Seems like Dashboard is working now.
I’m not receiving any email notifications at all, either for comments or updates to discussion threads. This has been going on for several months. (If I haven’t responded to your comment, that’s probably why.)
To be honest, I basically gave up on Steepster. With the dashboard and the notifications working so erratically, it makes following my friends’ steeps a nuisance, not a pleasure. I’ll probably keep posting my opinions, but I have no idea for how long, especially as I don’t see ANY improvements with the site.
Hang in there. Steepster is like a dilapidated house that’s being slowly renovated. It’s frustrating for me too but as tea-sipper noted, there have been small improvements. The 404 errors have largely gone away.
We’ve got a brand new admin team coming into an aging site that they have no previous experience with, so I’m definitely exercising patience. I second the spam. With the new moderation powers and the blocks in place, it’s much better than it once was. It’s going to be a slow road, but I’m hopeful.
Hi all, After having to reboot so often every time the dashboard/notifications went down, I took a deeper look into this issue. It looks like the culprit is a legacy memory leak.
I’ll be debugging and chasing down where, exactly, it resides and will patch.
LuckyMe, White Antlers, and everyone else, I’m glad I’m not alone in not receiving comment notifications or discussion updates. I hope they can figure this out!
So why is there someone named “administrator” adding the entire catalogue of Teabloom teas to Steepster, and now adding items from the Tea Drops website, some of which (like boba pearls) don’t even belong under tea…?
None of these things are being added to any cupboard or wishlist.
I noticed something similar to this the other day – the new Jasmine Rooibos from DT was already entered into the database by the same person and, interestingly, the “buy now” tab for it had been hooked up to redirect to the DT website. Previously, this tab was only functional for a VERY SMALL number of companies and it now says “Your purchase will support Steepster”. So, it looks like this is actually probably being done by the Adagio team? As far as I’m aware, only they have the ability to do anything with the Buy Now tab…
I wish the entries weren’t just shells though – if they’re gonna take the time to put them into the database then filling in the information would at least be informative for anyone who comes across them.
…Yeah, okay, what the hell (I’d like to use a stronger word here). I looked into this, and I can’t say that I’m pleased.
It’s the legitimate account (https://steepster.com/administrator), I’m assuming the new admin account Adagio’s using. Right off the bat I was a little irked to see them rating an Adagio tea (breaking our usual ‘agreement’ that companies don’t post ratings on their own, or any other companies’ teas, to prevent bias), but it’s just one.
My first thought was that Adagio was testing out a bot that automatically scrapes company’s websites and adds their teas to Steepster, to flesh out our database, and that it just needed a bit (read: a lot) of work, since it’s adding items with zero information, no tagging, and is throwing down non-tea items from the website (gift boxes, tea mug sets, boba pearls, etcetera, all things we can’t or won’t review, so they have no use being on Steepster). Annoying, means there’s a lot of cleanup for us to go back and then delete those since those items aren’t a part of Steepster in its current incarnation, and people don’t have a use for them.
That’s point one. Point two: You’ll notice that all of the teas added by the account have ‘Buy Now’ links active (only addable by moderator/admin). Investigated on the back end. These are all affiliate-tracking links. So, monetized links. Which is likely the reason a bunch of anomalous items like gift boxes and the like were added. ‘Shareasale.com’ is what they’re using. You can hit up the wikia for more information: “Affiliates use ShareASale to find products to promote, and earn commission for referrals on those products.”
Yeah. Thanks for pointing this out, Cameron.
I mean, I’m not personally bothered by the affiliate links/buy now tab – it makes sense that Adagio wants to find some means for profitability from Steepster and this seems like a (relatively) harmless enough way to approach that. I much prefer this to seeing ads or having Adagio’s products specifically pushed – which would remove the neutrality that Steepster is built around.
But yes – all the gift sets/mugs/etc are irksome. The relevance of some of those products on Steepster is definitely debatable since we do have a teaware section and I could see an argument to be made for boba (though not sure where I personally land there) – but the entries are… sloppy/incomplete. Seems a bit counterproductive to all the clean up the community has been putting their efforts towards.
I’m not directly bothered by the affiliate links either, as I’m pretty sure Steepster’s original affiliate program/the original implementation of the ‘Buy Now’ option was meant to use affiliates. Hence the hoops companies had to hop through to be allowed to add Buy Now links to their company’s pages. But I dislike the general lack of transparency we’re seeing with it right now, coupled with the mass addition of “spam” products in an attempt to shove as many affiliate links as possible. These aren’t products Steepsterites will ever review, and in general just clutters up the rating algorithm if they were. It’s why I thought it was maybe a misbehaving bot designed to mass-add companies at first.
Like Roswell Strange, I recognize Adagio is a business and don’t mind the affiliate links. However, I hope they don’t start posting glowing reviews of their own products, or deleting bad reviews or pushing them to the bottom of the page. It’s important to maintain Steepster’s neutrality.
I don’t have a problem with the new owners adding affiliate links. And incomplete listings may reflect a work in progress. I would question the wisdom (but not the authority) of the owners rating their own tea because any claim of DMCA Safe Harbor could be more easily refuted, which could lead to takedown orders by competitors who feel threatened by poor reviews, for example. The legal liability could become so heavy that the new owners either purge all user-generated content, or abandon/close the site. Either way, we users lose. Here is some good reading on the subject:
Also, if Adagio can rate their own teas, what rationale remains against, say Harneys or DavidsTea, or the giant Lipton from doing so? And how does that impact the perceived honest opinions by consumer tasting notes like ours?
Now if Adagio’s self-ratings were (1) clearly disclosed as such, and (2) excluded from composite ratings scores, so those remain truly consumer ratings, then the problem might be mitigated. And that could be the plan. Could then also permit other companies to rate their own stuff too, with affiliate links all supporting Steepster & the site owner.