‘Malformed XML’ breaks Millstone daily email

by Brent Eades

A note to our daily email readers

About 1,600 people each day read the email digest version of the Millstone that goes out each evening around 8 pm.

The process that creates that email is automated and usually ticks along smoothly. It depends on the website’s software adding new articles to a so-called ‘XML’ file, which MailChimp then checks for just before 8 pm and assembles into the email you receive.

Once in a long while that process breaks. Which it did about three days ago, and which I started hearing from you about yesterday.

Fixing this took some time. In the end, it turned out that a Billboard item someone submitted had some ‘hidden characters’ in it, which MailChimp said was ‘malformed XML’. And so the emails weren’t sent.

There was nothing malicious in these hidden characters by the way — it was likely some flukey combination of keys the submitter happened to hit while typing the article.

Anyway — I’m fairly sure the daily email should go out tonight. As I’ve said often before, never a dull moment here at the Millstone!


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