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Published on November 19th, 2009 | by Darren Byrne


How Zac Efron Killed Culch.ie

John Smith

This is John Smith, do not hotlink to him

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for Culch.ie’s downtime yesterday evening. It was a strange one – not the usual Server Timeout, Bad Gateway, WordPress Error, DNS lookup problem or any of the other many impossible-to-decipher reasons for a website to fail. In fact, we know exactly why the site was down. Zac Efron killed it!!!

Fine, he may not have logged in, targeted us and set about taking down all of our hard work, but it’s still his fault.

Just after 5pm yesterday evening, the site began to display an error where neither the main site nor the admin side of the site could be accessed. I bounded over to Twitter ask asked @Blacknight what was the issue. Blacknight is the hosting provider for Culch.ie and a number of other sites I administrate. They immediately came back to me:

Blacknight Twitter Message

Now, that seemed fair enough. I didn’t know what image it was, but it was logical that if a few hundred people were linking in to the site at one time, there might be problems. But what did all of this have to do with Zac Efron? Then Blacknight gave me some more info:

Blacknight Twitter Message

Hmmm…I knew what it was. It was an old post of mine from April, Movie News which included a bit about the teen heartthrob. Still, I thought I could delete the image and problem would be solved. No such luck, the irritatingly handsome brat was too smart for me.

Blacknight Twitter Message

That was the point at which they lost me. I didn’t know I had any concurrent connections on my vhost to begin with, never mind that they could be maxed out.  Had I known this I would have looked after them better, taken them for walks, read to them, given them nice holidays in sunny climes. But Blacknight immediately came back with a reassuring tweet:

Blacknight Twitter Message

A lot of people were watching the conversation back and forth between @Culch_ie and @Blacknight, one of whom discovered an interesting fact:

Donal O'Flynn's Twitter Message

Dónal wasn’t wrong – if you search for Zac Efron on Google Images, ours is the first image you’ll get (well, it was prior to its deletion).

Further investigation revealed that it was a Facebook application that was linking to the image. It wasn’t long before Blacknight had Culch.ie back in working order and they even emailed me will a full explanation as to what went wrong. Paul came back to me first:

Basically someone who admins a facebook app took the picture you had and did what we call “hot linked” to it from the facebook app. The facebook app in question has around 50k users and they must have all been seeing the image when using the app.

To put it in context for you:
# grep ZacEfron002.jpg -c access_log

Yep, he lost me again there, but an explanation followed:

This command counts the number of times ZacEfron002.jpg appeared in your logs in the last few hours. Yes that figure is 536k image views. This is a HUGE amount of traffic for any website to have in 1 day let alone 1 image on your website.

You read that correctly – over half a million hits.

We contacted Facebook and the App’s developer and within an hour or two the traffic started to die off and your site was back online.

FYI it was an online dating app which seemingly is a “hot topic” on the internet right now.

So, from what I gather, there’s some large sweaty guy out there, posing as the Hollywood star in order to lure unsuspecting women (or men, perhaps) using our image of Zac Efron. I think I need a shower.

Niall further clarified the issue earlier today:

It’s fairly common unfortunately, and we often see it with some of the licensed images we use on the various blogs. Often there’s easy ways around it such as http://www.mark8t.com/2009/02/07/hotlink-prevention-how-to-stop-people-from-linking-to-your-images/

However, the problem in this case was the sheer bulk of hits to the image as it was used on a fairly active facebook app. Your site on the server has a connection limit of about 100 at a time, which normally you’ll come nowhere close to. The reason for the 503 [error] last night was that there was hundreds of simultaneous connections, so the server was basically saying enough is enough.

Okay, I won’t pretend to understand all the ins and outs of it, but I just want to thank Blacknight for sorting out our problem so quickly and for being a generally reliable host.

As for that darn Zac Efron – let this be the last time he gets mentioned on Culch.ie. The young whippersnapper.


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About the Author

Blogger, writer, movie buff, amateur dramatist and all round nice guy. When I'm not spouting about on Culch.ie, I can be found Tweeting inanities @DarrenByrne or @Culch_ie. I am the admin behind Culch.ie and if you want to contact me for anything, drop me a mail.

14 Responses to How Zac Efron Killed Culch.ie

  1. paddypadman says:

    Gosh Darn you young man! *shakes fist*

  2. Niall says:

    That is all kinds of crazy! Damn “star of 13 going on 30”!

    In a fact that’s in no way interesting, on my blog “Neil Patrick Harris” is the most searched for term, followed by “Chris Pine shirtless”. Now I’ve never even used the word shirtless but there it is.

  3. Thanks for the mention 😉
    Fair play to the folks over at Blacknight for sorting out the issue so quick, they host my (not very often updated!) site too and it seems no problem is too much hassle for them to sort out!

  4. Darragh says:

    So you don’t want people searching for Zac Efron and getting to your site because any time Zac Efron gets mentioned, you get more traffic from the people searching for Zac Efron and images of him – him being Zac Efron?

    Enough said.

  5. Gillian says:

    Very funny story altogether. Don’t understand that whole Efron buzz…

  6. Michele says:

    Thanks for the kind mention.
    It’s always nice to get positive feedback from clients.


  7. Ronan says:

    @Niall The single hit searches are usually very interesting. I get all sorts of freaky porn stuff, which never makes any sense. Don’t know how google indexes stuff some times.

  8. Darren Byrne says:

    @Niall I’m quite pleased that the top search term on my blog is David Bowie. The second is James Dean. The thrid is Zooey Deschanel. How hip is my blog!!

    @Dónal Not at all. Thank you.

    @Darragh I’m neither that cynical, nor that desperate to increase traffic. I just found the whole thing rather funny.

    @Gillian But he’s so dreamy…

    @Michele Credit where it’s due. I was very surprised to have such a rapid response on Twitter.

  9. Dude, I was taking the piss. It’s why I mentioned Zac Efron so many times in my comment. Cynicism not required.

  10. Darren Byrne says:

    @Darragh Zac who? Oh, Zac Efron. He’s the guy from High School Musical. Is Megan Fox in that? I heard Jedward might be in the next one. Also Thierry Henry and his hand ball. Also…Sarah Palin (does she still trend?)…

  11. Darren, Zac Efron never won a Eircom Golden Spider Award 2009, never kissed Megan Fox in any of the High School Musical series, certainly didn’t vote for Jedward in XFactor or sign the petition for Jedward to rename Henry Street because of the FIFA decision to appeal the France match and the controversial decision made under a New Moon. Voices have been raised in Thanksgiving (about Zac Efron, you understand) but you can say what you like #justbecause about the Open Web Awards but ultimately yes, Sarah Palin? Still Trendy.

  12. bngr says:

    That’s a gas post. And funny comments.

    But you still have to love the zefron. You can’t ban us from using him so we could start referring to him as Z@fron or Z@c @fron.

  13. Should have changed the image to something rude but kept the link information the same… Take that internet

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