Twitter: Unsafe at Any Speed

I'm a very light Twitter user. The value of the service is still mostly alien to me. And on the rare occasions I log on (or try to) and post something (or try to), something doesn't work.

I've actually been keeping track and found that Twitter breaks on elementary, "mission-critical", sine-qua-non functionality (like logging on, posting a tweet, or refreshing your stream; not the fancy stuff like uploading a photo or anything--I'm talking about operations without which there is no Twitter service) a full 66% of the time (that's two out of every three times I log on to Twitter).

I know scale is hard, but with over $150M in the bank and tech people begging to work for them, you'd think they'd have the absolute basics whaled nailed and rock-solid by now. As it is, they have more in common with my old 1983 Plymouth Horizon and its lovely (un)planned obsolescence, except people are treating it like it's a gold-plated Veyron.

Even their log-out functionality is broken right now:

I'll readily forgive a brand-new startup site in beta built by 2 unpaid engineers functioning on espresso and Red Bull throwing out erroneous 403s occasionally. But a supposedly major consumer site with $160M in funding, ~330 employees (as of 11/18/10), and dozens of engineers and operations people, trying to paint itself as a major force for marketing on the internet, at 11pm PST on a Thursday night? I don't believe for one second a technical staff that big, hip and passionate about their product is stupid, careless or incompetent--I'm just baffled. And yes, Twitter is big and has novel scale problems, but they're not the largest site on the web, and I don't remember a single time when google.com failed to perform a search or display their home page. Do you?

I know the world has gone completely insane about Twitter (another round of funding at a multi-billion-dollar valuation is supposedly in the works), but these guys seriously need to stop screwing around and solve their two biggest problems (stability and monetization) once and for all. Until then, I'll keep fail-whale-watching with the other haterz.

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