our old archives, and you’ll find hotlinks by date to all the papers in that year. Our Christmas stories always run in the second-to-last issue of the year. So you can find a dozen years of Bay Weekly Christmas stories.

Speaking of Christmas stories, we have one to warm your holidays this chilly year. I just hope “Our Coldest Christmas” is easy for you to find, in print and online.

Merry Christmas!