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See tickets? That's crap, that is. - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
See tickets? That's crap, that is.
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mobbsy From: mobbsy Date: April 6th, 2008 10:23 am (UTC) (Link)
It's a really scary problem that I've thought about in detail in the past. Most of the time you have nearly zero demand, then a few times per year you suddenly have thousands (tens of thousands?) of simultaneous connections, all trying to have a transactional card authentication and tickets allocation.
julietk From: julietk Date: April 6th, 2008 10:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Hundreds of thousands.

The rough method they seem to use is:

- send vast majority of connections straight to "busy" server.
- allow small number of connections through.
- once you have a connection, your connection is prioritised (sent straight through to the real server) and you have 5 min to get through the 4 pages required (front page, which-ticket link, ID number, credit card). After that you're back to being one of the hoi polloi.

It's a reasonable theory.

What they appear not to have done is ensured that the "real" server can deal with the number of connections they're allowing through. So you occasionally get no-data pages returned, or "connection reset" or a brand new different "busy" page halfway through. Occasionally, this happens halfway through e.g. submitting your credit card details.

I suspect that the problem is somewhere in the connectivity part of things - that the "real" server doesn't have a sufficiently prioritised connection to the current privileged users, and/or to the credit card company.

In addition to this, to avoid what happened last year (people not getting a confirmation page & therefore rebooking & winding up with duplicate tickets), they've instituted a check on the ID numbers. If you've already been through once, you can't use those IDs again. Fair enough: except that if your transaction went tits-up halfway through, you have no idea whether your debit card did or didn't reach the server, & thus whether or not you've successfully booked.

It *may* be that for anyone whose IDs checked out & who got as far as the "paying" page, they've automatically allocated tickets & if the card failed for whatever reason they'll sort it out afterwards. One can but hope.
j4 From: j4 Date: April 6th, 2008 10:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Most of the time you have nearly zero demand

Mmmrr, I think this is kind of irrelevant, surely you spend the rest of the year testing the system? Simulating the effect of gazillions of people hitting the system all at once?

Also, seetickets do manage other big things like, I dunno, Madonna at Wembley.

And Glasto has the pre-reg stuff, so you know the maximum number of people who can legitimately try to book.

then a few times per year you suddenly have thousands (tens of thousands?) of simultaneous connections, all trying to have a transactional card authentication and tickets allocation.

Last year there were 137,500 tickets on sale (for which 400,000 people pre-registered), and they sold out in 2 hours. I'm not saying it's an easy problem!

I am sure there must be ways of separating the stages of the process, though, so that e.g. at any point up to submitting credit card details you can still get bounced back to square one, but when you submit credit card details either it can't kick you out or if it does it makes it bloody clear whether your payment has/hasn't been accepted. I don't know how you'd do any of this, obviously, but I can't believe it's impossible. Not least because I think they actually did it slightly better last year. :-}

Of course the simple non-techy solution is to make it a lottery, all administered on paper.
julietk From: julietk Date: April 6th, 2008 10:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Or even administered electronically. You have a month to register, as per currently; you can choose to register in groups of up to, say, 4 (to avoid the "I have a ticket but no one else I know does" problem).

After registration has closed, you pick the right number of tickets.

1-2 months beforehand, you do a second batch to allow for the folk who wind up cancelling.

Re last year: even allowing for the fact that they've time-limited the Magic Connection this time, the Magic Connection has been ballsing up. So yes, something has gone wrong.
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