Hackers can be a threat to any computer-based service, I guess. I don't think Halloween sites are necessarily a greater target. Thankfully, we had no issues like that, during this most recent season.
Additional strain on the server due to high levels of traffic is something that is to be expected with a website like this. There's a massive spike in the amount of visitors, on the weekend afternoons/evenings right before Halloween. But even that wasn't the main issue this year.
I won't bore anyone with too much technical talk, but the most significant problem the site experienced this season was some server settings that were apparently not configured correctly to allow for smooth database interaction. This is something that wasn't under my control, and didn't have to be this way, so it's frustrating that it happened at all.
It got a dicey at times, but eventually we pushed through and ultimately there were many more satisfied members than not. I'd like to thank all of you that stuck up for me or shared your comments of support (on Facebook, for example). That really kept my spirits up, at a time when quite a few people were sending messages that were less than polite.
That's just the nature of a service based around a holiday. People need the product for a specific date and time. That creates a sense of urgency, making people more demanding for instant gratification. It can turn an otherwise civil human into a Mr. Hyde.
It's funny when you think about it.... the worry of potentially losing $2 can make some people call me names that would make even a sailor blush. I've had to develop a thick skin, and try to not take it personal when people say that I'm a scammer who ruined Halloween and made their kids cry.
After the urgency of October 31, most of these people calm down, turning back to their Dr. Jekyll forms. I was able to amicably work things out with just about everyone eventually.
In a way, I guess it's a compliment to what I offer on this site, that people want it so badly, and count on it as part of their Halloween traditions. This just makes me want to strive harder to make sure I can deliver what the people expect.
While I sort of feel like I just survived a war, I don't feel burnt out. I actually feel strangely motivated to start working on the 2012 website. Revamping and overhauling some of the technology. I take a lot of pride in Zombie Pumpkins, and technical issues are not something I wish to repeat.
It's hard to predict exactly how a website will behave when a massive surge of traffic arrives. There's always a chance that something can break. If you've ever tried to do an online order for something popular like an iPhone on its pre-sale date, you know that even the websites of mega-corporations can buckle under pressure.
But these brief technical issues can be forgiven if the product is of good quality, and the customer service is polite and accommodating. So hopefully that's the image that people will keep in mind when they think of Zombie Pumpkins.
Thanks again for the support during the dark times, minions. Now, onward to 2012!