LL Changes Join Now Page AgainMarch 14, 2008 8:51 am last names, policy, software development
From the perspective of the SLNameWatch.com script I use to determine if LL has added new last names, it looks like names are being rapidly created and retired. I have a working theory. I think LL might have changed their policy so that only a random subset of the last names appear in the drop-down at a time. Refresh the page, and the list changes, even though nothing has really changed as far as overall name availability. This is really going to confuse the script I use to determine if the name list has changed! I write resilient code, but I have to say this is something i didn’t plan for. I determine last name availability based on this drop-down.
Anyway, the good news is that it looks like after a 137-day dry spell, there are new last names available, even though it is hard for my system to collect them all. According to the last reading, there are 45 new names available, but new ones appear every time my script checks for it. Here is a log of what my avail_name_bot script found over the 8 hours since the name rotation was first detected. Note: In this context, the word “Updated” means “Un-retired”, which is what is happening, as far as the script is concerned. “Deactivated” means “Retired”.
06:00 UTC There are 60 last names available. Added: 45 Updated: 0 Deactivated: 450
Message has been sent.
07:00 UTC Added: 40 Updated: 16 Deactivated: 56
08:00 UTC Added: 44 Updated: 15 Deactivated: 59
09:00 UTC Added: 46 Updated: 13 Deactivated: 59
10:00 UTC Added: 27 Updated: 31 Deactivated: 58
11:00 UTC Added: 34 Updated: 25 Deactivated: 59
12:00 UTC Added: 35 Updated: 22 Deactivated: 57
13:00 UTC Added: 30 Updated: 27 Deactivated: 57
As you can see, even after the 8th reload of the Join Now page, there are names in the list that the SLNameWatch system has never seen before.
I will collect more data over time before deciding what to do. If I do nothing, the alert list will get a false positive in about 6 days. (There is a fail-safe preventing more than one alert in a 7-day period). My goal is to sort it out before then.
Additionally, the “Names last rotated” figure at the top of the SLNameWatch.com home page will always say “0 days ago” until I can make some adjustments. Other small stuff like that might break as a result of this change, but the site should stay up and the usage counts should remain accurate through it all.
LL did this to me once before. Last time, they added a portal to the Join Now page, suggesting that users choose from a random set of “communities”. Strangely, this alternative join now page only appeared some of the time. I needed to change my script so that it automatically “clicked” on the “skip this page” link whenever it appeared. This is what the log looks like every time that happens:
Using server 7
Found alternative join page. Skipping to the real page.
There are 60 last names available.
I fixed that little problem within a few days, but this sudden change seems a little worse. A solution is not immediately apparent.