May 30th, 2007 - by MrSpooky

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.

10 Responses to “Simple Tips to Help Survive The Digg Effect”

1 Golgotha

Hey Jeremy, nice post. Tip number 2 (Talk to your hosting provider) is big, that’s what works for Search-This. I let them know we are on the front page of digg and they can throttle bandwidth.

2 MrSpooky

Thanks. Its always a good idea to go straight to the source and head off any potential issues. BTW, I’ve submitted this to digg. :)

3 ses5909

Nice post. I never knew about #6.

dugg as well: http://digg.com/programming/Simple_Tips_to_Help_Survive_The_Digg_Effect

4 Jelena

Dugg! :)
Nice tips, but I would rather leave comments on. Such a huge traffic from digg’s front page can increase feedback on the post. Will turning them off really help that much? It’s just two more queries to db to return comments and to enter new one.

5 MrSpooky

These are just individual suggestions, so feel free to ignore as many as you like. :)

If your site is getting slammed, anything and everything helps to keep your head above water.

6 Dean

Book it: del.icio.us, digg, Reddit, YahooMyWeb

Please pardon the newbiedness of this question, but could someone explain the ‘Book it: del.icio.us, digg, Reddit, YahooMyWeb, StumpleUpon’ concept for those not familiar with it? I don’t get it. What’s the appeal?

7 Golgotha

@Dean: del.icio.us, digg, Reddit, YahooMyWeb, and StumpleUpon are all social networking sites. They all differ slightly, but they all allow you to basically share information (articles) with others. They can all generate traffic to your site if others like what you have to share with them.

8 Introducing Jeremy Ashcraft - aka MrSpooky

[...] you’ve already read Jeremy’s first two articles: Simple Tips to Help Survive The Digg Effect and The Lazy Programmer – Open Source and You. And his next article will be out [...]

9 Social Media Marketing Roundup @ chrisg.com

[...] take down your site or flood your comment area with less than constructive feedback. You have to make sure you are prepared for the best and the worst these traffic spikes can [...]

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