An early Christmas present or homework for the holidays?
A yay or nay from world-renowned film critic Roger Ebert (of Siskel & Ebert fame) carries alot of clout in the media world (both old and new). Once dubbed “the most powerful pundit in America” by Forbes Magazine in 2007, the full might of this almighty power was felt by our servers as they grinded to a halt on a staggering 200 Gigs of traffic in a little over an hour on December 8th, 2010.
A screenshot of our server stats below shows the extent of the traffic spike (almost 2500 unique visitors in the first hour):
Roger Ebert's backlink kicked our server's a$%
(UPDATE: Fortunately, our generous web hosts at HostOnNet were able to boost our maximum traffic and with a few tweaks, everything was back to normal.)
Ebert recently took on a bold experiment by moving a large amount of content from his popular movie critiquing section at the Chicago Sun-Times behind a pay wall. Meanwhile, the basic blog itself will remain free. Despite many “critical” reviews of this decision including his own, he has continued to have an extremely loyal fan-following, with active members – who he has gone so far as to call “family” – eager to pay for the premium content such as advanced trailers, deeper review archives, festival tickets, weekly newsletters, discussion boards and membership in an exclusive community established at the “Ebert Club“.
The link in question was a December 8th post on the eBert Club, so if anyone knows which video was embedded or which specific content was linked to, please let us know so we can make sure it gets added to our all-new “To Mirror” list! While perhaps not as globally significant as a WikiLeaks and certainly not as far-reaching as a YouTube or flickr, still, it doesn’t hurt to make sure our services stay up and available… nobody likes to see ugly error screens.
In any case, this is a clear case for us to spend some time revisiting our approaches to video statistics record keeping and click-tracking to make sure this doesn’t happen again! Next time we get this kind of back-link, we need to be in a position to scale along with the excess and erratic traffic. Chalk it up as a lesson learned in the hard road of trying to compete as a small organization in a web world dominated by giants and/or extremely well-funded teams of highly skilled, hungry developers. In the future, we will be ready using simple tools already at our disposal like Cloud Computing services for spill-over of excess bandwidth requirements, and NoSQL for an even more resilient approach to storage.
Which brings us to our last item before breaking for the holidays:
“BCmoney” development is officially being folded into a new technology subsidiary, which will be focused on re-working the entire code-base from the ground up to be more agile and flexible. Stay tuned for an announcement on that in the New Year!
In the meantime, we want to thank Roger Ebert and/or whoever posted the link from the eBert Club to our site, and we sincerely apologize to anyone who was disappointed by a nasty 509 error when they arrived. In the next generation, we will certainly avoid such issues.
Have a happy holiday and a happy new year everyone!
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