“Twitter’s all about the real time.” That’s what Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, said in this interview Scoble did with me sitting in the background almost 1 whole year ago. As I sit here, my Twitter is inconsistently providing updates, they have specifically told their users some updates will just be missing over the next little bit, and I’ve been waiting on CoTweet, my preferred client, for hours to provide me new updates. No, I don’t blame CoTweet – after all, my own service, SocialToo has also been suffering from these delays and slowness issues due to some sort of “architectural changes” they are making on the back-end. Twitter’s slow, follower and following numbers are off, apps are hitting rate limits when they shouldn’t normally be, caching issues are everywhere. We’re at Twitter’s mercy, and it’s far from real time!
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Rewind back one year. I recommend watching the above video if you have 15 minutes. I’m hearing the same things today that I heard one year ago in that room, and I’m still just as frustrated as I was an entire year ago. I’ve been strung along and I’m not happy, as a user, and especially as a developer.
A full year ago Twitter was working on their architecture, dealing with scalability issues in times of “massive growth”, and that never, ever stabilized. In fact I think the media has actually kind of gotten used to it – you rarely hear frustrations today like you did back then when nothing has really changed! At this point I’m beginning to think it will never stabilize – I’m scared as both a business owner who writes software on top of the service (I should have heeded my own warning half a year ago), and I’m scared as a user, and someone who has brought hundreds, if not thousands to try out the service that my reputation may be tarnished.
I’m talking with a lot of media entities and reporters about Twitter lately and frankly, I’m not sure what to tell them any more. Do I keep pushing them to try out Twitter? Do I just be brutally honest that this is just what Twitter is and people should just be prepared to get used to it? Or do I tell them it’s not worth leaving Facebook and their existing networks there to pursue? After all, Twitter themselves barely even use their own service. When was the last time you saw them respond to a complaint from someone about Twitter, on Twitter? Does anyone really know where to go on Twitter for Twitter support? Even in the video above I’m referred back to the developer mailing lists, not Twitter – nothing has changed. When at the same time I can always contact @comcastcares, or @scottmonty, or @RichardAtDell and get prime support from some of Twitter’s biggest users.
I’m seeing hundreds, if not thousands of people begin to game the system of Twitter. People are using services all around Twitter, and I’ll admit some are even using mine, to gain massive followings, empty followings, just to accrue followers with no relationship underneath that number. I’m beginning to feel that most of my followers are just dry numbers because of that – Twitter is seriously losing its value for me as a user.
Evan and Biz, it’s been a year already – I’m your biggest fan. Because of that I’m also your biggest critic, and I’d really like to see some improvement! At what point can we expect to see brighter skies and greener pastures on Twitter, or will it continue to be “we wish we could give you a time frame, but it could be months down the road” like you said a whole year ago? Just be frank with us – be honest. Let us know what to expect. Communicate to both your users and your developers in a way we can all enter this knowing what we’re going to get, because frankly I have no idea what to expect from the service any more.
Maybe it’s about time Twitter starts looking to sell. There are many businesses quite large enough to handle the problems Twitter is experiencing right now, and even prepare for 2 years down the road. There are businesses that have experienced this growth and know how to get it in order quick. Something’s not right at Twitter – it hasn’t been right for over a year now, and maybe it’s time to fix it.
Forgive my venting – as a developer I’m frustrated and I needed to get this out. In the meantime I’m going to go write some more code. While Twitter’s down you can find me on FriendFeed where it’s nice and green and pretty, oh, and real time!