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ActiveRain problems mounting, hopes apology is enough

ActiveRain 404

ActiveRain users are lined up to complain about recent outages that seem to have plagued the blogging platform for what some users say “months.” But according to a video statement released by ActiveRain via Twitter, the problem has only been recent. The 59 second video blames the recent events on a server move. The statement claims the problems to be corrected in “hours, not weeks” in the video released 20 hours ago.

We reached out to Bob Stewart, Community Evangelist for ActiveRain for comment on what “hours, not weeks” really means in terms of the platform being stable and have not received a response as of publication.

ActiveRain is currently down, completely rendering all hosted real estate blogs dead, impacting over 100,000 businesses. No word on whether customer refunds are forthcoming.

Since April 2009, ActiveRain has seen a dramatic decline in unique visitors, from 1.1M per month to roughly 644k in March of 2010, according to Compete.com, leaving some to speculate not only on the effectiveness of ActiveRain, but its longterm viability.

ActiveRain release

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

62 Comments

62 Comments

  1. Melissa Zavala

    May 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Benn: I was just thinking this morning about how this Active Rain debacle has impacted many agents, particularly those who have placed all of their eggs in that one basket (Read: if you are only blogging in one place, than you do not have a plan B; no good).

    • Benn Rosales

      May 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm

      Realtors preach it all the time, rent versus owning, they should take their own advice when it comes to their web properties.

    • Chris McBrearty

      April 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      How exactly do you formulate a plan B? Where else can I get so much web presence?

      • Candice In AZ!

        April 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm

        Chris, you should also have your own blog(s) and be constantly updating and cross-posting content to them. My AR profile and blogs have NEVER outperformed my other websites and blogs. Definitely, diversify. I agree with Melissa Z 1000%.

  2. Janie Coffey

    May 1, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I support AR whole heartedly with their growing pains and hope that those don’t give up on them. They have provided a tremendous service to the community for years and built many a career in doing so. I wish them Godspeed in their migration.

    • Benn Rosales

      May 1, 2010 at 4:51 pm

      I don’t think anyone thinks they don’t care about the problem, but what I’m hearing is fear that even if one wanted to leave today, they couldn’t because obtaining their content would be impossible, it’s the lack of trust, control, and maybe a little faith in stability. I’m the last person who would beat up on anyone for server issues, even we’ve had them, but at some point there is validity when it’s costing people money. ActiveRain will make it right, but repairing confidence may be a little tougher in some of the faithful.

  3. Denise Hamlin

    May 1, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Interesting unique visitors numbers you have for us there Benn. I started blogging at AR in July/August 2009, seems I got in when the numbers were already declining…

    Be that as it may, I’m a big fan of ActiveRain and have loved learning to blog there. Hope they resolve these problems soon. (And I do mean soon, because my patience is wearing thin). Fortunately I don’t have all my eggs in one basket, as I started a WordPress blog a few months ago. (Good thing I did that, otherwise I would definitely be tearing my hair out now and apologies would be of no use at all!)

    • Benn Rosales

      May 1, 2010 at 5:08 pm

      I hear ya – it’s not like free Twitter where a cute fail whale makes it cute and okay. It didn’t really hit me how big the issue was until today when a blogroll of an AR faithful was completely useless because it all linked to AR blogs- wow

  4. Danny @ Tampa Real Estate

    May 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    I haven’t done too much lately over Active Rain but I also agree not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket, you really need to have your own blog and with wordpress being so user friendly, there really is no excuse not to have your own self hosted blog.

  5. Scott Cowan

    May 1, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Seems that Active Rain has become more like Passive Drizzle….

    The problems with the servers have been going on for quite some time. Not nearly as bad as recently but still there have been problems logging in etc.

    While Active Rain can be a great playground for people to dip their toes in the water it is not a place for anyone to base their business on. More and more of the people who have been the “stars” of AR have been moving more and more of their content off of the site. This is simply smart business. We need to own our content not loan it to someone and hope for the best.

    • Benn Rosales

      May 2, 2010 at 11:43 am

      “While Active Rain can be a great playground for people to dip their toes in the water”

      I don’t truly think this is the case, I think it’s more of an enabler, but that’s just me.

  6. Melina Tomson

    May 1, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    I have been a member of AR since August of 2007, but I’ve only been marginally active for a year. The server problems have been around for a while as I have had on and off again proxy errors. The problem I see for AR is that routine is important as a business person. If you do expireds, it is part of your morning routine. If you do FB, you have that as part of a routine. At least for me, I haven’t been able to log in for three weeks without some kind of error booting me out. As such, AR is no longer in my routine.

    I think that is their biggest problem right now. People have substituted something else in place of AR.

    • Benn Rosales

      May 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

      Funny you mention Facebook, that may actually be part of their longterm struggle.

  7. Teri Ellis

    May 2, 2010 at 12:29 am

    I am a HUGE fan of Active Rain – been there since July 2006. I have learned more from the posts and comments there than anywhere. The Active Rain group is awesome! BECAUSE of the AR blogging, I have two other blogs, and share content on AR! AND I’ve received referrals from other AR bloggers and from buyers/sellers finding my posts there. A GREAT resource, and I am definitely in their corner.

    Meanwhile, I write on Facebook, on my blogs and keep busy. Checking in on AR every day to see if everything is up and running again.

  8. Thesa Chambers, Broker, ABR, CDPE

    May 2, 2010 at 12:36 am

    No offense AR – cause I did and mostly do still love you – but you are always having growing pains. Years ago as you grew rapidly we went through the same thing. If you were my child I would be seriously wondering why you can not learn from your previous mistakes. If you know that you are going to see an issue at a point of growth, which with the time you have been live you should know, why not do something BEFORE it is an issue.

    A year ago, I had a conversation with Brad, funny I ran into these emails just today and deleted them. Anyway, at that time he wanted me to PURCHASE a blog from you, and pay for a community – my argument then is the same as it is now…. I cannot depend on you. You remind me of the friend we all have that is always late to the party, and thinks it is ok… when in reality, it bugs the piss out of each of us.

    ActiveRain, you need to grow up, put on your big boy under ware, and take responsibility for the community you created.

    • Benn Rosales

      May 2, 2010 at 11:47 am

      Dang girl! Tell us how you really feel! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Maureen McCabe

    May 2, 2010 at 2:56 am

    This does not compute.

    If AR is blaming the proxy errors and bad gateways on the popularity of the site how can compete show traffic dropping? Too much members messing around in Members Only posts? I would love to hear an official explanation of traffic dropping while membership grow. Why popularity and growth are blamed for server errors?

    This is not the first time ActiveRain was plagued with proxy errors.

    ActiveRain works for me. Only when it works though

    • Benn Rosales

      May 2, 2010 at 11:49 am

      Member only posts and talking to one another and not consumers? (hint) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Jo-Anne Smith

    May 2, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Ben,
    Active Rain has had problems in the past and has always made good on their word to solve them. I’ve been with Active Rain since early 2007 and have to say joining AR was the best move I’ve ever made in my 14+ years in real estate.

    With all of the positive press Active Rain has received in recent years, it has grown by leaps and bounds, far too quickly for the servers to be able to keep up. Yes, they’re going through severe growing pains. Will I leave? Not on your life.

    Jo-Anne Smith

    • Benn Rosales

      May 2, 2010 at 11:50 am

      Is it really growing, or is their press really growing? By all accounts Jo-Anne, it’s growing in reverse according to several sources. If you know something we don’t, please share! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Candice A Donofrio

    May 2, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I’ve been an AR member since 07-06 and it is a great platform — like Maureen said, when it works. ๐Ÿ™‚ Melissa is also spot on — anyone who had ALL their eggs in that one basket should be doing some capture-copy-move right about now . . . it’s never good to depend on a platform you do not control.

  12. Jack Conway

    May 2, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    The way Active Rain has handled this mess speaks volumes. They’ve been totally silent for over 36 hours now including on Twitter and Facebook. This is not a good sign or a very professional way of keeping concerned members informed about the crisis. I just want my blog posts outta there so I can move to a more professional hosting service.

  13. Tyler Webb

    May 2, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Agents yakking with and at agents? Who needs it?

    • Janie Coffey

      May 2, 2010 at 1:54 pm

      Tyler, B2C is not the only avenue for business in real estate. AR provides a TREMENDOUS learning opportunity on a whole host of issues. You couldn’t possibly get the breadth of knowledge you get anywhere else, even from a big box brokerage. AND the referral opportunity is no small plus either. I get (and give) quite a bit of referral business from AR. We are a small brokerage with no national presence, but the insight we gain (and share) as well as business contacts, has led to real business.

  14. Mike

    May 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    What is more disappointing to me is that many have been unable to get into activerain for over a week and the powers that be over there have not used any of the tools available to them to communicate with members that pay and those that have been grandfathered in to let them know what is going on and when we will be up and running again. In the Age of social media, twitter, facebook and everything other communication tool at their disposal I have not heard 1 peep from the AR crew. The apology video is cute but loosing my page rank is not. Sorry AR, I love you platform and have been promoting it for over 3 years but we need updates and answers please.

  15. Maureen McCabe

    May 2, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Benn wrote: “Member only posts and talking to one another and not consumers? (hint)”

    Perhaps they should be here (on Agent Genius) talking to others in the industry? Of course that would be out in the open to one another…some of them do love their Members Only… can you build a wing onto Agent Genius? The “West Wing” would be appropriate… All the political junkies could roost there?

    Members Only is mostly dumb IMHO

    • Benn Rosales

      May 2, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      haha nah, 1988 called, they want their members only jackets back. But I digress, this is certainly a serious matter because currently, not even the members can get into the members only club…

  16. Lesley Lambert

    May 2, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    It is the lack of communication that frosts me and set me on a tirade late last week. I see no excuse for not emailing PAYING members to explain. That video didn’t strike me as cute or sincere. I am MORE upset after that bit of ridiculous pandering than I was before. What a load of horse hockey.

    • Benn Rosales

      May 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm

      It’s the old ‘we’ll speak when we know what to say’ mentality. What do you say when you don’t know the answer?

  17. Hubert Miles

    May 2, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    This just going back to the original plan that I and other agents, brokers, and marketers had that we should be developing our own website and using services like Active Rain, forums, and other social networking sites to support our websites not be our websites. Too many have decided that these services serve their business needs while never building or growing their own site, thus controlling their own fate. I have been an active AR user, but never let it be the my sole business platform.

    • Benn Rosales

      May 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm

      They’re sold that it should be used that way, or as a starter place when it’s just an enabler to remain complacent. I’m sure it’s frustrating to the majority, web properties are very personal spaces.

  18. Fred Romano

    May 2, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    What a pathetic video response from AR about their down-time! Unbelievable really.

    • Benn Rosales

      May 2, 2010 at 8:17 pm

      hours not weeks, versus hours not days was very telling. and the cute little guy is better than nothing I guess…

  19. Kevin Tomlinson

    May 2, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Listen,

    I’ll offer up $2k. for AR. I’ll have it up and running by Wednesday. If they accept my offer, I will donate another $2k to #mffo

  20. Eric Hempler

    May 2, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    The only thing I’ve found useful of activerain is getting feedback from peers. Otherwise I haven’t found it to be useful.

  21. KJRealtyHouston

    May 2, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    @AgentGenius Main Problem with ActiveRain is the “cliquey”-ness of it.Same people getting Featured which is critical to readership of blogs.

  22. Paul Francis

    May 3, 2010 at 2:00 am

    I feel the same sentiment as most of the comments on here… but for some strange reason… I’m kind of missing waking up with the morning Joe and logging in and checking out the day’s featured posts.

  23. I’m an AR account holder, but the place baffles me. One day every link is no follow and the next they are wide open. Irritating for us concerned about link building content.

    On a different note, AR has been a great place to exchange industry info, but using it as your primary business blog/site as I see so many agents attempt? What a mistake.

  24. Erica Ramus

    May 3, 2010 at 8:20 am

    I too miss my coffee & blogging routine!

    A question regarding wordpress option: Is wordpress hosting of blog a better option? What if wordpress goes down?

    Do you “own” your content on AR? Simply by act of creating content, do you “own” it?

    Lots of talk last night about “ownership” of your blog… thoughts?

  25. Scott Cowan

    May 3, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Erica-

    There are 2 types of wordpress hosting. WordPress.com which is solution that is hosted by WordPress and allows you some of the functionality of using a WordPress blog. The other is to find a hosting company and pay them to host your WordPress.org installation of the blog. The latter is the path most of us take when we have decided to move our businesses to owning our own content. Yes, in both of these cases the hosting provider could go down and your pages could not be found or loaded by a visitor. However, how you handle the outage would be your choice. I have never seen an established online business have the technical challenges that AR has experienced. I realize that AR has a huge (and I mean huge) database but that is no excuse for the lack of professional courtesy that the company has shown during this outage. Owning your own content and having a business relationship with a hosting company is much different than putting your content on a site like AR and then not being able to access it or contact customer support when there are challenges.

    I would advise you to own your content and then decide what parts of it you want to share with AR. There are benefits for using the site to help your business. However, all your eggs in AR basket =l ots of broken eggs….

    • Erica Ramus

      May 3, 2010 at 9:39 am

      Got it. So get a hosting solution such as Godaddy or 1and1 and place your wordpress blog there. What hosting platforms do you like?

      • Benn Rosales

        May 3, 2010 at 9:52 am

        you own the content at AR and you can take it with you once they;re back up.

        From my perspective working with wordpress, grab a bluehost account, wordpress is a 1 click install, you’ll need a wp theme, and you’re off. or you can get someone to do it for you.

        there are tons of articles on worpress on AG, do a quick search – let me know if you have any questions.

        Word of warning people, if you’re paying to move your wp, shop around and look at their previous work. The folks that advertise here on AG are obviously recommended.

        Good luck!

        • Fred Romano

          May 3, 2010 at 10:01 am

          Hostmonster.com is another great service. I have had very good results, very little down time, and they have great support (in the USA – for real!!!).

          • Benn Rosales

            May 3, 2010 at 10:04 am

            they’re one in the same, bluehost and hostmonster are the same company. for the size an scope of a local blog/website, either would do.

  26. Scott Cowan

    May 3, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I am using 1and1 and A2Hosting at this time for my domains. I am moving my domains off of 1and1 as the service and uptime have been spotty lately. A2 is the new hosting company that I am using but I cannot say anything but that for the first month of service I am very, very happy. Fast, 1 click installs etc. The other companies recommended above this reply have very good reputations as well.

  27. Kris Wales

    May 3, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Ditto on Bluehost for hosting your WordPress blogs. (Disclaimer: I’m not paid to say this ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve had my WP blog on Bluehost for 2 years and have had 6 minutes of downtime. 6 minutes. Oh, they also sent a very nice email apology about the downtime.

  28. Maureen McCabe

    May 3, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Bluehost was great, I used them for three years. My WP blog is on Dreamhost now… Dreamhost is fine too actually the dashboard is simpler and that is better for simple minded me. OH wait there was a time… my blog was not showing for a few days. As usual it was my error not theirs.

    Oh by the way. ActiveRain’s comments are back up now and the dreaded proxy errors seem to be over… for now anyway. They’ll be restoring Outside blogs…at some point and everyone can go back to normal.

  29. Ruthmarie Hicks

    May 4, 2010 at 12:27 am

    I have an active rain account too. I post frequently to AR, but I also have my own blog on WP through the Real Estate Tomato. When AR started with “outside blogs” I decided to go in another direction. Too many eggs – only one basket! Thank God I listened to my gut on that one or I would have been having a cow during this period.

    I do enjoy reading my favorite member’s blogs and going through the featured posts – however, it is good that I had a working blog during this period. This should be a strong warning to those who think that they can blog on AR exclusively without consequence….No – you can’t.

  30. Elizabeth Cooper-Golden

    May 4, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Okay…I’m one of the few that still love AR it seems. I have gained SO much knowledge from AR and it has put serious money in my pocket, via referral and clients. It truly has. I don’t for a second believe I am in the “clique” over there either. I have gained friendships that will be forever lasting. Heck, I even learned about AG from AR.

    Yes, I have said my fair share of filthy four letter words when getting the “Proxy error” in the past couple of months, but I’m hanging in there. AR is not where I hang my hat full time. No one should hang their hat anywhere full time, unless they can control it.

    I think Active Rain was the perfect platform for me to learn about blogging, technology, social media, etc. I was (an some may say, still am, lol) a bit tech challenged.

    I don’t have all my eggs in one basket. Maybe if I did, I’d feel differently. My AR posts still rank on the first page of google….as long as it’s working for me, I’m staying ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Matt Stigliano

    May 4, 2010 at 11:11 am

    @AgentGenius – Obviously, I have had thoughts about ActiveRain for awhile now (as you mentioned my previous post). It does seem that they working out the kinks and I do agree that it’s obvious that they want the problem solved as much as the rest of us. I don’t post there nearly as much as I used to, mainly because my own WordPress blog took much of my attention and time.

    I’ve wondered how this outage would affect ActiveRain’s clients going forward and I’ve seen answers on both sides. My big concern is the amount of time it took to fix the problems. We’re all had sites go down (I was even hacked by a 14 year old Swedish kid once long ago), but it’s the response that matters. My current host, Dreamhost, has had issues here and there – just like every other hosting company in the world, but their response time and attitude towards finding a solution is what has kept me there for years (I’ve been with them since the band days).

    I like the people of ActiveRain and consider some of them friends – but I would never let that stand between me and a post. I am compelled to say what I’m thinking and that was the purpose of the post I wrote – to get people talking. I was hoping we might see Brad or Bob stop by in your post or mine to give their thoughts and perhaps they still will. In some ways, I suspect they’ll have to do some form of “damage control” over the next few weeks.

    Will I leave? No. However, that has more to do with the fact that I only post there off and on at the moment and it is not a core piece of what I do. Will I be more cautious about linking back to my outside blog? Yes. Unfortunately those broken links can cost you.

  32. Ruthmarie Hicks

    May 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    @KJRealtyHouston – I have to say that recently, I’ve been featured over and over on AR. I used to always complain about not being featured. So I have NO idea what happened to change that. It was like one day someone pushed a button and said “let’s feature Ruthmarie all the time!” But I’m not part of the clique – at least not that I know of. I know they can’t read all the blogs. They may seek out posts from consistent bloggers. The difficulty there is that you have to be KNOWN to them as a consistent blogger. The trouble is that there are a lot of good bloggers that regularly write feature-worthy blogs that are unknown. It took about two years of relatively steady contributions for me to get featured regularly. It rarely happens on local blogs. So those who post only local content, don’t get featured much. So its like you are writing for two audiences….the real estate community and potential buyers/sellers.

  33. Maureen McCabe

    May 6, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Things are getting back to normal on ActiveRain and there is no mass exodus that I see. Many have taken steps to have a WP.org version of their ActiiveRain blog with the RSS feeding the WP blog.

    I blogged the Compete.com graphs. Real estate social media expert and former AR employee Jeremy Blanton explained the missing traffic in a comment on ActiveRain.

    Much of his explaination, I would respond “No $hit Sherlock” stuff like new members have to post Members Only…. No $hit…

    Jeremy explains using Members Only ( his ActiveRain blog choice when to be transparent and when to use Members Only ) I am not sure if he is selling real estate and being a social media expert now that he is not an ActiveRain employee,

    In his comment Jeremy tells me not to panic. I did not Ihink I was panicing.

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