DrudgeReport brings PinkNews.co.uk to its knees

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

PinkNews.co.uk editor, Benjamin Cohen, on the price of fame and why the website went down yesterday.

PinkNews.co.uk has grown a lot since I launched the website as Britain’s first online gay news service back in July 2005. The level of our readers tends to double every month or so and I’m constantly surprised at which articles prove to be popular, and those that are not.

Yesterday, my colleague Marc was sub-editing an article concerning former US first lady, Hillary Clinton. It was a pretty unremarkable story, a gay rights group was urging voters not to re-elect her as a New York senator over her stance on same sex marriage. The article duly went up and we carried on working our way through the day’s news as usual.

Then at around 4pm, we noticed that PinkNews.co.uk was being rather slow and we were unable to log into our administration console to add new articles.

Ten minutes later, the screens went dead, the site disappeared from the net and my mobile telephone rang. “You’ve been drudged!” said the northern voice on the other end of the line.

It was Antony Johnson, of the entertainment website ContactMusic.com . He explained that Drudgereport.com, a major US news website was linking to our story on Hillary Clinton. A quick (or slow in this case) view of the server’s log files indeed showed an enormous level of traffic coming from the Drudge website. In the space of an hour, we had received more visitors than we usually receive in a week.

A number of irate calls to the hosting company managing the PinkNews.co.uk website found that the level of traffic had caused the computer hosting the website to crash and that it was refusing to come back online.

Then to the rescue came Serverstream a London based hosting company. I had used them for companies I had worked for in the past and I still had the managing director, Jonathan Obadia’s telephone number in my mobile phone. He reassured me that they would be able to get a new machine ready for us to use before midnight and not to fret.

Sure enough at ten o’clock, PinkNews.co.uk began to go back online. Slowly but surely, I transferred all the files to the new machine from a backup copy made earlier in the day. By 4 am, the site was working smoothly again, but now ready to receive anything that the DrudgeReport throws at us.

All in all it was a little lesson in the price of fame and a stark reminder that PinkNews.co.uk is no longer a hobby, it’s a real business with employees, offices and shareholders.

It also needs to start making some money, so do visit our sponsors who kindly support our mission of telling the world about the crucial issues in the lives of the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.