Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA Blackout Day Of Protest

Along with thousands of other websites, not the least of which are WordPress, all icanhazcheezburger network sites (FailBlog, theDailyWhat,Know Your Meme, etc), Wikipedia, reddit, Tucows, Internet Archive, Wikipeadia, and Mozilla, our website will be joining the one day SOPA Blackout on January 18, 2012.

Our main website will be "dark", though Live Chat will still be available, as will the client management and support section of the site.

For any of our clients or other website owners who would like to become a part of this protest, there are numerous "Blackout" HTML templates, Wordpress plugins, Blogger templates and Javascript scripts in order to make it easier for you to blackout your website.
As always, please be careful when downloading and/or using scripts from unknown sources. Know what you're adding to your site!

Two Important Caveats Before Your Site Goes Dark

  1. Set your index page to return a 503 status code.

    A 503 HTTP code means "service temporarily not available." It tells Google and all other search engines that your site is temporarily down (Like for maintenance), and also doesn't get the text of your blackout page indexed as new content. More on the details of why you'd want to do this are in Pierre Fars' Google+ post Website outages and blackouts the right way.

    How to set a 503 code header?
    The easiest way is by using PHP. Your page can be plain HTML, all you need to do is change the page extension from .html to .php for this to work. Simple add the following code to the very top of your page, before the DOCTYPE or anything else, like this:

    header('HTTP/1.1 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable');
    header('Status: 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable');
    header('Retry-After: 84600'); // in seconds 84600 seconds in one day
    DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" (Proper DOCTYPE goes here)

    An important note: Don't forget the PHP tags! You'll need an opening PHP tag and closing PHP tag where indicated (the limitations of the blogging software used doesn't allow for displaying scripting tags).

    Check your page to make sure it's returns a 503 header.
    Upload your blackout page and test the headers using an online server headers checker such as this one. Here's what you should see (with the URL of your website):

    #1 Server Response: http://helloworldweb.com
    HTTP/1.1 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable
    Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2012 04:06:29 GMT
    Server: Apache
    Retry-After: 84600
    Connection: close
    Content-Type: text/html

  2. Turn OFF or pause any server/website uptime monitoring services, such as Pingdom, so you don't spend the 24 hours being alerted that your website is down.

~ Mara Alexander
Hello World Web Design and Hosting