The Tyranny of Success

By
Services for Real Estate Pros
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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Ambassador
2,390,217
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

So, the problem is server capacity, huh??? 

I can identify with that.  I ran out of server capacity in June.  I replaced my server with a new more powerful one.  I seem to understand that AR was improving server capacity at about the same time. 

One thing we know for sure is that "fixes" don't work.  "Patches" don't work.  They merely delay the inevitable.  It would seem that a basic upgrade in server capacity is needed. 

I'm a loyal member and I'll stick it out.  In the long run, these proxy errors will cost.  ActiveRain will get a "reputation" for instability and lack of access.  Crimony, if slow web sites lose viewers, what happens when a viewer gets a proxy error message?  They are gone.  In fact, I've tried to post a blog or two and found the dreaded "Proxy" message and just took my new post to another blog and posted there.  Google finds everything everywhere. 

What I've done is have back up blogs.  I try to post to ActiveRain because it's the best.  However, if ActiveRain is down, which is so often is, I just go to the next blog on my list to post. 

We can't run my daily schedule around the up time of ActiveRain.  This is a problem that ActiveRain needs to solve and solve quickly.  When Google crawls and caches a Proxy message. that's what is cached until the next crawl.

Having a photo of a gorgous Nordic hunk sitting on a rock isn't going to help when we get an error message.  Or will it??

 

Oct 02, 2008 07:37 AM #64
Rainmaker
398,596
John Cannata
214-728-0449 http://TexasLoanGuy.com - Frisco, TX
Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance

Jorgen, Thank you for the post.  I was one of many that sent an email saying - OMG, what is up with the errors?  We truly appreciate all of the work you and the crew do for this website.  Love the analogy.  I'll be more patient.

Oct 02, 2008 07:41 AM #65
Rainmaker
334,075
Judy Greenberg
Coldwell Banker Buffalo Grove- 350 Half Day Road - Buffalo Grove, IL
Coldwell Banker - Buffalo Grove - Long Grove Homes

Although it is frustrating, I always know that you guys are on top of it...  Gives me a chance to walk my dog since he is having proxy problems too.

Oct 02, 2008 07:46 AM #66
Rainmaker
1,393,311
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Get well ActiveRain!  I wrote about ActiveRain needing a "fail whale" you could sell the loyal ActiveRain members mugs and Tshirts with the ActiveRain fail image...  a loyal Twitterer tattoed the "fail whale" on his leg... 

Oct 02, 2008 07:58 AM #67
Rainer
39,787
Debbie Small
Long & Foster Realtors - Martinsburg, WV
REALTOR

Thanks for the great explanation and your efforts to correct the issue. Everything is smooth sailing this morning.

Oct 02, 2008 08:19 AM #68
Rainer
207,212
Shane OnullGorman
Eau Claire Realty, Inc. - Eau Claire, WI
Eau Claire Wisconsin, Real Estate Agent & Realtor- Buy or Sell

might I ask what exactly does this run on? What's in the guts of it all? Are the servers centrally located? What programs are involved?

 

Oct 02, 2008 08:36 AM #69
Rainmaker
195,314
Emily Lowe
The Lipman Group Sotheby's International Realty - Nashville, TN
Nashville TN Realtor

I always wondered what the proxy error meant :)...

Oct 02, 2008 09:05 AM #70
Rainmaker
525,464
Christine OShea
NATIONS - Naples, FL
Naples Florida Homes for Sale

Thanks Jorgen, I did a Localism post yesterday with lots of photos, submitted it, waited, held my breath, deeply heald my breath and wahlah!!! it posted.  Thanks for all your hard work.

Oct 02, 2008 09:24 AM #71
Ambassador
970,437
Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)

Jorgen - Thanks for taking the time to put this in easy-to-understand language.  I had no idea what a proxy error was before now.

Oct 02, 2008 09:52 AM #72
Rainmaker
152,785
Richard Goates
Apex California Realty - Redding, CA
Broker 01251781

I think they refer to this as "Growing Pains"...the question is can you handle another 50k members without a meltdown? With the way AR is growing I would hope that everyone is thinking BIG now and getting a jump on whats to come...MORE members!

 

Good luck on your upgrades....lets hope they start soon....

 

Rick

Oct 02, 2008 09:55 AM #73
Rainmaker
188,916
Pat Whitehouse
RE/MAX 1st Olympic Lynchburg Va - Lynchburg, VA
Broker/Owner

Jorgen-I don't if you'll have the time to read all these comments or not but when I just logged on and saw this blog I had to smile because I hadn't e-mailed AR about it I had actually thrown it out there as a question to anyone in a blog last night. I noticed just now you posted this blog at 7, however I didn't see that blog til this morning so this is like WOW! Ask and ye shall receive. I see from all the comments I was not alone in getting that message. I feel better just knowing that and at least knowing why it's happening. Reading your blog was even better than getting any responses on my blog as I'm new so I don't get too many comments yet. Thank you so much for this blog. My question was answered by the AR team, it doesn't get any better than that. I have noticed though that it still will post a blog or a comment if you get that Proxy Error after you hit the submit button. It has for me anyways. Thank you for all that you do.

Oct 02, 2008 09:58 AM #74
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

I do websites myself.  You have my most sincere sympathies!!

Oct 02, 2008 10:30 AM #75
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

I do websites myself.  You have my most sincere sympathies!!

Oct 02, 2008 10:30 AM #76
Rainmaker
287,477
Pippa Mac
Chevaux Group Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring - The Woodlands, TX
The Woodlands TX Real Estate

Jorgen, thanks for the explanation!  When I'm doing a new blog I now copy and paste the whole thing before I submit, just to avoid the proxy error and LOSE everything!

Oct 02, 2008 10:37 AM #77
Rainer
88,830
James Engel
Keller Williams Realty Beverly Hills - Beverly Hills, CA
KW Beverly Hills

You guys are doing an amazing job. The growth that AR has experienced and the technology and services you guy shave been putting in place is being greatly appreciated. And the proxy error is kinda like when you are 2nd in line at starbux at 8:56 am, trying to make the 9:00 am office meeting, then you see the person in front of you take out a laundry list of lattes. Keep up the good work!!!

Oct 02, 2008 10:53 AM #78
Rainmaker
1,379,945
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, PLR - Austin, TX
Realtor, CDPE & ASP - Hill Country Lakeway Austin

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

Oct 02, 2008 11:23 AM #79
Rainmaker
633,407
Leesa Finley
RED Properties - Wake Forest, NC
RED Properties - Raleigh NC Real Estate

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

Oct 04, 2008 06:40 AM #80
Rainer
63,112
Doug Patterson
Park Place Real Estate, Broker-In-Charge - Winston-Salem, NC
CRS, ABR, 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!

 

Dec 27, 2009 02:10 PM #81
Rainmaker
201,060
Nick Good
The Good Home Team with Keller Williams Realty - Allen, TX
www.TheGoodHomeTeam.com

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

Mar 10, 2010 12:46 PM #82
Rainmaker
1,393,311
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

"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...

Mar 10, 2010 01:00 PM #83
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Jorgen Hahn

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