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So I opened my email this morning (Sunday, December 28th, 2008) and noticed that many people had written to tell me that they were getting error messages when trying to download episodes of our podcasts.

I've been with Libsyn.com for three years now. And before I go any further, let me tell you that overall, I've been an EXTREMELY SATISFIED customer for the most part. When they first started out, things were a bit rocky. However, at the time, they were about the only independent folks out there who had a simple level cost, unlimited bandwidth media delivery plan available. Couple that with the fact that the cost was better than awesome, they had a hard time keeping up with the demand at first.

As for the past two years, my service with Libsyn has been pretty smooth sailing with only the occasional bump in the road. Okay, I know, mixed metaphors, but hey, it's just a blog post right?

I'm writing this blog entry for a few reasons. First off, I wanted to be able to simply point listeners to this post when answering all the emails asking if there is something wrong with their subscriptions to our premium content at gspn.tv.

So for those of you who were wondering, you likely received one of two errors over the weekend. Either iTunes showed you something like “(err=500)” when trying to download the files from our rss feeds, or you got an “Internal Server Error” if you tried to either access the file via the web or using our gspn.tv iPhone Application.

I want to assure you that there is nothing wrong with your subscription and this was simply a random outage that Libsyn.com, the company that we pay to host and deliver our media content, had experienced over the weekend. Everything is back up and running now.

Another reason I wanted to make this post was to make public a suggestion that I recently made to Libsyn's support staff. Actually, I've made this suggestion about three or four times in the past as well, but it's never been followed through on. I'm wondering if I were to propose this suggestion here in my blog, if enough people were to comment on this post that they think it's a great idea, and perhaps implement it.

It's a real simple idea….

As soon as anyone on the libsyn support staff is aware of an issue that affects “multiple user accounts,” simply open up a blog entry on the Support Blog at http://support.libsyn.com.

Again, I want to interject that I'm a HUGE FAN of the Libsyn Support Team. I've never had an issue with Libsyn that was not resolved within a matter of minute or at most a few short hours of my notifying them of my issues. However, let me share with you my recent email support ticket to explain what I'm talking about here.

At 2:01pm, I finally found enough time to actually send a support ticket regarding the issue with Libsyn.com. I had already confirmed that it was not just an issue with my account by doing a search on Twitter. Here is the contents of that initial email:

I have three accounts with libsyn and I'm getting (err=500) errors in iTunes as are most of my listeners.

Can you investigate?

My three user ids are in the subject line of this email

At 4:22pm (Mind you that it is the weekend) I got the following response

Hello Cliff,

We checked your three accounts, and your files appear to be active and available for download. If you still experience difficulty, please send us the link to any affected file, and we'll look further into the issue.

Please contact us if you have any other questions.

Thank you,

*******(I'm removing name)

Of course this prompted me to write back by saying….

******,

I appreciate you looking into my account. It does appear to be working now.

Could you do me a favor? Is it possible that when Libsyn has these sort of issues, that you guys ACKNOWLEGE that there WAS an issue? (I'm not yelling with my words… I'm not upset or irrate.. Just making a point..)

You see, your message simply makes it sound as if there was never an issue at all with my account, or that you can't confirm that there was an issue on my account.

It's clear, by looking at the attached image, or LINKED HERE: http://easycaptures.com/fs/uploaded/363/1755611919.png that you guys were clearly having issues with people getting Internal Server Errors…

My only concern is that this email response simply does not confirm that there was ever an issue and the http://support.libsyn.com support blog would make it appear as though you have not had any system wide issues since Monday, November 24th…

Is it too much to ask to post to the blog when you guys realize that there is a support issue that is clearly affecting several users?

I don't mind my media not being served 100% of the time. For what I pay for my media hosting with you, I'm okay with 96% to 98% uptime with an occasional 12 hour issue once a year…. Just communicate with us so we know that you are aware of this stuff and that you're working on it…

Is this doable?

Cliff

Next, I got the following response….

Hello

Sorry for the frustration. It was not our intention to avoid acknowledging an issue with the service this weekend.

To be honest, we noticed a couple of these reports yesterday early but really receive the bulk of complaints by this afternoon, which is when we (support staff) took action and contacted the tech team to alert them to the issue. Being the weekend following a holiday, the tech and support teams are actually spread around the country in various places, so we had to work quickly to communicate the problem to the team that could fix it and work on fixing the problem that caused the errors as well as fixing the erroneous files and alerting users. That is where our efforts were concentrated as opposed to posting to the support blog.

Again I apologize for the frustration. Please let us know if you have any other questions or problems.

Thanks
********

And then I responded again wit this….

*******,

I can appreciate that. Perhaps for those who come back to check their email on Monday morning, only to find emails piled up from their listeners alerting them to the issue, do you see how maybe posting just a quick note that there was an issue over the weekend that had been resolved might help keep someone from searching for an issue more than they need to?

I appreciate that it's the weekend and that you guys did resolve the issue. Maybe I'm just being picky and I simply need more sleep. 😉

It's just that when I get a report of an issue from my listeners, the first place I go to is to the Support Blog. I know there have been other documented outages since the November blog date.. Even if you were to wait till you get back in the office on the next normal business day… It would be just so awesome to know that a quick look at the support blog tells me that you are aware of an issue and that you are either working to fix it or have already fixed it. This keeps me from filling out support tickets and really puts my mind at ease.

I appreciate all you guys do!

Cliff

Okay, so am I out of mind to suggest that they consider making it a policy that if any support issue arises that affects multiple customer accounts that the first person who realizes the issue meets this criteria should take two minutes, log into the support blog and simply say “Hey, we are aware of an issue and we're on it!”

What are your thoughts?

Until then, simply remember that you can search twitter for the phrase “Is Libsyn Down” and you will likely find out very quickly if it's just your account or a system wide issue.


Update: I just noticed that the first thing this morning, Libsyn was quick to place an update on their blog. No word as to whether or not they'll take my suggestion to make it a policy to place an update immediately upon finding out about an issue in the future, even on the weekends or late at night, but heck… It's just a suggestion! Here's their blog post from today!

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