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  1. #1
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    Feb 2001
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    Site got slashdotted...user insults us

    His site, a php blog mind you, gets slashdotted and promptly slows the server to a crawl (not just bandwidth, but resources). Obviously we suspend the site ASAP - and he's more than a little upset about it.

    He feels that our servers must be overloaded (or just plain crap) because it can't handle the added load of his site being listed on the main page of slashdot.org. I've tried to explain to him that its NOT a bandwidth issue alone...but resource-hogging that negatively affects everyone on that server. He doesn't get it.

    This is actually the second time his site has been slashdotted, and it was suspended. I've politely suggested he upgrade to a dedicated server, from his regular hosting account...which went over like a lead balloon.

    Anyway, I guess I'm asking for sympathy or similar experiences.

    --Tina
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  2. #2
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    Sympathy .. help yourself, i've a bucket full of it, take as much as you need.

    Similar ... one of our clients got mentioned on capital radio breakfast show - server normally doing 150kbs started peaking @ 18Mb/s - offered to take it down or charge them .. "keep it up *please* keep it up" was their answer... they got a big bill for 2 days hammering

    Idea ... catch the referal ip, and redirect to a framed version of the site with your and googels ads top and bottom - that way AH earns some cash and gets some exposure
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  3. #3
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    Nov 2002
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    Hah, we got away lightly a couple months ago. A 'second level' slashdotting, on a sunday early in the morning with a not-as-popular article (digital camera of some type).

    We actually got hit harder with fark, someone posted a mirror for some pictures.. A few maxclients notices, but she stayed up.

    Most of the sites that get slashdotted/farked real easy are mysql-laden, in my experience. Were these blogs pulling from mysql, or were they the type that generate a static page per update?

    Not looking forward to that first true slashdotting though.
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  4. #4
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    Jun 2003
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    I feel you. We had a customer whose phpBB forum slowed the server to a snail's pace on a daily basis because of the number of users he had + the number of hacks he'd installed. When we suspended the account he screamed he was losing "Tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue" every day it was down. We explained the problem and suggested he upgrade to a dedicated server so he could use all the resources he wanted and not have to worry about the other users.

    His reply? "You all must be a bunch of monkeys who don't know how to run a server or a business if you're trying to get your customers off of your servers."

    He left the next day Never got a chance to ask him how he pulled in so much ad revenue with a forum about Britney Spears LOL. Oh well...live and learn.
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  5. #5
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    I hear Britney Spears is popular

    150kb/s to 18MB/s!?!?!?! That is the slashdot effect!
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  6. #6
    Good grief 150kbs to 18MBs that is a huge increase
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  7. #7
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    Jun 2003
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    UK
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    Best option I've found with this is to put network rate limiting on. Everyone gets to view the site (slower) but keeps the server up

    Rus
    Russ Foster - Industry Curmudgeon

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Tina, all I can say is ---ugh---

    Kudos to you for protecting the interests of your server.

    Bailey

  9. #9
    anytime we suspend customers for high resource usage, and the best interest of other customers, they come into WHT and whine and cry...go figure...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    Duluth MN
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    As soon as I start getting customers that are liable to be slashdotted/farked/whatevered... I might set up a separate server just for that. As soon as the onslaught comes, dump a static version of the site onto the the dedicated with a special "Hostedby:" bar on top with some ads. Then replace the index file with a redirect.

    Write that into our AUP and the default alternative for those events. If they would rather not have that happen, then their site can be suspended, or they can move to another host, and wait for the DNS resolution...

  11. #11
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    Feb 2002
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    Australia
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    We had a client that one of his sites got mentioned [the site owner was being interviewed on the air] on some USA syndicated talk show. It was a political show, and the site was a protest site against one of the TV networks, for that Ronald Reagan TV show they made, but never aired.

    Pretty much killed the server. Had to remove the site completely from the server. Although us web hosts understand the logistics behind this, hosting clients don't understand and it's up to us to educate them as best as possible.

    Of course not all clients want to understand the limitations of the server etc. Our situation eventually worked out well. Although the client was a bit miffed for having his site pulled, he eventually understood our reasonings, and that took some rather lenghty explantions from me and a HTTPme sysadmin.
    Last edited by Aussie Bob; 03-16-2004 at 01:28 AM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Texas
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    Originally posted by jvds
    Best option I've found with this is to put network rate limiting on. Everyone gets to view the site (slower) but keeps the server up

    Rus
    How does that work? (Just a quick over-view)

    Thanks,
    Lamar
    Going out of business in our 10th year.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    878
    Oh....and Tina, you do have my sympathies!

    -Lamar
    Going out of business in our 10th year.

  14. #14

    Another view...

    Tina,
    I am not saying you did anything wrong, but it would suck if I was the customer and after years of waiting, scrounging, and begging, my blog was shut down the day after I hit the big time. My blog (shameless plug) is actually on one of your servers (Luna), I think its the only thing left I have running there.

    Do you have all your MySQL databases on another server? or on the actual hosted server (I cant remember). That could make a difference to how his site responded. And you did not share actual bandwidth numbers either.

    If it was my customer, and I had a back up server, I would have moved him there temporarily (for the sake of the other server residents) and gave him the option of paying the extra bandwidth per month, or uping his plan, or shutting the site down tomarrow. At that point, I would have made it his choice, that way no matter what he choose, he is still making the choice. It takes the pressure off of you.

    But if you did not have the resources to do that, you need to protect everyone else on the server. So I am not saying you did the wrong thing, its just that I could feel for the guy a little. Hate me if you will, and please when I hit the big time, please don't shut my little blog down. Slashdot here I come.
    Last edited by vantasticman7; 03-17-2004 at 12:16 AM.
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    407
    what does slash dotted mean (I am new). Is it that a site gets a ton of hits in a short period of time?

  16. #16

  17. #17
    Slash dotted means...

    being mentioned on slashdot.org , its a popular tech site and anyone who gets linked there gets a ton of hits. A ton.
    "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" -- Ben Franklin
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  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    Some quick suggestions.

    1. If they are running nuke or the likes, there is nothing you can do about the load, unless it is just the front page, then take the output and create index.html and leave that up. But any interior nuke links are killers since they still want to process that way.

    2. Block everyone with slashdot in the referal. We notify the site owner, and then place an htaccess file in place that does that.

    3. If users images are on fark etc, we help them block hotlinking.

    If a site is not that graphic intensive and just serving a static page, getting mentioned on slashdot shouldn't kill it.

    When I break it to them - either we do this or that - or suspend the site, they understand.

    Chet

  19. #19
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    Nov 2001
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    The South
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    Yeah we've had a few slashdotted sites, and another that got "Unscrewed". Most times there's not much you can do about it, we normally make a quick mirror of the site on an empty(ish) server and hotwire the DNS to point at the new server for the www.domain.com dns and then make the site on the old server simply redirect to the new server via http://IP/~blah/ and that usually does ok. Maybe load slashdot, find the actual url being hit and put a redirect for it to a nasty note to slashdot asking them to give SOME kinda warning before they link to a website...
    Gary Harris - the artist formerly known as Dixiesys
    resident grumpy redneck

  20. #20
    Point the address to a static version of the page with no images and you'll be fine. I read a Pentium 300 MHz server survived a slashdotting this way.
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  21. #21
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Sweden
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    526
    Every year, starting at two weeks before Halloween, one of our servers gets spooked out because of http://www.carvingpumpkins.com/

    Puts an extra strain on the server. Last halloween we where prepared though. As we knew what was going to happen.

    :-)
    Last edited by Maximiliam; 03-17-2004 at 03:02 AM.
    I like to help

  22. #22
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    Feb 2004
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    Australia (Crikey)
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    how many hits do you think an average slashdotting will give a site?

    Also, I have been to slashdot.org, and it has a terrible design...how the heck did it get popular? If I started a site with that design I know what you guys would say

  23. #23
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    Sweden
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    Nerds does not require design, you should know that :-)
    I like to help

  24. #24
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    Originally posted by Maximiliam
    Nerds does not require design, you should know that :-)
    yeah yeah.......but still....the navigation is so bad and confusing I just didn't bother going there anymore.....

  25. #25
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    Kuwait
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    Originally posted by Sizzly
    Point the address to a static version of the page with no images and you'll be fine. I read a Pentium 300 MHz server survived a slashdotting this way.
    thats what cnn.com did on Sep 11th and page was able to load then.
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  26. #26
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    Originally posted by Bashar
    thats what cnn.com did on Sep 11th and page was able to load then.
    surely they must have had a better backup system in place

  27. #27
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    Aug 2000
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    Sheffield, South Yorks
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    Only so much you can do at short notice. One of our customers got /.'d, did about 200GB in a few hours, was a nasty experience when 400 /.'ers descended on their forums in the space of a few minutes.
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  28. #28
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    Tina, I'll be the bad guy, I guess.

    (Obviously there are details that weren't included -- did you contact him early when the load started creeping up, was he a jerk, are your servers oversold, did he know the publicity was coming, did he warn you, etc etc etc -- so my comments are just to the prototypical situation, not to your handling. Only you know all the details, and I would always assume by default that the person with all the details acted appropriately.)

    Most of our site owners want to get noticed by the world, and reasonably expect that our end is resilient enough to handle a surge when great publicity happens. If that great publicity only leads to error pages, then both they and we look like we have farted in church.

    Obviously the demand can exceed the capacity in situations we had no way of anticipating, but we should try to have the reserve capacity where possible, and to adapt where necessary -- especially when we will get to tell the world the next day that we continued to provide responsive service throughout the onslaught.

    We had a very good experience with an almost identical situation just last week. In this case, it was a team effort, as our few Windows/ASP accounts are on a reseller account, so we couldn't control things as directly as we can with our Linux servers.

    Anyway, simultaneous mentions of one of our sites on both Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal last week brought the server nearly to its knees. (The site does a lot of CPU work in ASP, so it was CPU and memory, not bandwidth.)

    The hosting company could have suspended the site, or even my whole reseller account, if they chose. Instead, they worked with us to split pieces (forum vs static pages vs ASP compute-intensive process) off to different servers and move the most demanding portion to a faster server, all without any downtime to the visitors. it was actually kind of fun -- they were changing forum config files to use the IP of the new server as I was changing links to point the computations to a third server, and then all we did was disallow posts on the forum for about 30 seconds while we transferred the messages of the past few minutes and then uploaded the new config file. Almost no one noticed anything. Payments made on the new site continued to flow. (Whew!)

    I'm by no means saying that this is the solution for any other case. Since we handle maintenance for this site, we already knew what needed to be changed, and were well within the terms of what the site owner expects us to do. I'm just saying we should try all the tricks in our book before pulling the plug on a client when they have just taken center stage.

    In our case, had they suspended the domain, we'd be elsewhere today. Because of their great response, we will stay with them, even though we were contemplating a switch before all this happened.

    Just my $.02.

    Bill

  29. #29
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    The thing with that Bill is that in the end the customer has to pay, if they don't, then they get suspended, sure it'd be nice if every $10/month hosting account was allowed to monopolise server resources, or take up hours of tech time splitting their site over multiple servers (Something we do with vhosting anyway, but you get what I mean) but that's just not a viable business proposition. In the case of the customer I was reffering to, we shut their forums, they didn't want to pay for all the bandwidth being used, so they got shut down, just glad we weren't serving their images on their main site - that server hit 96mbit/s untill it fell over.
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  30. #30

    I agree

    Originally posted by Bub Host
    Also, I have been to slashdot.org, and it has a terrible design...how the heck did it get popular? If I started a site with that design I know what you guys would say
    Thank you, I did not want to be the first one to say it. I hate the site design. I used the Way Back Machine to look at their site, and its almost unchanged since 1998! It was less cluttered so it looked better back then.

    Its so...1999
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  31. #31
    Originally posted by webgusto

    In our case, had they suspended the domain, we'd be elsewhere today. Because of their great response, we will stay with them, even though we were contemplating a switch before all this happened.

    Bill
    Bill,
    If you don't mind, could you tell us the company that performed this heroic feat of customer service?

    I hear so many bad things about providers, it would be nice to hear something good for a change.

    Thanks for sharing,
    ! Van
    "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" -- Ben Franklin
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  32. #32
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    Hostek.net.

    Bill

  33. #33
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    Originally posted by Bub Host
    surely they must have had a better backup system in place
    CNN and several other custom CMS news sites have a "breaking news" mode that eliminates most of the usual flashy features and delivers a simple layout with minimal graphics. The potential level of demand in a breaking news situation is almost limitless, so a breaking-news mode is extremely useful.

    Incidentally, one of our users today had the biggest Slashdotting I've ever seen, generating about 275Mbps of traffic for several hours.

    Kevin

  34. #34
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    Originally posted by sigma
    Incidentally, one of our users today had the biggest Slashdotting I've ever seen, generating about 275Mbps of traffic for several hours.
    I hope they were a dedicated client and not a shared one.
    That's quite a big slashdot effect.

    - John C.

  35. #35
    Originally posted by sigma
    Incidentally, one of our users today had the biggest Slashdotting I've ever seen, generating about 275Mbps of traffic for several hours.

    Kevin
    ouch, if they were not dedicated, how did you handle the extra load?
    "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" -- Ben Franklin
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  36. #36
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    Originally posted by JohnCrowley
    I hope they were a dedicated client and not a shared one.
    That's quite a big slashdot effect.
    Multiple dedicated, yes.

    Kevin

  37. #37
    275mbps ? thats ******* rediculous. How many hits does slashdot get anyway?

    *also if my site suddenly made it that popular i would be VERY angry if it got shut down, but i guess thats the oversold hosting market these days.
    Last edited by webephex; 03-17-2004 at 11:25 PM.

  38. #38
    This is really a hot issue at Slashdot, many users feel they should host a mirror of the site they are linking to since most sites are small personal ones that can't handle the traffic.
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  39. #39
    what kind of server do you think slashdot itself is hosted on - or shall i say how many.

    Isnt google hosted on over 100 machines?

  40. #40
    Join Date
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    webephex: Google has a collection of over 10, 000 servers. Not 100.

    I'd be interested in knowing what kind of infrastructure/network /. has itself.
    Have you Floble'd today?

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