Frequently Asked Questions

The NearlyFreeSpeech.NET FAQ (*)

Troubleshooting (*)

Q. How should I describe problems I'm having when seeking help with them?

When you encounter a problem that you think may be related to our service, we absolutely want to hear about it so we can fix it or help you get it fixed.

However, in order to help you, we need certain information. If all you tell us is that something is "down" or "doesn't work," you are severely limiting our ability to troubleshoot the problem. This is compounded if you say "my site" or "the service," and that's even more true if you host more than one thing with us.

First and foremost, if the problem you're experiencing involves an error message, absolutely, positively, do not omit or paraphrase the error message. Include the full text of the error message. If you don't, you'll wait around for us to respond, and our response will be "what's the full text of the error message you're receiving?" (Or, possibly, a link to this FAQ entry.) That's wasted time, which is no good if there's really a problem.

If there is no error message, but something doesn't work the way you expect, then carefully explain what you're doing, what you expect the results to be, what the results actually are, and how the actual results differ from your expectations. Be absolutely as specific as possible; things that may be obvious to you often won't be to anyone else unless you mention them. As with error messages, cut and paste any relevant output, configuration data, log entries, or related information -- do not paraphrase or summarize it.

Second, make sure you've read the error message. Many of the error messages produced by our system include specific explanations or lists of reasons why they occur, and it's painful for us to see someone's service disrupted for a reason they could fix at any time.

Third, make it really clear what site (including a specific URL if possible), service, functionality, or email address you're having a problem with. If you don't, particularly if there's more than one possibility, you'll lose more time while you wait for us to ask for clarification.

Fourth, outline what steps that you've already taken to try to identify the problem. Recognize that we control only a limited portion of the Internet; ISPs control part, backbone carriers control others, and you control the stuff on your end. Help us understand why you think the weak link is in our portion of the chain. For example, the Site Troubleshooting Wizard can't solve all problems, but it does identify a lot of weird domain and DNS related issues related to sites hosted here, so it'll help us to know if you've tried that and what the result was.

Finally, if you're asking about an error on your site that may be related to accessing a CGI or PHP script, or if you have a complex .htaccess file, make sure you have your error log enabled. It's disabled by default to save space, but it's an invaluable tool for identifying and resolving many types of problems.

Our goal is for all of your services and all of our systems to be working properly at all times. If something's not right, we want to hear about it. But please help us help you; give us the information we'll need to confirm, troubleshoot, and resolve your problem. Keep in mind that we often have to triage requests, so that people with problems under our control get priority. If you structure your request along the lines shown here, it may help us spot yours as one that needs more immediate attention.