freelish.us: mental outage

It’s not absolutely clear to me that anyone at Geek Feminism has missed the linkspams, of which there hasn’t been one since 18th September. No one’s said anything, anyway.

What happened? freelish.us happened. Or it didn’t.

freelish.us, a bookmarking site using the open source status.net code, launched in April (April 1 actually, was that a good idea?) By that stage I was looking for an alternative to Delicious for bookmarking due to the new terms of service. I’ve been using flagship status.net site Identi.ca for microblogging for a long time (it cross-posts to Twitter) and while I’m inconsistent, I do like contributing to the commons to some degree, so a Creative Commons attribution bookmarking stream also appealed to me.

But the entire experience produced what I’d call “micro-burnout”. As in, I didn’t stop feeling pleasure or joy in stuff in general as would happen with burnout, but sharing links became a giant pain in the neck. Micro-burnout. Sharing links sucked.

First, there was the month or more on freelish.us where I just couldn’t seem to add bookmarks or import my Delicious backup file for love or money. I’d click “OK” and nothing would appear in my stream. It turned out that that was because I’d never validated my email address, but there was no error message to that effect, in fact no error message at all. I happened to see an understated warning elsewhere on the site that it was unvalidated, validated it, and suddenly the site actually worked.

Then there was the bookmarklet. The theory is visit a site, go to the bookmarklet, it’s bookmarked! On freelish.us it worked like this:

  1. go to the bookmarklet. This is pretty annoying in the first place, because I have a small laptop screen and bookmarklets require me to leave the bookmark toolbar visible. (I much prefer the Instaright approach, which places a small button in the URL bar, which is otherwise dead space anyway.)
  2. almost inevitably, find that I had been logged out of freelish.us, which must have had the most aggressively timed out cookies since linux.conf.au’s Zookeepr software (memo to Zookeepr: keep me logged in please)
  3. log in on the bookmarklet’s pop up
  4. be greeted with a small page saying I’ve logged in successful, but no sign of the entry form to bookmark what I needed reappearing
  5. back back back reload back back retry bookmarklet finally bookmark thing

And then, finally, on September 16, it and other status.net sites were taken down for upgrade. And now, nearly two months later, freelish.us home page still reads: “StatusNet cloud sites, including Identi.ca, are under maintenance. See status blog post for details and updates.”

Some facts about that:

  1. it’s not actually true any more: Identi.ca came back up after 24 hours or so
  2. it appears from comments there that any number of status.net sites are still down, and there’s been very little public comment on any of them that I can find. Several people asked specifically about freelish.us.

Also, freelish.us missed a probably once-off opportunity to captialise on the flight of horrified users of the new Delicious. But that’s not my concern.

All up, for two months the thought of bookmarking sites at all has made me distinctly “meh”, so, no linkspam for GF. This is what the software meh takes from the world.

I eventually decided that it was important to talk about what an annoying experience freelish.us has been, important enough to actually ask them for comment (via their press email contact). Here’s the information that as far as I can tell status.net has not communicated otherwise:

Q. What is the status of freelish.us? Is it going to return at some point or is it gone?

Evan Prodromou of status.net replied on the 30th October:

Freelish.us didn’t upgrade very well during the 1.0 process.

We’re moving to a new data centre this week, and I’m going to try to revive it then.

I fully intend to see it operational in early November.

There was a second question to which he didn’t directly reply, which was Q. In either event, is it possible for users of freelish.us to recover their bookmarks either for their own use or for import into another site? I take it from the lack of separate response that the re-appearance of the site will be the way in which users can recover their bookmarks and there is not an earlier alternative.

For the sake of the linkspams, I’m giving Pinboard a go. I’ll let you know how I do.

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