Site Migration Complete

Well it took me a little longer than I originally expected due to an assortment of issues and errors on my part but I think we have got there and the site has been moved to the new servers ready for when the spoilers start rolling in!

If any of you have any issues using the site or things like the comments system or voting in polls you can let me know on Facebook or Twitter and I’ll take a look but hopefully all should be good now after a lot of teething issues yesterday and this morning and the songs/dances post for week 2 was posted to the new servers earlier today with no reported issues so all is looking good!

This solution allows me to deploy additional or more powerful web and database servers as and when required on a Saturday night/Sunday and then drop the power when the site is quieter during the week which worked quite well last series. I’ve also managed to tweak the database server settings so that load on the site is distributed across multiple database servers depending on whether you are reading from the database (which most of you will be) or writing to it (which you will do if you use the polls or comments system) which should help out massively at peak times too and is an improvement on 2018 when I had to chuck ridiculously high powered servers at the database to keep it running.

This solution not cheap though and last year it cost about £300 per month which was funded by generous donations from the site’s visitors who helped to support me and the website and this year is no different. If you can afford to and want to help me out with these costs or if you just want to buy me a cool refreshing beer to thank me for all the hard work I do and the spoilers you can do so using THIS LINK or the button below or see below for additional ways to support me including ways of making a donation without me attracting any fees as I do through Paypal.

Or you can support me for free, save money on your energy bills and earn yourselves £50 if you check your prices and switch using MY LINK. Bulb will pay your exit fees, don’t charge any exit fees themselves and have 100% green energy at low prices. Win for the planet and win for your pocket!

You can also read about the numerous other ways you can support me and the work I do including more free ways to support me and additional ways to make a cash donation (which will not charge me like Paypal do) HERE

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Upcoming Site Maintenance

Hey guys just doing a post to let you guys know about some upcoming site maintenance. I did briefly touch on this during the Discussion/Poll post for last night’s show but thought I’d do a more detailed post so I don’t get a million comments on Facebook/Twitter asking why the site isn’t working, why there is no content if it is working and why people can’t vote in the polls when I temporarily lock them tomorrow.

For those of you who have been around for the last couple of years you should know what is going to happen and why it is going to happen. For those who don’t know let me briefly explain. During the main series and spoiler weekends this website gets busy. Really busy! Like 700k views in 24 hours busy!!!!! And previously this would cause the site to run slow or even break down at busy times because of the tens of thousands of you trying to access or refresh the site at the same time.

Late 2017 I moved the site to a new scalable solution where I could automatically or manually add in more web servers to cope with times of high demand. I ran this solution in 2018 too and it worked very well barring a couple of 10 minute periods which were down to errors on my part. This solution is expensive though and I do not run it during the off season when traffic to the site is comparatively quiet because if I did I would probably be bankrupt by now!

With the first spoiler due next weekend it is time for me to move the site over to the scalable solution I ran last year and having done some preparations at my end today I will be commencing and hopefully completing that work tomorrow (Monday 23rd September).

During the move you may have issues accessing the website, all polls will enter a state of lockdown until the move is completed in order to maintain consistency with the results during the transfer and you may also notice the site has no content whilst the transfer takes place.

Downtime should be kept to a minimum especially as I’m not moving hosts as the site has been hosted with Amazon Web Services during the off season so it will be a simple matter of pointing to the new servers which should happen fairly quickly though this can depend on your internet service provider. This is also the 3rd time I have now deployed this system and it should (hopefully) be becoming second nature to me by now although I will be trying some new tweaks to the system to help spread the load better on the database servers so there may be some teething issues from that (but hopefully not!). Also this is the first year that the site has been running exclusively on https and whilst I don’t expect that to be a problem as https has worked fine before when running this setup you never know!

As mentioned above the new servers are not cheap and last year they cost about £300 per month and were funded by generous donations from the site’s visitors who helped to support me and the website and this year is no different. If you can afford to and want to help me out with these costs or if you just want to buy me a cool refreshing beer to thank me for all the spoilers you can do so using THIS LINK or the button below or see below for additional ways to support me including ways of making a donation without me attracting any fees as I do through Paypal.

Or you can support me for free, save money on your energy bills and earn yourselves £50 if you check your prices and switch using MY LINK. Bulb will pay your exit fees, don’t charge any exit fees themselves and have 100% green energy at low prices. Win for the planet and win for your pocket!

You can also read about the numerous other ways you can support me and the work I do including more free ways to support me and additional ways to make a cash donation (which will not charge me like Paypal do) HERE

I will be posting again once the site move has completed which should hopefully be done in time for the songs/dances post for week 2 which is expected on Tuesday. In the meantime thank you for your patience if you do experience any downtime tomorrow though this is necessary to prevent downtime when the spoilers start rolling in.

Support The Strictly Spoiler In 2019

With the 2019 Strictly Season almost upon us and the contestants, and hopefully Dame Darcey’s replacement, expected to be announced in the next few weeks I just want to take a few moments to talk about the various ways you can help to support this site during the 2019 series.

Before we get on to the ways you can support me and this site I just want to take a moment to talk about why I have been asking for support for the last couple of years.

This site is now getting really busy during spoiler season. At its peak in 2018 there were 675k page views from 220k of you over the course of a Strictly weekend. Those of you who have been around for the last couple of years will know that I now deploy a scalable hosting solution which provides multiple load balanced servers for you to connect to which allows me to keep the website up at peak times when tens of thousands of you are trying to access it at the same time. Barring a couple of 10 minute periods which were down to human error on my part the website stayed up in 2018 due to this solution to a problem that had been plaguing me since traffic first started to boom in 2014.

This solution is not cheap though and cost me over £1000 last year. When I first started experimenting with more expensive hosting options in 2017 I opened up a donation button to allow people to help me out as a few people on social media had indicated they would be happy to pay to access the site. A donation button allowed people to do just that whilst also keeping the site free to use for the majority in spite of my spiralling hosting costs. The donation button remained for 2018 and was used by enough of you to pay for my hosting for 2018 and I am grateful to each and every one of you who used it to help out with those spiralling costs.

The site is also funded by adverts. Sadly adverts are a necessary evil especially for smaller publishers like myself and some ad revenue is reinvested into the business to pay for things like competition prizes (for which I have some HUGE plans for 2019) some also has to be taken as income by myself though it’s only in the last year or two that I’ve been able to record a profit on my self employed accounts. For the first 5 or so years I did this I made a loss and often those losses were significant.

Right after the how and why’s of why this site has its current funding model lets move on to the ways you can help support this site and there are both things you can do which will directly cost you and some things which are free.

Donations

The donation button is back for 2019 to allow visitors to make a cash donation through paypal. As always I have to stress that donations are entirely optional and should only be made if you can afford to do so. There are no expectations on any of you to donate and it should only be done if you have the money to spare!

To make a one time donation through paypal you can use THIS LINK or the button below

Paypal will take a commission out of any donations made using the links above (approximately 3.4%+20p out of any donation)

Or you can make a regular monthly donation of £5 or more per month using the button below. Regular monthly donations can be cancelled at any time and like the PayPal donations above they attract fees of 5.4%+20p out of each recurring donation

New for 2019 though you can also make donations by cheque/postal order. In order to do so you must follow the following process precisely

  1. Make your cheque/postal order payable to “The Strictly Spoiler”
  2. IMPORTANT!!! On the reverse on the cheque/postal order write “Thorp” (please note the spelling) and “71993152”. You must put these details on the reverse of the cheque or it will not be processed
  3. Place your cheque/postal order in an envelope and send it to “Freepost Starling”. No stamp is required

Also new for 2019 you can make a one off or regular donation by bank transfer or regular standing order to the following details

Name: The Strictly Spoiler
Bank: Starling Bank
Sort Code: 60-83-71
Account Number – 71993152
Reference – Anything of your choosing

Cheque or bank transfer donations attract no fees for me unlike the PayPal or recurring ones although it will be the PayPal and recurring donations I plug on most of my posts for simplicity’s sake as I can more easily link to those donation options

Support For Free

If you are unable to make a financial donation (which I must again stress there is no obligation on anyone to support me in that way) there are a few ways you can support me for free or even earn yourself some money by supporting me

Switch Your Energy

Those of you on Facebook/Twitter will have seen me posting a link to check your energy prices with green supplier Bulb over the last few months.

If you switch using MY LINK you will earn yourself £50 credit towards your energy bills with Bulb and I’ll also earn £50 too and you’ll be doing your bit for the planet. Bulb will also pay your exit fees if your current supplier charges them and will not charge you any exit fees should you leave in the future.

Earn Cashback On Your Online Shopping

A little known secret is that there are some sites that will pay you cashback on your everyday online shopping or for signing up to service providers like mobile phone networks, phone and broadband packages, insurance and even things like credit cards

The two main cashback sites are Quidco and TopCashback both of which are free to join (although they both offer an optional premium service at £5 per year). You will receive a referral bonus for signing up through my links (as will I). At the time of writing you will earn £10 for signing up to Quidco (once you’ve earned £5 in cashback your extra £10 will be credited) and £7.50 for signing up with TopCashback (once you’ve earned £10 in cashback your extra £7.50 will be credited). These offers can vary and you will see details of the current offer when you click my links to sign up

I have earned £1120 from Quidco and £1700 from TopCashback over the years which are not amounts to be sniffed at

I’ve also used the cashback sites for pet insurance for the last few years and recently paid £70 for an annual pet insurance policy for my kitten with £52.50 cashback meaning the policy cost me £17.50 for the year. Sadly she had an accident last month necessitating a number of trips to the vet and an operation which would have cost coming up to £1000 without the insurance. The cashback sites definitely can be useful if used right!

Carry a lot of bank cards? Earn £5 to merge them into just one card

The curve card allows you to add all your credit/debit cards into their simple to use app and then select which one your curve card is linked to with the ability to change them on the fly in the curve app or even go back in time and change the card a transaction is charged to.

Curve is free although they do offer premium plans with insurance and different cards including metal cards

Sign up through MY LINK and we both earn £5 as soon as you first spend using your curve card (or just change you pin in a cash machine which worked for me to get my £5 when I signed up)

If you are asked for a referral code use D56966JN

Turn Off Your Ad Blocker

If you run an ad blocker please consider whitelisting this domain. I get your dislike for adverts, I’m not fond of them too, but for smaller publishers like me they are a necessary evil as without them I would not have an income from this site

I try and keep my ads as unobtrusive as possible and I have a zero tolerance policy for ads which redirect your browser to a scam prize draw site as can sometimes happen with mobile adverts. There have been times when I’ve been alerted to those ads and I’ve disabled the ad network responsible, taking a hit in my income in the process, rather than continuing to allow those adverts to be served on my website

If you run an adblocker you should see a notification asking you to disable it on a weekly basis along with a couple of ways you can support the site if you aren’t willing to disable your ad blocker. This notification is dismissible though allowing you to view the content regardless. Unlike a number of websites I am not blocking access to those who run an ad blocker

Join In With The Competitions

The last couple of methods to support me and the work I do are completely free of charge, require no signing up to other websites and could win you a massive prize

For the last few years I’ve run competitions for those who commented on posts on social networks and right here at the home of The Strictly Spoiler and I wont lie, these competitions are set up with the intention of increasing the discussion that is taking place on the social networks and here. The more discussion takes place the more my posts get seen by others on social networks and the more traffic I receive

2019 wont be any different and as well as Amazon vouchers I also plan to have iPads to give away this series too. You can read more about the 2019 competition here!

By joining in with the discussion on my posts during the 2019 series you help increase awareness of my site to your own social network and you could win a prize worth over £300

Like/Share/Retweet

This one seems pretty minor but is vastly important, whenever I post content to Facebook/Twitter the most important thing you can do, and it only takes a couple of clicks, is to like/react to/share that content on Facebook or like/retweet it on Twitter. You can also use the buttons for all popular social networks that appear on all my posts on the blog to like/share them and it is important

Be A Mole

One final, and probably the most important, way you can support not only myself but the wider spoiler community is to offer your services as a mole. The spoiler is sourced every week using audience moles arranged either by myself, other members of the spoiler community or ideally from multiple sources so we can confirm the accuracy of the spoiler

If you are lucky enough to get audience tickets once the ballot opens the best way to contact me to offer your services as a mole is through the Facebook page linked above. Anonymity is given to all moles and there is zero chance the BBC will identify you as a mole

Thanks to those of you who support me using one (or more) of the methods above and for those who don’t (who are in the vast majority) that is ok too! Without you guys this website wouldn’t have become the success that it has been with a ludicrous number of you now trying to view it at peak times. And I wouldn’t be able to keep up with that demand without the support of you guys. So thank you! And here’s to a successful 2019 series both for Strictly and of course for The Strictly Spoiler