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
2,342,263
Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

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??

 

October 02, 2008 11:07 AM
Rainmaker
398,592
John Cannata
Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance
214-728-0449 http://TexasLoanGuy.com

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.

October 02, 2008 07:41 AM
Rainmaker
332,875
Judy Greenberg
Coldwell Banker - Buffalo Grove - Long Grove Homes
Coldwell Banker Buffalo Grove- 350 Half Day Road

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.

October 02, 2008 08:08 AM
Rainmaker
1,390,284
Maureen McCabe
Columbus Ohio Real Estate
HER Realtors

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... 

October 02, 2008 07:58 AM
Rainer
39,624
Debbie Small
REALTOR
Long & Foster Realtors

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

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

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?

 

October 02, 2008 08:36 AM
Rainmaker
194,260
Emily Lowe
Nashville TN Realtor
The Lipman Group Sotheby's International Realty

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

October 02, 2008 09:05 AM
Rainmaker
514,775
Christine OShea
Naples Florida Homes for Sale
NATIONS

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.

October 02, 2008 09:24 AM
Ambassador
962,343
Jason Crouch
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
Austin Texas Homes, LLC

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.

October 02, 2008 09:52 AM
Rainmaker
152,785
Richard Goates
Broker 01251781
Apex California Realty

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

October 02, 2008 09:55 AM
Rainmaker
188,916
Pat Whitehouse
Broker/Owner
RE/MAX 1st Olympic Lynchburg Va

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.

October 02, 2008 09:58 AM
Anonymous #75
Anonymous
Anonymous

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

October 02, 2008 10:30 AM
Anonymous #76
Anonymous
Anonymous

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

October 02, 2008 10:30 AM
Rainmaker
287,177
Pippa Mac
The Woodlands TX Real Estate
Chevaux Group Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring

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!

October 02, 2008 10:37 AM
Rainer
88,730
James Engel
KW Beverly Hills
Keller Williams Realty 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!!!

October 02, 2008 10:53 AM
Rainmaker
1,368,716
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
633,405
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
63,012
Doug Patterson
CRS, 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
198,130
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
1,390,284
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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