twitter problems – Stay N Alive

My Hiatus From Twitter – Why You Should Join Me

whale.pngYesterday I announced I am permanently and officially on hiatus from Twitter. Bloggers and other Twitter users, while annoyed, are giving them too much attention in both the negative and positive forms, and frankly, both of these only help Twitter. Any publicity is good publicity, especially when it comes to Twitter. I’m fed up with their lack of communication with users (try to talk to @ev or @biz – I rarely ever get a response to them, while many other companies on their own service I get an instant response from), their lack of experience and poor architecture that keeps causing these problems. It seems, while they are trying to get better, they just keep getting worse!

Just Wednesday, Twitter, while not on purpose, removed mine, and others’ followers in some sort of mistake that took a day to fix (I’m guessing someone erased too much data in the database via a bad query on live data, and they had to restore from Tape backup to get it all back). This hit the breaking point for me – they violated the most important thing to me about Twitter, my followers (which are also those I follow and have a deep interest in), and I just can’t trust that things like this won’t keep happening in the future. They crossed the line, whether on purpose or not, and it’s time for me to take action.

I’ve endured them being down in times I needed them most. I’ve endured them removing API features from us developers with little to no notice. I’ve endured them launching things into production without telling developers or warning users. I’ve endured their lack of a proper staging environment and other simple architectural issues that they still have yet to fix (I’m still not convinced they’re not developing in their production environment!). I’ve endured their lack of a proper and regular launch schedule to warn other developers and users when new features and bug fixes are being launched into place. I’ve frankly, been too patient with them and I’m fed up with it.

Unfortunately, after only one day I realized I could not do it cold-Turkey. I have a good number of followers on Twitter that have some interest in me (and I thank you so much for that support – it really means a lot to me), and regardless of whether I want to leave or not, abandoning Twitter would mean abandoning those followers, and I just can’t do that to all of you. To me, you’re not just a number – you’re all people interested in me in some way, and I follow each of you back because of that (and will continue to do so). I do care about you, and need to do what I can to encourage you to join me in more productive, more reliable and trustworthy sources however. Here’s what I’m going to do:

I’m going to post much more on

My followers from Twitter are already very quickly joining the open source communications and micro-blogging service, I use with Twhirl and have it open at the same time I have Twitter and FriendFeed open. I will be posting to much more often – follow me there so you don’t miss anything!

Why Distributed or not distributed (some argue it isn’t, which they have a point), is open source. This means I, as a developer, can actually have some sort of chance at giving back if things ever go wrong. Everything’s plain, simple, and out in the open. I know Evan, the founder, has also been very open with the community and has maintained that communication. I don’t get that from Twitter, at least not on an individual level. Also,, like Twitter, now imports to FriendFeed, and now satisfies my status updating needs to initiate conversation (which is what FriendFeed satisfies).

I’m going to be much more involved on FriendFeed

On Wednesday at F8 I realized something significant – I was using FriendFeed as my primary communication mechanism throughout the day, and I really wasn’t missing Twitter much by doing so (and most of it from my cell phone). FriendFeed, frankly, is much more viral and advantageous to my blog and brand than Twitter because every time anyone likes or comments on an item I post or comment on, that item goes right back to the top of the feeds for all my friends. It brings instant exposure, and in fact, for many posts on this blog I get more traffic on FriendFeed than Google, Twitter, or any other service out there. FriendFeed takes power away from the A-listers and puts it right back in your hands – it can happen to you too, and very easily!

Some people, for whatever reason, won’t give up Twitter

As long as the majority of my followers remain on Twitter and don’t join FriendFeed or, I still have an obligation to you, and frankly, I’m outvoted at the moment until the scale tips. I’ll still follow your Tweets on Twitter, respond to your @replies, and direct messages, assuming you’re not already on the other services. You gave me your attention and I need to continue to give you mine. For the most part, my blog posts will keep posting there (although they are also on FriendFeed – discuss below!). Please don’t hesitate to contact me – I respect you having your own opinion. I hope this post can convince you otherwise however. still lives! It has to.

The fact of the matter is, there is still a large audience using Twitter and frankly, there’s a business opportunity there as long as people are still there. I built to work across many social networks, and as you switch, so will For now though, there’s an opportunity, and Twitter will still be a part of that opportunity, as will, Facebook, and even FriendFeed in the future. It is already powering hundreds of Twitter accounts helping you follow those that are also interested in you and I have no intention in giving that up. If I can do my part in making Twitter a better place, I’ll at least try, so long as they let me. I’ve actually got a really cool new feature that will be released soon for both Twitter and

I will not give Twitter any more attention!

I’ve given Twitter too much attention, both positive and negative already. We as bloggers, if we’re frustrated with the service, need to take a stand, and my hiatus starts with blogging about Twitter, and that happens right now, cold-turkey. This, unless Twitter does something absolutely profound, will be my last post about Twitter.

How Twitter can get me back

Twitter needs to do something profound – they need to show they have the experience necessary to protect those that follow and are interested in me. Twitter needs to open up more – let us into what you’re doing. Allow other services to sync with my updates in a federated, open manner. Open your source code like Any one or two of these will do, but, frankly, I’ve been disappointed too many times. Twitter has to gain my trust back, if some other service doesn’t beat them to it. Show your support by joining me on at:

Or, more importantly, join me at FriendFeed at:

I hope to see more of you there!

Twitter Continues to Fail Developers, Why They Will Still Succeed

twitter.pngI’m going to dub this Part 2 of my Twitter Love/Hate fest – this should be my last installment for awhile on this topic, I hope. In reality, I really love Twitter. I have a good network on Twitter and frankly, I wouldn’t have met many of you if it weren’t for Twitter. Twitter, in many ways, has changed my career. For that reason I really don’t want to see it fail. It is perhaps this reason that I am so critical of it at times – it’s my hope that someone at Twitter can read these and at least see what the world is really thinking, hoping, and wishing at a given point in time about how their service is performing and being perceived.

Twitter is still continuing to fail developers!

It’s examples like the one I learned about recently where the service, Gridjit, was put offline entirely because of a rash decision on Twitter’s part to remove a feature from Twitter’s API with little to no notice for the developers to respond. In the time Gridjit was down, they have since added FriendFeed support, and I’m willing to bet they have other strategies that don’t include Twitter. Now that Twitter has re-enabled that feature, they are now back up and running, but Gridjit is just another example of the frustration that is occurring amongst developers in the Twitter development community.

Just today, for example, I noticed Twhirl was no longer working with @replies. I remember seeing posts on the Twitter blog recently stating that the @replies tab would be removed, but I remember no notice to developers stating that the features that enable this on clients like Twhirl would be disabled in the API (they did let us know the API was down today though – still no notice it would be down when they took down the replies tab, and nothing to the developer mailing list that I’m aware of).

Twitter tries, but not quite enough

I mentioned last week that Twitter was hiring on their site, but it just wasn’t enough because I think the problems they have exist at the management level. True, they even hired 3 new individuals recently, but they are developers used to being managed, not managing large groups of other developers. Twitter really needs one or two individuals at the top that have true Enterprise-level experience managing these types of IT issues, and very large groups of developers. Remember, Twitter isn’t just the developers that work for Twitter, but the vast group of developers that are also writing applications for their API. The individual in charge of development and IT efforts at Twitter has to have strong experience in managing very large development teams, and working with a very large user-base, in which any change to any part of the system could effect. Twitter needs a staging environment in place, and a system of testing every single change that goes into place before it actually goes out live into the production environment.

They are showing some promise though!

Just this week Twitter announced the inclusion of 2 new investment partners in their list of investors. One of those, Jeff Bezos, does have experience managing the types of issues and large development audiences that Twitter lacks. This is a huge move for Twitter, and long overdue! Jeff will bring Amazon’s firm experience in scalable web environments, and I hope, enable Twitter to enter the cloud more than they currently are, and reduce the tough scaling issues they are experiencing right now.

You can bet you’ll see Twitter begin adopting Amazon’s AWS Cloud services here soon now that Bezos is on board. Amazon has the capability to scale almost instantly as traffic spikes hit, and they seem to be doing it better than any other right now. Twitter really needs this service!

Why I think they’ll still survive, no matter how many developers leave

Twitter is a Marketer’s Paradise. Twitter is full of content about the every-day life of millions of individuals and their friends, who they connect and communicate with, and what their frustrations and interests are. Businesses are beginning to embrace this and use services such as Summize to track information about their Brand, their image, and even their competitors that they could never track before. Businesses can finally track real people instead of just “visitors”.

This is powerful and valuable information to many businesses out there. Because of this it doesn’t matter how many times Twitter goes down or how many developers stay or go from Twitter. So long as users still have networks on Twitter and the Twitter user-base continues to rise as it appears to still be doing, businesses like H&R Block and Comcast and even NASA will still flock to Twitter as a valuable tool in gathering data about their customers and fans. These businesses have it in their best interest to see Twitter succeed, and you better bet they’ll do their best to help out in that effort. Twitter isn’t going anywhere my friends, and I still haven’t retracted from that statement.

TalkingHeadTV Interviews Me About the Twitter Developer Dilemma

tv.pngThis morning Justin R. Young of TalkingHeadTV interviewed me via webcam (couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the yellow whitebalance on my webcam – I’m really not that yellow!), and asked some great questions in follow up to my article mentioning my concern on developers leaving Twitter. I think we covered a lot of the criticizing articles‘ (they were only somewhat critical, fortunately) issues in the interview. I wish we recorded the entire discussion because some of the best conversation occurred after the cameras were rolling.

To sum up, I’m not necessarily anti-Twitter. I’m as big a fan, if not more than any regarding Twitter – in fact, in the interview you can see I even wore my Twitter shirt that Ev and Biz gave me! I actually wore it all day yesterday, and was proud to show it off. I’m just worried with what I’m seeing and hearing from Twitter developers, and I want to be sure Twitter knows this so hopefully, they can come up with some way to fix it. My hope is they are already doing this, and they say they are. Here are the highlights of the interview:

Why Are Developers Leaving Twitter?


Developers Bailing on Twitter

whale.pngI’ve been following various development mailing lists lately, and I’m seeing a trend of developers starting to bail on Twitter. This is a scary thought, because when the developers bail, so will the users. It all started with a conversation on the Twitter Developers’ mailing list with the subject, “Shame” by a developer named, “nath“, in which he said,

“Well, twitters always down or unusable due to the speed; the api’s
keep breaking and are down just as often; the groups now packed full
of spam which is littering my inbox.

“It’s a real shame to see such a great app crumble and die like this :(“

Alex Payne, a developer for Twitter, responded by saying,

We own Twitter’s speed a stability; my our metrics, it’s been pretty
solid over the last few days.

We do not, however, own spam prevention for this group. That’s up to
Google, and if it’s a hard problem for them, I’d imagine it’d be a
hard problem for anyone.

I go through and clear out spammy posts, but time they reach my inbox,
they’ve reached everyone else’s as well. There’s just not much I can
do about it. Please make use of Google’s “report as spam” features.

After which another developer that goes by “rlanskyresponded:

Sorry, but I have to agree with the original author, it is a shame
that the service and the API are so unreliable. The potential for the
services that could be built on an API like the one offered by twitter
are endless. They really are.

Statements like this:

> my our metrics, it’s been pretty solid over the last few days.

don’t do much to boost my confidence. When you make an API available,
you are essentially saying to the world, “here’s our service, come and
build something great on top of it.” You can’t build anything of any
real value or widespread use on something that “has been *pretty
solid* over the last couple days (emphasis mine) .” You just can’t.
You need something that is rock solid all the time.

I’m not trying to start a flame war or bash twitter at all. Like I
said, I think it is a shame because the potential is so great. The
idea is great, the acceptance is great, the use is great, the
possibilities are awesome. But they just can’t be fulfilled given the
reliability of the service as it is today; try to build something on
top of the API that will see wide-spread use and you’ll find that when
you push the gas, the wheels fall off the car… at least that’s been
my experience. It’s been *extremely* frustrating and disappointing.


After following a few threads on the Perl development library for Twitter, Net::Twitter, I recently found out that Net::Twitter’s original maintainer too has jumped ship. He has handed it over to a new maintainer, but developments like this are not a good sign for Twitter! It is very clear that frustration amongst Twitter developers has hit a maximum level and I fully expect to see this only increase in the short term.

At the same time, developers like Kee Hinckley are giving advice to Twitter, and they are graciously accepting it seems. Some great tips are being given on ways to enhance the API, and I even suggested they do a public bug tracker which they seemed to like. Twitter clearly doesn’t seem to have enough expertise in-house, although they do keep saying they are hiring. Their jobs page doesn’t seem to have any upper-management positions though which I think is really what they need right now.

I’m very worried for Twitter. As more developers jump ship and work on other platforms such as Plurk and FriendFeed (which really isn’t a direct competitor to Twitter), this great tool is going to be left in the dust with no new development and large networks of people moving elsewhere. Twitter’s largest traffic comes from the API itself, and as that traffic dies down, so will Twitter. Imagine, for instance, if Seesmic were to stop development on Twhirl due to the costs associated with keeping up with API flaws? That would be quite a chunk of Twitter’s users being forced over to the other Twhirl clients, FriendFeed and Seesmic itself – it’s such an easy transition were Twitter support to be dropped! What happens when Twhirl begins supporting Plurk?

Twitter needs to do something, and they need to do it fast. I agree they need to get their infrastructure in place, but before even doing that they really need to put every hack possible in place to keep the API up, keep it working, and work with the developers to ensure they are staying happy. A large revolution is about to take place, and I’m afraid it won’t be pretty.

UPDATE: See the little FriendFeed box below? Click “show” and join the discussion on FriendFeed about this right on my blog! Subscribe to my updates here.

Twitter Kills Important Features on the API With Just a Few Hours Notice

IMG_0022.pngI saw some very concerning issues on the Twitter development list today, and my frustration has only been increased after reading some of the claims of Blaine Cooke today on TechCrunch. Yesterday, the one thing that seemed evident, and perhaps I’m wrong on this, but Ev Williams and Biz Stone do not seem to have much of a technical background. They made this clear in the interview, and there’s nothing wrong with this, assuming they have the technical staff to handle it.

Today on the Twitter development mailing list something was made apparent – experienced developers and businesses on the Twitter development mailing list cannot trust the architecture of the API that runs on Twitter. Just yesterday, a crucial feature of the API which allowed the retrieval of an individual’s friends and all of those friends’ timelines was removed from the Twitter API.

About 1 week ago, Alex Payne, the developer Biz and Ev kept referring to in the interview yesterday as having a lead role in the development, announced on the developer mailing list that this feature was going to be removed and asked if anyone was using it. With only about 5% of the applications saying they needed it, Twitter removed the method Thursday with just a notification on the developer mailing list and about 8 hours notice, no other notification elsewhere or warning that it was happening at that point.

All of the sudden, application developers everywhere were saying they couldn’t run their applications because of this change. These were applications such as Hahlo, Twitterati, Twibble, and Gridjit. What’s the issue here?

The issue is Twitter isn’t communicating effectively. We addressed this yesterday – I think they realize it, but I want to reiterate it. I can’t help but wonder if the experience is even there to be able to communicate effectively. I’ve worked as a developer in several publicly traded companies, one of them a Fortune 40, and some of the decisions the Twitter development staff have made would have gotten me fired at previous employers I have worked for. Where is the experience, and how can I, as a business and developer using Twitter trust them to build something on top of? I want to see where the experience is before I build any more on top of the Twitter API – does the Twitter staff have LinkedIn profiles?

Now, I’m not trying to criticize any individual at Twitter – I want to think they have the experience necessary to handle this, but I’d prefer they not pull the wool over our eyes if there is not enough experience at Twitter to handle the API I am trying to build a business off of. I know for a fact there are many smarter people using the API that could help analyze the experience if they need that help, but we need Twitter to communicate with us and let us help them out. Because businesses are being built on the API we want to see them succeed (I’m writing this as I wear my “Wearing my Twitter Shirt” I got from them yesterday). I think, as they said in the interview yesterday, while it could take months to get things in place, we, as businesses and developers could help them out if they just let us and communicate properly with us.

The questions I asked yesterday were centered around the developer and how we could help them. They told us to communicate with them. I really don’t know how we can communicate effectively with Twitter if they can’t be open to us back. I even posted this on the mailing list this morning, and received absolutely no response. As a Twitter API developer and business owner, I don’t know how much longer I can keep my Apps on Twitter. I know many others share the same frustration, and once the Apps begin leaving, so will the users.

I think, and hope, based on the interview yesterday, that Twitter understands this. I’m optimistic they do. However, we need an open communication channel, consolidated, and the experience to know how to manage that channel effectively with the API, or new opportunities are going to arise very quickly wich developers will leave to.

UPDATE: It appears that Twitter has a pretty experienced crew, per their recent blog post. Again, you still have to keep in mind that it may take time to fix the problems that are already there – is it worth the wait?