Online black holes

Friday, September 15th, 2007, almost saw the creation of an online black hole. Before going any further, we must first look at the types of online black holes.

Micro Black hole
AKA: black hole of self-reference. This is where an article makes a direct reference back to itself, usually as support for, or an example of, what it is arguing about.

Example: A Something Awful article complaining about logical fallacies and poor argumentation practices used on Something Awful, with a link to itself as an example of such crappy argumentation.

Effect: Usually minor, such as the server hosting the page goes down or looses the page due to drive failure.

Mini Black hole
AKA: black hole of cross-reference.
An article written on a site, which supports articles, which references a news-headline site in its argument, which that headline site then links to the article.

Example: A Something Awful article criticizing all of the dick-heads and losers participating in flame-wars on the Fark site, following by a link and comment section on the Fark site about the article in question.

Effect: Loss of a server, most likely disappeared into the ether, sometimes takes a few user with it.

Major Black hole
AKA: black hole of circular reference.
This is when an article makes reference to one or more headline site, then one links to the article, which the other links to the other headlines’ site link to the article.

Example: Article on Something Awful criticizing Fark’s online comment threads and the flame-wars that can erupt. Slashdot then posts a link to the article. Finally, Fark posts a link to the Slashdot article and comments thread about the SA article.

Effect: Major loss. Can include servers, users, and small towns.

Now, Fridays near black hole was caused by this article about online criticism posted on Something Awful. This article was then referenced by the online news and comment site, Fark. Now, the only thing which stopped the formation of the black hole was the fact that the article itself did not directly reference, or link to, Fark.

Had this happened, most likely a server, and maybe a few registered users, would have disappeared. Has this happened before? One can not fully prove either way, but I doubt that the mysterious “Drew Curtis” has spilled as many beers on the servers as has been joked about. Maybe if the only beer around was Pabst Blue Ribbon, but since MC Router has started drinking, there is no way to find enough PBR to spill into a beer glass, much less a server.

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