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Monday, August 8th, 2005, 3:06 pm

The ‘Slashdot Effect’

Slashdot on my home computer

Good old Slashdot is one of the heaviest hubs on the Web. What distinguishes Slashdot from most ‘Internet Authorities’ is that new items get added in a linear form (reverse-chronological, much like a blog) and contain links to external sites.

It is common knowledge that once an external link appears in the front page of Slashdot, it can ‘kill’ that external site within seconds. This is known as the notorious ‘Slashdot Effect’. This deadly side-effect can have an impact on many sites if they are hosted on a shared server. Slashdot will cripple such a server, if not bring it to the brink of total collapse. That is the expected outcome when a surge of (tens of) thousands of surfers hits the same server simultaneously. Large sites with multiple servers can endure the load, but otherwise, nobody benefits — neither the sites and hosts which are linked to, nor the ‘Slashdotters’.

As time went on and Slashdot grew, the need for mirrors was realised. If local (temporary) copies of the destination sites can be retained quickly enough, the bandwidth barrier is somehow circumvented. Certain site mirrors (The Network Mirror is one such Slashdot-bound/ripoff site) can gain PageRank as high as 6 without any original content, but only the reflection of Slashdot content with a crawling depth of 1 (i.e. front pages and all pages linked from the front page).

Earlier today, yet another site bit the dust. As soon as small and modest sites appear in Slashdot, they vanish from the face of this Earth. Even the mirrors to do not appear to work unless they cycle for updates frequently enough (before the servers collapse). I sometimes wonder: “News that matter, but where’s the news?”

By the way, was once cited by Slashdot and endured the load thanks to its excellent Web host, Catalyst2.

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