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May 07, 2007

slashdotted and Why the Rich Get Richer


It started with a post by CmdrTaco on Slashdot saying: “replicant108 wrote in to give us Tom Evslin's fascinating account of working for Microsoft in the early 90s.”  All of a sudden traffic skyrocketed to over 100x the normal hourly volume for the  Fractals of Change website.  Traffic has stayed at those levels for the last twenty-four hours although it’s leveled off and probably will decline soon.  What’s interesting – and what illustrates why the rich get richer – is the shift in where the traffic is coming from.


Yesterday (above), according to MyBlogLog, the vast majority of readers were coming directly from Slashdot.  But already some followon effect is visible.  Del.icio.us/popular and popurls are also contributing.  Ordinarily I don’t get tagged often enough on these services to reach the top pages.  But, even assuming people who read this post only tag it with del.icio.us the same percentage of the time that they tag my other posts, the absolute number of tags is much bigger because there are many more readers. Now this post is near the top of the list for popular items.  Items near the top of the list get disproportionately more traffic than items further down the list (that power curve thing again!).

There is also an interaction going on with StumbleUpon.  A post entitled Why a Great Programmer is Worth 50 Good Ones has been getting a steady trickle of several dozen links a day from there since being stumbled back in December.  Don’t know why this suddenly mushroomed into the hundreds but almost certainly related to being slashdotted.


Above is a report on traffic so far today.  Note that digg now is an even more significant source of traffic than SlashDot.  Why did the article get dugg so often? Because it had been slashdotted and made the popular page on de.licio.us and was getting a boost from StumbleUpon.

This surge of traffic will die away.  It represents readers who have come just for the recommended article.  But, if past experience is any guide, some small percentage of these first time readers will become regulars and most of them will subscribe by RSS or by FeedBlitz email.  Moreover, some are becoming online readers of my novel hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble and a much smaller percentage are buying the hardcover edition.   Fifteen minutes of fame has a long tail of permanently increased readership.

There ought to be a marketing lesson in here but I don’t know how to get slashdotted;  it just happened.  Subject matter might help; the motto of SlashDot is “NEWS FOR NERDS.  STUFF THAT MATTERS.” So a nerd like me writing about Bill Gates is a good fit.

Related post: Life on The Long Tail – Why a Power Rule Curve for Web Pages?

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