Random noding is a fascinating thing. The act of just indiscriminately snarfing through the database in search of information, without caring what kind of information, tends to be far more fascinating than sitting and waiting for things to hit new writeups or searching to find things you already know you're curious about.

Those who are addicted to random noding generally do it by either clicking Random Node or through the Random Nodes nodelet. There is, however, a third way to get your randomness fix: By hand.

Look in an e2 URL. Any of them. Notice that the URL contains, after the index.pl?, the word "node_id=" and a number. Well, that number is (unless you came into the node a funny way) the lookup number of whatever it is you're looking at. Everything on e2 is assigned one of these node_id numbers.

  • And because there is a minimal amount of organisation to the way the numbers are assigned, you can easily get a random node just by going to any node, looking at its node_id, and changing a single digit of it. Make sure, if you do this, that you chop off the &lastnode_id= bit at the end, or you'll create crazy softlinks you don't want.
There are some interesting things about doing it this way. For one thing, it is not guaranteed you will get an e2node-- you could get a theme or a user or some other random system construct. For another, Node_ids are handed out chronologically, so nodes with close numbers tend to have been created close together. You can go to a node you've written and see what was posted in the time between nodeshell creation and node post by looking at the node_ids between the two. You can look around in the block of fresh node_ids the system is passing out at any given moment and see what nodeshells people are working on, what hasn't hit New Writeups yet. And there's something that's just more rewarding about random noding this way; instead of walking up to some system construct and saying "bring me to a random node", you are bringing yourself to the random node; you personally are the one stumbling through the database, you are the one looking behind the front and walking through it. You may not know where you are going, but at least you are the one forging your own path.

Because there are substantially more writeups than e2nodes on e2, and each e2node and each writeup on each e2node has a number unto itself, picking a number at random is almost certain to yield a writeup rather than a node.. meaning you almost never get nodeshells when manual random noding. Which, if you ask me, is a pity..

But, of course, there is that one other thing that random noding this way gives you.. that one simple little thing that i have heard so many pining for.. and it is so simple i am surprised no one seems to have thought of it before now.

  • Webster 1913's writeups, which were done all at once, begin at node_id 177707 and end at 363650. So as long as you make your your random noding stays out of the range 177707-363650, you can actually get webster-free random nodes..