The Slashdot Effect
15th May 2004
I recently had the honour of having a site featured
- one of the world's biggest online communities with
over half a million members. Slashdot is so popular
that sites often get an enormous amount of traffic as
a result - called the Slashdot Effect - and
this can often take a smaller sites offline, especially
if they're graphically rich, in which case it becomes
Being features on Slashdot is both an honour and
a curse. The story I was in wasn't a particularly popular
story as these things go, only a medium amount of comments.
However, the traffic was still significant, and the
Slashdot after-effects are worth noting.
The Slashdot Effect on Traffic
shows unique visitors per hour over a five day period
The message was posted at just before
3am in the morning UK time, which was very late evening
in the US. Between 3am and 4am, the site received over
1,800 hits and the traffic remained at over 800 hits
an hour for the 12 hours the link was on the main Slashdot
page. In the course of 24 hours, the site received 15,806
visitors, compared to the usual level of about 500 visitors
in a day. In other words, Slashdot generated an entire
months traffic in one day.
On thing to notice is that this isn't
a very smooth graph - Slashdot readers can be anywere
in the world, and additional peaks can be seen due in
part to time differences, but also because secondary
referral sources then started to kick in.
the traffic rank shot up from a rank of about 250,000
or so to better than 35,000th place in the rankings.
For a small niche site, that's a very high ranking indeed,
even if just for one day.
The Slashdot Effect on Referrals
However, even as the story vanished
into the Slashdot archives, traffic kept coming from
many secondary sources that picked up on the original
Prior to being featured on Slashdot,
about 58% of traffic came from Google, 4% from other
search engines, 10% from other sites and 28% from direct
type-ins, bookmarks and mailing list subscribers.
Three days after being featured on Slashdot,
traffic levels were still more than double that of before,
with 30% of traffic from Google, 5.5% from other search
engines, 45% from referrals and 19.5% from bookmarks
and type-ins. Only 2.5% of traffic overall actually
came from Slashdot on that day.
It can be seen quite clearly that Google
traffic remained fairly constant in actual terms, but
the article created a great deal of new inbound links
and repeat visitors.
It's difficult to judge exactly how
many inbound links were added to the site, but my best
guess is around 40 new inbound links were created of
Slashdot Visitor Behaviour
Slashdotters tended to view 1.9 pages
per visitor, rather than the typical average of 3.2
for normal traffic, however they were much more likely
to my site from their own web page. Slashdotters also
didn't bother much with advertising on the site - normal
visitors were four times more likely to click on one
of the ads at the top of the page.
In other words, Slashdotters won't make
you rich, they don't hang around for long, but if you
can impress them enough, then they can give you an enormous
boost in terms of web presence.
Long Term Effects
It's hard to say what the long term
effects are so soon after the event. It will be interesting
to see how this might impact of Google PageRank and
long-term visitor base. Watch this space!