ZeroPaid the First Official News Site to Experience the ‘LulzSec Effect’?

Earlier today, we reported on the story about the existence of LulzSec and Anonymous scaring an ISP into stalling web censorship. After publication, what happened after certainly wasn’t expected. It seems that what happened is now being called the “LulzSec Effect”.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

When you write an article in this business of online journalism, it’s really a matter of checking all of your sources, making sure what you have is as accurate as you can get it and publish what you think could be considered relevant and informative to your audience. Personally, there’s no expectation that every article will completely change the world forever. It’s really a matter of hoping you can stimulate some discussion about the subject. That’s all you can really hope for. Sure, some articles you write are more popular than others – as is the general nature of writing – but you really are hoping you can play some small roll in presenting something to the public that will generate interest.

Obviously, our recent article did more than generate a little interest.

Earlier today, we published an article about LulzSec and Anonymous. It was how their existence was enough to scare an ISP into delaying the roll out of online censorship in Australia. Apparently, our write-up caught the interest of LulzSec. They tweeted about it, linking to the article and saying, “Anonymous and LulzSec’s Existence Scares ISP into Halting Web Censorship […] The smell of weekend victory, gentlemen!”

The traffic ZeroPaid generated as a result of the link appeared to have been way more than enough to knock the website offline. In a subsequent tweet, LulzSec said, “Er… breaking news… LulzSec’s linkage breaks Zero Paid website. :(”

Well, as far as I was concerned, too much interest is not a bad problem to have. In fact, if you are part of a website’s staff, having too much interest in your content is probably the single best problem to have. In the midst of it all, I personally sent them a tweet saying, “Hey, no worries. I don’t mind the breakage. Feel free to link to us more often, we’ll manage”

It seems the website was knocked offline for about four hours. In the mean time, I remember thinking that this must be like some sort of “LulzSec Effect”, but naturally, I couldn’t really post about it until now. Slyck evidently noticed this as well and commented about how we experienced the “LulzSec Effect”. The comments noted that this was significant given that it might now be known that if you get linked by LulzSec, you definitely could now have your website crash from excessive traffic – just like what happened to us. To my knowledge, this is the first time the “LulzSec Effect” term has actually been passed around, so I’m pretty sure this makes us the first site to experience this. As a result, as Slyck already suggested, LulzSec is conclusively extremely popular – enough that a link from them can take down an site like ours.

Sometime after our servers recovered, we sent a tweet to LulzSec saying, “Well guess what happens when you get @LulzSec and @AnonymousIRC tweet your story? Unintentional DDOS haha #thanksguys”

So why call this the LulzSec effect? The answer is quite simple. Years ago, Slashdot was the single most popular social news website. Think 90’s and early 2000’s. Also, back then, servers were less sophisticated. So, when a story got posted on Slashdot, it generated tens of thousands of visitors to the site that was linked in the story on Slashdot. This was enough to pretty much render the site useless temporarily because there were so many extra visitors coming all at once. If you had graphs to plot such an effect, you would see the traffic line spike unusually high and then drop back to normal. Well, since then, servers for sites like ours could handle traffic more easily, so having sites crash like that is nowhere near as common as it use to. Other sites also had their own names as well (for very similar effects) including Digg, Fark, BoingBoing and Redit to name a few. So you have terms floating around like the “Digg Effect”, “Link Farked” or “BoingBoinged”. Suffice to say, there are a number of sites that can generate a significant spike in traffic like the Slashdot effect. So, unless LulzSec or Anonymous has an alternative name for it, I’m good with calling this the LulzSec Effect.

I know it’s already been said, but I’ll say it again, on behalf of us on ZeroPaid, thank you LulzSec and Anonymous for helping us be a part of history!

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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