Proposal: Materials Modeling
During the last 24 hours, several people have complained to me that they were unable to participate due to bugs on the Area51 platform. They log in, confirm their email address, but then get re-directed to a page that says "no user found". Below I present only 5 concrete examples from the last 24 hours, but dozens of others over the last 3 months have made the same complaints.
For example my own cousin in London, England, who has been on the Mathematics and Quantitative Finance SE networks for 4.5 years logged in using her existing account, confirmed her email address, successfully followed the proposal (I remember seeing user206368 show up on the followers list beside the example questions area), but then when she tried to vote it didn't work:
Later when she tried at a different time, her actual username (not user20638) showed up as an additional follower, and she was able to vote. Then user20638 was removed from the followers list some hours later.
I first saw this happen with my own eyes in early November at a conference when I saw someone presenting a poster, told him about this proposal, and he immediately and very enthusiastically tried to sign up on his smartphone. He created an account using "Login with Google", then confirmed his email address, then followed the Materials Modeling proposal, which required him to enter his email address again, which he did, then he received the second confirmation email and confirmed his email address again, but when he tried to vote, he would be re-directed to a page which said "user not found". He was on his smartphone so he told me he'd try it again on a PC when he arrives in Montreal after the conference, and eventually it worked for him (user Hang Hu: https://area51.stackexchange.com/users/205915/hang-hu).
However since it happened to my cousin in London on her laptop, it seems the problem was not to do with Hang Hu using his phone rather than a PC, it seems to be a bug.
8 hours ago, someone from Indonesia contacted me through Facebook saying that he had the same problem. I can see his username profile right here (with permission to share):
However he was unable to vote:
About exactly 10 hours ago, a user from Pakistan signed up, received the confirmation email as he showed me in this screenshot:
Then he got exactly the same error screen that I saw user Hang Hu get in November, and my cousin from England described yesterday:
About 4 hours ago I got a complaint from a friend living in Taiwan, that the same problem was happening to him:
I do see his profile (and his handsome photograph) listed in the recent followers list:
But his user page does say that he has not used any votes, even though he is trying to.
Another friend in Oakville, Ontario, told me about 16 minutes ago that he's experiencing the same problem (and since he's a developer he investigated even further by using the Developer's Console, but was only able to conclude that the problem is with the page itself and not the server):
I've received similar complaints from many people over the last 3 months. I could search and show all the example, but I think there is enough proof presented here already.
In this fairly well up-voted answer to a previous question of mine with a feature request, it was said the feature request "would take further development work, which has already been rejected by the company and team because Area 52 is under planning at this time". In that case, I fully understand the reluctance to spend limited resources on development of a website which would soon be replaced (this goes for both feature requests and bug reports). My understanding based on reading other discussion topics here though, is that plans to replace the Area51 site started as early back as 2012 though.
In the meantime, while the Stack Exchange Network is still presenting itself as being open to allowing new sites to be created if their proposal reaches the requirements and proves to be successful during Private Beta, I wonder if this persistent bug can be investigated and hopefully corrected? I do sympathize that putting resources into fixing bugs on a site which is perhaps soon to be replaced, is unfortunate, but at the same time, many users are being discouraged from signing up and may become unlikely to sign up in the future. Might it be considered, to perhaps look into this bug, and perhaps make an alternative temporary route for people to participate in the meantime?
Update: It has happened to another user from a different continent only 15 minutes ago:
This is a fairly active user with thousands of points across many communities: https://stackexchange.com/users/9849100/siddh%C4%81nt-singh, therefore the problem seems not to be only for new users, or recently inactive users, but for all types of users.