Friday, November 4, 2005

Blog Meltdown?

   I've noticed a trend recently.  Or, at least I think I have.  I have certainly noticed a few datapoints that look like a trend.  Blog software is failing to scale.  For all the penetration of blogs and the millions of people hosting them, they are starting to fail.  Here are a few examples:  Scoble's comments started failing.  Wil Wheaton found his blog FUBARdN.  Belmont Club got too big for blogspot.  I'm sure there are lots of other examples but those are the few that I've noticed in the past few months.  In each case, the author of the blog had to move to a new location and start again.  This is a painful process for everyone.  Users need to remember the new url, RSS readers need to be redirected, bookmarks updated, and search engines need to realize that the old site isn't the best answer.  As I write this Scoble's new site is #2 on Google, #8 on MSN Search, and #13 on Yahoo.

   Why are these sites failing?  I think there are two contributing factors.  First, the concept of a blog means that it is often run by a normal person.  That means a person without an IT staff to back them up.  Once a database starts corrupting itself, you have a lot of work if you want to fix things.  This might explain WWdN but not Scoble or Belmont Club which both ran on large blogging sites that should, in theory, have had an IT staff behind it.  Perhaps not an IT staff dedicated to that site, but at least one committed to the code in general.  This comes to my second contention:  much of the blog code is poorly written.  I suspect that much of this code was hacked together quickly and wasn't really built for or tested to high stability.  It takes a different sort of code to merely get something working than it does to get something to scale really big.  I think in many ways the web is just starting to learn this.  Many successful websites are still overgrown proofs of concept.  They haven't had the major shaking-out period that something of this scale normally has.

   Are these three sites just anomalies or are they signs of things to come?  I suspect that there are a lot more failing sites waiting in the wings. 


  1. That's all true, plus the plumbing (RSS and OPML) are absolutely awful formats. I wrote about RSS a while ago here ( and OPML is almost as dumb (

  2. I certainly hope you're not referring to the Support Staff taking care of MY blog at MSN Spaces? :-)