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StackOverflow has 503'd a lot recently. Time to get a better server? What is the cause of this error? It happens anywhere on the site, seemingly randomly.

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also, a related question: when will you stop beating your wife? –  Jeff Atwood Sep 14 '09 at 1:45
    
I am not married? Take a look at my profile, note the age... –  Cyclone Sep 17 '09 at 17:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The site was intentionally taken offline. A short message, the logo, and a graphic has been the standard offline message, but I suspect that in the switch to HAproxy they didn't account for what the site would look like to viewers when offline: alt text

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Ah, okay, thanks! –  Cyclone Sep 13 '09 at 23:44
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Exactly - working on something that HAProxy will like. –  Jarrod Dixon Sep 13 '09 at 23:45
    
Excellent drop-shadow! –  Shog9 Sep 14 '09 at 3:07
    
@Shog9: Thanks - I can't take the credit though, Mac OS X adds it when it screenshots a window. It's still cool though - I like how the alpha transparency works on whatever background it's placed. –  Kyle Cronin Sep 14 '09 at 3:53

HAProxy doesn't like the app_offline file.

We do have to take the sites down periodically to apply critical Windows updates, and that applies to the database server (all sites down) as well.

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Since you're using HAProxy to load balance between two servers, you could take one server down, update it, bring it back up, then do the same with the other server. HAProxy should be able to manage the traffic so there's no service interruption - it'll be like the site never goes down. –  Kyle Cronin Sep 13 '09 at 23:55
    
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@Kyle - we had to do some database updates, so we were forced to take the sites down. –  Jarrod Dixon Sep 14 '09 at 0:15

'tis working now. The team warned about changing DNS - perhaps related to that? Or a new release of the software. Or just random stuff...

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All 4 sites were offline for about 5 minutes. However, instead of the usual error page users saw a "503 Service Unavailable" page. –  Kyle Cronin Sep 13 '09 at 23:42

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