Upcoming Site Maintenance

Those of you who were around during the 2017 series will recall that towards the end of the series the site started to experience outages around the time the spoiler was posted due to the volume of traffic the site was receiving.

The last few weeks of the 2017 series I experimented with a number of solutions and the best one was a clustered web hosting solution of multiple servers with the ability to add in more servers if existing ones begin to struggle which kept the site up for the final spoiler weekend (barring a couple of teething glitches as this was a learning experience for me). This solution was expensive and cost me about £170 for the 2 weeks I had it deployed in December 2017 and so the site was migrated back to a cheaper solution for the off season.

It is my intention to move this site over to the clustered solution once again ready for the 2018 series and work to do this will begin on 16th September 2018. It is expected that the site move will take a couple of days during which you may experience problems accessing the site depending on how quick the site move takes and how quick your ISP realises the site has moved.

I will also be making some changes to the software I use to run polls when I make the site move so polls make look a little different once the move is complete. The poll software I currently run has some bugs that can cause incorrect polls to display on posts which have been annoying me for some time and hopefully a move to new poll software will fix these bugs. I attempted a move of polling software last series but reverted once the site started struggling at peak times

The date of the site move has been selected as a time that should be fairly quiet for the website to minimise disruption and a time enough in advance of the new series to allow me to complete the work before the series begins properly.

It goes without saying that the new hosting solution is extremely expensive, and the costs can significantly vary if more power is needed in the cluster of servers to keep them up, but it is necessary for me to provide a good user experience for all who try to view the spoiler especially those who want to view it the second it comes in and who refresh the site in order to do so. It will also allow me to provide spoilers in real time like I attempted to do at some points last series rather than waiting for the full result to come in before posting the spoiler

Quite a few of you have donated towards my hosting costs already this series and I’m grateful to each and every one of you who has donated as the hosting costs are now significant and I sadly can’t plough all the ad revenue the site receives into hosting costs as I have other operating costs and living expenses. If you want to help me out you can donate using THIS LINK which sends all the money to me or you can use the button below but the big corporate bigwigs at PayPal will take a cut if you use the button so please use the link if you can

Strictly Spoiler 2017 Further Update

Ok I just wanted to do one last post to talk about the site issues that happened for most of the last few weeks (but much less so this weekend and more on that in a minute).

The site moved again last week to what has become a quite radical change in the hosting. The site has moved from being hosted on one or two servers to being hosted on 4 with the ability to add more servers in as and when they are needed.

This worked brilliantly, barring a minor blip at about 21:30 on Saturday night. As far as that blip was concerned this was always going to be a learning curve for me as the new hosting environment was new to me too and I had the settings I used for increasing the servers set up wrong however I quickly adapted to this and altered the settings. It also became rapidly apparent that fewer but more powerful servers were working a lot better than a higher number of less powerful servers and that change was made as well. This was obviously the first time that I’d tested the new system under heavy load however one benefit of the new hosting solution is it gives me the ability to rapidly make changes to the setup should the site break when placed under load which allowed me to adapt to the situation on Saturday.

All this meant that when the spoiler came in the site ran perfectly and coped with the traffic load being placed on it so the vast majority of you will have had a far improved user experience this week than you have the previous few weeks which was the main goal of this final site move.

Obviously this is the last weekend that the site will be placed under heavy load this series as there will be no more spoilers this series however as I’ve a lot of content that will be going out this week as I preview the finalists I will not be migrating the site again to a cheaper solution until the end of the series.

The good news about testing this new setup the final spoiler weekend this series and it working so well is that I now have a clear idea of the kind of setup that the site now needs to stay up at peak times and should be able to get this setup for the 2018 series and the site issues should now be a thing of the past.

I’ve also managed to fix a couple of bugs this weekend. I’m aware (but amazed that no one mentioned this) that some of you who came to the site through my social media links may have had some cosmetic issues such as the site logo not displaying at the top of the website. This is now fixed!

However this new setup, like all things comes at a price. Since I deployed the new setup about one week ago it has cost me £55 to host which if we extrapolate means my hosting costs for the next series will be about £700 and may well be higher than that depending on the traffic in 2018. Either way its a huge increase on the £150 it would have cost prior to this series.

A lot of you have donated towards hosting costs (or just bought me a pint) and I’m grateful to each and every one of you who has done so. I had reservations about adding a donation button/link to the site and I wasn’t sure how well it would be used or how well asking site visitors for money to help towards hosting costs would be received – even though other sites such as wikipedia do the exact same thing. I’ve received donations ranging from £1 to £50 and I’m as grateful to those who donated £1 as I am to those who donated £50. I had no expectations on people to donate and I stressed a number of times that people should not feel obligated to donate nor should they donate if they could not afford to do so.

Moving forward, a few of you have suggested other options for how I could fund the increasing hosting costs such as using something like Kickstarter.  The issue with Kickstarter is that often you have to offer things like perks as incentives to backers which means some of the money raised would then go towards fulfilling these perks. And I’m not sure how many of you would want Strictly Spoiler keyrings, T Shirts, Hoodies, follows on social networks or the opportunity to meet me which seem to be the standard perks that people offer on kickstarter.

Given how well the donation button/link got used the last few weeks I don’t see a reason to change that and so the button/link will remain open on most posts for the foreseeable future. If you wish to and can afford to help me out or just want to buy me a pint it will always be hugely appreciated and you can do so using this link. However there is zero obligation on anyone to do so and this site will remain free to access

Hopefully this will be the last post I ever have to do talking about the site and site issues as I’m fairly confident that following the testing last weekend the new setup should hold out to anything you guys throw at it next series and if it doesn’t I will be able to fix it in a matter of minutes like I did this weekend.

Strictly Spoiler 2017 Thanks

It’s that time again we’re rapidly approaching the final spoiler of the series and it’s time for my annual thanks where I thank those who have contributed towards another successful year for the strictly spoiler. And it has been another successful year. At the time of writing the site has been viewed 2.5million times this series by over 550,000 individual people.

It’s been a mixed series though with some highs and lows and truthfully that’s shadowed my year in general which has also had some highs and lows. On a personal note my highs this year include graduating with a BA (hons) in Photography and meeting the person who last month became my girlfriend. But it’s also had some lows which included the breakdown of my 11 year long relationship (and the way in which it broke down).

The 2017 series of Strictly has been much the same. There’s been highs which include just how much my social networking accounts have exploded this series. There’s now over 15,000 of you following me on twitter and about 8500 of you liking the Facebook Page. Both of those networks have pretty much doubled over the course of the series and so much discussion is now happening on those networks (more than happens on this site this series).

However there’s been some lows. The press attention at the start of the series and around the time of the Christmas special spoiler. Truth be told I don’t like being the centre of attention like this and I don’t think a guy running a blog which posts information that is already out there if you know where to look really warrants front page news (Daily Star/Star On Sunday I’m looking at you!). Of course most the newspapers take a negative slant on what I do not because they disagree with what I do but because I’m doing something that they would love to do but they cant because they wouldn’t get invited to all the cool BBC parties anymore.

Anyway this is supposed to be a thanks post so I probably should start thanking some people. I’ll start by thanking each and every one of you reading this post. I’m more than aware that the majority of visitors to the site don’t actually read anything besides the 2nd paragraph of the spoiler post so you people who actually read all my content, engage with each other on the site and the social networks and make this community what it is deserve a lot of thanks.

I also want to thank those of you who donated money to help out with the sites growing needs. This series the site once again outgrew a web hosting solution. The solution I now have in place should (in theory) now be unbreakable as if you do break a server it will just make more but I guess we’ll find out in a few hours.  The donation button/link has been actually surprisingly well used and your money has for the most part been ploughed straight back into the site to try and keep it up at peak times. If you want to help out with the hosting costs or just want to buy me a pint you can use the button below which paypal take about 5% of any money sent through or this link which sends all the money to me

I also want to thank those of you who have been patient and supportive whilst the site has had issues. I’ve actually had quite a bit of grief especially on twitter when the site has had downtime and I really don’t need grief when I’ve been trying my hardest to work on the issues (in between maintaining my social networking channels, looking after my boys half the week, studying for a post graduate degree and beginning a new relationship). Thankfully the majority of you have been patient whilst I try and resolve the site issues.

I also want to thank my girlfriend. Last weekend when the site went down again despite a change of hosting I was so stressed and so upset and actually close to tears because I care a lot about this site and the work that I do for it. She could tell I was stressed from my text messages to her and just spontaneously sent me a text message saying she loved me which made me feel a lot better and got me through that weekend.

Finally it wouldn’t be a thank you post without talking about my sources and as far as sources go I actually have more sources now than the one source I’ve had previous series that I’ve done this. I’ve also sourced moles myself some weeks through my social media channels and my thanks go out to them. However most of the spoilers you have read this series have come from a spoiler group on Facebook which is a similar community to the one I have built myself on Facebook. That group is managed by three lovely ladies who have sourced many of the spoilers through moles or other sources and just like I did last year for my usual source, this series I would like to arrange to send a thank you bouquet of flowers in the new year to each of the admin on that group as a thanks for all the spoilers they have supplied.

That pretty much covers everything I think so thank you all once again (especially if you’re reading this far in the post) and I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I’ll see you all for the 2018 series!