Red Spidering Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Occasionally websites are overwhelmed by the amount of traffic they receive. This is often the result of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack in which thousands of computers all try to connect to the website at once. However, sometimes it happens as a result of a popular site (one with millions of visitors) linking directly to a much smaller site, unprepared to deal with the traffic.

This is sometimes called the Slashdot Effect for the popular metablog, Slashdot, although other phrases like being “Farked,” “Drudged” or “Wanged” are also common. Slashdotting can overwhelm a server, or it could just represent a large increase in traffic. What I found interesting recently was that the comic xkcd produced a similar bump in traffic, but without a link. This comic from a few months ago referenced the Voynich Manuscript, a 15th century undeciphered illustrated book.

xkcd is known for a geeky following, but this was a bit too obscure. Wikirank shows a 10,000% increase in wikipedia traffic.

I’d call this indirect effect “red spidering” or “a velociraptor attack.”


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