Publisher reminder emails sent by mistake

Early this morning, our server started sending out emails to publishers reminding them to check their sales on Paperight. Unfortunately, it sent the same emails repeatedly, and the link in the email was wrong, too. We’re very sorry, and very embarrassed about it. If you’re curious, and in the interests of transparency, here’s what happened. We’re currently testing a forthcoming new upgrade to paperight.com that will provide automatic VAT-compliant statements and invoices. (We currently create these manually.) To comply with tax regulations for reporting agency sales, we are required to provide publishers with a statement every month. Hence the monthly reminder emails, which point to this statement online. For testing new features like this, we have a special ‘testing’ version of the paperight.com site for in-house use. (This is standard practice for website development. Testing sites are sometimes called ‘dev or ‘staging’ sites.) Unfortunately, when we put our brand new code on the testing site, something went wrong, and it sent out multiple reminder emails to publisher email addresses that are on the testing database. Why do we keep real publisher email addresses on the testing site? Good question. When testing, we only know if a feature really works if we have real data to test with. So from time to time we add some real data (including products,

sales history and user info) from paperight.com to our testing site. Still, the testing site also contains lots of fictional data, too. (The testing site is just as safe and secure as the real paperight.com, by the way.) So, the link in the mistaken reminder emails this morning point to the testing site, not to real sales reports. (Doh!) So a publisher that follows the link, and thus logs in to the testing site by mistake, would

see partly fictional data, and could be really confused. We’ve already implemented a fix to stop the reminder emails going out from our testing site. We’re also changing the address of our testing site, so that publishers who visit the link in the mistaken emails won’t end up at a fictional version of their account. Again, we’re very sorry for the confusion. We’ve learned a lot, and will make sure this doesn’t happen again.  

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