Archive for November, 2007

On web counters and distraction

November 29, 2007

We’ve been without a web counter for a few days, (showing how many people are arriving at our site and where they’re coming from) and I figure my productivity has gone up by 10% or more.

It’s not that I was spending 10% of my day gazing at it, but checking it was the starting point for a change in direction. I would visit sites that linked to us, perhaps leave a comment or email them, and end up spending 1/2 hour before getting back to “work”. One could say that’s a part of work these days, and while that’s true to a degree, my time could be better spent elsewhere.

My day is already full of internal and external interruptions. They’re par for the course and I don’t resent them, but they do make it hard to get into thinking work (writing, long-term planning, etc) which are important but fragile tasks. They’re hard to get into and easy to fall out of when someone taps you on the shoulder. (Programming is also in this category which is why it’s important for companies to protect programmers from needless interruptions.)

Without a counter I’m trading off easy-and-fun work for hard-but-important work. The kid in me wants that damn counter back, but the adult in me is pleased with how much more I’m getting done. It is important to have a counter so you’re not flying blind, but I’m wondering if someone else should watch it, and ping me when something truly urgent/important/interesting happens.

Anyone with similar experiences? Ideas?


Trolls incoming!

November 2, 2007


Today was stressful.

The number of people online at Ask500 climbed from around 60 up to 130, the highest we’ve had so far. Registrations were speeding up and then we found that some of the new users were posting nasty questions and comments.


Evidently there are groups of people out there who get together, target a site, register en masse and stomp all over it. We caught it pretty quickly and spent the next few hours cleaning it up. We closed registration, created ways to find and deal with abusers, opened registration back up and got in touch with people who’d had problems signing up.

I guess fighting abuse is just one of those things everyone has to handle. As traffic scales up it becomes more common. I had hoped we’d get more time to happily implement new features before having to deal with it.

In any case, we have a few more tools now to deal with the next wave, whenever that arrives.