Apr 29, 2013

The Hacker News effect

In this post I wanted to share what it looks like when you get featured on Hacker News.

Last September I wrote this piece about what it's like to work in a startup. The post got featured on Hacker News and got a decent amount of hits.

Today I came across this post. In the post Damian Sowers is sharing his very similar story about getting featured on HN.

His Analytics snapshot looks a lot like mine:

Hacker News analytics

Now I didn't check the exact amount of concurrent users on the site, but remember it being around 200 while I was staring at the analytics real-time view. The whole HN Effect lasted a couple of days in total and brought in a good number of visitors.

I remember being a little bit scared if my blog would handle the traffic. I am running the blog on an AWS Micro instance. Yep, a little box with not much resources.

But the site didn't crash. I checked out the CPU consumption and some other metrics from the AWS console just couple of days after the post and CPU was at about 5% most of the time. It peaked a bit at some point but the HTTP server never went down.

I used Node.js to build this blog. Node itself has been great in all my projects because it does not eat up the hardware resources when the load increases. Another thing that probably helped was that the server is caching all posts in memory. It only fetches the blog posts once from the database and after that it's only matter of pushing data to clients.

Obviously I haven't been blogging much lately so the traffic went down slowly :)

Cheers, Kai

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