Hey Scoble — you’re killing Twitter

by Mathew on May 30, 2008 · 18 comments

So Twitter has been up and down more than a (insert not-safe-for-work metaphor here) over the past few months, senior technology managers have suddenly departed, and fingers of blame have been pointed at the service’s architecture, including the use of Ruby on Rails. But the real problem, it seems, is Robert Scoble. Well, maybe not Scoble specifically, but “super users” like him who have tens of thousands of followers and follow tens of thousands of people (Leo Laporte of This Week in Tech is another one). On the Twitter development blog, Alex Payne says:

“The events that hit our system the hardest are generally when “popular” users – that is, users with large numbers of followers and people they’re following – perform a number of actions in rapid succession.”

The Scobleizer isn’t taking all this well, however. On FriendFeed (which seems to be his new social network of choice), he says that Twitter blaming him is “bulls**t,” and that the service was having problems long before he came along with his thousands of friends:

FriendFeed is 1000 times more reliable. Twitter was going down before I even got popular on the service. Their architecture has always sucked and everyone knows it. They’ve never been able to get a handle on the quality of their service and now it looks like they are blaming their top users.

To be fair, the comments from Alex Payne don’t seem to be pointing the finger of blame. It sounds like a simple explanation of why the system goes down so much. Although he says Ruby isn’t to blame, it seems fairly obvious that the service’s architecture has had “scaling” problems, where handling hundreds of thousands of events ties it in knots. As MG Siegler notes in the VentureBeat post, Twitter has to effectively rebuild its system while it is still running — something that other companies have described as “repairing an airplane in mid-air.”

Maybe the $15-million that the company is said to have raised from Spark Capital and other venture funds will help with that task. So should Twitter limit the number of friends you can have, the way Facebook does? Some people seem to think they should.

  • BrianSullivan

    I think the investors can kiss their $15 million goodbye. Twitter's 15 minutes of fame is over.

  • http://www.technovia.co.uk ianbetteridge

    Yes, it might now have chance to evolve into a service which has (1) Reliability, and (2) A revenue stream.

  • http://www.technovia.co.uk ianbetteridge

    Here's my prediction: a year from now, Scoble will be lashing out at FriendFeed and moving on to the next service. Robert is like a lover who falls crazy in love with something, then, when it inevitably disappoints him, decides that it's the worst thing in the world and must be slated constantly. See also: Facebook.

  • Scobleizer

    ianbetteridge: that might be true, but there's plenty of stuff I stick with and don't find horrible jagged edges which cause me deep pain to where I want out. Facebook, for instance, has some really severe problems that keep it from being a business utility (more news will break on yet another guy who got kicked off that service for behaving normally). Twitter? I love the idea of Twitter, but it's 1/3 down right now (the most important part, for me, which is the IM client). FriendFeed? I've put a lot of stuff into there in the past two months and it's always been fast and responsive. Twitter had problems far earlier in its lifespan in terms of reliability than FriendFeed has had yet. Now, will something better come along than FriendFeed? Probably. That's part of this life. I remember back in the 1980s everyone was on BBS's. No one even remembers what those are now. Then we moved to Prodigy. That's gone today. Then we moved to AOL. Most early adopters aren't on that. Then we moved to CompuServe. That's gone. Then we moved to Usenet. I haven't been on that for a decade now. Then we moved to the web and here we are, still looking for the perfect place to hang out together.

  • http://www.technovia.co.uk ianbetteridge

    Heh, Robert, that's a long role call of services you've killed :)

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Ouch :-) Robert, for what it's worth I don't hold you responsible for
    the decline of Twitter — or the death of Prodigy for that matter :-)

  • http://mdoeff.com/blog mdoeff

    Robert said:
    “Twitter? I love the idea of Twitter, but it's 1/3 down right now”.
    Robert, just the other day you recorded a Qik video (http://qik.com/video/85882) praising Twitter for doing a controlled downtime. Now you are blaming them for being down. Consistency please! :)

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  • http://carruthk.blogspot.com carruthk

    I've said it before – if you build an application and then open it up the global masses you've got to plan for success. Twitter is a classic case study in unanticipated success. Most sites would be glad to have Scoble & Laporte as active users. Twitter needs to work out how to scale & do it fast. It has created a devoted and active user community that is worth supporting.

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  • SDC

    Scoble is a 'top' user. Comedy gold.

  • Maggy Young

    Concerning the final question on the blog, – should Twitter limit users' friend numbers ? – I think no, as this is unfair on later 'frienders'. Sites do best by adapting to what their users want, not users being forced to adapt to the constraints of the site.

  • notahater

    Man, this is great. Scoble is having a hissy fit! He´s becoming more of a joke as the days go on! IRONY

  • Alcara Jose Hiram

    Maybe Scoble is just a big-headed that thinks he is the only one with big numbers in twitter. What about Twitter against his clients? Since when you paid twitter for their services? Friendfeed? Give it a month or so and you will find something wrong about the service that you don’t like and you will start attacking them too. Who’s next QIK? Plunker? Whatever is new next week? Scoble move on please.

  • http://denoted.dyndns.org/ploidy/ shadytrees

    > Here's my prediction: a year from now, Scoble will be lashing out at FriendFeed and moving on to the next service.

    There's another word for this: parasite.

  • http://denoted.dyndns.org/ploidy/ shadytrees

    > Here's my prediction: a year from now, Scoble will be lashing out at FriendFeed and moving on to the next service.

    There's another word for this: parasite.

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