Friday, 7 September 2007

What did Twitter get?

What did Twitter get?

As the whole Twitterverse know, Twitter spent time in surgery and recovery yesterday, a two hour outage blowing out into "well here I am almost eight hours later and I still can't get anything except the maintenance screen" type of experience that saw thousands of people flock to the competing short messaging sites.

One positive thing I have to mention - that godawful twitter birdie was absent at all times, and about halfway through the outage we got a kitty back as the maintenance screen, even if not a lolkitty.

Negative things that I have to mention - what changes plz? There's a very obvious new random link in the top of the sidebar and "Explore Twitter" leads to a page with a 3rd party app heading the list, followed by all the other apps that people have written for Twitter. A reload still brings up a flurry of data requests from assets0, assets1, assets2, assets3, and it still takes four times as long to load as the original Twitter pages took.

The other link that randomly appears there, "Search Gmail Contacts," I'm sure will do as expected, but honestly, we've probably all already done that and this is a feature few people will need or care about.

Blah things that I have to mention - after all this time, the single biggest useability issue with the site has not been addressed: I mean, how bloody difficult would it have been to put a "newer - most recent - older" set of links at the top of the page?

Blahthing 2 - after a previous update, the contact list got out of alphabetical order, which renders it mostly useless for anything other than wasting page space. Selecting a particular person for a direct message is bloody near impossible if you have more than about 70 contacts, thereby removing a sizeable percentage of the usefulness of Twitter.

Blahthing 3 - upgrades that I KNOW hundreds of users have asked for - nothing. I'm talking about being able to group your contacts, and being able to segragate conversation into channels or groups.

Blahthing 5 - (because there are two in the paragraph above) the other long time useability issue that everyone has asked about that I know of, that of putting a meta refresh into the page so that it reloads every five minutes or so. How difficult is this, really?

Blahthing 6 - Twitter only has ONE set of servers? So they have to bring down production machines, install the new software, and cross their fingers? That's hardly professional, definitely not very inspiring. I could design a better mixed dev/prod environment than that, come on Twitter, at least look at virtual machines!

All in all it looks like the only thing Twitter garnered themselves out of this latest upgrade has been a lot of negativity, and while I like Twitter and still use it rather than their competitors, you have to wonder how many more times they can do things like this before people just don't come back after such a seemingly pointless hiccup.

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