Don't Visit My Site -- Please!

In today's hit-hungry web environment, it is sometimes difficult to remember that there was a time when certain sites wanted to reduce the number of hits they received. Does anyone else remember how Mosaic would automatically take you to a page at the NCSA? As Mosaic's popularity grew, the NCSA server became overloaded with requests for that page. Eventually the site maintainers added a message asking administrators to point the Mosaic home page somewhere else at their installations. Similarly, early file archives (like wuarchive) often requested that visitors not visit the site during business hours or to limit their activity out of kindness to others.

It is somewhat saddening that this era of collective courteousness is passing on the web. Traffic graphs at the major backbone access points clearly shows traffic peaking during the business day. Almost certainly requests for off-peak usage go unheeded. Can you imagine CNN requesting that users not visit its site during a peak news story?

I suppose that the shift toward commercial from educational and hobbyist usage is responsible for some of these changes. As more businesses come online, the 9-to-5 workers make network demands during normal working hours. Businesses typically have more ability to add bandwidth and server capacity in response to increased load, unlike educational and volunteer organizations. Finally, many sites benefit from advertising revenue as traffic increases. As long as the bandwidth is cheaper per page than the advertising revenue, they would like to see the number of hits increase.

Anyone else have anecdotes from a less commercial era? Write to me at

Copyright © 2020 Andrew Oliver