Slashdot effect

The Slashdot effect, also known as slashdotting, occurs when a popular website links to a smaller website, causing a massive increase in traffic. This overloads the smaller site, causing it to slow down or even temporarily become unavailable. The name stems from the huge influx of web traffic which would result from the technology news site Slashdot linking to websites. The original circumstances have changed, as flash crowds from Slashdot were reported in 2005 to be diminishing due to competition from similar sites, [1] and the general adoption of elastically scalable cloud hosting platforms. The effect has been associated with other websites or metablogs such as Fark, Digg, Drudge Report, Imgur, Reddit, and Twitter, leading to terms such as being "farked" or "drudged", being under the "Reddit effect"—or receiving a "hug of death" from the site in question.[2][3] Google Doodles, which link to search results on the doodle topic, also result in high increases of traffic from the search results page.[4] Typically, less robust sites are unable to cope with the huge increase in traffic and become unavailable – common causes are lack of sufficient data bandwidth, servers that fail to cope with the high number of requests, and traffic quotas. Sites that are maintained on shared hosting services often fail when confronted with the Slashdot effect.

A flash crowd is a more generic term without using any specific name that describes a network phenomenon where a network or host suddenly receives a lot of traffic. This is sometimes due to the appearance of a website on a blog or news column.[5][6][7]


According to the Jargon File, the term "Slashdot effect" refers to the phenomenon of a website becoming virtually unreachable because too many people are hitting it after the site was mentioned in an interesting article on the popular Slashdot news service. It was later extended to describe any similar effect from being listed on a popular site, similar to the more generic term, flash crowd, which is a more appropriate term.[8]

The term "flash crowd" was coined in 1973 by Larry Niven in his science fiction short story, Flash Crowd. It predicted that a consequence of inexpensive teleportation would be huge crowds materializing almost instantly at the sites of interesting news stories. Twenty years later, the term became commonly used on the Internet to describe exponential spikes in website or server usage when it passes a certain threshold of popular interest. This effect was anticipated years earlier in 1956 in Alfred Bester's novel The Stars My Destination.[9]

The Reddit effect has also been used to describe viral crowd fundraising efforts in addition to the surge in web traffic.[2]


Sites such as Slashdot, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Fark consist of brief submitted stories and a self-moderated discussion on each story. The typical submission introduces a news item or website of interest by linking to it. In response, large masses of readers tend to simultaneously rush to view the referenced sites. The ensuing flood of page requests from readers can exceed the site's available bandwidth or the ability of its servers to respond, and render the site temporarily unreachable.


MRTG graph from a web server statistics generator showing a moderate Slashdot effect in action in 2005

Major news sites or corporate websites are typically engineered to serve large numbers of requests and therefore do not normally exhibit this effect. Websites that fall victim may be hosted on home servers, offer large images or movie files or have inefficiently generated dynamic content (e.g. many database hits for every web hit even if all web hits are requesting the same page). These websites often became unavailable within a few minutes of a story's appearance, even before any comments had been posted. Occasionally, paying Slashdot subscribers (who have access to stories before non-paying users) rendered a site unavailable even before the story was posted for the general readership.

Few definitive numbers exist regarding the precise magnitude of the Slashdot effect, but estimates put the peak of the mass influx of page requests at anywhere from several hundred to several thousand hits per minute.[10][11][12] The flood usually peaked when the article was at the top of the site's front page and gradually subsided as the story was superseded by newer items. Traffic usually remained at elevated levels until the article was pushed off the front page, which could take from 12 to 18 hours after its initial posting. However, some articles had significantly longer lifetimes due to the popularity, newsworthiness, or interest in the linked article.

By 2005, reporters were commenting that the Slashdot effect had been diminishing.[1] However, the effect has been seen involving Twitter when some popular users mention a website.[13]


When the targeted website has a community-based structure, the term can also refer to the secondary effect of having a large group of new users suddenly set up accounts and start to participate in the community. While in some cases this has been considered a good thing, in others it is viewed with disdain by the prior members, as quite often the sheer number of new people brings many of the unwanted aspects of Slashdot along with it, such as trolling, vandalism, and newbie-like behavior. This bears some similarity to the 1990s Usenet concept of Eternal September.

Assistance and prevention

Many solutions have been proposed for sites to deal with the Slashdot effect.[14]

There are several systems that automatically mirror any Slashdot-linked pages to ensure that the content remains available even if the original site becomes unresponsive.[15] Sites in the process of being Slashdotted may be able to mitigate the effect by temporarily redirecting requests for the targeted pages to one of these mirrors. Slashdot does not mirror the sites it links to on its own servers, nor does it endorse a third party solution. Mirroring of content may constitute a breach of copyright and, in many cases, cause ad revenue to be lost for the targeted site.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Kharif, Olga (March 2, 2005). "Less Impact from the "Slashdot Effect". Bloomberg Business Week. Archived from the original on May 15, 2005.
  2. ^ a b Wilhelm, Alex (17 January 2012). "How Reddit turned one congressional candidate's campaign upside down". The Next Web. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  3. ^ "The Reddit effect". ABC News. August 31, 2012. Archived from the original on 1 November 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  4. ^ Williams, David E. "Google's unknown artist has huge following." CNN. July 19, 2006. Retrieved on July 19, 2006.
  5. ^ Ismail Ari, Bo Hong, Ethan L. Miller, Scott A. Brandt, Darrell and D. E. Long (October 2003). "Managing Flash Crowds on the Internet" (PDF). University of California Santa Cruz Storage Systems Research Center. Retrieved 15 March 2010.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Chenyu Pan; Merdan Atajanov; Mohammad Belayet Hossain; Toshihiko Shimokawa; Norihiko Yoshida (April 2006). "FCAN: Flash Crowds Alleviation Network Using Adaptive P2P Overlay of Cash Proxies" (PDF). The Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 February 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
  7. ^ Xuan Chen; John Heidemann (July 2004). "Flash Crowd Mitigation via Adaptive Admission Control Based on Application-Level Observations" (PDF). University of Colorado Colorado Springs College of Engineering & Applied Science. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  8. ^ Eric S. Raymond. "slashdot effect". The Jargon File, version 4.4.8. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  9. ^ Eric S. Raymond. "flash crowd". The Jargon File (version 4.4.7). Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  10. ^ Stephen Adler. "The Slashdot Effect: An Analysis of Three Internet Publications". Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2003. (mirror)
  11. ^ "Slashdotting graphs". Princeton University Department of Astrophysical Sciences. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2004.
  12. ^ Aaron Benoy. "Ruins in ASCII". Retrieved 27 September 2004.
  13. ^ Paul Douglas, How Stephen Fry takes down entire websites with a single tweet, Tech Radar, March 3, 2010
  14. ^ Jeremy Elson; Jon Howell (2008), Handling Flash Crowds from your Garage (PDF), Microsoft Research – A research paper describing strategies for handling flash crowds
  15. ^ Daniel Terdiman (1 October 2004). "Solution for Slashdot Effect?". WIRED. Retrieved 2016-04-18.

External links

Coral Content Distribution Network

The Coral Content Distribution Network, sometimes called Coral Cache or Coral, was a free peer-to-peer content distribution network that ran from 2004 until 2015. It was designed and operated by Michael Freedman. Coral used the bandwidth of a worldwide network of web proxies and name servers to mirror World Wide Web content, often to avoid the Slashdot Effect or to reduce the load on web servers.

Data feed

Data feed is a mechanism for users to receive updated data from data sources. It is commonly used by real-time applications in point-to-point settings as well as on the World Wide Web. The latter is also called web feed. News feed is a popular form of web feed. RSS feed makes dissemination of blogs easy. Product feeds play increasingly important role in e-commerce and internet marketing, as well as news distribution, financial markets, and cybersecurity. Data feeds usually require structured data that include different labelled fields, such as "title" or "product".

Electronic journal

Electronic journals, also known as ejournals, e-journals, and electronic serials, are scholarly journals or intellectual magazines that can be accessed via electronic transmission.

Feed URI scheme

The feed URI scheme was a suggested uniform resource identifier (URI) scheme designed to facilitate subscription to web feeds; specifically, it was intended that a news aggregator be launched whenever a hyperlink to a feed URI was clicked in a web browser.

The scheme was intended to flag a document in a syndication format such as Atom or RSS. The document would be typically served over open wave and sms http based html Uri as feed.

Globule (CDN)

Globule was an open-source collaborative content delivery network developed at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam since 2006. It is implemented as a third-party module for the Apache HTTP Server that allows any given server to replicate its documents to other Globule servers. This can improve the site's performance, maintain the site available to its clients even if some servers are down, and to a certain extent help to resist to flash crowds and the Slashdot effect. As of February 2011 the project is discontinued and is no longer maintained.Globule takes care of maintaining consistency between the replicas, monitoring the servers, and automatically redirecting clients to one of the available replicas. Globule also supports the replication of PHP documents accessing MySQL databases. It runs on Unix and Windows systems.

Glossary of blogging

This is a list of blogging terms.

Blogging, like any hobby, has developed something of a specialised vocabulary. The following is an attempt to explain a few of the more common phrases and words, including etymologies when not obvious.

Media RSS

Media RSS (MRSS) is an RSS extension that adds several enhancements to RSS enclosures, and is used for syndicating multimedia files (audio, video, image) in RSS feeds. It was originally designed by Yahoo! and the Media RSS community in 2004, but in 2009 its development has been moved to the RSS Advisory Board. One example of enhancements is specification of thumbnails for each media enclosure, and the possibility to enclose multiple versions of the same content (e.g. different file formats).

The format can be used for podcasting, which uses the RSS format as a means of delivering content to media-playing devices, as well as Smart TVs. Media RSS allows for a much more detailed description of the content to be delivered to the subscriber than the RSS standard. The standard is also used by content publishers to feed media files into Yahoo! Video Search, which is a feature of Yahoo! Search that allows users to search for video files.


A photofeed is a web feed that features image enclosures. They provide an easy, standard way to reference a list of images with title, date and description.

Photofeeds are RSS enclosures of image file formats, similar to podcasts (enclosures of audio file formats).

Police blog

Police blogs are a means for police officers from around the world to tell others about their work and way of life.

The authors often retain anonymity to avoid affecting their ongoing cases. Most police services also have rules on blogging activities that might bring the organisation into disrepute.

It is usual for police bloggers to adopt a pseudonym, such as PC David Copperfield. He is believed to have created the first UK blog of its type, extracts from which were published in the book Wasting Police Time. Subsequently, a further book, Diary of An On Call Girl has been published, based on the blog of PC Ellie Bloggs, and the book Perverting the Course of Justice based on the blog of Inspector Gadget.Emergency Shorts complements its selection of other Emergency service blogs by collecting feeds from popular police blogs, including Crime and Justice which is a news-based police blog publishing press releases from all UK Police forces.

Product feed

A product feed or product data feed is a file made up of a list of products and attributes of those products organized so that each product can be displayed, advertised or compared in a unique way. A product feed typically contains a product image, title, product identifier, marketing copy, and product attributes.Product feeds supply the content that is presented on many kinds of e-commerce websites such as search engines, price comparison websites, affiliate networks, and other similar aggregators of e-commerce information. Product data feeds are generated by manufacturers, online retailers and, in some cases, product information is extracted using web scraping or harvested web harvesting from the online shops website.

Project diary

A project diary, history, journal or log is a record of a project which is compiled while it is being done.

RSS editor

An RSS editor is a software application for writing and editing RSS feeds offline (i.e. on the local computer). These applications are also often called desktop RSS editors. Usually RSS feeds are automatically generated out of databases from Content Management Systems (CMS). Some other typical sources for RSS feeds are blogs and websites like Digg. However, there are also several, manually edited RSS feeds (mostly with editorial content), which are maintained offline. After the development and creation of such feeds in an RSS editor application, the feed file is usually transmitted via FTP to the web server. Most RSS editors offer a corresponding, integrated functionality for that.

RSS tracking

RSS tracking is a methodology for tracking RSS feeds.

Reverse blog

A reverse blog is a type of blog that is characterized by the lack of a single, specific blogger. In a traditional blog a blogger will write his or her comments about a given topic and other users may view and sometimes comment on the bloggers work. A reverse blog is written entirely by the users, who are given a topic. The blog posts are usually screened and chosen for publication by a core group or the publisher of the blog.

Rollback (data management)

In database technologies, a rollback is an operation which returns the database to some previous state. Rollbacks are important for database integrity, because they mean that the database can be restored to a clean copy even after erroneous operations are performed. They are crucial for recovering from database server crashes; by rolling back any transaction which was active at the time of the crash, the database is restored to a consistent state.

The rollback feature is usually implemented with a transaction log, but can also be implemented via multiversion concurrency control.


Slashdot (sometimes abbreviated as /.) is a social news website that originally billed itself as "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters". It features news stories on science, technology, and politics that are submitted and evaluated by site users and editors. Each story has a comments section attached to it where users can add online comments. The website was founded in 1997 by Hope College students Rob Malda, also known as "CmdrTaco", and classmate Jeff Bates, also known as "Hemos". In 2012, they sold it to DHI Group, Inc. (i.e., Dice Holdings International, which created the website for tech job seekers). In January 2016, BizX acquired Slashdot Media, including both and SourceForge.Summaries of stories and links to news articles are submitted by Slashdot's own users, and each story becomes the topic of a threaded discussion among users. Discussion is moderated by a user-based moderation system. Randomly selected moderators are assigned points (typically 5) which they can use to rate a comment. Moderation applies either −1 or +1 to the current rating, based on whether the comment is perceived as either "normal", "offtopic", "insightful", "redundant", "interesting", or "troll" (among others).

The site's comment and moderation system is administered by its own open source content management system, Slash, which is available under the GNU General Public License. In 2012, Slashdot had around 3.7 million unique visitors per month and received over 5300 comments per day. The site has won more than 20 awards, including People's Voice Awards in 2000 for "Best Community Site" and "Best News Site". At its peak use, a news story posted to the site with a link could overwhelm some smaller or independent sites. This phenomenon was known as the "Slashdot effect".


A slidecast is a type of podcast that combines audio with a slideshow or diaporama presentation. It is similar to a video podcast in that it combines dynamically-generated imagery with audio synchronization, but it is different in that it uses presentation software, such as PowerPoint, to create the imagery and the sequence of display separately from the time of the audio podcast's original recording.

Slidecasting may be useful for the display of relevant photographs or text, and are an alternative to camera video recordings.

An alternative definition of the slidecast is the online distribution and syndication of video recordings of live slideshow presentations and accompanying narrations.

Spam in blogs

Spam in blogs (also called simply blog spam, comment spam, or social spam) is a form of spamdexing. (Note that blogspam also has another meaning, namely the post of a blogger who creates posts that have no added value to them in order to submit them to other sites.) It is done by posting (usually automatically) random comments, copying material from elsewhere that is not original, or promoting commercial services to blogs, wikis, guestbooks, or other publicly accessible online discussion boards. Any web application that accepts and displays hyperlinks submitted by visitors may be a target.

Adding links that point to the spammer's web site artificially increases the site's search engine ranking on those where the popularity of the URL contributes to its implied value, an example algorithm would be the PageRank algorithm as used by Google Search. An increased ranking often results in the spammer's commercial site being listed ahead of other sites for certain searches, increasing the number of potential visitors and paying customers.

Video aggregator

A video aggregator is a website that collects and organizes online videos from other sources. Video aggregation is done for different purposes, and websites take different approaches to achieve their purpose.

Some sites try to collect videos of high quality or interest for visitors to view. The collection may be made by editors or may be based on community votes. Another method is to base the collection on those videos most viewed, either at the aggregator site or at various popular video hosting sites.Some sites exist to allow users to collect their own sets of videos, for personal use as well as browsing and viewing by others. These sites can develop online communities around video sharing. Other sites allow users to create a personalized video playlist, for personal use as well as for browsing and viewing by others.

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