Over the last week I’ve taken advantage of the expanded hardware resources provided by our new server to build and install a powerful caching system, intended to reduce load on the central database choke-point, thereby increasing the responsiveness of most website pages and more importantly allowing the system to handle far greater traffic loads without significant slowdowns. According to the logs, over 90% of database queries are now handled by calls to the memory cache, returning almost instantaneous results.
In practice, readers should notice almost no changes to the system, except that that a handful of minor items such as comment-count may sometimes remain slightly outdated for a few minutes until the cache is refreshed.
This caching system was fortuitously implemented just before the publication of Razib Khan’s recent article on the theological motivations of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which quickly reached the all-time top readership spot on our young webzine, driven by well over 150 Tweets and nice mentions in the Sunday New York Times and several other media outlets. A substantial fraction of the visitors were arriving from National Review and other neoconservative publications, and probably glanced at some of the other featured articles, thereby perhaps discovering for the first time that their established world view was subject to strong and thoughtful ideological challenge.
Sunday traffic is normally among the lowest during the week, but at points yesterday, our readership was almost twice the usual weekday peak. Fortunately, the new caching system handled the unexpected traffic with ease, and the load on the server rarely exceeded 1% of the maximal capacity.
One columnist has noted that the current success of The Review seems to contradict what he had always regarded as the first principle of modern journalism, namely that publications should pick a particular ideological niche, whether Left or Right, and stick closely to it in order to build a regular audience. I very much hope our contradictory success will continue, broadening the outlooks of readers of varied political hues.