Jacob J. Walker's Blog

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My Email to the New York Times regarding one of its Websites being Down for Nearly a Week

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As I posted last week, it’s Mapping America site has not been working, either giving intermittent “503 errors” that the service in unavailable, or just showing a blank map.  I didn’t contact them at first, as I wanted to give them a chance to detect and solve their own problem (which I assumed they would do).  But now that it has been nearly a week since I first saw the problem, and they are still having the problem, I contacted them today, with the following email sent to their tech team and their Public Editor (who acts in a role similar to an ombudsman).

While I have always been a person to generally trust the New York Times; the fact that you have had one of your websites down for almost a week, and you apparently aren’t even aware of the fact, gives me pause in wondering if you learned anything from when you were hacked, and whether you are still susceptible to hacking.  I posted about this at http://jacobjwalker.effectiveeducation.org/blog/2016/01/27/can-we-be-sure-the-new-york-times-has-sufficient-security-to-not-get-hacked-again/

I believe this issue deserves a full troubleshooting, and while it will likely end up being some technical issue, and nothing that involves hacking; it should also have a full investigation about why the New York times didn’t realize the site was down, as that is far more worrisome.  And I believe, just as you would print a “correction” in the paper about an issue, that similar policies should be used to share about the incident with your readers.

We need to know that we can trust the technical prowess of your paper as much as we trust its journalistic excellence.

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Written by Jacob Walker

February 1st, 2016 at 11:59 am

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