Kony 2012 url
I was with the Fifty & Fifty team the day Kony 2012 went viral - March 6th. Kony2012.com had been crashing throughout the day from the unprecedented web traffic, and I was called in to play a major role in fixing that crashing.
Fifty & Fifty built Kony2012.com to be engaging and encourage others to share their video message. They did a great job- the video would become the most viral video ever. But the WordPress/MySQL based site was not designed to handle such large quantities of traffic. Many visitors were unable to get through to view the site, to sign the pledge, or to make a donation.
I helped determine that the bottleneck was the MySQL database for processing the signed pledges. The massive amount of INSERTs were choking the site.
Together, we came up with a plan to move the site off WordPress, convert it to a static site, host it on Amazon S3, and redirect all traffic there.
The last problem to solve was finding a way to successfully accept pledges. So, in one hour, I built a small Sinatra application that could process the pledges via a simple JSON API. I chose Redis as the database which I hosted on heroku. We then recoded the pledge form to send all pledges to the newly launched JSON API, effectively opening the site to all traffic.
As soon as these changes were implemented, we saw Google Analytics go from 10,000 unique visitors per minute to 25,000 unique visitors per minute! The site was no longer crashing and people were getting through. Pledges flew by up to 1,000 per minute. In 24 hours there were over 1 million pledges in the Redis database. Eventually, that database would grow to over 3.5 million pledges.