Yenya's World

Tue, 06 Mar 2007

Notify in Advance

For a long time we have planned to migrate our Faculty web server to Apache 2, getting rid of the aging Apache 1.3 + charset conversion module (do you still remember the time when browsers could handle just one character set - the one native on the system they ran under - and the web server had to recode the documents (and CGI script outputs and many other things) to match the expected charset of the client?).

Because of the new Apache, some configuration directives have changed (including the ones users use in their .htaccess files). So we first made the Apache 2 running in parallel with 1.3 (on a different port), so that users can test whether their pages would work even under the new Apache. Three weeks or so before the upgrade we have sent the in-advance notification to users, where we have pointed out the most common directives which are no longer valid in Apache 2, told the users that they can test their pages on the different port, and stated the expected date of a switchover.

Few days before the upgrade we have sent the similar notification again, and put an announce to the electronic noticeboard in our Information system. Last Thursday we have finally switched the webserver to Apache 2 as expected.

Guess what happened: even today, 6 days after the upgrade, users keep calling or mailing: "my web pages do not work, did you do something to the web server by chance?". When I point out that they got two e-mails from us, they are simply not aware of it (in one case I even grepped the user's mailbox for the appropriate Message-Id, and of course, the announcement message was still sitting in this user's mailbox). What should I do with users who do not even bother to read an e-mail from us and then complain? One would expect that users at Faculty of Informatics should not display the same levels of lameness as ordinary users...

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