The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Notes on surviving a Slashdot Effect

If you read “meta” sites like Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Fark, Met4filter (natch), and Memepool you've probably encountered links to stories that you can't reach—namely because the act of linking to a server not prepared for massive traffic has brought down the server, or worse, put the hapless soul over their bandwidth cap denying any use to anyone for the rest of the month or day or whatever time period the ISP or hosting provider uses to allocate bandwidth.

The ethics of linking

Mark and I have often gone back and forth about what we would need to do to survive a slashdotting if we ever got linked. Most of the solutions we've come up with so far center on distributing the affected site(s) to other servers and round-robining (is that a term?) between them (or some other form of load balancing). So far, that hasn't been a problem (and thankfully—we both have fears of being slashdotted and finding the slagged remains of the 33MHz 486 that is currently our server).

But one of the suggestions in the “The ethics of linkage” is to redirect all requests back to Google as they can probably can't be slashdotted at all. By using mod_rewrite you can probably do something along the lines of:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase   /
# untested!  Use at own risk!
# be sure to change domain after "cache:" as needed
RewriteCond   %{HTTP_REFERER}% ^http://.**
RewriteRule   ^.*$$1 [R][L]

But it would only help if the URLs that are being slashdotted exist in the Google cache; otherwise it does no good. For instance this entry, the very one you are reading now, has yet (as of January 10th, 2003) to be read and cached by Google, and it probably won't be cached for some time. So I can only hope that if this article gets slashdotted, it's after Google has googled it.

Which means that it is still a good idea to think of other ways of surviving a slashdotting, but for an ad-hoc method, this is probably a decent solution until we get something better into place.

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