Well, the 1930 census has been free for a few days now and, as you’ve probably noticed, we’ve run into a few problems.
The biggest problem is that we underestimated how fast word would get out and just how popular a free 1930 census would be. The interest has overwhelmed our servers, which has made the Footnote experience slow, frustrating, error prone and pretty much the opposite of everything we work hard to make it.
We are doing what we can to improve the experience and will be upgrading our systems to handle more visitors, but this will take some time. In the mean time, we expect that as the initial excitement dies down (or is dampened by the slowness of the site), things will improve.
If we can’t get things stabilized in the next few days, we will postpone the free 1930 offer until the systems are ready to handle it. We hope we don’t have to do that, but we want you to be able to use the census while it’s free and we need to be sure that we provide a quality experience for our current paying members.
We’ll post additional updates about the status of the traffic problems here on the blog.
Confusion about how to get to the census for free
We’ve heard some reports about people having problems getting the free access. To get to the census for free, you have to go through the promotional page at http://go.footnote.com/1930census. Going through this page allows us place a cookie that gives you special access to the 1930. Once you’ve got that cookie, as long as you are on the site, you should be able to search from anywhere on the site and get into the 1930 census free. If you close the browser and come back, you’ll need to go back to the 1930 promotion page again.
Printing and downloading
For the first day or so of the promotion, we had an error on the site which was telling people they needed to subscribe in order to print or download one of the free 1930 images. We fixed the problem earlier this week, so if you tried to print or download earlier, we hope you’ll try again.