Twitter’s Downtime Isn’t The Problem


There are numerous complaints about Twitter’s downtime, but that isn’t essentially why we complain.

Yesterday, Pingdom released a survey of social networks and their corresponding downtime and uptime percentages from January -April 08. Twitter led the pack in terms of downtime. However, Twitter also had 98.72% uptime, which Mashable told us is reason enough to stop whining.

However, what some are missing, and what has been echoed loudly when Twitter goes down is that not only is Twitter down, but Twitter fails to keep it’s users updated about why it’s down.

Twitter Leaves Its Users In The Dark

dark This is Twitter’s biggest problems for numerous reason. For one, users are being kept in the dark. I can’t give you one reason why Twitter ever goes down, nor can I name the last time I knew why Twitter was down. Their team is slow to update us on anything going on with Twitter and the Twitter blog itself is rarely updated. When it is, it’s not usually to address problems. Take the look at their blog and you’ll see only two of it’s latest posts were about it’s most recent downtime. However, Twitter started acting funny last night and I haven’t heard anything from the team.

Speculations = Bad Press For Twitter

secret Secondly, users are left to their own devices because they are in the dark about Twitter’s problems. This leads to a host of speculations and inaccurate rumors of what’s going on. Essentially, this becomes bad press for Twitter.

Mistrusting Twitter

Smiley-Angry-256x256 In turn, it all leads to us not trusting Twitter or feeling that it’s unreliable. It can make us feel like they’re hiding something. Everyone knows Twitter needs therapy. However, no one ever know’s why. Users know Twitter needs help, but Twitter doesn’t ask. Instead, Twitter lets suspicions and mistrust for the product breed and manifest in the heart of its system.

This is also a reason why users have been flocking to Friendfeed in the meantime.

Just Ask For Help Twitter

communityIcon In retrospect, this is why users could care less about how much uptime Twitter may have (sorry Adam). This is why we whine. We pay so much more attention to the downtime because we don’t know what’s going on and also because it occurs so frequently. When Twitter goes down once, you can expect it to happen again pretty soon. It’s a sad cycle that not many have any clue about nor how to help Twitter fix the problem.

All in all, Twitter needs to start speaking up. It’s ok to ask for help you know?

  • Julian Baldwin

    These are all good points, I made an update to a post I wrote earlier and referenced your ideas to extend my own analysis.

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  • Rob Diana


    There is the twitter_status user that provides some info via twitter. But if Twitter goes down, that is useless.

  • Adam Ostrow

    Very good points – Twitter comes off as arrogant with their lack of response or comment about their service issues.

    As for my headline, it was meant to be a bit sarcastic … sub-99% uptime is horrible for any web service. And, that number only represents time the site is actually inaccessible, it doesn't take into account all the times you get the default Twitter error message, sms isn't working, or third-party apps can't access the APIs.

  • Matt Shaulis

    I guess I would feel more inclined to feel that something were owed me if I had to pay or were advertised to. Neither is the case with the Twitter I use.

  • Corvida

    You're right about that, but it's a convenience to users and one that most
    users expect regardless of whether they're paying for the service or not.

  • Moses

    You hit the head on the nail, or is it the nail on the head (lol). I agree, noone expects for it to be up 100% of the time, but it would help to know why it isn't. That said, the only reason we know it's down is cause we're so damn hooked on it (so obviously twitter has done something right). I dunno how many posts I've seen that say, “OMG, is twitter down, i haven't gotten an update in….minutes!” The problem with it being down (and not knowing why) is that it causes the user (me) to begin to speculate if gtalk, which is how I tweet, is down, or if twitter is down, or if my blackberry just isn't working, or if TMO is trippin, etc. Plainly said, not knowing what the problem is makes it impossible for the user to troubleshoot it.

  • ontarioemperor

    It works if Twitter is partially up, but it's hardly ever used. During the extended #twittout on April 19-21, Twitter issued a grand total of one @twitter_status update (April 19) and one blog post (April 21).

  • ontarioemperor

    There's a science, and a little bit of sales, in calculating downtime, and you're right in noting that certain levels of partial downtime can be just as catastrophic as a full blackout.

  • ontarioemperor

    While one can argue that you get what you pay for, we need to remember that Twitter is getting money from investors. If your service is perceived as not viable, then you're going to have a difficult time raising money from investors. (Hmm…Hillary?)

  • ontarioemperor

    I've been saying ad nauseum (with emphasis on the nauseum) that if Twitter's technological issues are bad, its business issues are worse. On April 23, I compared the responses of Aaron Forgue (GroupTweet) and Daniel Ha (Disqus) to Twitter's lack of response. (See my post at the… URL.) In the latter case, Ha offered to send Disqus swag in response to a 30 minute outage. Not 30 hours, 30 minutes. Twitter's near-silence in similar situations is deafening.

  • ontarioemperor

    Agreed that the multiple technologies that we use make it hard to diagnose a problem (for example, Twitter was originally blamed for the GroupTweet issue). And sometimes we don't get updates because people actually go to sleep. But unfortunately, when Twitter has had its share of #twittout events, people are going to reflexively blame Twitter for everything that appears to be a Twitter outage, whether it's caused by Twitter or not.

  • Corvida

    And did you think that was enough?

  • Matt Shaulis

    All i know is that I'm not one of them (the investors)… so I lean towards keeping my complaints to a minimum. I have them, as anyone does about anything… but I think it's too easy sometimes to get irrational… twitter-rage if you will. lol. [sarcasm:] i suppose i should have registered twitter-rage as a domain name before commenting… there's bound to be somebody ready to come up with a nice “rage meter” ratio to discover the moodiest tweeters!! [endsarcasm;]

  • ontarioemperor

    For the first hour of the outage, yes. For a three day period, much more communication should have been given.

  • ontarioemperor

    I don't know about the domain name, but there's an article dedicated to seven psychological complaints from bloggers and social media addicts, and twitter rage is one of them.

  • SallyP

    “Twitter Leaves It’s Users In The Dark”

    Its, not it's. Let's not perpetuate the geeks vs grammar stereotype

  • Corvida

    Thanks for pointing that out, but I'm not perpetuating anything. An entire
    article of over 400 words and you found one grammar mistake that's easily
    and commonly overlooked? I wouldn't go so far as to call that perpetuation
    of a ridiculous stereotype.

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