Iran Bombs Columbia! President’s Visit Sparks Web Overload for School Newspaper

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By: Joe Strupp

Today’s controversial visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Columbia University has sparked a Web traffic overload to the student newspaper’s Web site, according to editors, who say they are getting 160 hits per second, a pace that could produce a year’s worth of traffic in one day.

“There has not been a heavier Web demand than this,” said John Davisson, a senior and editor in chief of the Columbia Spectator, the independent student publication. “We are seeing a normal day’s Web traffic about every 4 minutes.” Links from the Drudge Report may be largely responsible.

He said the Web site began seeing Web hit increases last week when the visit by Ahmadinejad, who speaks at 1:30 p.m. EST, was announced. But he contends that the overload occurred this morning when traffic reached a level that its server could not handle.

Davisson said the web pages remain in operation and accessible, but the traffic has caused only a small percentage of online users to get through.

“It is still up, but it can only handle so many commands at once,” Davisson said. “So it looks like the site isn?t working. Everyone in the world seems to be looking at the site.” He blamed much of the traffic on links from Drudge and several conservative blogs, as well as New York magazine’s daily blog.

“We have a very high-performance server, but it is not able to handle this,” the editor added. “We did not expect traffic levels this high.”

Davisson said access to a special Ahmadinejad page is more accessible. It was launched last week and includes numerous entries related to the Iranian president’s visit. In addition, the student editors published an eight-page supplement to today’s print paper on the visit.

The newspaper also plans to have one of its staff blog live from the speech this afternoon on the Ahmadinejad page. The paper editorialized last week in favor of allowing the president to speak, Davisson said.

“It is a little frustrating,” he said of the traffic overload. “But we are very proud of the print edition.”

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