The Diggbait Diet: How Digg helped me lose 5-pounds in 5-hours

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Atkins, diuretics and rubber suits, you’re so five-minutes ago. I was only three-weeks into my journey to the core of the blogosphere when I discovered the astonishing slimming power of Digg.com.

It was a Thursday evening around 8pm when I got a casual e-mail from an online friend, Maki, telling me he really enjoyed an article I just posted on off-blog marketing strategies and he submitted it to Digg.com.

[For those not in the Digg-know, Digg.com is a website that allows anyone to submit articles they think other people might like and have readers vote on those articles. If an article gets enough votes in a short period of time, it can get voted onto the front-page and then, as I was about to learn, all traffic-hell breaks loose.]

Now, I thought a lot of people could benefit from the article, so, hey, I’m up for a bit of traffic. More traffic means more exposure and more exposure means more impact, and…

I’m all about impact.

So, it’s going on about 11pm and, needing my beauty rest (I’m old, so I need a lot), I head off to bed with about 25 Diggs under my belt. A half hour passes and I can’t contain myself, so I go look and it’s at 48 Diggs. I remember Maki telling me he thinks it might take between 50 and 70 diggs to hit the front-page with his profile. My stomach starts to get a bit squirrely. Two seconds later, I’m in the bathroom.

Pound one lost.

I return a few minutes later, refresh the screen and my heart jumps, the article just went from 48 to 95 votes in the blink of an eye. “Friggin’ awesome,” I declare, must have made the front page.

So, I go to my blog to take a quick peek and and then I see it…big, fat nothing. There before me, instead of my blog, is the classic screen of death error page. It’s my first-ever true moment of blogosphere glory and my blog is dead. I’m nauseous and run to the bathroom…again.

Down two pounds.

Returning, I jump onto Digg only to find that, even though my site is down, the article is still flying up the rankings and I’m thinking, “wow, people must like the headline and blurb teaser on Digg so much, that, even though they cant read the whole article, they’re still voting it up.”

Then it hits me. Gee, I wonder if they’re voting it up or…they’re teaching me a lesson by burying my site so far into newbie crash-land, I’ll think twice before dancing with the Digg-bloods again.

Within moments, reams of lovely, supportive, understanding comments, begin to pour in on the Digg voting page, confirming my suspicions:

  • Wow. On the front page with no comments.
  • LOL… If anything, the lack of comments is testament to the accuracy of this article.
  • I’d say the #1 thing they do is have a server that can handle the Digg effect… 😉
  • Well, that was easy to knock the server down, less than 75 diggs…
  • Buy new hosting.
  • There should be a law passed to allow bloggers to blog…you must have a life worth writing about first.
  • What is it with digg killing websites for a while? I mean its not like it brings in 1000 people every 30 minutes or something. /sarcasm
  • Step 1. Work 2 hours at McDonalds. Step 2. Ask every customer if they’d like “name of your blog” with that. Step 3. Wait for the power of name recognition to kick in.
  • Digg to guy’s blog: “I kill you!”
  • Bloggers are so lame. Everyone suddenly thinks they’re the media. Nobody cares about what you think. Go get a real job and stop spamming the ‘net. K, thanks.
  • Spam 1,000,000 Chinese kids begging them to visit your blog and click on the adsense links.
  • Yeah, the actual article says, 403 Forbidden. Apache/1.3.37 Server error. I’ve made a mental note of these insightful ideas and plan to use them in my future blogs.

Gotta love the support! Now, two hours in, the sound of me running to the bathroom for the third time wakes up my wife as she wonders what the heck is going on.

Pound three lost.

I take a look down the comments again and notice a link that reads duggmirror and learn, for the first time, that there is a service that captures pages submitted to Digg and posts them on alternate links and someone has put up the alternate link to my page. So, maybe, just maybe, part of the diggs are coming from the Digg button on that alternate page.

Okay, triage mode.

By now, I’ve gotten an e-mail from my hosting company, Hostgator, telling me they pulled me off the air for abuse, because my site crashed the server and was knocking all the other sites on the shared server down.

I can’t get anyone on the phone to help, because it’s not a standard support issue, it’s an abuse issue.

I am now a branded server-abuser, a hosting-felon.

I have a permanent record. So, I e-mail the overnight abuse-lords and beg and plead for them to put my site back up.

They reply, in a remarkably timely manner, with the equivalent of “hahahahahaha!” (okay, so maybe they were nicer, but that’s what I read). So, I e-mail again and ask what I can do to get my blog back up asap and they say I can switch to a dedicated server.

It normally takes days, but, for me, because they can literally taste my sweat through the keyboard, they’ll try to have it back up in the wee hours of the morning.

So, I pay for a dedicated server and sit back and pray.

Meanwhile, the diggs keep flying in and the comments just ain’t getting any nicer.

Slumped over my desk, now at about 3am, I tally up the increase in hosting costs and realize I’ve just gone from $180 a year to about $2,700 a year. Okay, so that’s a solid chunk of my daughter’s summer camp, our family vacation and the next year of grande, no-water soy chai’s up in smoke. Run to the bathroom, Pound four gone.

An hour later, I awake to a puddle of dried-drool gluing my cheek to my IKEA worktop.

Yummo! I type in my blog address and wait, peeking through the puffy slits where my eyes used to be. The blog’s back up. Hostgator rocks, I always loved those guys! But, wait. Uh-oh. They transferred the content, activated WordPress, but forgot to port all the pictures and deactivated my custom-theme.

I’m so wiped out, it takes me another 20-minutes to realize, I can fix most of this myself and then have my blog-designer fix the rest in the morning. So I turn my theme back on and then I check my traffic. Holy crap. That’s why I crashed. Well, I figure, at least with all that traffic and the alternate page up at duggmirror, I should still get a lot of subscribers.

Then it dawns on me…the subscriber link at duggmirror. Was it active? I check it out. Dead as a door nail.

Thousands of hits and no way to subscribe…and no active url to link to.

Oy vey. Bathroom check number five. Ten-minutes later, with the sun coming up, I slide on my jeans and they feel remarkably loose. So, I jump on the scale. Don’t ask me why, just reflex.

Wow…

Five pounds, 5,000 hits and 50 comments in 5 hours.

Oh, that crazy Digg. Bad for the hair, great for the waist. Hey, maybe that should be their new slogan.

Twenty-four hours later, with traffic, links and comments still pouring in, Hostgator totally stepping up on the overnight-shift and lots of people enjoying the article, I started to feel better. Thank God I meditate.

And, of course, with plenty of room in my caloric budget for the day, the massive hunk of chocolate cake I had for breakfast didn’t hurt!

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16 responses

16 responses to “The Diggbait Diet: How Digg helped me lose 5-pounds in 5-hours”

  1. Haha… Jonathan,

    This nothing but hilarious. Absolutely amazing what happened and thanks to Maki. You might have to buzz him for the hostgator bill. 🙂

    Anyway, never heard of SU crashing servers. So here it goes.

  2. shane says:

    I’d laugh except I truly relate to your tragedy.

    We are in the middle of testing 2 new hosts because we feel so abused from past hosts letting us down. I feel like the shrew in shakespear’s comedy. Oh, Petruchio, my silver tongued server suitor – where are you when I need you.

  3. Did you seriously switch to a dedicated server? My sites have been on digg loads and didn’t even slow down under 50,000 unique visitors in 2 hours. I pay $6 a month for my hosting.

    The difference? I use caching.

  4. Diane Ward says:

    Stand up comdedian blog-style..!!!

    I’m waking up the whole house, from laughing so hard..this is what people love…the funny side of LIFE..

    thanks

  5. Diane Ward says:

    obviously I’m laughing so hard, I can’t
    spell comedian..

  6. Paul M. says:

    Please don’t digg this article. We don’t want Jonathan to spend vacation with his family in the living room.

  7. Jonathan Fields says:

    Hey gang,

    thanks for all the love!

    @Monika – just telling it like it happened, it’s amazing how often things are a lot funnier in hindsight. Thanks for the SU review!

    @Shane – in the end, Hostgator was actually great about getting me moved and up in a matter of hours

    @Patrick – yup, I switched! And, I was using the WP Cache plug-in while it happened. I think it was because I hit Digg, delicious and sphinn frontpages and got a ton of traffic from SU all at once. The server logs actually showed me going from a fraction of a percent of capacity to 100% in minutes. But, hey, if you’ve got a recommendation for a great host who can handle digg-level traffic for $6 a month, I am all ear, brother!

    @Diane – sorry I contirbuted to waking up the household, but hey, if they’re all gonna get up, it might as well be because someone is laughing them awake, right?!

    @Paul M. – Hey man, thanks for the concern…but actually, with a few inflatable palm trees and an alarm clock that sounds like the ocean, the old living room’s not such a bad place to spend a few days!

  8. I use Burton Hosting and it doesn’t even slow down under a Digg for $6 a month you can’t go wrong.

  9. Maki says:

    Haha… sorry I inadvertently increased your hosting costs, Jonathan!

    Other the other hand, if you’re STILL looking for good shared hosting, A Small Orange and Media Temple are excellent.

    I’ve done a simultaneous Reddit + Digg + Del.cio.us frontpage on ASO + cache with no problem. Media Temple is great as well. 🙂

  10. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Patrick – Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll check it out.

    @ Maki – No problemo, my friend! I learned early on as an entrepreneur that there are problems you want to be dealing with and problems you don’t want to be dealing with. And, increased serve costs to handle increased traffic is one of those problems I want to be dealing with. I will definitely check out ASO and Media Temple, too.

  11. Nick Wilsdon says:

    Great writeup Jonathan. I tend to agree with the others though about the hosting (been running servers for 7+ yrs). I would only get a dedicated box if you need to run other sites – you would never need that just for one site getting dugg.

    If you do need a dedicated box I would go in at the low end with ThePlanet.com – would be around $99/month. As others say here though, if you’re only hosting the one site I would investigate ‘digg-worthy’ hosts rather than go down that road – especially if your daughter’s summer camp and family vacation are on the line!

  12. derex says:

    The irony here is, this has zero diggs. 🙂

    Good read, though.

  13. Katalina says:

    I’m still ROFL! This is exactly why I am afraid to submit anything to Digg!

    Thanks again for the giggle, I think I’ll go digg you now!

  14. […] on how diggs and a huge influx of traffic can make you loose weight. You ought to try it sometime.read more | digg […]

  15. Idetrorce says:

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  16. Automate says:

    Hey Jonathan, looks like you enjoyed the digg effect. In future, if you use wordpress and an article hits digg, just make sure that you have wp-super-cache installed. That should handle your needs just fine. You dont need a dedicated server. As someone suggested try ASO, or Media Temple, or my favorite, Site5.com 🙂
    If you are also up to htaccess tricks, you can redirect digg and reddit users to go directly to a mirror page, that you have setup earlier, either on coral cache, or duggmirror.
    Here is a link that might help you.
    http://www.mutube.com/mu/apache-vs-the-slashdot-effect/