Stupid Digg + a kitten

Sorry that the blog was down for a few hours. Yesterday I did a throwaway post that somehow ended up getting 3800+ diggs or so. I didn’t have WP-Cache or Supercache turned on, so my blog melted to a little puddle of fail. πŸ™‚

Matt, you idiot! How you could run a modern WordPress blog without caching turned on?” you may ask. The first answer is that I’m stupid and figured that I was boring enough that I wouldn’t hit digg or Slashdot for anything.

The slightly-less-stupid answer is that turning on WordPress caching interacts really badly with the FreeBSD systems that my webhost Pair runs (I’ve written about this before). That means that for me, upgrading WordPress takes hours and is a pain in the butt. The last time I upgraded my WP install, I didn’t install Supercache simply because it was such a headache to uninstall before.

I have to do some thinking about what I might change (blogging platform, webhost, etc.) in the future to make this less painful. Frankly, the idea of racing to update my software every few months (so that I don’t need to worry about getting hacked) strikes me as a little backwards; I’d prefer to host my blog with some web service so that I never have to worry about security releases or downloading/upgrading software myself. I don’t blame WordPress or Pair, but the combination doesn’t work well for me right now.

One suggestion for WordPress: integrate caching functionality more tightly so that managing caching isn’t a multi-step process and doesn’t involve juggling plug-ins. Another WordPress suggestion: lower the price of VIP hosting ($600 setup fee + $500/month is too high; if you lowered that a lot, you could probably attract a bunch of people who don’t want to fiddle with WordPress upgrades) and make it trivial to do a CNAME like to VIP hosting. One suggestion for WP-Cache and Supercache: make an option that clears out all cache files and deletes all directories created by the caching plugin, then atomically disables caching. Maybe that option is there and I’ve missed it somehow. One suggestion for Pair: if I am the owner of a parent directory, let me delete any file or subdirectory from that directory. Then I could delete silly cache files that are owned by “nobody.” Again, I know the fault is primarily mine for not turning on caching, even if it’s a hassle.

Since you’ve been so nice to read my self-absorbed tale of woe, here’s a picture of my cat Ozzie, helping me hack on the blog:

Ozzie sitting on my

49 Responses to Stupid Digg + a kitten (Leave a comment)

  1. Matt, can ‘t you use Blogger πŸ˜‰

    Sorry – had to say it …

  2. No need for WordPress’s VIP hosting – you can point a domain at a normal, as well.

  3. If you ever want to upgrade to a server, we have a tiny bit of experience in that field πŸ™‚

  4. Matt,

    That’s funny and not so funny. Funny that the post that melted your blog was a kitten. Not funny that it melted your blog.

    But, other than your blog melting – you’re pointing out a GREAT lesson for all of us who wish drive more traffic to our sites. Those things we think will be big hits aren’t always the big hits – and those that we don’t think will be big hits – might melt our blog. Perhaps more of us need to post kittens. πŸ˜‰

  5. Matt i wonder,you being google employee using wordpress instead of blogspot. and lol you are also not using adsense.

    I think you can have very good revenue from adsense as you have many readers and nice traffic. πŸ™‚

  6. Stirnimann

    From the VIP hosting page:
    “What we ask in return
    A β€œPowered by” link on your site.”

  7. Matt,

    You are the kind of boring that the Digg and Slashdot nerds find tantalizing.

  8. Hey Matt, love your blog! Read it all the time. We will host your blog for you, free of charge!

    Go Heels!

  9. As the one who submitted the posting to digg, I guess I should say a “mini-sorry” for the agro – although of all the blogs to crash, I would never have thought it would be this one.

    That said – you had a posting which incorporated pure Digg-Gold, being about Youtube, Goolge and XKCD all in one neat package.

    Had you put a picture of your cats on the posting as well, and I think you could have crashed Digg into the bargain πŸ˜‰

    I agree with Ed Welch though, it can be incredibly difficult to know what will take off. As a writer myself, one of my recent articles on another site “took off” in a way that completley confused me. Now to work out why and see how to repeat it.

  10. Oops! See if you’d gone to SMX East it’d all be fine!

    Yeah, that was in no way related … but it would have been fun to have you there. πŸ™‚

  11. Damian, I’m thinking about it. In the past, I wanted to use categories (which weren’t supported by Blogger at the time) and I wanted to make sure that I owned the content of my blog unambiguously, not Google. Recently I took a second look at Blogger and it looks pretty nice. I really dislike their permalink structure (no apparent way to change that?) though.

  12. ceejayoz, do you know if you can map just a subdomain, e.g. instead of I want to keep separate and not-a-blog.

  13. IanVisits, I’m glad it make it to digg, so thanks for submitting it. πŸ™‚ It just happened to hit in a timeframe where I was sloppy, and that’s my fault.

  14. Iam Me

    Also, Pair hosts MT blogs for $3 a month, baked-in to your Control Center.

    Sure you’d have to reconfig, but as a full-time PHP wonk, I would much rather hack around in MT, Perl though it is, than in the security-nightmare-in-the-making that is WordMess.

  15. Welcome back Matts!
    Its an annoyance that I couldn’t get in your blog last 20 hours.
    Nice weekend. πŸ™‚

  16. Martin

    Hey Matt,
    Let me explain you why the post got that many diggs and is ranking second on the popular tech news page for this week ( ). It was because of my comment… :p Ozzie loved, it so he told all his cat friends to digg it. He also told me he won’t do it again (Ozzie’s scared of being banned from Digg, you know, a lot of scary things are happening there…)
    Sorry to hear about your blog being down but, hey! thatΒ΄s the price of success πŸ™‚ have a good evening.

  17. “No need for WordPress’s VIP hosting – you can point a domain at a normal, as well.” – Since puts Google ads on the blogs it hosts, surely that would be some sort of conflict of interest? πŸ™‚

  18. Isn’t it nice when they help out? Sometimes, I don’t get to use the right-side of my keyboard due to a dog who likes to rest his head there.

    Nice job with the Digg (and glad to see Digg Fail happens to the best of us). Now I can finally read the post πŸ™‚

  19. You should ask your hosting company to install eAccelerator. I find it always helps quite a lot with our sites.

  20. Wow, I never would have thought that a cat would take down a blog just from the traffic. Though, it make sense I guess. If you want to try and get better hosting, I would go with Siteground, they have a pretty good connection (several gigabit). So, they can handle massive surges, even if it is a shared hosting. Also, I have not had any issues of security (that I know about) and get periodic notices from them if they detect anything that might be related to it.

    Anyhoo, to answer the subdomain redirect question, I do believe you can do it if you have Cpanel easily. If not, I believe there is some masking that can be done with .htaccess.

  21. Matt may I suggest you to try to have a look @ Bloog ( ).

    In little words what is it? It’s a nice blog script made with Google App Engine.

    Atm it is in early stage but it already implements some interesting features like caching.

    I really like it and I think it could be sooner an interesting alternative to Wp.

  22. @Mattcutts:

    The fact you don’t use Blogger and the fact that my bloggers went from PR4 to 3 and 2 apparently is no mistake. πŸ™‚

    Guess I am gonna start using WP.

    But dude, getting on to the first page of DIGG is equivalent to guaranteeing page one rankings on Google for at least a few months, not to mention Alexa traffic ranking through the roof.

    Wish I were you. Yellow pages = fire kindling/doorstop. Google = early retirement to Hawaii with baby money for Harvard/Yale.

  23. panzermike, I still take out the trash and change the kitty litter just like anybody else, but thanks for the kind words. It doesn’t matter whether you use Blogger or WordPress under the hood–a site of either type can rank well, so I’d choose whatever you prefer and is the easiest for you.

  24. The question I have is: what plan are you on with Pair? If it’s not one of the dedicated boxes, it might be time to go that route. You never know with a shared box what idiot is going to at least partly knock a server out with a wonderful new script that they downloaded from and that they never bothered to test out first.

    I don’t think you’ll find a hosting service that will upgrade your WordPress install for you as such, either, unless it is the VIP hosting…and I can understand why they charge that much. You’ve got extensions and standard and custom skins to consider, along with about a million people hacking it a million different ways on top of extensions and skins. The only way a hosted free upgrade service works is if everyone is at least uniform enough to sample from the same skin templates and the same “approved” extensions…and where’s the fun in that?

  25. Meanwhile is the cache plugin turned on now?
    Not able to comment on any of your post (Spam protection box shows a cached value and expected another value while submitting the comment ! )

  26. Hmm.. the comment went thorough. Wonder what the problem with your chrome post is ! Always seems to show 6+2, even after tons of refresh and doesn’t like 8

  27. ceejayoz, do you know if you can map just a subdomain, e.g. instead of

    That~s a easy one πŸ˜‰

    Q: I own, and want to map a subdomain of that to my blog. Is that possible?

    A: Yes. You will need to add a DNS CNAME at your DNS provider before the domain mapping will work. You should not change your nameserver information if you just want to map a subdomain.

  28. Nice picture… Tastes like cat πŸ™‚ .. Greets

  29. Dave (original)

    panzermike, it’s not the platform of Web pages that effects ranking, it’s the content of those pages.

    In other words, your SERP postions would be the same whether you use WordPress, Blogger, FrontPage or even write the pages yourself.

    Content is King.

  30. Hi Matt. I had the same thing happen last week. My WordPress blog at Pair went offline for hours when a rather silly post got dugg. I’d never needed a caching plugin, so I’m new to WP Super Cache.

    Can you explain why it is neccesary to remove files created by WPSC? Couldn’t you just leave them be and wait for the plugin to update them?

    Do you use WordPress’ automatic plugin upgrade feature? That causes similar issues for me with files not being ‘mine’.

  31. P.S. The comment spam question is being cached, so, as mentioned above, it’s almost impossible to comment on your blog right now. I had to modify the url to get a fresh page.

  32. Even with the problems you discussed here Matt, wordpress on your own domain name is still the best option.

    Blogging on blogger or, both free, is a poor choice.

    1. You live under their terms of service, not your own.
    2. You can be associated with all of the splogs that reside on the free host.
    3. They offer very little flexibility in comparison to installing wordpress on your own hosting and domain name.
    4. If you are serious about your blog and if it is an extension of your business, you cannot afford to put it in the hands of a free host.

    my 2 cents worth.

    I know all the and bloggers will run in and say they love it where they are, etc. etc.

    Regardless of your prior experience with the free blog hosting platforms, I stand by the numbered statements made above.

  33. Hello Matt,

    Sorry to have to write a comment on your blog, but you’re my last to understand the penalty wich is applied on my website since 6 months.

    My website appears only after rank #50 for all keywords even on search on own domain name…
    Since few days, PR is now 0…

    I swear I never use black hat SEO technics such has keyword stuffing, hidden text or others stuffs like that.

    I’ve readen Webmaster Guidelines thousands of times and made some changes. The last 6 months, I’ve send 4 reconsideration request but penaly is still here…

    I’m so disapointed and sincerely don’t know why such a penalty !!! All my new posts are not indexed anymore. I like blogging very much but I like also to have my posts indexed on Google.

    Why Google don’t like my website. Why my new posts are not indexed anymore. I see thousand of websites built like mine which are very very well ranked.

    I just to know why? I’m so disapointed.
    I don’t know what to do more… Have read webmaster guidelines thousand of times.

    So please Matt, you’re my last chance… Can you tell me why this penalty. I swear I’m an honest webmaster and don’t want to cheat with Google.

    I like blogging and I want to continue. And it would be better if Google continues to index my new posts.

    Please Matt, can you give me an explanation ? I just want to understand my mistakes I I’ve done some.

    Thank you. It means a lot to me. I count on you, I know you can help me.

    Yours sincerely,

    PS: excuse my bad english, I’m french.

  34. I also use Pair and I have also had to deal with deleting files created by the “nobody” user. Usually I write a quick script as you did, and I imagine a PHP “shell” (e.g. phpshell at sourceforge) would also work.

    I was able to successfully install WP-SuperCache to my Pair account by creating the config files and directories ahead of time. I documented the steps required in a blog post ( Hopefully this will tide you over until you change providers.

    Almost all of my wordpress installation is not writable by the webserver, and I find that this blunts the impact of security holes.

  35. Ozzie’s expression is priceless – and truly tells the tale of dealing with wrought-filled update doings. [petting Ozzie]

  36. Dave (original)

    Matt, question on your post about hacked pages/sites. IF Google knows the page/site has been hacked, why do you punish the the one who GOT hacked and NOT the one who did the hacking?

  37. I was like sad looking at the blog down. I was like wondering how long would it take to put back this web blog online. I am a fan of this blog.

  38. “Matt Cutts Said,

    October 10, 2008 @ 2:07 pm

    ceejayoz, do you know if you can map just a subdomain, e.g. instead of I want to keep separate and not-a-blog.”

    Why not? Not being an MC anorak or anything, but over the years, the only thing that changes is the blog. Although saying that, your front page right now has the most info on it that I’ve ever seen. πŸ˜‰

  39. I agree with the upgrading wordpress isssue. Upgraded our blogs a few months back and I lost a few nights of sleep from the aftermath. I think at this point I will just leave them alone for while or atleast to the point where I have to upgrade because they just don’t work anymore.

  40. Glad to see you’re back, Matt. We agree wholeheartedly that the constant security upgrade treadmill on WordPress is exasperating, and being “rewarded” for it by having your site fall over when you get Dugg is just adding insult to injury. The defense of “well, your site only fails when people want to read it most, and it’s your fault for not installing an obscure, unsupported, often incompatible plugin” doesn’t seem like a good answer, either.

    There is a better way here, you know. I know you’re aware of it, but I’m disappointed so many people simply believe that massive fail is the nature of blogging software. Meanwhile, enormous Movable Type-powered sites like the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo are absorbing election-driven crowds that dwarf what even Digg can send your way. All that while not worrying constantly about being hacked.

    And if you want a professional blogging service with real support that will let you post, TypePad’s a great option as well. I have huge respect for the Blogger team, but I don’t think even they would argue they’re optimizing their feature set or functionality for serious bloggers like you, instead (understandably) concentrating on basic bloggers who’ve just started out. You’re going to want a platform with a great iPhone app and hundreds of widgets to choose from and dozens of themes that you can customize down to the pixel.

    I’d be happy to help, but most of all I think all these little bits of friction like site failures and constant security updates are a threat to keeping some of the best bloggers (like you) updating and sharing their ideas; Every little bump on the road acts like an obstacle. I hate to think of you getting fed up with it, and we’d love to be a resource as Six Apart if we can help smooth things out.

  41. Nick, I am in the same spot. Absolutely terrified to upgrade. I am going to end up paying for a new car for my Web designer one of these days.

  42. Or you could just use Movable Type.

  43. Jem

    Your cat entries make this blog 10 times more exciting.

  44. Matt, it seems a PHP file management tool like will allow you to remove files created by PHP, simply because it is PHP itself. I’ve tried it an it works for my Pair account. Perhaps this will ease your upgrade pain a little?

  45. Youz don’t move – or I bite your back knee…

  46. John G

    Lots of people do inexpensive, enterprise-class hosting for specialty sites like yours at a very affordable price (vastly less than WP’s VIP service). Contact me if you’d like to talk more… We have a lot of experience in hosting high-traffic WP blogs without a hitch.

  47. Hi Matt,

    I’m sorry to hear your blog got overloaded with traffic. To be honest, I’m kinda surprised that it couldn’t handle the load. I would’ve thought that you already get enough regular traffic to require those kinds of optimizations.

    In either case, it’s a good problem to have πŸ˜‰

  48. Hey Matt, I’ve been begging the blogger team to add nested categories to the feature list for almost a year now. I don’t think they’re listening.

    While it would be nice to get a wordpress blog, I don’t know PHP nor SQL. I could learn when I think about it I rather spend that time putting out content. At least with the blogger CMS coding a template is too far removed from editing HTML. In that way I can iterate over the template little by little. But to go to wordpress would mean I’m starting from scratch.

    But what kills me is the blogger team. If you go through their posts on Blogger Buzz and Blogger in draft they post updates once a month, IF YOU’RE LUCKY. They were were really on their game earlier last year but they progress has slowed to a literal halt the past few months.

    Don’t get me wrong, it is my opinion that Blogger is the BEST free blogging platform on the Internet today. But when it’s bad it’s REALLY bad. I mean they added stuff like reactions and stars to blog posts but you can’t even take advantage of that data (like arranging posts by highest rated or by reaction) so it’s next to useless.

    Blogger’s saving grace is the template system, but I don’t think they realize it. Were they to iterate more on the template system they’d get a lot more livejournalers to switch over.

    Matt are you in contact with any of the Blogger team? Can’t you give any constructive criticism? Mine seems to fall on deaf ears.