I invite you to eat a dick

The story of how fired me for getting Dugg.

When I started this site in May of 2007 I did quite a lot of research as to the technology I should employ and the companies I should trust. I read countless reviews of publishing solutions and hosting companies. Settling on WordPress with ComicPress, I only needed a place to pitch my proverbial tent. was well reviewed and even listed in several places as being a Digg-stable or Digg-proof (this is important later in the story). I signed up with them, prepaid a year and Hijinks Ensue was born.

Lesson 1: Hosting for $10 a month is cheap. How often does “cheap” have a positive connotation?

Right off the bat the problems started. 30 min to an hour a day the site was down. This wasn’t much of a problem when I had 50 readers, but it was certainly annoying. Every time I called tech support I was introduced to a new kind of stupid. Well, less “stupid” and more “I can’t wait to get off work so I can masturbate into a Red Bull can, eat a ham and pass out on the couch to Family Matters reruns.”

I’d say, “My site is down, again.”
He’d reply, “Really? Did you look at the error logs? What did they say?”
“No Morpheus, I don’t read Matrix. Take your typing finger out of your asshole and look them up yourself.”
“Yeah, your site’s down. There must be a problem.”

And so on and so forth until my head would literally pull a “Scanners” and my wife would have to clean up the mess and get me a new head.

One time a Bluehost rep told me I was on a “messed up” box that always had a lot of problems. I told him to move me off of it and he refused. There was some sort of moratorium on moving people away from Box 269. “Why?” I asked.

“Cuz everyone that’s on it wants to move cuz it’s always messed up and stuff.”
More solid an argument I have never heard.

Fast forward to the first time one of my comics got a front page Digg. 100,000 people trying to ping a shitty server all at once is a lot like 6 rhinos trying to fuck the same watermelon. In this analogy my server was not one of the rhinos.

This time I saw it coming and called Bluehost support as soon as the site went down. Let me use my “I shit you not” voice when I say this. The tech guy told me I should upgrade to a dedicated box. I asked how much that was, and he said they didn’t offer them. I asked why and he replied (here’s the part where I’m not shitting you in the least), “Our three owners are making so much money, they really don’t care if you need a better server.”

Then the douche-taster asks me how to get on Digg because it sounded like something he would like to do. I assume he hosted elsewhere.

After my next front page Digg had me down for almost a day, I paid to move to a “High CPU” box. The moment they “upgraded” me my IMAP email accounts went shitballs, spitting out errors left and right. I sent in a trouble ticket (knowing good and well that most of my previous TT’s went completely unanswered). They responded to the ticket 3 weeks later saying they couldn’t replicate the problem. Think about that for a second. Let it stew. That’s like me bleeding to death in my garage, my arm severed by a chain saw, and 911 refusing to respond. Instead they send my loved ones a letter a month later saying they couldn’t replicate the problem.

So Valentine’s Day 2008 rolls around and I prepare a token of my love to my readers in the form of a special Valentine’s card. Come about 10 pm it hits the front page of Digg (sensing a pattern?). The site screeches to a halt and bursts into flames. I expect to go through the same BS to get my site turned back on, but this time the bullshit is new. Not only do they refuse to turn my site back on, but they try to convince me it’s impossible to do so even if they wanted to. As if they had cast cement shoes around my site and sunk it to the bottom of the ocean. Hey, insult! Here comes injury!

“We’ve left FTP access active so you can get your files and move them to a different server.”
“You’re firing me?!”
“Did I stutter, mother fucker? Get your shit and get the fuck off our box!”

At least that’s how I remember it.

I screamed at that guy so loud, I think he peed. In the end, his manager agreed to a 48 hour stay of execution while I found a new home. The site is now safe and sound (?) at Media Temple. DNS is still resolving for various parts of the world, but it should clear up in a day or so.

So tell me, what are your hosting horror stories?

UPDATE 2/19/08
Cheese it! They know!

UPDATE 2/21/08
UnCheese It! They know nothing! And what they don’t know, they make up! And by THEY I mean THIS ONE DUDE! Several readers pointed out that Weasy had amended his statement about my dealings with Bluehost.I sent him this email:

Hey, Weasy. Have all the opinions you want, but one thing I don’t appreciate is lying. You show me one “illegal material” on and I will remove it. How you can misconstrue getting Dugg as “abusing bandwidth” is beyond me. Somehow that implies malicious intent and, as I’m sure you know, getting a first page Digg is a passive act. I have no control over whether it happens or not. I think you just gave me some insight into why I was getting the caliber of service from Bluehost that I was.

Here’s the whole thread as of this posting. I wonder if someone at Bluehost lied to this dude, or if he is making this up as he goes along.


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  1. Heh, yeah, I also used to work at Bluehost….er I mean Hostmonster…..or I mean FastDomain. Yeah, I always thought that was a bit weird. The phone systems tells you which company you answer the phone as. Mind you, all of the companies are owned and operated by the same dudes. I wouldn't be surprised if it was some sort of scam. I never agreed with how we were supposed to treat the customer. It was a common occurrence for employees to get praised for quick and fast responses to customers, even at the sacrifice of a right answer or good quality response.

    Apart from the techs treating the customers poorly, the management treats the employees just as bad….or worse. (Maybe this is why we all have a bad CSR experience with them….). Ditto on the late thing, that was retarded. It didn't matter the reason. I had a friend who was late 'cause his wife was going into labor….he got in trouble!! I think the executives need to look more into Quality instead of Quantity. You feel like a slave working for them with no rights or privileges. It's been a relief not being associated with them anymore.

    I used to respect Matt Heaton, but, he never associated with any of the Techs that I could see. I tried on several attempts to get to know him, but he always brushed me off or seemed to look 'through' me as if I wasn't there (Even if it was just he and I). He had a "I'm too good and RICH for you" attitude. He drove to work in his Red Viper and never seemed to really care about his employees. When I was there, there weren't very many of us, but he never even tried to learn anyone's name.

    For the record, I am friends with two others who used to work there as well and we all feel the same about Bluehost/Hostmonster/FastDomain.

  2. Damn, to think the worst I've ever had happen is that I had to call three times to get 1&1 to update the billing credit card for mine and my husband's space. The first time I called they said they did it right then, and on the next billing cycle they turned everything off because it tried billing to an expired card. So we called in, gave them the new card again, and they turned the site back on in good faith… and shut us down *again* when they tried billing the old card *again*. Thankfully we got someone with two IQ points to rub together the third time and it got billed correctly.

    Thankfully 1&1 has been pretty stable and user-friendly otherwise. Not sure how Digg-ready they are, we just host our guild's website and personal files. I don't think we've ever broke 2GB of traffic in a month.

  3. Because their marketing team thinks that nonsensical is the cool thing on the internet? They gave me three years free, I wasn't gonna tell them they have a retarded name.

    I'm going to start a hosting service and call it Cat & Walrus, and then use internet memes for my mascots. DO YOU HAS A BUCKET? WE HAVE ONE FOR ALL YOUR INTERNETS!! NOW THEY ARE BELONG TO US.

  4. Holy vagina. That's horrible. I've heard good things about Media Temple, and I hope (for your sake) they live up to their rep. I used to be with a place called My tales of woe would make you weep. But I don't have the time nor inclination to get into it again. And, the fucking rub of it all was this; My site never had a lot of traffic in the first place! I've been with Dreamhost for a few years ago, and despite some hiccups, they've been pretty good to me.

  5. So are we having a housewarming party for your new internet-house? How does the internets work again?

    I just want some cookies.

  6. I agree. DreamHost is well done, and well backed up. I enjoy their hosting greatly. And I too, know the pain of cheap hosting. "PennyPincher" sound like a cheap server to you? XD

    My first host ever decided that they liked me so much after I moved off of their server, that they'd still keep charging me through once a year. That was a pain.

    Thanks for the comic, and sorry about the headaches.

  7. Well I've only recently discovered HijinksEnsue and freaking love it. I've laughed out loud so many times at work that my coworkers think I'm "strange & peculiar". Just wondering if you guys are going to be at any conventions this season (Comic-Con, A-Kon, etc)

  8. GJM/PGiD,

    At one point there was a plan to be at A-Kon and some of the other Dallas Cons, but I really think its too soon. Eli and I are trying to organize a trip to ComiCon San Diego but that will be as guests only. I expect we will go to A-Kon too for picture taking and people watching and such. Eli is going to Frightmare in Dallas to interview people for the Podcast.

    Thank you for reading the site. I really do appreciate it.

  9. I always liked the one where that fat guy mowed the lawn. Man, AfterDark's shit was so mesmerizing back in the day. The chalkboard, toasters, that space fighting game… all bank.

  10. I really like the art in this one, Joel. Plus, the subtle use BonziBuddy brings me back to the days of yore (1999). That drawing of Frodo is great – Jesus-like, even.

    FWIW, I use AN Hosting / midPhase and they've been really good for me.

  11. Dang, Joel, I'm sorry. But, I'll jump on the band(width)wagon and say that the hilarious comic that it wrought is worth it.

    Props on the teh awesum L0TR coloring!

  12. There's a bunch of people meeting up to Zombie storm a nearby restaurant before hand. Let me know if you/Eli are interested.

    The best part: The Restaurant is called Sweetwater Willy's. Totally.

  13. I decided that the Zombie March alone wasn't enough to warrant an entire, highly coveted vacation day… but… your counter point… well… that may just be worth it.

  14. Wow, I completely missed Bonzi until you mentioned it. Damn, if I had a dollar for every uninstall I had to do at work…well, I'd only have about fourteen dollars, but still…

  15. I found this comic a little while ago and love it. It's bookmarked with the comment of "Random comic of randomness", which I think it just about the best description I could come up with.

    On a slightly on topic point, I've tried a number of hosting companies in the past with various results. Used one at one point called PowerWeb, but got kicked off when we exceeded our bandwidth cap (thankfully they agreed to not charge the $3k [shit you not!!!] over-limit fee), and another host that "upgraded" a copy of PHP that suddenly sent our websites CPU utilization through the roof (didn't change our code, but something in the PHP config did not play well with it). Lately I've been eyeballing this company ( but haven't tried them yet. They're a bit hardcore for some people as all they do is give you the box and a base OS install, it's up to you to configure it, but they're perfect for me.

  16. I remember your comment. I thought it was appropriate too. Thanks for sticking around. If all you need is a bare box, I suggest They are here in Dallas and basically every company uses them for dedicated hosting. I would have gone with them but Im not fit to administer such a box. I would need a staff-nerd at least 4 levels higher than myself to get it set up. Might be perfect for you. They are $130 – $150 for their usual dedicated set up on a decent machine.

  17. I dreaded that phone call – "Sean, my computer keeps telling me it needs to reboot" *shudder*

    I was just starting as assistant tech director of a local high school at the time, and Blaster made its way to one of the servers. Two of us had to disconnect and patch every individual computer in the building (about 250 machines) so they wouldn't reinfect the network. And then a teacher brought in her infected laptop to save her review sheet to her shared network folder.

    And that's when I killed her, your honor.

  18. Clearly, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this man has acted no differently than any one of us would have. Who among you could honestly say you wouldnt have beaten her to death with her own 3-hole-punch?

  19. I read RFWLT as Rolling on the Floor with Lettuce and Tomatos and thought I'd finally found someone else with my fetish. Damn, the search continues.

  20. "to which a phallus has been appropriately offered for consumption."
    That's priceless.

    Assuming their support is adequate, MT should be able to handle things through the next several iterations of Hijinks Ensue. They have a scalability system to can instantly upgrade me as the need arises… to a point. Then I will have to find a dedicated box elsewhere. Probably The Planet. But I will keep this company in mind.

    Im glad to know that some Diggers are sticking around after the initial wave dies down.

    Here's a working link to your post:

  21. Not sure if you have me confused with someone else, I'm misunderstanding you, or I've posted on here previously and you just have a way better memory than I do (which isn't saying much, my memory sucks), but I don't think I've ever commented on your site before now.

    At any rate, thanks for the tip, I'll look into them, although I'm not in need of a server just yet, as I'm still in the "hey, if I had an extra $200 a month it would be awesome to have a server to play with" stage of things. I myself don't need a server, but I've helped a friend of mine administer his site which is why I've had to deal with the various hosting companies in the past. Right now he's making due with a box running out of his house because he shut down the project he was running previously that required the beefy server and fat pipe (dynamic forum pet things, chugged through a TON of bandwidth as they were quite popular).

  22. Orclev,

    I could have sworn I had read "random comic of randomness" before, either on a comment or a link back to my site. Maybe it just fits so well I assumed I had heard it before. Did you link to my site with that quote? I see basically every site that links here through a series of narcissistic tracking software.

  23. "to which a phallus has been appropriately offered for consumption."
    That's priceless.

    Assuming their support is adequate, MT should be able to handle things through the next several iterations of Hijinks Ensue. They have a scalability system to can instantly upgrade me as the need arises… to a point. Then I will have to find a dedicated box elsewhere. Probably The Planet. But I will keep this company in mind.

    Im glad to know that some Diggers are sticking around after the initial wave dies down.

    Here's a working link to your post:

  24. Ah yes, that would in fact be my link page. That's almost scary. Anyway, I'll have to go and make a bunch more of my comic links public. As you can see I'm a rather big fan of web comics.

  25. Well, feel free to browse my bookmarks, if you can see them it's because I made them public and don't mind sharing them with people. I love that website and will be really sad if it ever goes under as I use it daily. I never have to worry about losing bookmarks are doing any weird incantations to import or export them ever again. Of course the real icing on the cake will be the live bookmarks in Firefox 3 that will let you install a plugin to use AJAXish bookmarks from your normal bookmarks toolbar.

  26. I was going to send you an e-mail the other day when I saw your site was down. I saw the Bluehost icon and was like "oh wow he uses Bluehost too." But I couldn't get past the captcha (what the fuck do Hijinks do anyway? I tried, Hijink, Hijinking…this is a verb conjugation puzzle right? Damn alternative captchas…oh and the e-mail address you have listed doesn't work either)

    I've actually used Bluehost for years. I was on Darkfiles before they stopped offering web hosting. It's odd because I've never had any major problems with Bluehost…other then than randomly upgrading Ruby on Rails without telling everyone on two occasions totally breaking several of my websites.

    My main sites, &, were very high traffic at one time, but they still pales in comparison to the type of traffic I'm sure your site gets.

    Sorry you're having trouble with Bluehost. They've always been good on my end about tech support and their Cpanel is better than most other services. It sounds like you got a BOFH (bastard operator from hell) on that one call. I usually get good people the few times I've had to call.

    I've had to work helpdesk for a year too for TVA. Dude..there are some fucking stupid people running nuclear plants. Browns Ferry nuclear is the worst. "Where's the start button?" "What's a web browser" Dude you have NO IDEA how many times I've heard "What's a web browser."

  27. Well, that, and for refusing to move you off of a box that they KNEW was broken.

    What the FUCK is up with that? That's utter bullshit.

    They're supposedly in the business of hosting. If they're going to refuse to move people from a server that they know to be broken, they're not ACTUALLY in the business of hosting. They're in the business of taking people's money.

    That combined with killing you off just for suddenly becoming a popular site is just insane.

  28. *In thickest Marlon Brandon accent I could muster* Deese tings… I am prepared to do for you.

    I'll make dem an offer dey can't refuse.

    *Cracks knuckles*

  29. Do you run any kind of caching system? WordPress is notorious for being very inefficient "out of the box". But its easy to install WP-SuperCache, and you'll be much more prepared to handle the Digg Effect.

  30. I had Wp-Cache (not Super) running at the time. Ive downloaded Super (thanks for the recommendation) and will be activating it tonight. I should have pointed out that my DIGG traffic did not kill the server. THEY killed it preemptively.

  31. Or, in a future comic about the FUTURE, you make me the evil villain of I've always needed and wanted to be so I have a much better avatar involving my flowing golden hair and a six jaguars that carry my ectoplasmic throne around (yes, my throne is made of ghost mojo from Ghostbusters, kachow!)

  32. Maybe it's good that Im never happy with the art. At least I'll keep trying harder… or give up and just make hand-turkeys with crayon. I should have thrown in a Cue-Cat on his desk too.

  33. Hey…I go other places other than Pownce! And I can't resist a title of "I invite you to eat a dick" *snicker*

    Well, DreamHost is Ok…but they get spotty at times. We were going to move to a dedicated host – but for the bandwidth we have now for being a DH customer for so many years can't compare price wise to another service. Plus when I tell other hosting sites that we host podcasts, they pee a little. 🙂

  34. I had that for a while. Unfortunately, the guy who had the server didn't have enough of us to justify keeping it when they raised the price of the server. Dreamhost is the next best thing I guess.

  35. Actually his site literally outgrew shared hosting. He gets to many hits. he uses all the connections at once. All of bluehost's competitors would do the same. Or at least most of them. He needs a dedicated host. Or maybe a virutual host.

  36. To all web hosting customers…

    what did you hate about your past WEB HOSTING?
    what is your new web hosting now?
    what makes your new web hosting better than the previous one?

    Your answers will help me find a better host. Thank you.

  37. I researched Bluehost for over a year and they looked good. And not even a full 2 weeks into my service with them did my site start to run extremely slow. I troubleshooted for a weekend and realized it was ANYTHING BLUEHOST:, my site, and nearly every other site that I found out was hosted by Bluehost (via forum search of people's sites). They fixed it for a few hours then the next day, back to the shit hole. But, I was lucky enough to still have 2 weeks to get a full refund (I requested it and at the moment, waiting for it…). But just like any web hoard, it's a shot in the dark.

  38. The best I can tell they just arent capable of providing reliable hosting in ANY capacity. Almost everyone I know is with DreamHost and raves about it, but I cant understand how another "shared" hosting solution can handle traffic spikes, Digg's, etc with such a low price when my $50/month Dedicated Virtual box still bogs down from time to time.

  39. heh, I would have kicked your ass off my servers too. The digg effect is a shared host's worst nightmare. It's just not fair in a shared hosting environment to use 99% of the web connections for the 200-300 other people on the box.

  40. As a Bluehost employee (who really, really likes this comic) I apologize that your hosting with us was unsatisfactory. Keep up the great comic.

    We are a shared host and therefore can only handle so much before you outgrow our services. You were using 400 simultaneous Apache connections. Now on a dedicated host, like Media Temple, that's fine, but on a shared box, it'll cause huge problems.

    I am going to use that line the next time a customer's site isn't working. "Backed it up to cD and threw it in a cave"

  41. I think your stories about blue host are a bit over the top. But think about this. If you have 300-400 other people on a "shared hosting" server How would you feel if your site was down because some one was taking all the system res. A dedicated Host would be the best option for you. Again though I do understand how frustrating that can be. But please hold your anger for something that is more about killing kittens or something like that. I am sure that I will be flamed for this comment but thats ok. I loved your work btw.

  42. Now that its been a few months and Ive had time to reflect (the rage has subsided), it was all in the communication. I understand what happened and why it happened. I understand that I outgrew their product. It was the way i was treated over the phone, and their unwillingness to work with me toward a resolution that made me so angry.

    Seems like this comic is making the rounds at BlueHost. Not all employees are as sympathetic as you.

  43. I dont flame, so dont worry about that. If you read the post and the comments youd see that I do understand why they took my site down. What I had a problem with was being "fired" for something I had no part in (the digging of my comic). A couple of days later traffic died back down and Ive only had one front page Digg since. I didnt get an email that said "you are outgrowing our services, you have 2 weeks to find a new home. In fact I got no notification at all.

    Add that to the ineptitude of the customer service person I dealt with and thats enough to turn me off of their services for life. None of the events I described are fictional or embellished, though I did add colorful language for effect (I am trying to entertain people here).

    The whole ordeal was a top notch customer service nightmare. The guy on the phone could have handled things SO much differently, and I would have left frustrated with the situation, not Bluehost.

    I was a CSR for 8 years, so I know that you can choose to leave a good impression for en exiting customer or treat them like crap. ive done both and that latter is generally a mistake. What if I had been Penny Arcade and they treated me this way? The comic would have gone out to millions and they would have certainly lost business.

    Its been so long that I dont really care any more, and I do appreciate your perspective. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

  44. DreamHost has about the best tech support and customer service of any company I've ever used, ever. (And I'm server-illiterate and on a dedicated box.) Just, you know, to add to what you said you've already heard.

  45. My impression is that *no* shared host can handle a Digg, and only the beefiest of dedicated hosts can. I've had issues maxing out my server (I run a fairly large dynamic site with a big database and a steadily increasing amount of RAM that gets lots of traffic), so that even a minor spike brought it to its knees, and DH has been awesome about getting things back up and helping me clean things up. But I know if the site keeps growing, I'll eventually max out their offerings (I dread it, but in a good way).

  46. Hey Jacob, hows it going? So Im also a former tech, but I found this comic when I was at bluehost, I laughed my butt off and sent it to a bunch of the people in level 1 tech support. It was awesome, so sorry, I might be the reason you have so many bluehost techs posting. I was just pissed at bluehost for the way they treated employees, let alone their crap technical support. I've done CSR jobs for a long time, and the things they told us to do were just stupid. Beyond the constant bullying from the managers, and stupid late policies (if you are late 6 times in a 3 month period, for any reason, you're axed) the service was poor and the level of technical knowledge very low. Some people would send in tracerts and other detailed information proving it was our fault that they had slow connection times, and we were told to just respond it was on their end. I knew a tech that hacked a customers account using the password that is displayed when a customer calls in. Security sucks, service sucks, and support sucks.

    Beyond that, Matt Heaton (the owner of bluehost) owns many sites that say they are fair and balanced "web hosting review" sites, I have the screenshots to prove it. They play dirty, spy on their employees every keystroke and just suck in general. You did good moving. Great comic by the way.

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  48. My site was on SpiralHost.


    One day I can't get into email accounts. My entire site is gone. When I try to open a trouble ticket I just get a one-page message saying that EVERYONE HAS 24 HOURS TO GET THEIR STUFF.

    Shortly thereafter I learn that FTP is down too. Goo'bye five years work. Goo'bye to my friends' site too – and he'd backed up even less than I had.

    I don't have to warn anyone to stay away from SpiralHost though, because it is as if the company never existed. If I ever find the sumbitch…

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