The Tyranny of Success

By
Real Estate Services
http://actvra.in/4

The dreaded Proxy Error. You've all seen them. Some have lost posts or comments to this scourge. Others have smashed their keyboard in frustration. Almost daily, Bob bellows boldly at me in the office: THE SITE IS DOWN! FIX IT!

What is a Proxy Error? Imagine that you've gotta go – now! You excuse yourself and fly to the restroom — only to find every toilet occupied. You wait a few seconds and do a desperate little dance, but it's too late. Hoping nobody noticed, you flee, face burning with hot shame.

During our peak load times, ActiveRain experiences a similar phenomenon. Our servers would like nothing better than to fulfill your request, but there are already 100 people in front of you. By the time your request reaches the front of the queue, our proxy/load balancer has decided that you (and everyone behind you!) has been waiting too long, and unceremoniously boots you from the line with a… Proxy Error. It doesn't sound fair, but it frees the server to continue processing requests instead of sending constant error messages. Someone with strange ears once said that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

What are we doing about it? In our previous example, imagine that someone was monopolizing a toilet while reading a magazine. You'd be outraged! Some pages on ActiveRain take orders of magnitude longer to generate than others. When enough people (or search engines) visit those pages simultaneously, our servers get tied up and can't process your request. At the highest level, we're identifying and fixing those pages.

Bah! You're just making excuses! ActiveRain is a simple site! I could fix your problems in an hour! When ActiveRain was first being developed, we had no idea that we'd be the leading social network for real estate professionals. We couldn't imagine hitting 111k+ members. Much of our code still works under the assumptions of that quainter, quieter time when we had a mere handful of users. My top priority has been to find and optimize that code. Fun fact: Last week, we deployed performance-related fixes to ActiveRain every night!

To our members: thank you! You've placed us in this enviable position. ActiveRain is too popular. We're a happy victim of success. Work will continue in earnest to stamp out the last of the error messages; already, we're seeing fewer reports, but even one error is too many. Your collective patience and gentle humor have been appreciated, and I'm proud to be a part of this community. Now, unsurprisingly, I'm headed back work!

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Comments 81 New Comment

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Rainmaker
1,358,968
Donna Harris
Realtor, CDPE & ASP - Hill Country Lakeway Austin
Regent Property Group

Finally, we get some kind of answer.  I'm not sure how relevant it is about the member count when a very small percentage of people are online at any given time, only a couple thousand, but at least it's some kind of answer.  Can't the guys pee in the sink instead of waiting for a toilet??  j/k

October 02, 2008 11:23 AM
Rainmaker
633,279
Leesa Finley
RED Properties - Raleigh NC Real Estate
RED Properties

Jorgen - Thanks for the update and letting us know that you are working on it.  The analogy was WAY too funny!

October 04, 2008 06:40 AM
Rainmaker
62,887
Doug Patterson
ABR, Broker-In-Charge
Park Place Real Estate, Broker-In-Charge

Thanks, Jorgen, for the answers to "what a proxy error" is!   I thought I probably needed to do something to my computer...which I would have problems doing.  Glad you're on top of it and can make it work for us.  Love ActiveRain!

 

December 27, 2009 02:10 PM
Rainmaker
196,326
Nick Good
www.TheGoodHomeTeam.com
The Good Home Team with Keller Williams Realty

Thanks for the update... I thought it was my internet connection (considered switching companies!) but now I know... and knowing is half the battle!

March 10, 2010 12:46 PM
Rainmaker
1,385,680
Maureen McCabe
Columbus Ohio Real Estate
HER Realtors

"111k+ members" or now 176,782 + 

You said "What are we doing about it? In our previous example, imagine that someone was monopolizing a toilet while reading a magazine. You'd be outraged! Some pages on ActiveRain take orders of magnitude longer to generate than others. When enough people (or search engines) visit those pages simultaneously, our servers get tied up and can't process your request. At the highest level, we're identifying and fixing those pages."

I say jettison the jokes, politics, recipes... especially if it is published Members Only.  Free up some valuable resources.   Outside Blogs connecting slow concerns me more than anything else.

Originally posted October 1, 2008...

March 10, 2010 01:00 PM
Anonymous
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Rainer
54,343

Jorgen Hahn

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