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An annoying WordPress problem and how to fix it

By: 6 April 2011 5 Comments

First Arkansas News — like millions of other sites — is built on the reliable and ridiculously flexible WordPress platform.

To be clear, I’m talking about the standalone WordPress.org product running on server space we rent and manage. That’s a completely different breed of cat than the WordPress.com service that provides a limited version of WordPress and free hosting.

At any rate, there is a problem that a bunch of research revealed is fairly common among WordPress users — a security issue that prevents people from updating posts on their sites. Instead of the reassuring “post updated” message we usually get when correcting improving a post here at First Arkansas News, the site flashed a nasty, troublesome message earlier — “Nothing found for Wp-admin Post Php” — followed by the “404-file not found” error page on the site.

Uh-oh. That’s not good.

Fortunately, that problem is easy to fix. All it took was a simple email to our host — Just Host — asking the good folks over there to add the firstarkansasnews.net domain to its whitelist in ModSecurity and the site was back in business. It took Just Host about 15 minutes to fix the problem, in fact.

What is ModSecurity and all that blah-blah? ModSecurity is an Apache module which is common on servers and is supposed to ward off attacks. Apparently, this domain was being blocked by ModSecurity and, therefore, needed to be added to the application’s whitelist so that we could do things like post and edit articles (rather important around here).

Why mention all this? Well there are a few reasons. First of all, researching the security issue that yields the “404 error” problem when trying to update articles on WordPress results in all sorts of crazy advice. Yes, that’s how it goes with the Internet, but some of the proposed fixes to the problem involved digging around in the guts of the site and that could lead to all sorts of damage.

Indeed, a couple of hours of Internet research yielded everything from complex solutions to advice that was flat out nuts. The problem resulted from a weird security issue that, once identified, was easy enough for Just Host to fix. Hopefully, some people having that same problem will wind up here and avoid hours of frustration.

Second, it’s hard to say what exactly caused the problem, but the ability to update posts on this site was gone after WordPress 3.1.1 was installed. If you are running WordPress and haven’t yet updated, you might want to hold off for a bit — if the problem we at First Arkansas News experienced is common enough and was caused by the new release, WordPress will certainly get around to fixing it.

Finally, the cats at Just Host were great about responding to our support ticket quickly and solving the problem. We didn’t purchase the “priority support” package, but that didn’t matter much — that company looks after their customers and had us up and running again in no time. If you’re looking for a host for your site, click here and see what Just Host has to offer. First Arkansas News has been with that company for almost a year now and tech support has been very responsive every time we’ve called on them to fix something.

Great prices and fantastic service. What could be better than that?

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

5 Comments »

  • lilatovcocktail said:

    Posting this was truly a public service. Thanks.

  • Ethan C. Nobles (author) said:

    lilatovcocktail — thanks! I hope the post helps someone out there. It was aggravating trying to identify exactly what was going on and what needed to be done to fix it.

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