Please Fix Twitter

Last modified on April 22nd, 2009

Lost Avatar

I’ve been using Twitter for a long time now, and the one universal constant in that time period has been the flakiness of the Twitter service. Even today, at least a year after some of these problems started cropping up, you still get the occasional “Fail Whale” when the servers can’t keep up. Some of the other random problems I’ve witnessed lately are:

  • disappearing avatars
  • the inability to upload a new avatar
  • missing background images on profiles
  • flaky service (i.e. the Fail Whale)
  • messages that appear 30 – 60 minutes after they were tweeted

Obviously running a service that can handle millions of people is no small effort. I’ve never tried to do it, and I imagine I’d have the same problems (or far worse problems) if I were put into that same situation. What is a bit scary though is that they’ve been working on these issues for over a year now, and if anything, I think in general things are getting worse.

Yes, it’s a free service, so you can’t expect a lot. But I don’t want it to be a free service. Give me somewhere to pay and I’ll gladly put my money where my mouth is. Any serious user would easily pay $10 a year for access to the service, and that’s a decent amount of cash to help fix some of these problems.

So here’s a question — would you pay to use Twitter? If so, how much would you be willing to pay? Do you even care if you get anything in return (in my case, I would be happy to simply have a (+) beside my name so people know I helped support Twitter — that’s what popular BBS software in the past used to do).

11 responses to “Please Fix Twitter”

  1. Kasia Fink says:

    What, no reward for the poor lil’ lost avatar?

    Yes, I would for sure pay for Twitter if it meant no more lost or delayed messages; I really hate those. $10/yr would be more than reasonable; I’d even pay more than that I think.

  2. Eva says:

    It’s rather sad to see something that has recently become rather popular have such problems. Twitter has become popular lately with tech-savvy celebs (altho whether or not it’s really them tweeting, that’s another story). Twitter should fix these recurring problems if they want to keep everyone on board.

  3. Duncan says:

    Excuse my ignorence but I just don’t get this whole twitter thing? Why do people want to update the world every few minutes as to what they’re doing? Is there a larger more useful purpose to Twitter?

  4. If you follow the right mix of people, you get a faster, better sense of breaking tech and big news stories. You can get the vibe of what your friends are up to in a fairly low-stress way. If you have the right followERs, you can ask questions and get much quicker, more effective answers to many types of questions than on Google or elsewhere.

    I’m not sure if paying for Twitter would actually address these problems. They have had what should be adequate venture money for some time now, and have generally been able to address reliability problems, but only with a long delay after the problems first become evident. There doesn’t seem to be a good plan to deal with growth in advance — except before the U.S. election, when I found it surprisingly reliable.

    And count me in as one of the Lost Avatar crowd. Tried to upload a new one today, bzzzt, nothing there now.

  5. Andrea_R says:

    I’d pay $25/year, same as Flickr Pro. Why? Well, on top of the issues you mentioned above, I’m noticing missing followers. Granted, most of them have been celebrities, but recently I’ve noticed a couple of legit people just not showing up in my stream – not in tweetdeck and not on the web. If I go to their profile, it says I’m following them, but there’s no tweets from them in my stream.

  6. Chris says:

    $10/yr is completely reasonable! Twitter could even keep a mode up for free, maybe drop the API limit for someone who doesn’t pay to 50 (or lower), while those who pay the cash get a higher limit?

  7. Incidentally, it looks like this latest problem is fixed. My avatar is back, and…

  8. First, I don’t think money is the issue here, twitter has millions of investment capital, I think what they’re trying to solve is just a hard problem and then don’t have the right staff on board to solve it quick enough. Having yearly subscription fees is only going to slow them down… because now they’ve got to manage a payment process as well ;-).

    Second, I wouldn’t pay a dime for my twitter account, not just because I don’t use it that frequently, but because it’s way too closed imo. I’d like to see services like this that could actually interact with each other so that I’m not forced onto one simply because that’s where the majority lie.

  9. Duane Storey says:

    Point taken with regards to the financing. However, I don’t really get your argument that it’s closed. You can pretty much get at whatever data you want with the API. Compared to most other web services (Facebook, etc), they provide access to far more information via their API.

  10. True enough.. maybe i just feel like the API isn’t very open because it’s almost as unreliable as the website 😉

  11. Duane Storey says:

    Yah, and it’s rate limited, so it’s hard to pull off some of the really awesome things you could probably do if it wasn’t.. but still, the XML data they return is a fairly complete snapshot of everything on the entire Twitter service. That’s why there are so many Twitter clients and third party apps, which I think is pretty cool.

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