On Twitter, and patience.

Somebody has written a post complaining about the performance of Twitter, and i have to say, i am upset at both the post and the comments in response.

I’m thinking if we get enough inspired commentary we might actually get some answers out of Twitter about why they have such a hard time just keeping the service running.

Isn’t it obvious? Twitter growth has exploded exponentially in a short time. It’s no great surprise they’re having performance issues. If people would stop emailing them with their petty little whinges perhaps they could get on and fix things faster!

This can be particularly debilitating when we are relying on Twitter at conferences or to stay in touch when meeting up.

Newsflash: there are other methods of keeping in touch with people! Email, telephone, IM, text message, guess what – all those good things still work! In my opinion, if you’re relying on Twitter to keep you in touch with people then you are in a pretty sorry state. By the way, do you really need to follow 238 people? It works just fine with 33.

This is not a usable system anymore. I think you should give your users an explanation.

I agree that it is polite to keep users updated when your service is having difficulties. A post on a blog is an easy way to do that. However, Twitter is a free service, offered to us in return for nothing. Their terms and conditions expressly state that they may modify or terminate the service at any time. None of us has a right to make any sort of demands upon them.

I think the reason i’m upset is because i can very well imagine how i would feel if this ever happened to MyChores. I am grateful that MyChores has so far grown in a steady linear fashion, not an exponential one. I recently heard someone say that if you’re not having performance issues then you’re not growing fast enough. I disagree. I know that if MyChores grew too fast i’d be out of my depth. I wouldn’t know what to do.

I feel for Crystal at Twitter. Crystal always sends such calm, polite emails, explaining what is going on and apologising for any difficulties. That is what i try to do when MyChores has problems. I try to connect with the people who make use of MyChores, let them know that i appreciate them, and i’m doing whatever i can. So far people have responded well to that, and i receive many warm emails that bless my heart. One email recently even moved me to tears because somebody was so grateful for the positive impact that MyChores has had on their life. I’d be horrified if that were ever to turn against me – if people started abusing me for not providing a reliable service. I don’t feel i deserve that, and i don’t feel that Twitter do either.

If someone offers a free service, accept it graciously, use it gratefully, and if it fails to meet expectations, thank them for the gift they brought to you, and move on. Or let them know politely what disappoints you and wait to see what happens. There is no call for disrespectful emails or unreasonable self-centered demands.

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