Post Mortem

For the last two weeks I busily worked on a new addition to Domain Pigeon that would let visitors sort the domain names by pronounceability, as determined by folks on Mechanical Turk. I was excited. It was an innovative way to help people find great domain names and it gave me an excuse to post another link to it on HackerNews.

And so, on Monday morning I posted it on HackerNews: Finding Great Domain Names using Mechanical Turk.

I eagerly awaited feedback, refreshing the comments every few minutes.

Well, things did not go as planned. You know that feeling you get when you take a test and you’re so sure that you got an A that you tell everyone how well you did, but when you get it back you find out that you actually got a D? That was Monday, kind of.

In this case, it was more like the teacher couldn’t grade the test because he couldn’t read your handwriting.

Here’s a snapshot of the comments:

Matt, your site is crawling

I have to say that if this weren’t HN, your site was posted, and it timed out, I would never come back again. I mean no disrespect; I really like your idea, but going to a site these days and timing out makes the company look like it runs out of a cardboard box with a 2400 baud modem.How many people trust their credit card information to a site with slow response times.

DreamHost? Uh oh… Methinks you aren’t getting 1/1,000th of the hits you could be. DreamHost = dog slow with two concurrent connections to a fairly light rails app, in my experience. Please tell me you’re running a VPS with them or something. You might want to consider switching hosts before you lose anymore of these hits.

The “guest” links don’t work.

For me, I tried to follow the link for domain names sorted by pronouncability and they did not work. I assume this is what OP href:…


Oops! That Page Doesn’t Exist

You may have mistyped the address or the page may have moved.

Please contact if you have any questions or concerns.

Just clicked the register link [], got “Internal server error” with a load of info and a backtrace, which I imagine you don’t want to display.

Ugh. Domain Pigeon wasn’t loading for a lot of people and for those that were lucky enough to get through, it was about as slow as me picking up country line dancing.

A few hours later I received the following email, which really drives home the impact it was having:

I hate it when that happens…

I had come back from PayPal and clicked the complete order link, when I
got the Passenger error screen.  (Probably a security hole, too.)

Did I actually pay or not?


The worst part was that it was probably avoidable. At first I blamed the problems on the heavy traffic and using a shared host, but I later discovered that the likely culprit was a 238 MB log file which I had been remiss in clearing.

In total I got 2 sign ups on Monday and 1 on Tuesday, just enough ($120) to cover the costs of the Mechanical Turk experiment ($106).

I can’t help but think about how many it would have been if the site had worked well.

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