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Front page auto-refreshing results from yesterday. Also - anyone want to grab a beer tonight around 9:30pm?
Posted by Drew at 2008-01-15 12:54:56 PM (60 comments) | Permalink

Yesterday we ran a quick test to see what impact refreshing Fark's main page every 10 minutes would have on traffic. Here are the results, comparing yesterday to Monday last week.

Pageviews
Jan 7th - 2,249,117
Jan 14th - 3,114,311

Traffic Gain: 38.4%

That's pretty good considering we only put the 10 minute refresh to the main page, nowhere else.

At any rate, the test is over, the code is gone. It won't be back.

Wish I had some other updates to give but that's pretty much it. I've got a soccer game that ends at 9:15pm tonight, if anyone in the Lexington KY vicinity wants to grab a beer someplace around 9:30pm I'll be out. Drop me an email - Drew@ this website url.
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Front page auto-refreshing for today only, back to normal tomorrow
Posted by Drew at 2008-01-14 8:21:39 AM, edited 2008-01-14 8:24:22 AM (209 comments) | Permalink

We're doing a little test today. Fark's main page is autorefreshing every 10 minutes for today only from midnight to midnight. We're trying to see what difference that makes.

If you don't give a rats ass about web traffic you should probably stop reading. I suspect most people won't care, if I didn't own a website I wouldn't care either.

Pretty much every news website on the planet has an active auto-refresh (as you can see in this handy graph). This generates a crapload of additional pageviews.

Last year we ran a test where we set Fark to refresh at the same rate as the Drudge Report (every three minutes). Almost immediately were trending toward passing them in traffic for the day (somewhere on the order of 15-20 million pageviews). We weren't able to complete the test, by 9am that morning traffic was so cripplingly high we had to turn it off on our end. Our servers couldn't take it.

We ran a second test where we set the refresh to 30 minutes, the same rate that CNN refreshes. Traffic jumped 20% for the day. So did uniques, strangely. I'm not sure what caused that.

I suspect that in most cases news websites believe that auto-refresh is a good way to let their readers know that new stories have arrived. I also suspect that once auto-refresh gets turned on it's impossible to turn off. Who's going to justify a 20% minimum drop in traffic to their bosses? "Yeah we took out one line of code and killed our site traffic." Good luck to that. Our best guess on turning off a 10 minute refresh is that traffic would drop by 50% or worse for any site using it.

So we're testing to see what difference refresh on 10 minutes makes. That way when quoting traffic numbers to media sites, I can say "but if we refreshed the page like everyone else our traffic would be x% higher." We're not going to turn it on permanently, it annoys the hell out of me for one thing. The plan is to collect 24 hours worth of data then go back to normal. This is for one day only.
· · ·

Caturday thread had technical difficulties. Click for more info
Posted by Drew at 2008-01-13 1:13:57 AM (378 comments) | Permalink

I just got back from the bars so if anything's misspelled it's the fault of beer.

We had to take down the usual Caturday thread because it got so large our servers couldn't handle the load. The thread was taking over two minutes to load over even our robust broadband connections, and the call was made to nuke it rather than let that go on. Never fear, it'll be back. We just need to change some stuff on our end so we don't wipe out the entire site trying to host it. Sorry about the trouble

Everybody don't panic.
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"British Twins separated at birth who later married" - I'm calling BS
Posted by Drew at 2008-01-11 1:14:56 PM, edited 2008-01-11 1:25:12 PM (222 comments) | Permalink



Twins, a brother and a sister, were adopted shortly after birth by different parents. They later accidentally married each other. They later found out and got a divorce.

David Alton, a member of the House of Lords (UK parliament), told a story as an argument that people who are adopted should be able to later find out who their parents are.

That's it. Alton doesn't name the people, he doesn't name the high court judge involved in their subsequent divorce, he doesn't give a timeframe when this happened. He's also a politician pushing a pet issue through a lawmaking body of government.

Politicians lie to get laws passed, folks. Yes shocking I know. This "news" story is complete crap.

Judging from the article CNN ran, the big media folks think so too. CNN's article pins all the details on the UK Press Association. The CNN article in it's distilled basic form is: "UK Press Association says stuff." The UK Press Association's information, distilled to basic form, is: "David Alton says stuff." Both articles are therefore factually correct, these things were said. It's a hedge used often by media companies use to get around taking blame later on for accidentally reporting unsubstantiated facts as news. You see it fairly often in gossip articles, quoting unnamed sources for juicy celebrity details.

I have yet to see any article about these supposed married twins that did any fact checking to see if there was any truth to this story. No one bothered. Why? Because it's sensational. Brother and Sister Hardcore Action. It's a top story on every major international news outlet today.

Whose fault is this? Don't blame the media, blame the audience. This stuff is red hot as far as clicks and pageviews go. You can see this on CNN, FoxNews, and any other site that displays Top Stories of the Day based on traffic. Don't blame media for serving this stuff up as news, blame the media-consuming public for wanting it to be news.

The chances of adopted twins marrying each other actually happening are damn near impossible. Two people adopted and separated at birth would have to randomly meet, fall in love, and get married. They would have to not suspect anything during this courtship, even though they both know they're adopted, they kind of look like each other, and they have the same birthday. Their parents would know they both came from the same adoption agency. To me this would raise all kinds of red flags. Maybe these two people were that dumb. Maybe the impossible happened and they met and got married without suspecting anything.

Or maybe, just maybe, David Alton, a politician, made the whole thing up to get legislation passed.

Which do you think is more likely?
PS If you want to read more about this kind of thing, there's a book out about it.
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Amusing political media coverage: A primer
Posted by Drew at 2008-01-08 3:49:14 PM, edited 2008-01-08 3:53:43 PM (129 comments) | Permalink

Folks who have been reading Fark for the past 9 years know that our official political stance is that of the Equal Opportunity Lambasting Party. Personally, I simply don't like politicians. It seems like most of them would rather win a debate than be right. I don't personally enjoy being around people like that, and don't consider them to be worthy of hero worship.

I try to make sure we slam all candidates equally on Fark. Sometimes, though, it can be tough. For example, all the political news for the past 24 hours has been about Hilary Clinton crying during a Q&A session and her "Iron My Shirt" protester-groupie. Try to disregard the fact that media should be promoting pertinent issues - there's only a primary for the candidacy of our next president going on, after all. I can't remember where though, all the Britney Spears newsflash updates and articles about naked people from CNN pushed it out of my brain. By the way, Mitt Romney burst into tears last year sometime as well. No one seems to remember it.

Media gets caught up in that kind of thing from time to time. For example, the only things I know about John Edwards are he gets multi-hundred dollar haircuts and his house is larger than most grocery stores.

Strangely missing from recent coverage, however, are stories that make Obama look like a doofus. I know they're out there. He's had to have done something - but for some reason, no one's writing about it. I've seen plenty of articles comparing him to Jesus Christ, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, and for all I know other fictional characters as well.

It's a problem for Fark because we can't effectively balance out the politics links without "Obama's an idiot" stories to post (btw, I know we're out of balance with all of the "Ron Paul is a Nutbar" postings, that's just how many there are. It'll even out soon, unless he keeps it up). I'd like to help the media out with this lack of silly Obama articles. Here's a handy list of the usual topics with some actual examples for the thousands of reporters out there reading Fark looking for story ideas:




When will they enter the race
We're kind of into the race already so this one's about to go away. It's too late to use on Obama anyhow, but that doesn't seem to prevent speculation that NYC Mayor Bloomberg might run for president. Nevermind the fact that it's too late to get on any primary ballots and he'd have to run as an independent (which never works). To be fair, it's probable the media's just being strung along by a staffer testing to see what public reaction might be should he decide to go for it in 2012. Thompson successfully strung the media along for all of 2007. They loved every second of it.

Expensive haircut
Edwards isn't the only guy who gets expensive haircuts. Pretty much all the candidates do. It's odd that he's the only one who this was pinned on, I can't explain it. I guarantee you Obama pays more than $10 at SuperCuts for his tight trim (actually now that I look again, maybe he just throws #2 on the Whal clippers and does it himself). This one gets media traction mainly because it falls under the media pattern of "boy, rich people are stupid." That's where a lot of the articles about diamond studded cellphones, $1000 mint juleps, and five-star hamburgers come from.

One variation of this article in the election cycle is when a candidate fails to recognize a grocery scanner at the super market (or another blue-collar tool). Both Reagan and Bush Sr did this if I recall, great fun. Media consumers love reading about stupid rich people. It's a new pattern I've come up with since my book on media patterns It's Not News It's Fark: How Mass Media Passes Off Crap As News came out. I'm not above shameless plugs.

Busted for a hypocritical statement on a stated position
This isn't actually hard to do; all politicians contradict themselves. My personal favorite is when the candidate drives away from a press conference about new environmental standards in a hybrid vehicle, only to get out of the car two blocks later and jump in a huge ass SUV. This happened at least twice in 2007 that I saw. It's probably a weekly occurance in DC. For extra fun, check out Tim Russert directly calling out John McCain for contradicting his own words. Good times, my friends.

Forget to tip a waitress
Someone does it every presidential campaign, it's just a matter of time before it happens again. Usually it happens in Iowa, probably because meals are so cheap there that tipping is embarrassing for the customer. It's kind of like that here in Kentucky, too. One of the local bars here has $1 draft bottles during Monday Night Football. Two hours and four beers later (when I'm driving I keep the consumption reasonable), the tab is $4. As opposed to New York City where any beer is $50 and if you look at them funny when the bill comes out they'll tack on a $10 "stop being a dick" surcharge.



This all pales in comparison to how things used to go. People these days complain about attack ads, but you should see how they used to do it. In the 18th and 19th centuries people would completely make stuff up, and by that I mean not mildly plausible stuff but way-out whackjob stuff. This was kind of problematic for the incumbent because it was considered unseemly for a president to campaign, so they had to rely on supporters to do it for them. From what I can tell, this must have mainly involved getting into shouting matches in bars. Generally the accusations had to do with the candidate either having fathered or actually being a bastard. For example, Thomas Jefferson was accused of having children with one of his slaves, children which he later sold as slaves... Except that really happened. Bad example. But you get what I mean.

As an aside, I loved the "Iron My Shirt" sign guy. Bonus points for creativity. I did find it odd that Boston didn't call in an airstrike (New Hampshire is kind of a suburb of Boston as I understand it...) (I'm kidding).

Anyhow I'll be on all evening waiting for someone to do something dumb after the polls close so I can post it to Fark. Shouldn't take long.
· · ·

Saw "American Gladiators" last night by some fluke -- Drew
Posted by Drew at 2008-01-07 3:31:13 PM (345 comments) | Permalink

Last night just after 10pm my IM fired up. It was Brooks telling me to check out American Gladiators because his buddy Jeff was in it. I think it's the first time I've watched network TV in years.

The show wasn't awful but it could use some help. I've got a few suggestions:

1) Storylines. I know I'm gonna get in trouble for saying this, but the WWE is soap opera for men. That's why it works though, people follow the storylines of their favorite characters. 10 minutes of each show should be American Gladiators having WWE-style slapfights or whatever it is they do, I don't watch wrestling. About the only TV I do watch is whatever happens to be on sports channels when I'm in bars, usually freakin poker. I like poker but to me it's like watching chess or worse, Magic The Gathering tournaments on ESPN 8.

Consider also the Sports News business: it's all about off-field shenanigans. Unless something truly awesome happened in a game in the past 24 hours, ESPN News' lead story will be about Michael Vick, Roger Clemens, or (occasionally, no joke) Britney Spears.

2) America wants to see bonecrushing injuries. Everything on AG, and I mean everything, has six feet of foam padding wrapped around it. Contestants hit each other with foam covered sticks, foam covered wrecking balls, climb foam covered mountains, and so on. I'm sure the lawsuit potential is high otherwise but there's got to be a way around it. You don't see NFL players suing the NFL when they get clocked on-field.

3) Hot chicks. The female gladiators look like they could beat the ever-living hell out of me in seconds, but they're not particularly attractive (unless you're into that sort of thing, I'm not German). A few years back, FIFA's president proposed that the women's soccer players wear hot pants to increase popularity. Indignant outrage predictably ensued. However, it sure as hell would work. What's the most popular women's sport among guys? Women's Beach Volleyball. There you go.

4) Did I mention hot chicks?

In conclusion, I can't wait for the writers' strike to be over.

Disclosure: we ran a sponsored link for American Gladiators on Friday but they didn't ask me to write this blog entry about it. In fact they might not be pleased that I wrote this at all. I'm not taking that kind of thing into consideration when writing blog entries unless you see the words (sponsored link). Just hadn't updated the blog in awhile and the foam thing was too weird.

And yes, the Fark Blog tag still sucks. It's on the fixit list, just not at the top. We'll get there.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
· · ·

No tea, just coffee and derby (kinda a sponsored link)
Posted by Drew at 2007-12-13 12:59:42 PM (87 comments) | Permalink

Hey all

Dunkin Donuts paid my brother-in-law and Fark sales guy Mike F (not to be confused with Mike A the server guy) to fly out to LA to cover a Shopping Cart Derby for Dunkin' Donuts. What follows is his writeup. This is kind of a sponsored link because they paid for him to go out hoping we'd main page this, for what that's worth. It's a good read however, as you'll soon see Mike didn't exactly pull any punches in his review.

-Drew

------------------

So, Drew asked me to go to Santa Monica, CA this past weekend to cover a Dunkin' Donuts Shopping Cart Derby. Dunkin' Donuts (http://www.dunkinathome.com (new window)) is releasing its packaged coffee nationwide and wanted to have a no-holds-barred, anything goes derby to commemorate the event. Well, to be frank, it wasnt no-holds-barred - no one got killed and there wasn't a single inch of barbed-wire or any flaming baseball bats to speak of. But all in all, it was still pretty funny.

Teams of two armed only with a shopping cart entered a fairly rigorous obstacle course, with the ultimate goal being "Fill the cart with packages of the new Dunkin' Donuts coffee." D&D had plenty of free coffee for everyone -- people walking by on the pier got their share, but coffee makes me hit the can... And I had to be at this derby thingie for 3 or 4 hours, so there was no way I was starting to drink any coffee - regardless of its freeness.

I was in the back of the audience most of the time, talking to some of the contestants. I tried to get some sh*t-talk started -- someone there had to hate someone else, or at the very least, I might ignite a bit of animosity between the competitors, but no one took the bait. There was this one guy from LA -- he loudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that he ran track, but it ended up mattering very little, as the course was only 30 feet long. He tried to go on about how losing "is not an option!" He was a tool. He lost in the first round.

The winners, a team called "Mmm Donuts", were a husband/wife and baby. The baby was 2 and he was cooler than his parents. The winners received a 2 year supply of Dunkin Donuts coffee. Nothing like getting the baby hooked on French Vanilla.

Maria Menounos from Access Hollywood showed up to crown the winner. I spoke to Maria and was actually surprised that she worked at a Dunkin Donuts for 6 years, so she was actually a celebrity that was excited about this type of event. Everybodys seen a movie or a show where the celebrity is asked to show up to an event and has no interest in it. They act like a douche and then leave.

Maria, however, was really cool. She talked to everyone, smiled and seemed like she enjoyed herself. The only problem with her is that she thinks the Patriots are going to go 16-0. Of course, I reminded her that they're playing my beloved Giants the last game. She laughed, as did I... But obviously, for much different reasons.

Overall I give the competition a B. Would have liked to see some blood or some fighting, but I guess it was a family event. Maybe at the next event I'll get lucky.

You can check out the video here: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1321371997 (new window)
· · ·

About that NSFW trademark application
Posted by Drew at 2007-12-10 11:54:13 AM (363 comments) | Permalink

About the NSFW Trademark Application, I can say three things:

1) Yes, we applied for it.

2) Can't comment on the prank angle other than "stay tuned."

3) Muhahaha.

I've gotten a few email complaints about the NSFW trademark ap. It bears mentioning that I received 10x as many complaints about the DealNews ad with the picture of some guy's ass in it (removed already, whoever over at DealNews thought that was a good idea needs to be punched in the face), and 100x as many complaints when we moved all the boobies links over to Foobies.com (NSFW™). There's an interesting yet unsurprising cross section of the priorities of an Internet audience for you.

I'm guessing the complaints are from people who don't read Fark, otherwise they'd know our end goal couldn't possibly be suing everyone using NSFW out of existence.

So far, this one is my favorite:



How about you stop being dick heads and leave acronyms you didn't create alone. don't fark up the internet by being cock licking monkey farkers. If you go around trademarking things like NSFW then you WILL screw the internet up for everyone else you greedy ass sucking granny douching shiat eaters.

You make me so angry!


To sum up the conclusions of the above email:

1) We're ruining the Internet. All of it, apparently. At this rate we'll have to go back to mailing each other letters and watching network TV. EVERYBODY PANIC

2)Thanks to that last sentence, the voice in my head representing the author is Steve Urkel.

3) From the writing style, I can only conclude the author is German, mainly due to the phrase "granny douching shiat eaters". No doubt it's available on Amazon with english subtitles, along with a note that people who purchased this item also purchased "cock licking monkey farkers". Additionally, I can't tell whether or not the adjective "cock licking" modifies the word "monkey" or "farkers" because depending on which it was you could make two completely different movies.


An aside: apologies for the late response on this, I was traveling all week and pretty much drunk the entire time. I try to make a habit of not logging in while under the influence (damn you eBay).

The real problem was I accidentally left my laptop charger at home. I was trying to save battery power. Until this happened I had never before thought of using this excuse, it's a keeper.

I'm home now so I can recharge both myself and the battery before the final trip of the year. I'll be in NYC Thursday doing random christmas stuff, Atlanta Friday to go to the Fark TV Christmas party, and home til 2008 as of Saturday.
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Black Friday: More full of crap than you previously thought
Posted by Drew at 2007-11-20 8:34:45 AM, edited 2007-11-20 9:02:49 AM (140 comments) | Permalink

It's that time of year again: the drowsy week of Thanksgiving. Pretty much everyone takes the week off. Those of us that don't take the week off just assume that nothing's going to get done and collect a paycheck for sitting around doing nothing at work. Mass media is like that too, as a result we get a flurry of Black Friday articles, just like every year.

As you probably noticed, about a week ago, everyone from Amazon to Wal-Mart got a free articletisement in the mainstream press about which products they plan to mark down and clear out this year. Of course, this does you no good unless you're willing to get up at the crack of dawn and get in line about 5am (or for some stores, even earlier - some of these doorbusters actually begin at 4am this year). As good as these deals supposedly are, you won't find a lot of quality merchandise in these sales. Almost every product with a huge markdown on Black Friday falls into two categories:

1: Items for which the manufacturer has paid a big premium to the retailer to be the first thing the store's media liaison mentions when media comes calling for quotes about the sales, or

2: Crap.

I covered all this in my book in the chapter on Seasonal Articles, which you can get at pretty much any bookstore (although I suspect not at bargain prices at 5am... Amazon has it down to about $13 though (new window)). For those who didn't read it, Seasonal Articls are articles that appear at the same time every year, essentially unchanged from last year. Another favorite Thanksgiving article is the annual There Will Be Traffic On Thanksgiving This Year (duh) observation from AAA, which was on CNN.com's main page last year but thankfully barely registered more than a backpage article this year.

(By the way, look forward to the annual How The Hell Much Do The 12 Days of Christmas Cost This Year? article, due up sometime next week as if this is relevant to anyone)

I mention this not to rehash old material, but to point out something I've been wondering lately:

What percentage of these Black Friday deals are getting bought by people solely for resale on eBay?

I suspect it's very high.

Last year, the hot product was the Playstation 3. There were lines around the block at every store that had them. Playstations sold out across the US. How many people do you know that have them? And out of those people, how many got one for Christmas last year? Hardly anyone, I'm sure. The entire supply was purchased by people looking to sell them on eBay.

As for this year? Go to any online or brick-and-mortar electronics store you can think of. See if you can find a Nintendo Wii for sale. No one has them. Now go on eBay and do a search. Holy crap what a miracle! There's thousands of them -- all going for a couple hundred dollars more than list price (although to appear more appealing, the chargers are hidden in absurd shipping and handling costs).

The good news, I suspect, is that Nintendo is probably going to play the spoiler here and drop ship millions of Wiis into stores before Christmas. They've had a year to plan this, they know demand will be high. Hilarity will ensue.

It all leads me to wonder though, how many more years of Black Friday sales will we have before retailers realize that they're only catering selling to eBay resellers? Or will they even care as long as they continue to get their free articletisement the week before Thanksgiving?

At any rate, have a great Thanksgiving everyone, even you godless heathen Canadians and your superior currency, and you Brits who started celebrating Christmas three weeks ago
· · ·

Fark party SF wrap and Fark on "Jeopardy"
Posted by Drew at 2007-11-15 9:22:32 AM, edited 2007-11-15 9:24:36 AM (100 comments) | Permalink

The San Francisco Fark Party Tuesday night was a blast. Special thanks to Miyu at Cafe Murano for letting us show up and drink all the beer. We put a serious dent in their supplies.

One of the most often asked questions that evening (aside from "what the hell are you doing here?" and "you live where?") was "What was the deal with that Jeopardy thing?"

I was contacted at least a year ago by a writer from Jeopardy who was a huge Fark fan. He had proposed making a catagory out of Fark headlines, and wanted to know if this was ok. It sure as hell was, far as I was concerned.

It took awhile but it finally got moving. I'd totally forgotten the episode was going to air Nov 12th, but the minute it did my phone started ringing off the hook with friends calling me to tell me they saw it.

The Jeopardy folks told me they had a blast with it. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that all the answers/questions were complete curveballs. Nothing's more fun than messing with a bunch of smart guys.

A couple blog articles about the Jeopardy Fark catagory said that Fark sprung for some advertising to get this to go through. Not the case. Jeopardy suggested it on their own. We were happy as hell to go along with it. Hopefully it'll happen again.

If you missed it when we linked it last, here is the video from the show: http://valleywag.com/tech/clips/fark-headlines-hit-jeopardy-322081.ph​p

PS - I completely agree that the Fark Blog tag blows donkey ass. We'll fix it.
· · ·


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