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Fail Whale and others failing Twitter

on Jul 01 in links, trends, Twitter posted by

Recent weeks have seen the launch of several sites related to Twitter’s failings, mostly related to the site’s notorious downtime. I recently blogged on the increasing number of sites that help Twitter users when the site goes offline. (See link below.)

What do such sites mean for Twitter and its users? 

Some sites cater to Twitter users who’d rather be Tweeting and give them an alternative. For example, Twiddict allows users to stack their microposts which then load to Twitter once it comes back on line, “Tweet your heart out … and avoid life-changing withdrawal symptoms during Twitter downtime.”

Others such as Fail Whale soothe users by suggesting users shouldn’t get uptight about downtime. Fail Whale is “to poke fun at the people who seem to take online social network downtime a little too seriously.” And Tweeple love it. Indeed, Fail Whale has already established a solid following. Its Facebook group has grown to almost 1,250 fans in less than a week since its inception June 24.

However, such sites are doing Twitter more harm than good. They act as a pressure valve, when Twitter needs more pressure, not less. Twitter developers need pressure to get it right, fix downtime, and to communicate with users ahead of time rather than just dropping a feature here and there to limit server requests.

By pandering to the feelings of dedicated but frustrated followers, sites such as Fail Whale divert attention from the real problems of the service. The result? Users will turn to FriendFeed, Plurk and other microblog sites (which now number several dozen).

And slowly but surely, loyalty will dwindle and Twitter will lose its audience. VC will dry up as the smart money turns to more reliable services that can deliver. As I have blogged about before, microblogging is too important to depend solely on one model or one service. If Twitter doesn’t get it right, others will step in. Fail Whale and its ilk will only highlight Twitter’s problems and lead to its eventual demise.

Related post
What to do when Twitter goes down

Related links
Twiddict
Fail Whale
FriendFeed
Plurk

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. Interesting point of view. However, I’m sure Twitter’s investors are putting plenty of pressure on them to get it right. Especially with Jeff Bezos being named in the latest round of funding. Amazon is all about web services and infrastructure; and having a loose canon like twitter, in its current state, won’t fly for very long. Meanwhile I think there’s opportunity for users both to bring the issues to public light and to make light the issues in public.

    Comment by @seanosteen — July 1, 2008 @ 2:04 pm

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