UnNews:Slashdot.org "Slashdotted," Crashing Servers

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12 June 2006

Unnews slashdot

This graph shows the sudden spike in traffic on slashdot.org after it got slashdotted.

(66.25.250.150, The Internet) Technology news website slashdot.org suffered a nearly three-hour–long outage earlier today after being inundated with web surfers following a link from its own main page - a phenomenon commonly referred to as being "slashdotted."

When popular websites like slashdot.org post links to other sites, the rapid increase in traffic can often bring down unsuspecting servers on less popular hosts. The effect can be both a blessing and a curse, since getting linked is a high honor and brings in more users, but there is no point to it if the server crashes. Many sites have suffered this effect in the past, but slashdot.org administrators never expected to fall victim to their own site.

The problem started at approximately 9:15 a.m., when a moderator posted a link on the main page to slashdot.org, describing it as "A cool side for nerds, with lots of stuff that matters." The poster, wishing to remain anonymous out of embarrassment, explained that "It seemed like a really awesome and useful website, so I put up a brief blurb and link." He added, "I really didn't think of the consequences," putting his head down in shame.

Shortly after the posting, thousands of users began clicking on the link, flooding slashdot.org's servers. Administrators noticed this within minutes, and at first suspected a DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. System admin Cowboy Neal explained, "There was so much traffic volume, and it was all coming in from different IP addresses — we were sure it was a DDOS." But site founder Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda discovered the true source of the problem. "I was horrified at first," admits Malda, "I had never expected slashdot.org to be slashdotted."

Technicians first tried to make more bandwidth available by disabling parts of the site and eliminating pictures, but that only delayed the inevitable — at 9:57am, the servers crashed completely. Administrators worked tirelessly to remove the malicious link from the front page, and were able to restore service by 1pm. Fark.com founder Drew Curtis called Malda to offer his sympathy, having suffered a similar phenomenon on his website last November (when fark.com was farked).

Analysts say that prospects are grim for Slashdot, citing that many times, duplicates (known to the community as "dupes") are posted. This, they say, is likely to extend the length and severity of the Slashdotting, as newcomers (known as "high-id n00bs") continue to follow the repeated links to the site. Both Neal and Malda had promised a "War on Dupes" in previous months, however, no real progress has been made.

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