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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!