Failing to petition Number Ten on Darwin Day

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 12 February 2007

Having been nudged to sign a petition to make Charles Darwin day a national holiday in the UK, I rushed off over to the Number 10 Downing Street petitions site to do just that.

Sadly, it wasn't playing fair today. First of all it wouldn't let me sign up because the site was too busy.

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Then, when I did get a confirmation email, following the link led me to a 503 Service Unavailable error page.

The site is a beta test, so you should probably expect these kind of glitches, but I am not so naive. I've grown up in an internet world where people see any technical glitch on the BBC's message boards as an attempt to stifle public debate that contradicts the BBC's world view, rather than anything to do with the elastic bands on the servers twanging. It was quite clear to me therefore, that here on the 10 Downing Street site was a conspiracy, at the very heart of the British government, by superstitious god-botherers to prevent me signing my anti-creationist petition on Darwin day. ;-)

On the other hand, maybe it is more to do with the site being overwhelmed by the million plus motorists who have signed up urging the PM to "Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy" which has attracted a lot of press attention.

Or the fact that the Daily Express is constantly promoting their 'crusade' against inheritance tax, and effectively using someone else's beta infrastructure to host it.

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How I loathe the use of the word 'crusade' outside of the proper historical context. After all, no newspaper would campaign for an "abortion" of a tax, or for a "final solution" or "holocaust" to be visited on a problem, because of the emotional charge attached to the words, so why is 'crusade' fair game? Mind you, the Daily Express still has a crusading knight as their emblem, so I guess it is only to be expected from them.

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2 Comments

I'm sure the very clever MySociety people will be busy working on making the site ever more robust.

Their server architecture schema already looks pretty well-thought-out and complicated: http://www.mysociety.org/2006/12/08/under-the-bonnet/

D'oh, the humanity of it all!

I see the team at the Daily Mail have been following my editorial agenda again, and ran the story that the website crashed as their lead item.

Except their story about the site being so popular it crashed, has obviously proved so popular that I can't get the Daily Mail site to load to read about it :-)

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