What happens during a slashdotting?

Well, OK, it wasn’t Slashdot that was the culprit this time, but rather the pro blog Consumerist (if we’re a megachurch, does Consumerist count as a megablog? It claims nearly 3 million unique visitors a month)

Last week, Clif posted about his experience at Best Buy. Seems the folks at Gawker Media got wind of the story (Best Buy is a perennial favourite target of theirs) and posted it at 10:21am Eastern, 9:21 in KC. Here’s what happened to our WordPress server:

Apache Processes, November 5

Apache Processes, November 5

Web Datacenter traffic, November 5 (% of 10Mbps link)

Web Datacenter traffic, November 5 (% of 10Mbps link)

Wow. I noticed the odd traffic behaviour (that particular server gets very little traffic most of the time) when I got in the office, and called a few folks to see if they’d done anything that would cause this. When that came up empty, I started looking at the access logs on the server and noticed a lot of referrer traffic from Consumerist. I threw AWstats onto the server to grok the apache logs. At posting time, Clif’s blog post had seen around 7000 visitors. Apache peaks out at a point due to the MaxClients directive, in order to keep the CPU from saturating and killing the site.

It’s always fun to see new an interesting traffic patterns. It’s very helpful to have active monitoring to tell us when things leap outside the bounds of normalcy.

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