To clarify about the number of guests... at

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Old June 22nd, 2007, 11:50 AM   #1
Obstreperous Rex
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To clarify about the number of guests...

Those who look at our "What's Going On" box at the top of the forum index page have probably noticed some extraordinary numbers recently involving how many un-registered lurkers or "guests" are currently browsing the forum.

For example, just a few moments ago, for currently active users, we had a total of 1,117 connections, with 39 members and 1078 guests... not to mention the most users ever online statistic was recently 1,486 on June 20th 2007.

You might be wondering, what's up with that? Well, what's up is that those numbers are not at all accurate due to the way the forum software works plus an unfortunate consequence regarding a robot search spider. And the issue is not unique to DV Info Net.

The forum software engine that we use here, vBulletin, is highly regarded throughout the web as the single best message board system currently available (and we've been using it for a long time, since we began back in 2001; in fact we were the first site in the digital video market to adopt it). However it has an annoying drawback... it makes no distinction between human guests and robot guests. While I sure wish that they would define a "guest" as a pair of human eyeballs, unfortunately they lump all unregistered connections together and label the entire batch as "guests."

Combine this feature with the Yahoo Slurp Spider. Unlike other search engines which index sites such as ours using only a handful of connections at any given time, the Yahoo indexing robot instead opens hundreds and hundreds of simultaneous connections. This is an issue for Yahoo which is known across the web. It can present a real problem for a server when all of those Slurp Spider connections begin to crowd out legitimate humans, whether they're members or lurkers. Here on DV Info Net, the actual ratio of registered members to lurking guests (that is, human beings) is more like 1:6 or 1:8. Certainly not 1:20.

The fix for this issue is to place a limitation upon the Slurp Spider robot within our server which will cut down on the number of connections that Yahoo is allowed to have. I'll initiate that change today, but it's said to take about a week or ten days to become effective. I'm not at all concerned about losing hits from bonafide Yahoo searches; most of our search traffic comes from Google anyway.

So that's the deal; it's probably not all that important but I believe that a statistic like the number of connections to the site should be an accurate reflection of the number of real, live pairs of human eyeballs and not robot search spiders.

Beware of other vBulletin message boards that you encounter which might boast about their popularity by pointing to the number of "guests" they have lurking their site... I guarantee that the vast majority of those connections belong to the hideously multi-tentacled Yahoo Slurp Spider.

Just an FYI,

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Old June 22nd, 2007, 12:08 PM   #2
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Yes, I was wondering about that. Thanks for "solving the mystery", Chris.

Also, a lot of guests must be here to learn, so I don't think of them as "lurkers". I prefer to call them "lurners".
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Old June 22nd, 2007, 12:19 PM   #3
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Ha, thats very interesting... I never knew about anything like that..

Originally Posted by David Knaggs View Post
...Also, a lot of guests must be here to learn, so I don't think of them as "lurkers". I prefer to call them "lurners".
Ha, thats a good one David.

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Old June 22nd, 2007, 12:19 PM   #4
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Yes Chris, but do you know how to make donuts? Thanks for all you do dude.
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Old June 22nd, 2007, 12:20 PM   #5
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Aaah, that explains why search engines can list findings of posts only a few minutes old - that always perplexed me.
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