Twitter Bollocks

May 22, 2008 — 15 Comments

I know the new me isn’t overly negative, and I’ve got to say that the last couple of weeks personally has been amazing. I’m discovering new things, seeding great conversations about the new wave of blogging, and I’ve perhaps never been more excited about the 2.0 space since my days at the Blog Herald.

But every now and then you have to call a spade a you know what.

This post
from Twitter makes me feel ill.

Lets see, here’s a company that just took $15m, a company that sees itself as a utility player, which is a fair call, and yet we get this

We’ve gone through our various databases, caches, web servers, daemons, and despite some increased traffic activity across the board, all systems are running nominally. The truth is we’re not sure what’s happening. It seems to be occurring in-between these parts.

I’m sorry, but WTF???

Ah, but there’s a solution, apparently it’s about usage widgets:

We’re busy working on instrumenting and adding meters to provide visibility into what’s slowing Twitter down. We’ll use this data both to alleviate the current woes and to help inform our long-term architecture work to make Twitter a utility service people can count on

I noted in the Inquisitr post the argument that people who complain about Twitter downtime will never leave, and that’s a fair call, but how can Twitter, this far into the process, have zero idea as to what is going wrong? More importantly, how can VC’s invest in a startup that is apparently completely clueless?

I’m all for transparency, and the post from Twitter is beyond overdue, but at the same time admitting things are going wrong is one thing, saying you have absolutely no idea why this is the case should scare small children.

It’s like the X-Files, I want to believe, but I read this and I see complete and utter bollocks.

15 responses to Twitter Bollocks

  1. You are right. It’s exactly like X-Files. The truth is nowhere in sight.

  2. Bollocks, i don’t know if you ever set up your own DB server via load distribution systems, but these things are never easy and even the most experienced admin will agree that there are gray areas where bugs can come about.
    your is not very good criticism…

  3. kafka, if you have millions of dollars in funding, the first thing you do is to scale the app + refactor. you don’t wait for these things to happen.

    scaling should have been planned since day 1 don’t you think?

    twitter is almost mainstream. if they “we?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re not sure what?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s happening” (they said and i quote), a call for help in a huge twitter community should help. 😉

  4. Scaling, planning, and spending money on net resources is one thing, accepting that some things are beyond you (for a while, until you figure things out) is another. And blogging neg criticism about them is another.
    I agree that down-times are crap and are harder to accept, but to bitch about other people’s jobs like that doesn’t seem like a nice thing to do.
    The twitter dude was just being honest, and I’m sure anyone who ever wrote code and setup services knows, we are all faced sometimes with problems you initially don’t know how to fix. I agree, the community should help, but posts like these do little but whine.

  5. The scale is out there.

  6. kafka,

    All well and good.. but Twitter is 3 YEARS into it. At some point, they need to have a stable service that doesn’t go offline every day or for entire weekends. If they don’t, it will die. After all Ebay had its share of issues early on… but they solved them. If they were still as unstable as they used to be, they’d be in the deadpool.

    Let’s not excuse twitter from criticism – they’re far beyond the ‘oh wow, we’ve been discovered’ explosion at SXSW a couple of years ago. And a lot of the issues are of their own making. A few weeks ago they were not updating pages for the whole weekend… they’d rolled out a new caching system.. ON FRIDAY. Um… who rolls out new code on a Friday?? And refuses to revert it for 2 days?

    They need to have their feet held to the fire a bit – maybe then they’ll fix the issues.

  7. lightweight thinking – and i’m not even sure what you wrote qualifies as thinking. more like a obvious attempt to get people to click. well, i’m a sucker. i clicked. thought you might have something interesting to say. needless to say, i won’t get fooled again

  8. damn straight. when i read that i threw up a little in my mouth – the biggest, loudest blogging vc, mega stars in the scene founders, tons of money – and they can’t find the right people to fix the app?

    bring my ass in there for a month – let’s see if the issues are still around.

  9. Dan
    seriously, my personal blog, if you don’t like it…..

    As for lightweight thinking, lets put it in terms you might get: Twitter has only one goal (and they certainly don’t have a business plan) and that’s the provision of a microblogging service, and they cant get that right. One goal, one function, lots of money, cant deliver. To say this far down the line that they have no idea what the problem is….years down the line and a pile of money later, it’s a WTF, and I agree with Allen in the comments, I threw up a little when I read it as well. If I was the VC’s I’d be looking to show the Twitter team the door and look for new management.

  10. first, congratulations on you personal course change, and i am happy to learn that you have enjoyed it, and that it has been expansive for you. great

    i always liked your writing voice, the edge of the stirrer in it as well.

    twitter, i like it, understand the difficulties of tech, heck, even gmail is getting quirky here in india, and i am looking for another system.

    expectations are often the cause of our dissatisfactions and twitter has surprised itself and us at every step – going from cool to ubiquitous is not easy – but i bet they spend the vc money on just what you are wishing for.

    i am sympathetic because i myself don’t know how to solve their problems, so, cut them some slack, use friendfeed or pownce, come back later

    i think we wont like it in the near future, spam city

  11. Must admit I am fascinated by twitters cult following considering its continual mishaps…
    And the funny thing is the mishaps/cockups have been there since day one…yet the evangelists are still out there pushing this barrow…
    Their sales team that pitches to VCs really need to come work for me….I too would love 15 mil

  12. I get it, you guys are just jealous that they found this neat idea, minimalistic and easy to develop which will make a few people very rich and you didn’t.

  13. minimalist – check
    get rich quick – check
    neat idea – check
    easy to develop – nope. that goes hand in hand with scaling.

  14. um.. no, I’m not jealous kafka. I just don’t think they should be given a free pass when, 2 years after they were discovered at SXSW and their popularity soared, they STILL have frequent outages. As I type this they’re down. This is a near daily occurrence and it goes beyond scaling as I noted in my previous post. Deploying new db schemas, deploying caching changes (on a FRIDAY… sigh…), doing all of this without testing it enough to have a reasonable idea if it will hold up on the live severs…

    It’s glib to day ‘if you know how to solve this, come work for us’ but it’s also asinine. If I was getting paid do make it work and had been getting paid to do that for 2 years and it still wasn’t working well… I shouldn’t be getting paid any more. 3 months after SXSW… sure it’s new, load has exploded, etc etc. But that excuse flew the coop, across the ocean and has nested somewhere else and hatched eggs by now.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. It’s 6:30pm… Do You Know What Service is Down?  »TechAddress - May 24, 2008

    […] can’t say I always agree with Duncan Riley, but he’s spot on regarding Twitter’s outages. Twitter has mad cash, is located in the valley, has celebrity […]

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