Sunday, May 18, 2008

How Many Gawker Commenters Are There?

(originally published on A Blog Soup Nov 2 2006 [blog is now private])

I've been sitting on this for many months, not really sure of the merit as content. But after seeing a link on Gawker recently to a similar situation that Bucky Turco over at Animal Magazine found himself in with the NyTimes, I figured I'd post my own similar experience.

Ever since that special day I was anointed with a Gawker comment account this spring, I noticed something odd with my account. Whenever I would log in to change my info, my account had what seemed to be admin privilidges. Though I just assumed that everybody saw the same thing, and that clicking the buttons available to an admin that resided at the top of my account page would not do anything unless you were indeed an admin. So I never did click them.

One day many, many, many months later, my curiosity got the best of me, and I couldn't help myself. I needed to know. And I clicked those buttons.

Clicking on users brought up a page listing every Gawker commenter, and the corresponding email account associated with them. In addition to a box next to each name that you could check which would then enable you to delete said user. Or, to expedite the process, you could just click the little java script box at the bottom with an option to delete all. And with one fell swoop, send every Gawker commenter to a dark abyss.

It took great discipline on my part not to do that. I really had no reason to want to, except to see if this was actually really possible. It was at this time that I realized that this was indeed some kind of fluke, that I was prolly not supposed to have this kind of access. But for whatever reason, I did. It was obviously a bug that needed to be corrected, so I took steps to alert the proper people. The bug was fixed shortly thereafter, and I no longer have this access. But while I did, I took it upon myself to do an unscientific count of just how many Gawker commenters the site has. My unofficial count tallied 13,200 commenters.

I also had access to the invites while I was there, and I did try that out. I sent an invite to myself to see if it would work. And when it did, I decided to see if you could send more than one at a time. I CCPed my email address over and over again, expotentially increasing with each CCP. At first glance, it didn't really seem to work, because I checked my email and I had not received the invites aside from the single one I sent initially. But I guess it took a while for the request to process, because the next morning I checked my email and found out that sending multiple invites out to the same email address did indeed work.

I guess it just took a while to process a request for 1640 invites.

Does anybody want one? I imagine someone over there might be able to do something that would make these invites worthless after catching wind of this post, so act fast. Which is too bad, because I had a lot of fun sending invites out to people immediately afterwards they were publicly disbarred from the privilege.

UPDATE: [6.25pm]