The story behind www.ismubarakstillpresident.com

On “teh internets” there is a meme that exists, known as the Single Serving Site, where the URL poses a question, and the website replies with a blank page and a single word answer.

Last Thursday I sent out a Tweet slapping myself for not thinking of setting up such a website for President Mubarak, as – at the time – we all expected him to be announcing his resignation within the next couple of hours.

Well, he didn’t – and I went to bed shortly afterwards anyway.

The next day, remembered the thought, and thinking that he would probably be in power for a few days at least, quickly registered the domain name, www.ismubarakstillpresident.com and put up a simple YES for an answer.

Tweeted it, and got a few retweets, which was nice. Didn’t really expect much more than that, as it was just a random idea.

Then, just a few hours later, he only went and resigned. I had the TV on at the time, as we were expecting a Presidential Statement, but I don’t think anyone really expected that to be his resignation. As I was watching the TV, the quiet crowd in Tahir Square just erupted in a huge roar, which has sadly not been shown again on TV, as it is far better than the later news clips close up to the people in the streets.

Anyway… I quickly logged into the website and made a slight change to the wording, and although I am usually quite irritated by what seems to me to be an excessive use of exclamation marks in writing today, I decided to add a solitary exclamation mark as well – as it just seemed right to be surprised and delighted by the news.

Tweeted it again.

Then my webserver nearly crashed.

It went manic, not just my tweet, but vast numbers of people seemed to love the simplicity of it – and indeed, some people said they had first found out that he had resigned because of the website being retweeted by thousands of people.

Then big websites picked up on it – including The AtlanticRead Write Web, Techcrunch, HuffingtonPost, and I was informed that Al Jazeera had featured it on their TV broadcast and “loved it” (13:52 update). I haven’t seen a video clip of what they said, but quite a lot of people on Twitter excitedly told me it had been on the news broadcast.

I spent most of Friday evening keeping an eye on the webserver to make sure it didn’t crash as it was on the same hardware as my commercial websites, and in fact on Saturday morning had to move it to a different box anyway as there was emergency work being carried out on my hardware.

It’s calming down now, and like many of these things, I made absolutely no money out of it – quite the opposite – and frankly it was insignificant compared to the real events unfolding in Egypt at the time.

Egypt was the 5th most popular source of traffic to the website (after UK, USA, Canada and Germany), which would have been impossible when the old regime was in power and blocking the internet.

So that was nice.

I did put an author credit at the bottom of the page, but used a table cell to push it below the scroll bar so as to not detract from the purity of a single word on a blank page. I am only a modest website coder and in the few seconds I was going to spend on it, just couldn’t get the author credit to go below the scroll bar without “olde coding tricks”.

Resulting in at least one complaint that it wasn’t valid HTML. Sigh.

Oh, I did make one silly mistake, I quickly grabbed, a favicon for the Egyptian flag, only for it to be pointed out later on that it was upside down. Whoops!

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3 Comments

  1. Andrew F

    Congratulations on your viral internet fame!

  2. Although you “made absolutely no money out of it”, this is something that sets you apart from others. Something you will be known and remembered for. Your name/your idea woven in to the fabric of a revolution. Pretty cool and better than a little profit. Good for you!

  3. Sam

    Gosh, what a cool thing to have done. You’ve probably still got 11 minutes left of Andy Warhol fame too for the next bloke to go.

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