Redditors accidentally take down Wikipedia

Redditors inadvertently learned just how powerful they were when a link lead to the outage of the almighty Wikipedia.


Kevin Morris

Internet Culture

Published Nov 28, 2011   Updated Jun 3, 2021, 12:55 am CDT

Combine the charismatic pull of Wikipedia programmer Brandon Harris’ gossamer locks with social news site Reddit’s traffic and you get a whole lot of power. Enough, it turns out, to take down all of Wikipedia.

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You likely know Harris from his imposing perch above every single page on Wikipedia. It’s all part of the non-profit’s most recent fundraising drive. On Sunday, Harris took to Reddit for a live question and answer session on the site.

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According to Asher Feldman, a member of Wikpiedia’s technical team, the outage happened after Harris linked to a page that was never intended to receive a lot of traffic:

“It appears that we were actually taken down by the Reddit community, after a link to the fundraising stats page was posted, ” Asher wrote in a post to the site Gossamer Threads.

Shouldn’t you have known better, Harris?

If he had posted a link to, say, Barack Obama’s Wikipedia page, the servers could have handled the traffic just fine. But that stats page wasn’t designed to receive lots of public attention, and when it went down it took the whole site down with it. (For a more complete explanation, check this Reddit thread).

The outage lasted about ten minutes. The last time Wikipedia went down, as far as we could tell, was after its European servers overheated.

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Brandon Harris: Officially as dangerous as a server meltdown.

Photo by Sarabbit

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*First Published: Nov 28, 2011, 4:06 pm CST