Dave asks: “When I get Slashdotted we get about 5000 reads. I’ve noticed that number is about what some Manila and Radio sites have gotten when they were Slashdotted. Now, according to Joel Spolsky he gets about 400,000 reads from a Slashdot link, about 80 times the flow. Now here’s the question. Why?”

Actually, I said 500,000, not 400,000, and I was referring to hits, not “reads.” I’m not sure what a read is, but a hit is a single file served by the web server. Even the simplest page on this site consists of four files: the header GIF, the Made with CityDesk GIF, the CityDesk logo, and the article itself. Articles with pictures have a lot more. The number of page views we get, which only counts HTML files, is about 120,000 on “slashdot days.” Since the average day has about 30,000 page views, only 90,000 are “extra.” Still a lot more than Manila sites, but not 80 times the flow.

Another difference is that I almost always get slashdotted on a day when I release a new article. This is coincidentally the same day I send email to 16,000 subscribers telling them about the new article. And on average a few dozen webloggers will link to me on the same day, bringing in their traffic as well.

Some percentage of those people say, “Aha! This precisely proves my point!” and forward the URL to their boss or underling to hit them over the head with it. “See? Nya!” So there’s always a multiplier effect.

Finally, Joel on Software has enough old content that many new visitors stay a while and click around. That accounts for a lot of the extra traffic on Slashdot days.

About the author.

I'm Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Trello and Fog Creek Software, and CEO of Stack Overflow. More about me.