Sweet Designs (contest crash)

Unfortunately it looks like Amy Atlas slashdotted herself today 🙁


SWEET DESIGNS – AMY ATLAS EVENTShttp://blog.amyatlas.comWe hope you guys have had as much fun playing this game as we had putting it together and reading the posts.  We also hope that you loved the Sweet Designs Pastel Pretty chapter.…

A cool scavenger hunt contest with a 4PM entry deadline came due today at her site. My wife briefly  described the contest to me and it seems as if 7 related (and some very popular) blogs were involved or at least referenced. I am not sure of the number or type of visitors generated by the contest, but it appears as if her host’s (Rackspace.com?) database servers were not up to the task:

The error message displayed because the database servers could not handle the load

[check whoishostingthis.com for hosting report: blog.amyatlas.com Is Hosted by Rackspace Hosting IP Address:]

Contestants respond

People have resorted to Facebook to voice their woes and to get up updates from Amy as she tries to restore access to her blog. My favorite comment from somebody trying to enter the contest:

I really have to pee, but dont want to leave my computer in case I miss it.. hope the prize comes with a new desk chair too! (Nicole T. from Facebook)

I hope this ends well for all involved. My wife had a good time doing the scavenger hunt and is not upset in the least [she’s in playing with our daughter at this moment having a blast] but some people seem to have spent a lot of time on this and are a bit perturbed at the state of the contest right now 🙁

Some form of alternative entry method seems in order?

Ways to avoid or mitigate the issue

Also, my wife suggested a couple ways to avoid this type of problem:

#1 post date the entry:

WordPress makes it dead simple to post-date a blog entry

This would have resulted in people at least having a fair chance of getting in and posting a comment during the sporadic uptime the site seems to be having.

#2 Spread out the entry deadlines… since their are 7 blogs that you’d find out about the entry the from, have people that were referred by site 1 post at 4PM, site 2 at 5PM, and so on… this should distribute the load.

And I suggested the following…

#3 Use a better host, cough cough Weblogs.us 🙂 a little plug for the free blog hosting site I’ve run for the past decade 😉 we use SSDs for our databases and they generally do a great job of handling heavy loads.

#4 Use a CDN (content distribution network) or cache… the first helps by distributing the load to a number of servers, the second takes a dynamic blog page (with lots of database requests) and caches it into a more static and faster loading version…

#5 Do you have any ideas? If so, feel free to post in the comments!

UPDATE: it looks like the deadline has been postponed until tomorrow… 

[to be updated]


  • As a silent observer of most blog contests (hosted by both clients and fellow bloggers), I see the nature of them becoming more and more complicated. I just can’t imagine facilitating something like that without wanting to pull all my hair out!

    • I agreed 100% Jes! Contests/giveaways can be super tricky. It looks like this particular contest went great until the answer submission process failed 🙁

      It is nice that you’ve steadily grown your blog’s readership/traffic and have managed to do it without contests/giveaways (not that there is anything wrong with such things) 🙂

  • Samantha

    Jessica – I, too, am a silent observer. For some crazy reason today, I thought it’d be fun to participate. I did not anticipate winning, nor do I need the prize (one of 8 Kitchen Aid mixers). I just wanted to figure out the scavenger hunt. It was crazy how mad some people got. They obviously do not understand even the basics of website hosting…I truly felt bad for the woman who had dreamed the entire thing up. Hopefully in the future she can avoid these problems!! (And hopefully she didn’t pull too much of her hair out 😉 ).

    • I’ll be crossing my fingers for you tomorrow Samantha when the winners are chosen 🙂 I myself occasionally succumb to a particularly enticing contest (usually involving tech gadget giveaways) 😉 I’ve never won one but it would certainly be cool!

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