Photograph by Rafe Swan — Getty Images/Cultura RF
By Jeff John Roberts
July 13, 2015

A group of disaffected users of the news site Reddit, often called the “front page of the internet,” recently migrated to a new community site called Voat. But in the wake of media attention for Voat, it appears another group decided to launch a Distributed Denial of Service attack in an attempt to take it offline.

The attack, which began Sunday night, was confirmed on Twitter by Voat:

The maintenance on our servers ended several hours ago, but we are still being hit with a layer 7 DDoS attack as Confirmed by CloudFlare.

— Voat (@voatco) July 12, 2015

The tweet cites CloudFlare, a security company that can help sites manage DDoS attacks. Such attacks typically involve antagonists who harness botnets in order to direct massive amounts of traffic at a website’s servers, and knock it offline.

The attack does not appear to have taken Voat’s website down for any length of time, though a message on its homepage says the incident has forced it to cut off access to the site from various apps:

“In order to keep Voat at least somewhat responsive, we’ve bumped up CloudFlare security settings which essentially breaks most Voat third party apps currently on the market. We are sorry about this and we are working on a solution and taking this time to optimize our source code even further.”

It’s unclear who is responsible for the DDoS attack, though some are suggesting (on Reddit and Voat naturally) that Reddit users may be involved.

Although Voat is an obscure site (its attraction apparently lies in its reputation as a “troll haven”), its emergence – and the DDoS response to it – underscores once again the volatile, migratory nature of online communities. As my colleague Mathew Ingram explained, such communities can be “like an anthill, but one where there is no queen or recognized authority or even common purpose — one where all the ants wander around doing whatever they want, whether it’s building something beautiful or destroying things just for the sake of destroying them.”

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