The definition of a system problem:
A system problem is a malfunction in our systems or network negatively affecting previously-working production services that requires the manual intervention of our system administrators to resolve.
That is very dense, and each part has a specific meaning. Here's how it breaks down:
- A malfunction: Something is broken.
- In our systems or network: What's broken is something that we maintain as part of the services we provide.
- Negatively affecting: It actually has to be causing a problem.
- Previously working: It used to work, and then it broke. If XYZ has never worked, it is not a system problem that it is currently (still) not working.
- Production services: Issues with test sites and beta services can't be treated as system problems.
- That requires the manual intervention of our system administrators to resolve: We have to use system-level access that you don't have to fix it. Even if you had perfect knowledge about what the problem is and how to handle it, you still wouldn't be able to fix it yourself.
Typical system problems include:
- crashed servers
- downed network links
- routing problems inside our network
- DDOS attacks on sites other than your own that are negatively affecting you
- extreme misbehavior by sites other than your own causing "spillover" problems that affect you
A few examples of things that are not system problems include:
- Not knowing how to do something.
- Buggy or broken code on a site.
- Any problem inside a running member MySQL process.
- Performance problems arising from your own inefficient or excessive resource utilization.
- Attacks of any sort specifically targeting your site.
In most cases, you won't know what the specific system problem is. You have to detect them by the effects they have on your service. Some example effects of possible system problems would be:
- A web site is not responding or produces a system error message that does not include a link to a FAQ entry explaining the error and what to do about it.
- A MySQL process is unreachable or drops connections when accessed with correct login/password credentials.
- Our DNS servers return an error or no response at all for records that are correct in the member interface.
- Our member interface returns an error message while trying to perform a valid function.
However, situations do require interpretation. Sometimes the same effects can occur from both a system problem and something that is not a system problem. For example, if your website's domain name does not resolve because our DNS servers all crashed, that would be a system problem. If your website's domain name does not resolve because it is expired, that is not a system problem.