ISP Offers Slashdot Effect Insurance

Fake News written by James Baughn on Tuesday, September 7, 2004

from the firewall-against-taco-boy dept.

Desperate for a promotional gimmick, the founder of has decided to offer low-cost "Slashdot Effect Insurance" to all customers. For an extra US$1 per month, customers will not be liable for sudden surges in traffic, even if they shatter their bandwidth quota.

"The Slashdot Effect is one of the most pressing issues facing webmasters today," said Eric Fivalak. "You never know when it's going to strike, and you never know how much money you will have to fork over in bandwidth charges. But we've found a way to eliminate this hideous demon."

As part of the insurance plan, the company will also maintain a standalone backup server that will only kick in during a Category 2 or worse Slashdot Effect. If a strike is detected, the victim's site will be offloaded to the server, ensuring that all other sites hosted by the company will be unaffected by the onslaught.

"The last time Taco Boy decided to link to a customer's site, one of our webservers had a load average of around 10000.0. With the extra server, that shouldn't happen again..."

However, Fivalak admitted, "We've never actually experienced a Category 5 Slashdot Effect [on the Malda-Bates Scale], so all bets are off in such a scenario..."

The Malda-Bates Slashdot Effect Intensity Scale

Category 0: Neglible impact (1-1,000 unique visitors per day from Slashdot)

  • Usually the result of a minor link embedded in a comment posted in response to a story
  • Rarely detected unless the webmaster carefully studies the server logs and says, "Now isn't this interesting..."

Category 1: Noticeable but minor impact (1,001-5,000)

  • Often caused by an indirect link from another site pummeled with a Category 3+ attack
  • Little impact on performance, but may cause sites with certain ISPs to approach their bandwidth quota

Category 2: Strong impact (5,001-20,000)

  • Direct link from a story not on the Slashdot front page
  • IIS webservers begin to struggle
  • Slight chance of bandwidth overages

Category 3: Severe impact (20,001-75,000)

  • Direct link from a regular Slashdot story
  • 40% chance of failure of IIS servers; 3% chance of failure of dynamic sites with poorly implemented PHP scripts
  • Moderate probability of exceeding bandwidth quotas with many ISPs

Category 4: Disastrous impact (75,000-200,000)

  • Direct links from two or more duplicated Slashdot stories within the same day
  • 99% chance of IIS failures
  • 2% chance of hardware failures (CPUs overheating and melting, hard drives crashing)
  • Good chance of saturating a T1 line
  • You don't even want to think about bandwidth usage

Category 5: Cataclysmic impact (200,001+)

  • Direct link from a controversial story that is then duplicated on Slashdot at the same time that hundreds of thousands of blog sites discuss it
  • T1 lines obliterated; T3 lines not much better
  • 10% chance of hardware meltdowns
  • Total bandwidth usage measured in terabytes (at best) or petabytes (at worst)

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