May, 2007 Results

Simple Tips to Help Survive The Digg Effect

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

You’ve just posted a killer blog entry and submitted the link to digg. You get a hundred or so diggs in the first hour, and the next thing you know, you’re on the front page. A couple hundred diggs later, you get one of the various dreaded messages that your site is either dead or dying (“Server cannot be reached”, “Service Temporarily Unavailable”, or the unthinkable “Account Suspended!”).

“How could I have prevented this?”, you ask yourself.

There have been many articles on this topic offering various suggestions such as toying with the webserver and database settings, using a form of query/content caching, and ensuring you use good hosting. All are good suggestions, but what if you’re using a blogging service or shared hosting? The following list contains some very simple ways to help alleviate some of the issues caused by the digg effect.

  1. Monitor the number of diggs: It’s not as if you wouldn’t do this anyway, but keeping an eye on the number of diggs and if/when you get front paged helps you get a jump on the traffic spike.
  2. Talk to your hosting provider: Giving your hosting company a heads-up on what’s going on can save them some headaches (especially if you’re on shared hosting) and possibly save you some $$ on your hosting bill.
  3. Turn off comments, widgets, etc: Most diggers don’t comment on dugg pages anyway, so one less trip to the database can make a big difference. Have a rating widget you can disable? Do it. Try to keep the number of queries to the database to a minimum.
  4. Don’t use images or other media: Content is king, right? Unless you’re specifically posting an image or some other media, don’t include additional images or media. Each one is another request that the server has to handle and another chunk out of your bandwidth cap.
  5. Post a static copy: Some blogging tools will create a static copy of your post. A static page uses much less server resources to serve than a dynamic one. If you don’t have that option, create a static copy and redirect to it. If things are still slow, post a “print friendly” text only version that removes all the excess chrome from your site.
  6. Redirect to a copy on a caching service There are a couple of caching services that are great for situations like this: DuggMirror and CoralCache. They’ll cache a copy of your page and have the infrastructure to handle very high loads. It’s a good idea to follow their instructions and populate a cached copy as soon as you submit to digg. With the more popular stories, diggers will refer to the cached copy when the dugg page gets slow, but often the cached copy is too late and grabs a copy of one of the dreaded “dead site” messages. Better yet, why not create a cached version using CoralCache and submit the link to the cached version to digg.

I can’t guarantee that doing all these things will keep your site from faltering to the almighty digg, but they’ll certainly help keep it alive as long as possible. Happy digging!

Jeremy Ashcraft has been working with this ‘internet thing’ since 1997 and has a great affinity for Linux, PHP, beer, metal (the musical kind), and pole vaulting, but not necessarily in that order.

Random Bits Podcast with Matt Mickiewicz and Mark Harbottle of

Monday, May 28th, 2007

Random Bits

Episode 3 – 5/28/2007

Guests: Matt Mickiewicz and Mark Harbottle, co-founders

Background: developers and entrepreneurs

Total Time: 30 minutes

To say I was excited to speak to these two gentleman would be an understatement. I discovered about 5 years ago while I was still in college, but finally joined 4 years ago. Since then I have been a pretty active member there and haven’t felt the need to join any other web development forums. The thing that really made me stay there was the community feel that exists. I’ve always been impressed at how strong the community is when they have over 150k members.

In this interview, Matt Mickiewicz and Mark Harbottle tell us how started and how it grew from its grassroots to the thriving web community it is today. They really do demonstrate why the forum has retained such a community feel by showing that members come first.

Podcast Highlights

  • 1:20 – Matt explains how SitePoint got started
  • 3:50 – How Matt and Mark came together
  • 6:10 – Matt and Mark discuss the goals of SitePoint
  • 7:30 – Sara asks how they manage their work when they are located oceans apart.
  • 9:48 – Mark and Matt discuss the accusation that SitePoint is becoming too “commercial”
  • 14:05 – Sara asks the guys to tell us what the plans are for the Marketplace
  • 19:00 – Mark goes into details about the Contests section of SitePoint
  • 23:02 – Sara gets personal with Matt and Mark… Do Corona and Robbie Williams go together?!?

Play the podcast right now! Notice the Random Bits podcast on the right? Just click the SitePoint link and it will start playing. It might take a few seconds to stream-in…

Links for the Weekend, 5-26-2007

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

CSS The Star Matrix Pre-loaded

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Recently I had to create a Star Rating system for a client so I thought I’d share with you the techniques I used to accomplish this. If you are not familiar with a Star Rating System, it’s simply a method of voting using (usually) 5 stars in a row, which will change colour as you hover over them indicating the level at which to rate something.

You may think a simple rollover would accomplish this but difficulty arises because as you rollover each star it should stay highlighted while you light up the next one and so on until the end of the row of stars. If this doesn’t make much sense to you then take a look at what we are going to achieve in this article. (I will leave the server-side coding to someone more knowledgeable and we will just concentrate on the visual aspects of making this effect happen. )


What’s on The Horizon

Monday, May 21st, 2007

There’s a lot of cool things happening on Search-This in the months ahead! I wanted to take a moment and share them with you:

  • Paul has a new CSS article coming this Wednesday! I read it – it’s great!
  • I have an article coming out next week that will look at some of the biggest blogging mistakes. So you’ll want to make sure you’re not guilty of any of them.
  • Sara has several Random Bits podcast lined up with some huge names in the industry. I can’t wait! You should see who she’s talking with!
  • Question and answer sessions with Roger Johansson and Seth Godin! Is that not enough to get you excited! (What questions would you like us to ask these two gurus?)
  • More guest authors will be dropping in!
  • And hopefully June will see my first eBook! If you build websites for a living then I think you will like this eBook…

I’m excited – there’s a lot cool things on the horizon! If you haven’t already subscribed to Search-This, now would be a good time to do so!

Also, take a moment and tell us what you would like to see in the future from Search-This. What articles would you like to read? Who would you like to have interviewed in a Random Bits podcast? Tell us how you really feel!

Links for the Weekend, 5-19-2007

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

Meme Tag – Links For Charity

Friday, May 18th, 2007

It seems our friend Chris Garrett has meme-tagged Search-This.

First, a little background on memes. The term meme originated by well known and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins in his book ‘The Selfish Gene’. A meme, as defined by Google is, “a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.”

Well… that was nice, what does it mean in blogging?

For bloggers memes have become synonymous with internet quizzes, surveys, and novelties that people link to and pass around on their blogs.

Many of these memes are trivial and not worth participating in, let alone asking your precious blog viewers to participate in. But, not this one! This one has a cause — this one is — the Charity Link Meme!

Simply put, you are giving link love to charities. Take the original list and add your 5 charities of choice to the list!

Here is the original list …

… My five charities of choice…

… And the people I am going to tag…

Go to it people! Give some love today 🙂

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