Twitter failure: Call the irony squad

by Mathew on April 21, 2008 · 12 comments

Update 2:

Via a Twitter post from Engtech (which I found on FriendFeed), I came across a suggestion from this guy about how to re-enable your Twitter cache. I tried it and it seems to have worked. And now — finally — there is a Twitter blog post about the difficulties (hat tip to Frederic from The Last Podcast).

Update:

There’s a yellow box at the top of the home page for Twitter users that says:

“Due to some cache changes we made Friday, you may not be seeing all updates in your timeline (don’t worry, they’re still there!). Thank you for your patience while we fix this issue.”

As Nav notes, this is the equivalent of flowers after a fight. I think we could use a bit more than that.

Original post:

MG Siegler of ParisLemon and VentureBeat (and my rival for number nine slot on the Techmeme 100) is keeping the pressure on Twitter about the system’s recent problems — intermittent dropping of people’s messages, etc. — and so he should. For a service that is supposed to be all about real-time communication, the Twitter gang have been doing very little of that about their own issues. People continue to complain on the Twitter customer-response forum, and have gotten little response.

The last update from the team on the forum is almost two days old, and says that the problem resulted from a caching fix — which ironically was supposed to make the system more robust and faster, but seems to have opened a black hole into which people’s Twitter posts randomly fall. The last post on the Twitter blog is from five days ago, and it’s about how great Twitter is for helping that guy get out of jail in Egypt. It’s a good thing he’s not there right now, because he’d be out of luck. The last Twitter status message is from two days ago.

As MG notes, one of the big problems with this particular Twitter outage is that it isn’t really an outage at all — it’s just a seemingly random disappearance of posts, which makes it difficult to tell whether there’s even an issue at all, as I mentioned in my earlier post on the weekend. How many people are thinking “Oh well, maybe my friends are just too busy to respond to my posts.” That could push them away from Twitter gradually, I think. If you’re basing your business model on being a viral communications app, you had better communicate.

And that goes for the Twitter team as well — I’m sure they’re busy fixing things, but they should be out there communicating it. And as MG and others have pointed out, this is a particularly bad time for Twitter to be failing: the massive Web 2.0 conference starts tomorrow.

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