Guest question: Why is this "bored" so slow?

Disclaimer: This is an honest question and not meant to provoke a negative reaction.

I’m a recent arrival here, a FNG if you like and have found that at times this message “bored” labours while navigating through the manner insightful and humours threads. The infamous “blimp attack” is what brought me here. Having said that I know it’s not my broadband connection as I’m sitting on a 3 Mb connection; is the message board on a dedicated server? What backbone connection does the server have? Is this just a recent development or par for the course? I would like to know as $15 is not much for a annual subscription yet if the board is always this slow either someone is getting rich or someone has a poor host company.

As for my contribution to the discussion, if you have a Telecom question I would be more than happy to assist.


Can’t edit! “manner” should read “many”


This should be in the ATMB (About this message board) forum really. Anyway, the board isn’t always slow, mainly just during periods of high traffic. This is the second biggest VbBulletin Message Board on the WWW at least that is what people said a while ago. I assume it still is. A message board like this is much more taxing on the server than one that just sends out the same web page over and over. Each request for a page or thread must be created dynamically to be sent to each person. In addition, people run searches all the time and that sucks up a huge amount of resources.

However, the board is much, much faster than it used to be. When I joined in 2000, it would literally take minutes for pages to load. Server upgrades and bandwidth increases have sped things up dramatically.

Don’t worry, if you stick around, you will be hooked and stay up posting till 4:00 am and then the server is really fast.

MOved to ATMB, from GQ. ATMB is for questions about the operation of the Board.

samclem GQ moderator.

Thank you.

bingham you’ll be glad to know that you’re member number 49769. There are nearly 50,000 other members out there who have the same problem. Add to that uncounted numbers of people who just lurk, and you can see the size of this place. It’s a miracle that it works as wonderfully as it does.

You think this is slow?? You should have joined up a year or two back. Now THAT was slow!

My solution to the SDMB being slow is tabbed browsing. I load up the forum, then open the threads I want to read in new tabs. Then I can read each tab sequentially, as it is already loaded by the time I get to it.

To answer your question, it is because the server(s?) that run the SDMB are heavily loaded at times. I am sure they could get more computer horsepower under the hood, but as with most everything else in life, the solution is money. They have to balance performance with a price people are willing to pay.

Why is the OP calling it the board “bored”? If it weren’t for the quotation marks, I’d assume it was a typo but it seems intentional.

I do the same thing but I don’t think we, and the hundreds of others that probably do the same thing are helping any by doing so,

I assumed he was “bored” waiting for the “board” to load, just like the people who call www the world wide wait.

If you are going to read a set number of posts (like all of the posts that interest you) then tabbing is better than going back since you won’t be reloading the thread list page over and over. If you are only going to read for a set amount of time then tabbing adds more of a load on the SDMB server.

A bit of history for the new guy, and everyone else too, I guess. Y’all wanna hear a story?

(Get a drink, this is a long story. Heck, pack a lunch.)

We’ve always been somewhat of an experiment for our corporate parent, The Chicago Reader. Their deal is putting out the weekly paper and that’s their main focus. They do have some ancillary offerings (now more than ever before!), but back when all this started, it was the weekly paper and some 900 phone lines and Cecil’s syndicated column, which they sold mostly to other alternative newspapers. We’re not talking *The New York Times * here, okay?

That was the state of affairs until the Straight Dope went to cyberspace in 1996 on AOL. The Reader never imagined anyone would pay for online content until AOL came calling and paid nicely for the privilege for several years.

When AOL abandoned all paid content (and started charging instead), the Reader decided they’d experiment a little more; they had a website that was just sitting, as they hadn’t decided exactly what their online presence was going to be, but everybody said you gotta have a website to make it in business, so they had one but were still figuring out what to do with it. And originally we were going to try it for like 90 days, with the full expectation that people would lose interest and that would be the end of it.

To everyone’s everlasting surprise, 90 days later, it was bigger than ever. The Reader was amused . . . and we hung in there.

They kept expecting we were gonna die off any day now . . . and we just kept ticking. Service was always kinda on the slow side – and worse when there was any sort of crowd online, but we weren’t charging any money and trying not to hit the Reader hard and were just glad to be here. Truth to tell, we kinda hoped they’d just forget about us and not think about the fact that we were using their resources and not contributing to the bottom line or even covering our expenses.

It was more trouble that it was worth to figure out a way to charge money. The software we were using had no way of allowing for subscriptions or even donations. Besides, the IRS says you can’t donate to a corporation, so all the folks that wanted this place to be like PBS were really disappointed. Charging money was going to be a bookkeeping nightmare. We didn’t want to be more of pain in the patoot to the Reader than we already were, so we just kept hanging out and hoping for the best. It was a lot of flying under the radar.

We were on their backup server, which was puny and slow, and the board was slower than mole-asses, that’s the truth. We used to say to people that complained about the slow service, “Well, if you’re that unhappy, we’ll refund your money, how’s that?”

To their credit, our folks put up with the aggravation and stuck around.

Got too big for the original board software we had, and tech found us some more. Still didn’t have a way to charge money, though. Got hacked a couple of times, and they could have killed us off at those times . . . but they didn’t. They redid the database and we kept on. The new board software was not perfect, but better than what we had used before. It was still slow but we were still in business, and we kept thinking, okay, we’ll get a new server and then we’ll fly!

They finally upgraded to another server. They bought us a new one, yaay! We thought we’d have power to spare . . . we burned through it in less than 90 days. Back to being slow. It was too much demand for too little supply, but they were not about to buy us another server; dammit, they just bought us one!

We upgraded software again. We optimized the server. It was better, but still crappy, especially at peak times.

Finally, the software accommodated subscriptions and the Reader was ready to try a subscription basis; management figured it was time to see if all the folks that had offered to throw money at them for all these years really meant it. By that time, they had paid over 100K for the privilege of carrying this site and were well aware of it. The smart money was betting that as soon as we started charging, board traffic would drop to a trickle and then those that were left would have all the access they could eat.

Once again, to their surprise, people signed up and traffic stayed about the same, and even rose a little. This site has been the little engine that could; it has just kept on keeping on through everything.

By that time, demand for the SDMB was so heavy that the Reader could get nothing done online, including in-house usage and all the online offerings they had developed in the meantime. They throttled us down so that we weren’t hogging all the pipe . . . it still wasn’t enough.

So a few months ago they shifted us to an outside host. We’re still not ramped up as high as maybe we could be, but experience has taught us that as far as this site is concerned, demand always rises to exceed supply. The Reader could go broke on this . . . but they’re not gonna go there. As always, what we got to work with is what we got.

It’s still slow at times, but it’s better than it’s been in the past; with the move to the new server, the need to do backups was eliminated, so it’s all SD 24/7, another plus. Not as fast as some folks would like, but mostly everybody gets what they want without too much inconvenience most of the time. Of course, we’re always one slashdot mention away from being totally swamped, but that’s true of most everywhere.

While the Reader is not directly involved in the day to day operations of the site, this site is their property and we do ultimately answer to them. The board is staffed by volunteers; the tech side is the same guys that do everything else at the Reader, inside and outside. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the tech guys over there also change lightbulbs and fix phones; it’s a small company and they keep every bit of it running. Oh, and they put out a paper every week, too; that’s still their main focus and where the bulk of their attention goes. We are way down on their “to-do” list and that is unlikely to change.

If I can be allowed to say so, this is an exceptional community and I believe anyone that falls into it has an opportunity to hang with some of the greatest folks on the planet. And, as Cecil has already pointed out, a few dipsticks. But they’re okay too. Mostly.

It’s still not without some problems. But it’s good, and some days, damn near perfect. And that’s close enough. As I write this, it’s close enough for yours truly and 4,291 of my fellow inmates. We all think we’re on to something special. Hope you do too.

your humble TubaDiva

It ain’t just crap that runs downhill, sweetie. Good stuff does too. The exceptionalness begins with you, Lynn, Gaudere, Arnold, Ed, and all the other great folks at the top. We really don’t thank you enough. So, thank you.

To the OP, believe it or not, the occasional slowness is part of the board’s charm. Sometimes, things are worth waiting for. A thing not anticipated is a thing not appreciated. It isn’t hard to find here the very best information and debates on the Internet. As just one example, there are better discussions here on the existence of God than there are at forums dedicated to philosophy. I know this because I’ve moderated them. While other boards are still babbling about Anselm, we discuss the ontological argument by mapping it out with advanced modal logic and finding the core premise where we all disagree: ~~G. You don’t get those kinds of discussions elsewhere.

The insight, wit, and intelligence of the posters here are a notch above most other places. Yes, we have some immature school kids and some sour old geezers who are here just to pass the time, but you soon enough learn who’s who and what’s what. Although slanted to the left by sheer numbers, the conservatives, libertarians, and authoritarians are the cream of the Internet crop. Most debates, whether about God or politics or philosophy end in a draw, not because they are boring, but because of the quality of arguments brought by all sides.

When I came here five years ago, my intention was to share my vast knowledge with these poor atheists and leftists — to teach them what they likely had not heard. What a fool I was. I ended up learning more in the last five years than in all the rest of my life. If your game is learning, this is the table where you want to sit.

SUGGESTION: Why not flesh this post out a bit more and post in Cecil’s collumns as a History of the SDMS’s?

Hear, hear, Tuba and Liberal!