‘Recent Comments’ Feature Offline

posted by Patrick Crowley on August 31, 2005 at 8:47 am

As many of you have noticed, we have temporarily removed the ‘Recent Comments’ feature from our homepage.

Unfortunately, this action was necessary because the number of comments on Cinema Treasures is growing so greatly that our database is being overwhelmed. (We’re adding approximately 5000 comments a month.) As a result, the rest of the website was sluggish or even inaccessible.

This feature will return, of course. But not until we can safely insure that the rest of Cinema Treasures will not be negatively impacted.

As always, thanks for your patience and support.

Ross Melnick and Patrick Crowley
Co-Founders, Cinema Treasures

Comments (56)

teecee on August 31, 2005 at 10:05 am

Seems like a necessary step. I’ve noticed less timeouts and freeze ups since you made the change.
Nice feature – hope it can return soon.


socal09 on August 31, 2005 at 11:02 am

If the comments section is getting overwhelmed, why not erase any comments previous to 2004. Seems like many of the older comments have dead links noted and outdated information.

teecee on August 31, 2005 at 11:39 am

I would not be in favor of an arbitrary cut off date for deleting comments. Yes a lot of links are dead but a lot of “older” comments still contain valuable information on a theater.

Ian on August 31, 2005 at 12:25 pm

I love the site but I hope the comments section returns quicker than the “add a photograph” section! These two sections are the two I most value(d) on the site. Perhaps the CT Poll could be used to find out which features the users find the most useful. I agree that some kind of a time limit could be imposed – some theatres have 500+ comments attached to them which are near impossible to sift through. Although I also accept that some crucial information could be lost in this way.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 31, 2005 at 1:01 pm

Erasing old comments is a very bad idea. This site is about historic preservation, after all!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 31, 2005 at 1:02 pm

Some of the comments are missing from this news item! The front page says there are 10, but I see only 6 now.

Manwithnoname on August 31, 2005 at 1:29 pm

If you sign in and click on your own name you get a list of theaters you have posted to. Open one and the Recent Comments section appears.

CSWalczak on August 31, 2005 at 2:18 pm

Here’s my two cents: I agree with Mr. VanBibber; some of the comments really don’t add much to enhance either the accuracy or completeness of the information about a particular theater or contribute very positively to preservation efforts. I admit I enjoy reading some the nostalgia when folks mention a movie they saw there or tell us they met the person they later married or that they used to work there, but this is essentially a database of theater information, not a blog. Unless the moderators can acquire more capacity, criteria for comment posting is going to be a necessity.

Benjamin on August 31, 2005 at 3:40 pm

Here’s my two cents:

I too have noticed how slow the site has become and therefore welcome the suspension of the “Recent Comments” feature, as it seems to have sped up the site.

I respectfully disagree, however, with those who feel it would be a good idea to delete posts according to age (i.e., deleting those before a certain date). It seems to me that among the theater listings that I’m most familiar with, it is the older comments that are usually the most germane to the theater, and it is the newer comments that tend to be less germane (and more suitable to a chat room). Plus the older germane comments create a “paper trail” which enables people to evaluate newer “corrections” (i.e., whether they are actually valid corrections or not).

Here are my two suggestions for dealing with the problem of the site being overwhelmed by too many posts:

1) I think you should elimate the “Recent Comments” feature PERMANENTLY. I think it encourages more of a chit-chat “chat room” atmosphere where people are more likely to add comments that have nothing to do with a particularly theater. If people are truly interested in a theater, they can look it up using the search feature.

2) I think you should add two more general features (or “highlight” them for these reasons, if they exist for a slightly other reasons already):

a) Have a section where people can talk about cinema developments in general (rather than having them post such discussion on the page of a particular theater).

For instance people have had some things to say about the presentation of 70 mm movies, Cinerama, etc. — in general — that are very interesting and useful but oftentimes have very little to do with specific theater where the info is posted. Putting them in their own section would not only unclutter a theater’s page, but would also put these interesting comments in an area where people could more easily find them. (And therefore avoid possible multi-entries of similar kinds of info when people don’t realize that this topic has already been discussed at length on another page.)

b) Have a “questions” page (that could be periodically trimmed of outdated questions) where people could ask about the name or listing of a particular theater that they can’t otherwise find. (I’ve noticed that people will post such questions on the page of an unrelated theater — “cluttering” up that page with information extraneous to that theater.

Again, having a central page with questions about “lost” theaters would also make such information easier to find — and raise the liklihood of a helpful answer being posted.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 31, 2005 at 4:21 pm

I’d like the ability to sign up for e-mail notifications on theatres where I haven’t posted my own comments. For instance, I would love to be able to find out whenever someone posts a comment about any theatre in Massachusetts. Such a facility might reduce the need for a “Recent Comments” list.

ERD on August 31, 2005 at 5:39 pm

Mr.Melnick & Mr.Crowley have done a super job on this web site.
They are both creative and intelligent. I respect anything they do in maintaining CINEMA TREASURES. I am sure there are many members who feel as I do.

bamtino on August 31, 2005 at 7:25 pm

Call me crazy, but for quite a while it’s been my belief that, in order to restore the “Add a photo” feature and improve the site’s overall performance, Mr. Melnick and Mr. Crowley should tell the members (if not all users) how much it would cost to do so and request donations for that purpose.

bamtino on August 31, 2005 at 7:36 pm

Also, perhaps elimination of the photo displays in the “favorites” area and elimination of the poll might be better ways to improve the site’s performance.
(Personally, I come here for the comments much more than to discover if 10 people think Herbie is the best all-time movie car.)

Manwithnoname on September 1, 2005 at 6:59 am

With the work this site requires to maintain and the fact that it has remained free even as it has grown puts no one in a position to complain. If you want pictures, there are lots on Cinematour. If you want to actually learn something, this is the place. I agree that many, many comments are posted that are off topic discussions and I have been guilty of that myself. However, I had no idea there were 5,000 posts per month and on a site maintained by volunteers that is a massive amount to review. I, for one, will from now on be more selective with my posts and hope everyone will do the same.

Manwithnoname on September 1, 2005 at 7:02 am

Oops. Apparently my previously posted workaround no longer works.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 1, 2005 at 8:24 am

I don’t know enough about the software you use to run this site to know if this would be of any use to you, but you might consider using Brad Fitzpatrick’s open-source memcached system to speed things up. I’ve been using LiveJournal, where memcached was first launched, for about four years, and the improvement in the site’s functionality was astonishing when memcached was adopted.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on September 1, 2005 at 9:16 am

Thanks to everyone for all the great feedback! I can’t respond to every post individually, but here are a couple of quick points:

edward1 — As others have pointed out, deleting older comments is counter-productive. It doesn’t really solve the slowdown issue, and we’d lose a tremendous amount of valuable information about theaters.

Benjamin — ‘Recent Comments’ is very important to many Cinema Treasures users, so we don’t want to remove it. But I like your other ideas. We’d love to add a message board in the future, and the “Lost theaters” idea is very cool.

Damien Farley (Pt. 1) — You aren’t crazy. We also think that this project has reached a point where it now requires significant support from its members to move forward. Ross and I are working on this issue now, and you should see some progress soon.

Damien Farley (Pt. 2) — Removing the favorites system and the poll wouldn’t significantly improve the site’s performance. And, btw, Herbie is the best all-time movie car. ;)

Manwithnoname — You get the credit for truly solving the ‘Recent Comments’ issue! The site is so large that I’d forgotten we also were displaying the ‘Recent Comments’ block on all theater pages. Since there are 10,000 plus theaters, and we get a ton of first-time visitors to these pages, this was the true cause of the slowdown.

Joe Vogel — Yes, I’m familiar with memcached, and it’s definitely something we’ll look at in the future.

ERD — Thanks for your support!

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on September 1, 2005 at 9:22 am

BTW, I’m going to try an experiment today. I’ve re-enabled the ‘Recent Comments’ block on just the homepage.

If the slowdown was truly caused by including this block on theater pages, then we should be able to restore this feature to the homepage without impacting the site’s overall usability.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 2, 2005 at 9:28 am

As far as I know, the problem wasn’t “too many comments”, it was “too many hits on the Recent Comments function”. That seems to be fixed, at least for now.

Manwithnoname on September 2, 2005 at 11:01 am

If “before and after” shots of the Trylon can be posted, I doubt a link is going to cause an issue. It’s the best alternative to the lack of an add-a-photo option. The shots of the Beekman, for example, really brought the loss of that theater into focus (pardon the pun) since I have never been to NY. I appreciated it.

dave-bronx™ on September 5, 2005 at 1:33 am

I think it’s important to preserve all the comments on each theatre – they are part of the historical record of each theatre. There is no written history on most of these theatres other than on this site. The exception I would make would be deleting the comments where people are sniping at each other and those having nothing to do with anything on this site, and the ones who want to know the upcoming schedule at RCMH or the El Cap. I realize however this would be a huge undertaking, sifting through all the posts of 11,546 theatres, so maybe it should be left as it is…(IMHO)…

Manwithnoname on September 5, 2005 at 9:07 am

I feel so much better now that we have your permission.

HawaiiGuy on September 5, 2005 at 12:14 pm

You know I quit coming to the Cinema Treasures site sometime back because it was getting to a point where there so much disention among its members. I thought I would try this morning to check on some theatres and catch up on things but when I cam to this I see that things haven’t changed. It seems that in the past lostmemory was very much in defense of some vindictive posts to cvb’s comments on certain theatres and now it seems he has become vindictive towards him. What happened? He even stated that it is not a contest as to who posts the most on this site but yet he counts the number of posts another person makes. I guess the biggest problem that exists is that it is an open forum and not controlled so people can say what ever they feel. Is that what this site is all about? If you have ill feelings about what a person does why not take it up with that person and not use the space on the Cinema Treasures to vent your frustrations. I agree with hdtv and manwithnoname, I like the links to photos of theatres whether they be small or large. You are able to place a photo with a description much easier. Why not work together like it was said before, if you come across something that is not posted on a certain theatre, post it and bring it up to date, if it is a photo or new information. Seems simple to me. Snide remarks and personal put downs prove nothing. Work together for a better site.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 8, 2005 at 9:08 am

Wow… looks like whatever is going on in the Dupage and Wheaton sites has spread to this thread! Anyway… I am recently guilty of sharing a number of photographs via links to Photobucket within my posts on the appropriate theater pages. I’d love to share more of these in the future (especiailly since Add a Photo is out of commission) so, I’d really like to know from Patrick or Ross if adding a link to an image within a post poses a problem with bandwidth or system response time. If so, I’ll stop doing this until such time as any problems are resolved.

I’d also like to say that Ross and Patrick (and their small army of volunteers) have done a fantastic job at building and maintaining this site and I’ve been enjoying the free ride for about 2 years now. If a reasonable membership fee is required to keep it going and enhance its functionality, then I’m in full support. This site is indispensible to me.

Again… thanks guys, for everything!

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on September 8, 2005 at 2:59 pm

EdSolero — Thanks for your support!

Everyone — FEEL FREE TO POST PHOTO LINKS IN COMMENTS. Again, the slowdown issue was caused by the ‘Recent Comments’ feature — but that doesn’t mean we can’t have lots of comments or lots of comments with links and photos. In fact, if anything, we expect the number of comments to continue growing substantially and that’s a great thing! ;)

Sarge on July 11, 2006 at 7:28 am

Ross Melnick and Patrick Crowley
Co-Founders, Cinema Treasures
New to all of this!
66 yrs. old and made a DVD movie
Where does one go to preview a motion pic; DVD ?
Any help would be greatly appreciated

Mike Rogers
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i have been trying to tell the histories of the theatres I worked at by telling stories that happened.Often when i get fact wrong someone can correct it and usually does.It amazes me how someone far away in another state can inform me when i have a date or film wrong 35mm or 70mm. But i take it in good stride and try to be positive in the response.

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