Saving the Exponent from the Haters
A few months back, while I was serving on the Exponent II Board, I dreamed a dream. I was working on the Exponent blog at my computer. The files morphed into actors and I was in the midst of a sci-fi movie. The characters were running for their lives as the website—now reworked into a glamorous ballroom instead of a computer screen—crashed. One by one the characters vanished into thin air. The heroine, movingly portrayed by Sally Field, tried to save them. She ran with her arms outstretched, her beautiful red silk dress flapping in the wind as she tried to catch the other characters and save them from impending doom but everyone disappeared before she could reach them. In the end, she was the only one left and she rolled into a little ball and wept.
I woke up and immediately checked the site. I had put in many volunteer hours during the past several months, redesigning the website to better showcase this treasure trove of a decade of Mormon feminist thought. I had just added a new feature called “Our Bloggers Recommend” to highlight important posts from the blog and elsewhere. The very first post I added to the new menu was Rachel’s 2013 post, “What I first learned about our Heavenly Mother.” This previously buried post represents the best this blog has to offer; it is well-researched—groundbreaking, in fact—and spiritually uplifting. People noticed. Two mainstream Mormon news outlets linked to it, sharing its goodness with whole new audiences of people who would have never found it hidden in our archives. Soon it was viral.
And so the site crashed. That happens sometimes, when one of our posts goes viral. I spent the better part of the day working with our server provider to get it up. They gave me several tasks to “pass on” to our “web developer.” We don’t have a web developer! So I did those tasks myself—all day long—taking time away from my paid job and my four kids and my husband—who coincidentally, had just had a serious talk with me earlier that morning about how I needed to tell my colleagues at the Exponent that it was time to hire someone to do the tech work because my volunteer hours were getting out of hand. This wasn’t the first time unpaid, emergency tech work at the Exponent had interrupted my day. With no reliable funding source, the Exponent had never paid for professional tech support to stop the outages.
So when that nightmare about the Exponent crashing woke me up, I immediately grabbed my phone and checked the site. In spite of having even higher traffic numbers than the day before, it was up and running. It was just a nightmare. Everything was okay. I got dressed, dropped my kids off at school and went to work, where I checked the site one last time, just for reassurance.
It was down.
This time, our server provider found that someone was attacking the site. “By someone, do you mean an actual person or a virus?” I asked.
“An actual person. Or several.”
Throughout its ten years of existence, the Exponent website has survived entirely through volunteer labor. It stays financed through the love, time, and personal funds of its own bloggers.
But times are changing. I am happy to report that hits to the website have increased exponentially during every year of its existence. The Exponent today has greater readership than ever before in history—that also means it has a bigger, older, more heavily utilized database that could really use some expert tune-up to keep it safe from the haters who would try to bring it down. We’ll need donations from readers like you to keep the Exponent alive without creating a nightmare for volunteer bloggers like me.
Spread the word and DONATE NOW! Click here for more information and a list of prizes for those who donate!