Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Twitter goes down, no one tells us why...

Twitter suffered yet another of its all-too-frequent outages for part of the day on Tuesday. As is usually the case when this happens, we grumbled, and some started the inevitable 'where else can we go?' discussion. Some even decided to spend the day on Friendfeed to 'protest' how Twitter is often down.

For many of us, the occasional Twitter outage has just become part of the territory. But inevitably, the outages always lead to the 'I've had it with Twitter!' complaints from some.

But yesterday, GeekMommy had a great point about the constant outages...where is Twitter at when the problems crop up?

And that's a great point. If Twitter simply had a few people out using the service and educating us about why they are having the constant outages, the mood of the Twitter community would improve dramatically. For example, someone mentioned on Twitter that the outage yesterday appeared to be coming from them adding servers. I have no idea if that's why, but if Twitter WAS down because they were trying to add servers that would increase capacity, that's definitely something that Twitter should be telling its community about.

It's great that Twitter has such a loyal community, but they still need to invest some time interacting with that community. Masi-Guy made the point that we are basically complaining about a free service being down.

Tim's got a good point, but at the same time if Twitter can significantly improve how the community perceives the site by simply interacting with us, why wouldn't they? There's definitely something to be said for leaving a community alone and letting it grow organically, but at the same time, people will eventually leave a community if they feel that their opinions aren't being heard or acted on.

BTW speaking of Twitter, I apologize for the lack of posts recently, and 'I Blame Twitter'. If you aren't already, please follow me on Twitter, and I'll follow you as well.


Hire Mack!


Anonymous said...

Even if Twitter doesn't have a "person", they should at least post a message for the community. When Twitter goes down you can't even get to the homepage. A tiny acknowledgement is all that is required - Yes we know the service is down. Sorry for the inconvenience. We'll be back up in X amount of hours. Etc. It's all about customer service!

Yvonne said...

I've become quite frustrated with the frequent downtime on Twitter. It makes me rethink my dependency. If I want info, which I usually get from Twitter, and it's down... where do I go? At present, I go to Facebook, but I get little joy from it.

I hope Twitter is listening.

Anonymous said...

The "official" word from Twitter is supposed to come from @twitter_status. However, a quick check reveals that no updates have been posted on that account in the last 19 days.

They did however post to their blog yesterday:

And they do have a thread running on the GetSatisfaction support site:

But, that said, I still agree with you and @GeekMommy. They need to do a better job of communicating with users via Twitter itself.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame they don't respond to requests left at the "get satisfaction" website either.

Twitter appears to be working OK for me at the moment however I'm not receiving email notification of new followers, they just stopped.

Anonymous said...

Would be good if you got a reply from the folks at twitter (PS: you are definitely addicted Mac!)

Mack Collier said...

Lolly yes I am addicted to Twitter. But it's now gotten to the point where I am expanding my personal and professional networks at breakneck paces thanks to Twitter. So am seeing biz benefits that justify all the yammerin' I do there ;) BTW I wish I saw YOU there more often ;)

Geekmommy and others are just saying that if Twitter spent ANY amount of time interacting with its community and giving us a sense tha they want to communicate with us, that the negative sentiment toward Twitter's constant problems, would likely plunge. Good lord that sentence was long enough.

I think that most Twitter users are BIG evangelists for the service and want to give them every benefit of the doubt. But at the same time, if they could make the situation SO much better by simply talking to us a bit, then why not?

And if there was a viable Twitter competitor out there right now, would their stance toward trying to keep us in the loop change any?

BTW thanks for comments guys! See you on Twitter ;)

I Can't Keep Up said...

I have to confess that I am not on twitter enough to notice when it is down. Technorati, however, I frequently experience problems with when using it for research. I wouldn't bring it up, except they have the same communication issue that twitter does. I have given feedback and checked their blog and aside from information about WordPress, they haven't posted about issues with the site since January. For a while I thought it was just me, but heard similar concerns from friends. It is a great service and I value the rating system, but I am starting to not use it because of the wasted time.

GeekMommy said...

I think you got it in one shot.

Seriously, in the world of Social Media and Social Networking - you can't expect to be a major hub for long without some sort of community rep.

Yes, I realize that they have "@twitter_status" and the blog and - but none of those is a person. We've seen how much more a human face to a problem can mean in relation to a company's image.

I agree that there's a world of difference between "twitter's down and I don't know why" and "twitter's down and PersonX let us know it's because they are adding new servers to handle the load" in the user's perception.

Anonymous said...

I love twitter, but if it's down I see it as a sign from God to do something else :)

But more importantly, I find myself not commenting or catching up with some of my favorite blogs (like this one) because I see you on twitter. Hmmm

Josh Nason said...

Hey Mack - I did a post at my own site recently on whether we're too connected, Twitter being a big part of it. I honestly cannot figure out what the point is. If you get a minute, would you mind giving it a read and giving the audience your opinions on why Twitter matters?


p.s. It's the latest post in there: "Are we too connected?"

Mack Collier said...

Ivana you are right about reading other blogs, then again, I am doing that more through links posted to Twitter, and am doing it more.

Josh I left a comment at your blog, but the experience you get at Twitter changes dramatically as you follow more people. For example, last year I only followed about 40 people, and didn't see the point. Now I follow close to 900, and it's the best personal and professional networking tool I have ever used. I spend hours there every day and can justify the time since I make contacts that lead to personal and professional growth.

If you use Twitter as a tool to communicate with others, and expand your network of people you are following to even a hundred or two, I think you'll see that the value you receive from Twitter increases dramatically.

Tim Jackson said...

I agree that the lack of community focus and interaction is weird and not the norm for Web2.0/ Social Networking folks... but then again... it IS still free. I know, I know... that doesn't excuse bad customer service and community support. BUT... I dunno how "comfortable" I feel chewing them out. I am plenty frustrated by the constant outages, but I just feel like I have to give them a bit of a hall pass for their behavior. I think Mack had a good point before- if I were paying $20/mos for "Twitter Premium", I'd be pissed with this level of un-support.

I also agree that by having a public voice for the community, a regular Twitter user, who updated about problems and/ or maintained a regular presence to explain "all things Twitter", it would really help to push them past any potential competitors to come along in the future. They ARE missing an excellent opportunity to be real champions- and it's a shame.

But still... what we're getting (when we can get it) is being provided for free and without ads... for now.

Hannah said...

Excellent post! I think basically what you're advocating for is increased transparency. I agree completely. Also, Twitter must find a way to improve service without charging customers. Otherwise they will lose the casual twitter users. Perhaps ads are the answer.