The performance and scalability problems of Twitter have been covered to death, so I won’t wax lyrical about the different reasons that the micro-blogging service has had performance and uptime problems over the last year.
With the advent of cloud computing and inter-connected web services, the requirement to have a good quality API has just about become a must have. One of the things that an API allows is new and creative mechanisms for users to consume and repurpose your service – which by and large is fantastic. Every now and then though, people will find a way to exploit a service to their advantage – usually financially driven.
In the case of Twitter, clever folk are using the service to ‘watch’ what discussions are happening on and around the internet about a given topic. Case in point this afternoon, I mentioned the phrase “WordPress” in a tweet and I suddenly received 10 new emails notifying me that random people I don’t know are now following me.
The fact that random people are following me isn’t the concern, it is that they automated that based on what I was disucssing in a Twitter conversation. The knock on effect is that those users will no doubt be following hundreds or thousands of other Twitter users.
From an architectural point of view, this problem quickly spirals out of control as now every message that I write, generates a notification to be sent to those users. If they had a legitimate interest in following me, no problem at all but more than likely it will go completely unnoticed and the only thing that it has really achieved is increasing the load on the Twitter infrastructure.
If users continue to abuse this type of functionality, inevitably the Twitter folk will further tighten the screws on how many people you can follow per account. Of course, then the users abusing the service will start creating multiple accounts so they can get what they want – always looking for a way to side step the restrictions.
Over the weekend, I signed up for a Twitter account and that process had a few hiccups which were entirely my fault. After sorting that out, I started posting items into Twitter using the web site and everything seemed to be going swimmingly.
Unfortunately, the site went down with the familiar offline message informing Twitters that they were reorganising some stuff. To my surprise, when the service came back online – it had lost my last tweet. Assuming this was a bit of a one off, I let it go. Later that same night, Twitter lost another tweet. I haven’t posted about it since Friday night as I figured that they were doing maintenance and it wasn’t worth raising, however yesterday it lost yet another tweet and this time I didn’t notice that the site went offline.
I think we’re up to a total of three or four tweets which Twitter have lost in as many days since joining the service. I realise that I might just be a little unlucky, so I’ll be keeping an eye on it over the next week or two to see if it is normal or the exception.
Over the weekend, I signed up for a shiny new account with Twitter. Without realising it at the time, I had actually typed my username incorrectly and missed a t out of Lattimore.
Being a bit of a pedant at times, I went to sign up for another account with the username I wanted only to find out that Twitter wouldn’t allow me to sign up with the same email address. Not wanting to sign up with a different email address, I was going to email the Twitter mob and see if they could just rename my account for me.
To my surprise, the Twitter development crew supply a convenient ‘delete my account’ option. To my surprise, it seems as though clicking that really does delete your account – all of it. As soon as I had confirmed that I wanted it deleted, I was able to immediately create another account with the username I wanted and using my existing email address.
It’s a small thing but I really appreciate it when services put in convenient functionality like that.
Curiosity has gotten the better of me, I’ve signed up for an account with Twitter.
When Twitter first started to get some press, I couldn’t see the benefit of it and it seemed like nothing more than another attention grabbing service that was going to get in the road of everyone. I honestly expected that it’d get hyped, gain a bunch of users and then quietly whittle away and die like so many other web 2.0 style products that have been released in the last few years. To my surprise, the Twitter service seems to be going from strength to strength and they are still gaining new members are a rapid pace.
The only thing I’m struggling to work out is how everyone is meant to remember to drop twitters regularly and more importantly, that they can find the time to do so. I don’t know how that aspect of it will go but I’m willing to give it a little air time to see if I can work out what all the fuss is about.