Small member interface upgrades

We have a few small member interface upgrades to announce.

Site Canonical Names

Site canonical names and types can now be set from the member interface by selecting the “Set Canonical Name” action from the site info panel. No more waiting for support requests!

For your information…

The site information panel for each site will now display a “For your information…” box if our system detects potential problems with your site, ranging from missing favicon.ico files to insecure “public” directory permissions.

Domain transfer codes

Domain transfer codes (needed for outbound domain transfers) can now be obtained from the member interface if the domain is unlocked. Please don’t use this feature, we really hate seeing domains transferred away!

Organization-owned accounts

Accounts can now be held in the name of an organization, such as a business, NGO, or club. This is designed to complement role membership, but should be useful for web developers hosting one or more business customers’ sites as well.

Alternate Emergency Contacts

The unintended consequence of having as draconian a privacy policy as we do and enforcing a strict 1:1 relationship between memberships and people is that we’ve had a couple of gut-wrenching cases arise where a company’s domain expired and their regular webmaster, who manages their account with us, was not available for whatever reason. In such situations, people tend to wind up screaming us about service interruptions we’re obligated not to talk to them about.

To help address that, you can now appoint an “alternate emergency contact” on a per-account basis. This is someone who can step in and take a limited subset of actions, like renewing a domain or depositing additional funds to keep a site running, if you’re unavailable. Finally, all our members managing their company’s or customers’ websites can go on vacation! (See our member FAQ for complete details.)


phpMyAdmin has received a significant version upgrade. In addition, we have changed the way we interface with it so you can now use it to connect to MySQL processes other than your own. So if you’re managing MySQL for a friend, you no longer need to maintain a private copy of phpMyAdmin. (Naturally this feature will alert us if someone attempts to abuse it.) phpMyAdmin has been moved up to the main MySQL tab in our member interface since it is no longer process-specific. It’s now also possible to directly bookmark the phpMyAdmin login page if it’s something you access frequently.

Please note the “exit / log out” option in phpMyAdmin is very thorough; it will log you all the way out of our member interface! Click our logo in the upper left instead if you want to escape phpMyAdmin but remain logged in.

That’s all… for now! These are small things, but they represent the tip of the behind-the-scenes changes we needed to do to make certain longstanding feature requests able to work in our interface. Hopefully they will also improve the member experience a little bit while we get that finished up.


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  1. I recommend sticking a comment on the main MySQL page advising people that their server will generally, unless they’ve explicitly chosen otherwise, be called “foo.db” where foo = their account name. You can probably even fill it in as a default value, in fact.

    Not to worry, if you leave off the .db when logging in to phpMyAdmin, it will add it for you. 🙂 -jdw

    Comment by Eric TF Bat — June 21, 2009 #

  2. Congratulation, I like those small improvements, especially the “For your information” panel. Keep up the good work, you’re the best web host on the net!

    Comment by anonymous — June 21, 2009 #

  3. I’ve been waiting for this for a while, and then noticed the change at the login screen.

    “small things”? You and your understatements. They will be very useful though. Thank you.

    Keep up the great work!

    Comment by Kia Kroas — June 21, 2009 #

  4. It is highly amusing that this comes the very day after I put in a secure support ticket request to have the canonical types for twenty-six (tiny) sites changed from the old default “soft” to “off”. It went smoothly, but I still feel somehow like the character in one of those Internet cartoons, heh-heh!

    These are all useful features. I’m not sure yet if there’s any advantage to having the canonical names be other than of the form [], which I’ve left alone in the interest of simplicity, but if needed, the UI changes for that will be handy.

    Comment by Crafty Hunter — June 21, 2009 #

  5. Thanks, these may be little changes by themselves, but I think together they will make many webmasters lives much easier! Thanks very much guys, you’re doing a great job.

    Comment by Matt Wilkinson — June 21, 2009 #

  6. Awesome! Thank you very much.

    A suggestion: what do you think about making NFSN’s own favicon, or a variation of it (maybe without the text), a default file on new sites? Or even an empty, 0-bytes one? This would be an easy way to bring the performance benefits to most (lazy) users as well as to NFSN itself.

    We have member sites get hammered every day, and the favicon.ico issue has risen to the point where we noticed it once, so it’s not a problem we feel an urgent need to rush out and address. If “For your information…” doesn’t nip it in the bud, we’ll evaluate other options. But we’d never impose a NearlyFreeSpeech-branded favicon on member sites, as a default or otherwise. -jdw

    Comment by Alexander Gieg — June 21, 2009 #

  7. Yes, on second thoughts makes sense. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Alexander Gieg — June 22, 2009 #

  8. Thanks for the update, being able to set the canonical name without bothering support is excellent news! Now if only you can add IP-address blocking to the interface and you’d become the perfect web host 😉

    One minor nit-pick on the new member login screen the words “Login Name” appear on two separate lines in Firefox (on two different machines). You’ve got plenty of space, so can we have a of bit extra width, say 25% or 30% instead of 20% on table.form th {} – or is this rule used elsewhere?

    Well, at a minimum we threw nobr tags on it. -jdw

    Comment by zekele — June 23, 2009 #

  9. Love the new updates! The “For your information” panel is helpful and I love the new phpMyAdmin.

    Comment by SpaceManiac — June 23, 2009 #

  10. Love the updates, even though they may seem small they are very useful!

    Comment by Hidendra — June 26, 2009 #

  11. Do web browsers request a favicon.ico file even if the HTML of the website actually refers to a different file name for the icon?

    I believe sometimes they do, because under some circumstances they will request the favicon before visiting the site. -jdw

    Comment by Chris — July 1, 2009 #

  12. Organization-owned accounts


    Comment by Leslie Owusu-Appiah — July 9, 2009 #

  13. Love the improvements 🙂

    I think you can tell how good a company is by how easy they make it for you to take your business elsewhere. The fact that NFSN has made it even easier for people to leave just shows what a brilliant service you provide. I bet those transfer codes won’t get used much, even though they’re easier to obtain 🙂

    Quick tip for anyone who wants to quickly create a zero-length favicon: log in with ssh and type touch favicon.ico

    Comment by Michael Mulqueen — July 18, 2009 #

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