Thursday, April 12, 2012
HootSuite 500 Internal Server Error
I see many frustrated users looking for a solution to the dreaded 500 Internal Server Error generated from HootSuite's Bulk Schedule feature. The solution is a little elusive because the error screen does not accurately describe the problem and HootSuite's forums do not consistently explain why the problem occurs nor how to resolve the issue.
In the cases that I have seen the issue is caused when accented characters such as those used in foreign language are put into the CSV file, either in the tweet or the URL. For example, the following words will cause the error,
The details of why accented characters cause this problem is a little technical, but has to do with how English language characters are represented in ASCII versus non-English language characters. All English language characters can be represented with ASCII values less than 128 whereas non-English language characters are represented with ASCII values greater than 128. So any tweets or URLs with characters with ASCII values greater than 128 many times cause the 500 Internal Server Error.
There's a few different ways to solve this issue
1) My personal favorite solution is to use an Excel template that defaults to UTF-8 encoding that can be download at http://www.HootSuiteBulkUpload.com. This is a little near and dear to my heart as I am the author :-) but it only runs in Windows Excel and you have to enable Excel Macros.
2) Option 2 is to remove or replace the accented characters with non-accented characters (not ideal)
3) HootSuite's recommended solution is to encode the file as UTF-8, which is easier said than done.
If you're using Windows Excel and some versions of Mac Excel, when you Save As CSV, there's an option next to the Save button called Tools.
If you select Tools | Web Options..., you'll see a tab called Encoding, where you can specify UTF-8 encoding.
If you're a Mac Excel 2008 user, you'll want to save your file as CSV within Excel, then open your file is a text editor like TextWrangler where you can specify the encoding.
Unfortunately HootSuite does a poor job of explaining why this error occurs and there's quite a few links in Google that you have to wade through to get to solution that works for you. If you're lucky enough to work with Windows Excel, then your best solution is to download the FREE spreadsheet template at http://www.HootSuiteBulkUpload.com. Otherwise Mac users have one extra step which is to load their CSV file in a text editor capable of saving with an encoding option.