May 16, 2004 spout

3 Years of Spouting

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Yesterday was my 3rd anniversary of The Sells Spout. It’s hard to remember back that far, but this was before any wide-spread blogging software, either client or server, before RSS and before personal email addresses were rendered nearly useless by 157 messages/day about how to enlarge our genitalia, necessitating the eventual move away from newsletters.

At the time, I used FrontPage and <a name> tags to run my blog. I still use FrontPage + <a name> tags, but I also use web forms and SQL Server to track comments and generate RSS. In general, I see my site as a giant, categorized blog, e.g. Tools, Fun, Spout, etc, with a front page of descriptions of the items I add to my site and of interesting things I find in the world. Towards that end, I’d like to rebuild my site from scratch using some kind of content management system so that I can get a bunch of flexibility that I don’t have now, e.g. referral logs, auto-archive pages, comment notifications for me, rich comments, a smart client front end for reading from — and adding content to — the site, etc. I could add all of that to my own homebrew software, but I’d prefer to use something like .Text. In fact, assuming ScottW integrates .Text into ASP.NET 2.0, rebuilding my site with both is something that I’ve very likely to do.

The site itself is 9 years old, but my normal outlet of tools, code samples and technical writing wasn’t enough for me, so 3 years ago, I started editorializing on The Sells Spout. I don’t know what my site traffic was 3 years ago, but I know it’s grown ridiculously since then for no reason that I can discern. For example, last month my site served 885K sessions and 2.5GB in small pages, zip files and RSS feeds. While full 55% of the page hits were the RSS feeds (quite a number of you are keeping a close eye on me, apparently), that left 398K people/month visiting my site to read or respond to a topic from my blog (18.7% of the total), read about interviewing at Microsoft (10.6% of the total) or download a tool (4% of the total).

BTW, for those of you who would point out that my RSS feed is syndicated as the Editor’s Blog for the Longhorn Developer Center, throwing off my site stats because of the traffic on the DevCenter itself, I’ll counter with one word: caching. Kent Sharkey, the editor of the ASP.NET Developer Center and expert in all things ASP.NET, has built caching into the control that displays the Editor’s Blog from my RSS feed. Since it’s set to 60 minutes of cache per server and hosted on the 11-server MSDN web farm, that’s at most 8184 sessions/month to serve my RSS feed on

I don’t really know what draws that many people to my site, but 3 years ago, I stated my rules of engagement as follows:

  • I want to make people’s lives better.
  • I’m interested in putting food on my table.
  • I’m interested in what I’m interested in.

    After 3 years, my agenda remains the same. I find that strangely comforting.