Beware of aggresive news aggregators

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Dare writes on "News Aggregators As Denial of Service Clients":

Recently I upgraded my web server to using Windows 2003 Server due to having problems with a limitation on the number of outgoing connections using Windows XP. Recently I noticed that my web server was still getting overloaded with requests during hours of peak traffic. Checking my server logs I found out that another aggregator, Sauce Reader, has joined Newzcrawler in its extremely rude bandwidth hogging behavior. This is compounded by the fact that the weblog software I use, dasBlog, does not support HTTP Conditional GET for comments feeds so I'm serving dozens of XML files to each user of Newzcrawler and SauceReader subscribed to my RSS feed every hour.

I'm really irritated at this behavior and have considered banning Sauce Reader & Newzcrawler from fetching RSS feeds on my blog due to the fact that they significantly contribute to bringing down my site on weekday mornings when people first fire up their aggregators at work or at home. Instead, I'll probably end up patching my local install of dasBlog to support HTTP conditional GET for comments feeds when I get some free time. In the meantime I've tweaked some options in IIS that should reduce the amount of times the server is inaccessible due to being flooded with HTTP requests.

This doesn't mean I think this feature of the aforementioned aggregators is something that should be encouraged. I just don't want to punish readers of my blog because of decisions made by the authors of their news reading software.
Well, I share Dare's thoughts. Happily my blog is already hosted on Windows Server 2003 and my favorite blog engine uses statically generated HTML/XML pages for everything including comments, so conditional GET saves me from rude aggresive news aggregators fetching comments for every post I've made last month every 30 min. I'd avoid using Newzcravler and Sauce Reader news aggregators untill they stop being evil.

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I knew I will provoke somebody to speak up here :)

I still believe comments should be loaded only on demand, at least in default installation.

You might like to read a few related posts before making declarations of "evil":

1. Dare actually found that his server problems were mostly a result of a bad DasBlog configuration.

2. A default Sauce Reader installation creates very little extra traffic over a default RSS Bandit installation.

3. RSS is designed to be polled. This may be stupid, but it is not evil.

Remember, weblogs are primary sources and often need to be checked for accuracy...

Cheers, Nathan

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