Friday, September 23, 2011

Retro Article Of The Week: Outrage To Dogfighting Charges Knocked Out Site

Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick is enjoying a career resurgence in the city of brotherly love.  He led the Eagles to the playoffs last season, and was rewarded with a 10-year, $100 million contract extension this off season.  But it wasn't all fun and games for Vick.  He first signed with the Eagles after he was released from prison on dogfighting convictions two years ago, a signing that caused a huge stir in the sports and animal rights worlds.  Days after his sentencing in July of 2007, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) launched a campaign to send e-mails to the NFL Commissioner's office.  If it was ever possible for a campaign to be considered too successful, this was it.

More than 275,000 e-mails were sent through HSUS's website, causing the site to experience major outages.  To put the use into perspective, the website experienced five times its normal volume on July 19th, and six time the normal volume on the 20th.  The NonProfit Times wrote an article about these outages in September 2007.  Here's an excerpt from that piece:

The charity's technology provider made some initial fixes within the existing framework before moving an additional server to boost capacity, Handy said. "We also sent emails to advocates in our file in smaller chunks, so email wouldn't go to a large number of people at the same time. We spread demand out over a larger time window. That seemed to have worked," he said.

"The real issue was the fact that we had emailed a pretty good size of our file at the same time," Handy said. "The issue was in the news, with public outrage, a much higher percentage of people wanted to take issue. People on our file then told family and friends to do the same."

It's hard to anticipate, "but you need be ready to handle any kind of crisis," Handy added. "We are the leading organization on animal fighting abuse. We need to be ready to respond...but it's hard to pay for that capacity you need" every year or two.

"The demand goes from ordinary to extraordinary overnight. It speaks to the need of having systems in place, and excess capacity with your technology partner to handle anything," Handy said.

Though the outages were unfortunate for the organization, the increased traffic led to increased donations.  There was certainly no complaints on that front.  If you want to read the full article, please go to our website.

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