DropCatch: Auction timer glitch is being addressed

In recent weeks, DropCatch users and visitors experienced a strange glitch that potentially prevented them from winning auctions.

The bidding clock would go down to zero, all while a higher bid placed by someone else would not update their screen. People would walk away believing the auction had ended.

The Domain King, Rick Schwartz, was quite vocal about it, after the issue prevented him from winning the auction for KitchenBowl.com.

After extensive research, DropCatch has announced the culprit: more than 200,000 concurrent connections overwhelming their system.

In a letter sent to address Rick Schwartz’s problem, DropCatch stated that the engineering team has been working to address and fix the underlying issues.

Here’s the email that DropCatch sent to Rick Schwartz:

Rick, Thank you for taking my call today and thank you for listening.

As I said on the phone, when you saw the word “Ended” on your browser… this issue was caused by an overload of traffic on what we call our Auction Real Time API. We had
more than 200,000 concurrent connections into this system the afternoon during auction end time and we believe the live updates were taking more than a minute to send out to
some users. We also have backup timer functionality that kicks in when live updates do not happen and this is the system that displayed “Ended” on your browser. As a result,
your browser did not receive the proper update on this particular auction causing this issue to occur. We have since corrected this which was putting an unusually high amount of
stress on the systems.

The engineering team has been working on two improvements. First, we will be setting up monitoring on the number of concurrent connections and taking appropriate action
when the load becomes too extreme (and terminating all open/stale connections.) We have also made updates to the backup timer functionality (not live just yet, still in code-
review with the team), so it will always continue spinning until the database knows there was a winner in the auction. The database has always been the source of truth and going
forward, the word “Ended” will only appear if it is coming directly from the database, not the timer or backup timer. This new code functionality will go up within the next 48-hours.
We are also open to other ideas and suggestions for improvements.

In addition, we are working to add additional logging from user’s browsers so that if we receive such a report in the future, we will have better insight to be able to go back in
history and see what a user saw on their browser directly. That being said, if a user has an Internet outage that might affect our logging system from reaching our servers this
won’t be a guarantee. However, it will give us better data to identify any issues that may arise. Again, we are working to make our platform better.

I again sincerely apologize for initially suggesting the issue was on your end with your Phone. While we did initially believe the issue was from your browser, more extensive
research on behalf of our engineers has now led us to believe this issue was the result of the auctions API becoming overwhelmed with the number of concurrent connections,
and thus the updates to users were delayed. We are very sorry that you saw the word “Ended” when in fact the auction continued to go on. This is our mistake and we apologize.

It’s great seeing DropCatch working towards fixing this annoying glitch that prevented several of its users from placing counter-bids in a number of auctions.

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