Slashdot Effect Prevention Kit

Fake News written by James Baughn on Tuesday, March 2, 1999

from the slashing-the-slashdot-effect dept.

ST. LOUIS, MO -- Has your website been decimated by the dreaded Slashdot Effect? A small start-up company called AntiDot Enterprises has the solution: The Slashdot Effect Prevention Kit. This product, which retails for US$49.95, includes software and documentation allowing Unix-based systems to resist the destructive force of the Slashdot Effect. AntiDot advertises, "If your site crashes as a result of the Slashdot Effect, we'll give you your money back, guaranteed!"

AntiDot is founded by a disgruntled webmaster, Eric Langlitz, who suffered from the Slashdot Effect a few months ago. Humorix conducted an exclusive interview with Langlitz earlier today.

Humorix: Why did you create the Slashdot Effect Prevention Kit?

Langlitz: I don't want other innocent webmaster to undergo the same trauma I went through when my site was mentioned on Slashdot. Even though it was only a brief mention, my server crashed within minutes of the posting. The Pentium CPU overheated, and actually caught on fire. The system was a total loss. In addition, my ISP charged me $50.00 for the additional bandwidth the Slashdot Effect sucked up.

Humorix: Other sites have survived the Slashdot Effect. Why did your system crash?

Langlitz: Well, using Windows NT probably wasn't the best idea. Still, most sites that survive the Slashdot Effect are highly advanced systems -- quad Alphas with 1 GB of RAM, for instance. My system -- before it went up in flames -- was a P60 with 24MB of RAM. However, why should I upgrade my system because some nerd with the impossible name "CmdrTaco" links to it? I don't think that's fair.

Humorix: How does your Kit work?

Langlitz: The software consists of a modified Apache httpd daemon that handles three additional tasks.

One, it periodically checks the http referrer logs to see if any hits are coming from slashdot.org (or a mirror). Typically, sites about to fall victim to the Slashdot Effect will have the URL http://slashdot.org/submit.pl in their logs. If the daemon detects suspicious activity, it will send an email to the webmaster notifying them of the potential problem, and it will go into YellowAlert mode.

Two, once in YellowAlert mode, the daemon periodically queries slashdot.org to see if the Slashdot homepage has been updated. If so, it downloads the page and checks for the presence of any links to the site. If it detects an imminent Slashdot Effect, the daemon enters RedAlert mode.

Also, while in YellowAlert, the daemon monitors the system load and the bandwidth usage for any suspicious spikes in activity. If a spike is detected (the Slashdot Effect typically follows a set pattern of bandwidth usage), the system is sent into RedAlert.

Three, once in RedAlert, the daemon actively repels the Slashdot Effect, using methods preconfigured by the webmaster:

  • The daemon can redirect ALL requests back to slashdot.org, causing a Reverse Slashdot Effect. Hopefully CmdrTaco will get the hint and remove the link.

  • The daemon can send a series of emails to the Slashdot contributors demanding that the offending link be removed.

  • The daemon can send an email to the site's ISP, notifying them of the problem before it gets out of control (However, since the Slashdot Effect can strike within milliseconds, this may not do much good).

  • The daemon can issue an emergency shutdown -h now command, forcing the system to shut down before the Slashdot Effect can do any serious harm.

  • The daemon can return an Error 666 ("Server Too Busy -- Please DON'T try again later") to all requests.

Humorix: Just how effective is your Kit? It seems like it doesn't prevent a Slashdot Effect, only respond to it.

Langlitz: If the daemon is started in ExplodingTaco mode (with the --taco switch), it actively prevents any of the Slashdot posters from accessing the site. The daemon maintains a database of the IP addresses used by the Slashdot contributors -- if the system detects an access from one of these addresses, the system returns an Error 667 ("Access Denied -- Go Away, Taco Boy") and enters into YellowAlert mode.

Humorix: Have you done any field testing with your Kit?

Langlitz: Indeed. None of the sites in our beta program that used the Kit have been mentioned on Slashdot -- or any other high traffic site (the TechSightings and LinuxToday Effects can be quite deadly, too).

Humorix: How do you feel about the Slashdot Baiting Kit, which was featured on Humorix a few weeks ago?

Langlitz: I can't believe anybody would WANT to be hit with the Slashdot Effect. It boggles the mind. It also amazes me that people are making money off selling Slashdot-related products.

Humorix: Does CmdrTaco know about your product?

Langlitz: No. And since the AntiDot website is protected by the Kit (in ExplodingTaco mode), we hope he never does. This is one nerd news item that will never be featured on Slashdot.

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