A classic sign of trouble for an institution — be it educational, religious, governmental or economic — is a pattern of deferred maintenance in which easily fixed problems remain unfixed. Deferred maintenance can be a sign of bureaucratic inattention or poor leadership, but it can also be imposed from outside an institution by external conditions. Regardless of the reason for its occurrence, it is a sign of resource poverty and crisis.
In October of 2009, I noticed that the size of our e-mail newsletter list (maintained by print-on-demand shirt and sticker distributor CafePress) had stopped growing. It turns out that CafePress’ newsletter function had broken. The problems are simple to fix: too many backslashes in an html form and direction to a misnamed script.
In calls at the start of November, CafePress indicated that they were aware of the problems and planned to fix them. In calls at the start of December, CafePress indicated the same. Others have brought up the problem to CafePress as well, without a solution.
CafePress’ deferred maintenance, which indicates some sort of resource crisis for the corporation, has led to a lingering problem on Irregular Times: that sign-ups for our newsletters have simply not worked. We apologize for this and, after waiting a reasonable period for the problem to be solved by CafePress, we’ll bring it to our own swift resolution this month, removing the CafePress newsletter tool and replacing it with one under our own direct control.