I've heard from some of you about our recent outage. Here's what happened, as best I can tell.

A group of machines, all of which appear to be located in China, were downloading pages from our site at a high rate. I think they were looking for places to post spam comments. It got bad enough that our internet service provider (ISP) basically turned off the web site, along with some other sites that are hosted on the same server.

We are back on, and I am instituting some new measures to try to reduce the severity of the problem in the future. One of these is that I have banned a number of networks from being able to access the site at all. These are all networks in which the worst offenders were located. I realize that this may prevent some legitimate users from reaching the site, but the choice appears to be between that and another full outage.

I have also added a math question to the comment form. It will ask you to fill in the blank in an arithmetic problem before you can post your comment. I apologize for the inconvenience that this may cause. Again, the alternative is that the web server has to process thousands of spam comments each day, which makes it slower for everyone else.

Thank you for understanding.

— Spencer

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