Removing Favourites from FolkTuneFinder?

· by joe · Read in about 5 min · (1054 Words)

Summary

I want to remove the ‘favourites’ / ‘bookmarks’ feature (and then the ability to log in altogether). I would make sure that no-one lost their ‘favourites’ lists and could transfer them elsewhere. What do you think? Email me at joe@folktunefinder.com , but preferably read the whole piece first!

FolkTuneFinder is used by up to 10,000 people per month. It’s enough to make me feel like it’s worth running keeping it going, and I hope I always will.

It’s also great that I get a stream of people getting in contact. Sometimes to ask me things, sometimes to make suggestions or help them use the site. Often people ask me to help them find a tune and my response is always – sadly – that I don’t know any more than they do. There are no hidden features. I’ve never been shy of putting my contact details in the footer of the site. I always reply (although sometimes it can take a while, sorry if you’re waiting for a response). Although I want the site to be as polished as possible, I don’t want it to be seen as impersonal.

Which is why I hope I’ll get a lot of feedback! You can email me on joe@folktunefinder.com . I’ll publish comments at the bottom of this blog.

A busy year

I’ll be honest. I’ve had a very busy year. Every now and again I have a spurt of activity with FolkTuneFinder (approximately once a year), but mostly I let it tick over. I would love to have more time to tinker with it, but spare time is a precious commodity!

The last update was around the start of this year. It was a ground-up rewrite, which included new features, kept some old ones and removed others. Months later, I still haven’t included all the features that the old site had, one of which is FolkTuneFinder Blogs. I feel guilty about that, and have been planning the replacement for a very long time. I hope I’ll find time to get round to it soon.

Features

One feature I removed was comments. I’ve got a few comments over the years, but an overwhelimg amount of spam also. Of the comments I did see, the useful ones would actually have been better addressed straight to me. I do now get emails that would have been comments. FolkTuneFinder has peacefully co-existed with thesession.org over the years. The two sites are both places to find ABC and sheet music, but they do very different things. It became clear early on that FolkTuneFinder would never have the same community in the comments section, but I kept it ticking along.

But every feature can become a burden. “The best line of code,” they say, “is no line of code”. A piece of software should contain enough code to make it work and no more, and any more is a maintenance burden. Every software developer tries to make things as simple as possible, or at least they should.

So I felt no compunction about removing the comments feature.

A new burden

Recently I’ve noticed the site has come under the scrutiny of web spiders from a well-known search engine. This is great, as it means that FolkTuneFinder will show up in search results. But it also means that the server’s been under heavy load. Any list of tunes on the site, whether you’ve put in a melody or a title, clicked on “C major” or are just listing all the tunes, constitutes a search of some kind. This means that when another search engine (like, for example, Google) is visiting the site, it keeps the search engine busy. Many of you will have seen the “server is overloaded” message recently. This is why.

There’s a simple answer to this kind of thing: caching pages so the search engine doesn’t have to re-calculate results. And, to put it simply, it’s much easier to do if you don’t have to worry about people logging in.

Time pressure

The system I use for logging in is Mozilla Persona. It’s a fantastic idea, a great service to the public, and I was very pleased that they created it. Unfortunately, not long after I integrated it with FolkTuneFinder they decided to retire it. Logging in will stop working on November 30th, about a month and a half from the time of writing this post, unless I do something about it and implement a replacement. That would take time, and I don’t really mave much of that at the moment.

Favourites

There used to be three reasons to log in:

  1. make comments
  2. publish blogs
  3. bookmark / ‘favourite’ tunes

Number 1 has gone.

Number 2 has gone temporarily, and the thing I’m thinking of putting in its place won’t involve logging into FolkTuneFinder.

Now I have to think very carefully about number 3.

If I removed the ‘favourites’ feature, there would be reason for needing logging in. I could remove a feature, which means I can focus on other, more useful functionality on the site. It’s one less thing to support, and it generally makes things easier.

Alternatives

In the time since I introduced ‘favourites’, at least 5 years ago, it’s become much easier to carry your bookmarks from computer to computer. Google Chrome will automatically sync them for you if you sign in. Apple iCloud synchronizes your ‘favourites’ between devices.

As far as I can tell, there would be no loss if everyone who currently uses ‘favourites’ on FolkTuneFinder transferred them over to their web browser’s standard bookmark / favourite feature.

The upsides would be:

  • I have more time to concentrate on other features of FolkTuneFinder
  • I don’t need to find something to replace Mozilla Persona
  • I could improve the reliability of the site with caching

Proposal

Here’s what I suggest:

  1. I send everyone an email with their current ‘favourites’ list
  2. Anyone who wants to can import their ‘favourites’ automatically into the web browser of their choice
  3. I remove the login feature

There will no doubt be one or two people who aren’t happy. All I can say is that it’s a free service, not even supported by advertising, and I’m giving a lot of warning!

Feedback please

I would love to hear from you. Contact joe@folktunefinder.com . I’ll publish replies here unless you ask me not to.

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