Why you can’t login or comment using Facebook

In observance of the new Facebook-themed movie that’s opening today  (called “Zuckerberg, Whatta Douche!” or something like that), we’ve disabled logins and commenting using Facebook profiles.

Really.

No, really.

OK, OK, I’m lying. Actual reasons (and more lies) after the jump.

So, if you visited us recently-ish (exacly when) you might have noticed a little issue with commenting. Namely,  the area where the comment box should be looked an awful lot like this:

Error message generated by Janrain plguin

That was of course our tribute to the newly Kindleized version of Cheap Complex Devices, which we worked on a few weekends ago (and by we, I mainly mean me… ahem). CCD is chock full of nerdy computer error spew jokes and whatnot.

OK, OK, that’s not the truth either.

The real truth is, the makers of the WordPress plugin that we used allow commentators to log in using their Facebook, Twitter, or other account decided they were going to change the name of their plugin. So they did so. And in so doing, apparently, decided not to remain backward compatible, and change the name of all of the functions. They also decided to not give any obvious warnings that they were going to do this. Most other plugins, when they make a major change, will pop up all sorts of red-letter warnings in the administration panel of WordPress, letting you know that something needs attention. Not these guys.I guess they figured you’d spot the error messages and fix things in due course.

The flaw with that logic is… the plugin is only called when someone who isn’t logged into the site loaded a page that they could comment on. Those of us with actual Wetmachine accounts wouldn’t get the error message. Why should we? We’re already authenticated.

And, of course, I’m busy. Often, I’ll look over release notes for updated plugins before installing them, because I want to avoid issue. This time around, I think that the update to the Janrain plugin came shortly after a minor WordPress update. I thought it, like a few other plugins, were just updating themselves to remain compatible.

Now that I went back and look, I see that yes, they did send out emails, one of which said it was “important that I update my Engage account” which I ignored since I was using their RPX system. Not their Engage system. Of course, now I see that they renamed RPX to Engage. I should obviously have known that, since I  should re reading every last email fluff marketing spam I get from companies I have signed up with. As all of you do, I am sure.

Nope. Instead of sending emails titles something like like “We’re going to break shit” leave a helpful message on the WordPress console stating “We just fucked your site up. Ha ha! Here’s how to fix it” they opted for the “I’m sure they have been reading our marketing shit and if they didn’t, well fuck them” approach.

Changing your API in a drastic manner without any warning messages or attempts at backwards compatibility shows the same level-headed development process that go into sites like… say… Facebook, which is notorious for changing its interfaces at the drop of a hat, without really telling anyone about it.

I can’t do much about Facebook screwing around… but a plugin that acts the same way running on my site? I can rip that sucker out like a rotten tooth. And I did.

So, for now, you can;t comment using Facebook or Twitter accounts. I’ll work on an alternate solution. Until then, either sign up here for an account, or comment anonymously (it’ll likely be held for moderation, but them’s the brakes).

The one punchline that came from this, while trying to figure out what was going on, I found that we had the top spot in Google when searching for the phrase “fatal error call to undefined function rpx_comment_hint.” That’s right, suck it all you SEO gurus! We got to number one for something we didn’t even know were were doing!

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One Comment

  1. Captain Test Comment says:

    This is a test comment.

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