Category Archives: My Sites

Disk issue with the server

It seems to be the year for disk failures.

The good news is that the RAID array has done its job, no data loss so far, I’ve got completely up to date backups (which I know restore properly), and engineers are looking at the physical server right now.

As a precaution, new reviews, new comments, and the members area have been disabled till the problem has been fully resolved. Don’t want to risk losing anyone’s new contributions if things go horribly wrong. It’s also probable that the server will be offline for a period while hardware is replaced. Fingers crossed the faulty kit will be replaced soon, and we’ll be back to business as usual.

Policy changes on

Things have gotten out of hand with a small number of people who are spending significant parts of their waking time beating each other over the head with basically the same arguments, day in day out.

Things are getting more personal, and the volume of comments is increasing. Enormous amounts of my time are being spent trying to keep things vaguely civil, to the detriment of the rest of the site, and frankly my own quality of life.

The people involved need to accept that they’re never going to convince the people who hold the exact opposite views.

Starting from today, the following policy changes are being made:

There is going to be a very low threshold of toleration for comments that essentially repeat points made elsewhere on the site, especially if those comments are not about your experience with a particular model, but are essentially part of a wider discussion about politics or economics.

Less toleration for unpleasant comments. I’m not going to spend time editing comments that contain unnecessary jibes. Those comments will simply not be posted to the site. People can learn to tone their comments down, rather than having me edit their comments to make them acceptable. New visitors will get a little leeway on this, as they’re less likely to understand where the boundaries lie.

As a general guide, here are some things that examples of things that I consider acceptable/unacceptable:

Acceptable: Posting a single comment about the recent recall of a vehicle by a manufacturer, which hasn’t been mentioned elsewhere on the site

Acceptable: Posting new information about an old recall

Unacceptable: Posting multiple comments about recalls already mentioned elsewhere on the site, which simply repeat information available elsewhere

Acceptable: Posting a single comment about your personal experience with a model to a relevant review, and then following it up with relevant replies. This can include your experience with competing models

Acceptable: Posting multiple comments that address queries raised by other comments about a particular model

Unacceptable: Posting your unsolicited views of a particular model across many reviews

Acceptable: Stating that someone’s views on a car are mistaken, with explanations of why this is the case

Unacceptable: Any comments that directly or implicitly are negative about other contributors to the site. It’s fine to say that someone’s wrong, but not to suggest they are an idiot or a traitor.

Or to put it another way:

I don’t expect to see essentially the same comments being repeated either across different reviews, or within the comments of a single review. We live in an age of search engines, and designed to be easily searchable. No need to repeat arguments ad infinitum.

I expect everyone who participates on to have a sense of respect for the other people who’ve taken the time to add their contributions to the site.

My hope is that these changes will improve the signal to noise ratio of, as well as the general atmosphere, without restricting the subjects that can be discussed.

As usual, complaints or feedback should be addressed to, or added to the blog comments on this site. Please don’t add comments about this to itself.

Steven Jackson, CSDO Media Limited

More disk problems

More disk problems on the web server. It’s currently being rebuilt. Not sure if any data has been lost (last guaranteed backup was Monday). Updates when I know more.

One replacement RAID controller later is back in the land of the living, and appears to have suffered little to no data loss, despite a failure of the RAID controller card. As well as visually inspecting the site and database, I’ve run some comparison scripts against current and backup copies of the database, and the only differences I could spot are ones I’d expect from the passage of time, rather than missing or corrupt data.

Full marks to SoftLayer for dealing with this issue much better than The Planet did when I had a similar issue a few years back.

Apologies to everyone for the outage, and if anyone has lost any reviews or comments, I’m very sorry about that. server problems

The server the site is hosted on is having filesystem problems, and someone is looking at right now.  I’ve got a good full backup (I know it restores OK) from Monday, and managed to save some of the newer reviews first thing this morning, but I’m not hopeful about some of the very recent reviews and comments. I think I’m going to spending the rest of the day rebuilding things once whatever hardware failed is replaced.

Hopefully all will be back to normal later (probably much later) today.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Model year vs year of manufacture on

Since it was created back in 1997, has organised reviews by the year of manufacture of the cars. This made sense for European cars, but not for North American cars, where model year is what matters. The site eventually started collecting model year information, but the site structure did not change, as it was difficult to come up with a consistent structure that would make sense on both sides of the Atlantic.

I’ve been aware for years that North American visitors were confused by the site structure, and I eventually came to the conclusion that it was better for the meaning of a year on to be inconsistent, depending on the region of the review.

For a North American review, the model year (where available) is used in preference to the year of manufacture. This isn’t the case for the rest of the world.

So a list of 2006 BMW 3 Series reviews will contain 2006 model year reviews from North America, and 2006 manufacture year reviews from elsewhere. Not quite the same thing, but for reviews from their own region, it should fit visitor’s assumptions, rather than trying to make them fit the site’s data model. has also had similar changes made, but in that case, model year always takes priority over year of manufacture, regardless of region, as that reflects the way motorcycles are marketed.

hReview Microformat Support

As Google now supports microformats, I’ve added hReview support to all the CSDO Media sites, including and the airline review pages. Whilst visitors with normal web browsers won’t notice any changes, the reviews are now much easier for computers and search engines to understand and manipulate.

In case anyone else is looking to do something similar, I found the Optimus microformats transformer to be very useful for checking that my hReview markup was valid.

No More Tabs on

Following a recent experiment with FeedbackArmy, I’ve removed the tabs on They seemed like a good idea when I introduced them, but ultimately they were just confusing and a waste of space.

As a consequence, the links to the other CSDO Media sites have been moved into the page footer, and the search box has moved from the top left of the page to the top right.

I’ve also added the IE8 meta tag, to make sure behaves nicely when Microsoft release their latest browser in a few months time.