Really thought I’d done the last one of these posts but once again I need to talk about the site outages that have been occurring for the last couple of weeks late on a Saturday Night.
Once again the site is going down at peak times and once again the reasons for this simply boil down to there being tens of thousands of you all trying to get on the site at once many of whom are refreshing the site every few seconds which is overloading it.
And believe me overloading the site is taking quite some work with the current web host I use. The site has a few sophisticated technologies working behind the scenes designed to try and prevent just this. It employs server level caching technology and a content delivery network both of which are designed to speed the site up and cache content which is served from a number of different locations spreading the load so not just one server is hit at times of high traffic. But at one point last night over 37k of you were trying to access the site at the same time and if 37k of you were trying to refresh the site constantly it’s no wonder it fell down.
Unfortunately it’s an issue with high traffic websites such as this that sometimes at times of high demand they will go down. Apple, who are a company with far more resources than me, can’t always keep their website up when a new iPhone goes on sale. My original source for the spoiler which is a popular commercial discussion forum has gone down on occasions. If these huge companies struggle to keep their sites up at moments of high demand you can imagine the struggle that an individual with far more limited resources has.
Those of you who have been around from the start will know that I really don’t like having site outages and have moved the site 3 times already to progressively more expensive hosting solutions to keep up with demand. The site has gone from costing me £3 a month to host to nearer £40 a month and these costs are incurred all year round yet I only make any kind of decent revenue from the site at the times of the year when Strictly is on, and as the children in need spoiler showed I don’t make much during the week when Strictly is on either, just at the weekend.
I try and put as much of the site’s revenue back into the site as I possibly can, both to cover hosting costs and for things like competition prizes, but I have to draw a line somewhere. This site is now the main income I receive and I’m a single parent and a full time postgraduate student and I simply don’t have much money that can be ploughed into this. The next step up in terms of hosting, which would be purchasing a dedicated server just for this site, is going to move from costing me tens of pounds a month to host to hundreds and quite frankly I can’t afford that at the moment especially considering we only have 3 spoiler weekends left this series.
These issues started this series when I started doing real time updates as I’d been learning the bottom two first followed by the result and so my only solution at this time is to stop doing that. The whole point of the real time updates was that you could see the bottom two and then head back to Facebook or Twitter and wait for the full spoiler post to come in. It wasn’t so people could refresh the site multiple times every second causing it to break but all they seem to have done is encourage people to do just that.
The other thing I can do is to ask people to be more considerate of other users. I understand the need to refresh the site, honestly I do because I do it at my sources so I can get the spoiler to you as soon as possible, but really there’s no need. Head to Facebook or Twitter and you’ll be alerted as to when the spoiler comes in without any need for refreshing this site. And if the site does go down or starts running slowly just leave it for a few minutes, go make a brew, walk the dog, nip down the pub for a quick pint and try again later or in the morning. Don’t keep refreshing a site that is struggling because people are refreshing it because that obviously isn’t going to help. I don’t want to start handing bans out but I can check my logs to see how often individual people are refreshing the site and ban those who are repeatedly refreshing it in a way that impacts on the user experience for far more other visitors.
It probably sounds like I’m blaming the site visitors and I’m not. I continue to be amazed just how many of you come to view content I produce each week but I cannot keep ploughing money that I don’t have into the site trying to keep up with the strains you guys are putting on it when a small change in user behaviour would probably help dividends. Beyond that we’d be looking at a paywall which would categorically never happen because paywalls don’t work and you’d just go elsewhere. The other alternative is asking for donations to help towards hosting costs in a similar way to Wikipedia but honestly I don’t know how effective that would be but you know what let’s give it a try and see what happens and maybe, just maybe, I can afford a dedicated server these last few weeks.