The Truth Why Twitter is Over Capacity

Why Twitter is Over Capacity

[See handwritten green notes over image to understand why]

Lately, Twitter has been down more than the ground. So many are commenting why Twitter is having so many issues: scalability due to Ruby on Rails, mainstream adoption from press and media, or even just Scoble after two many cappuccinos.

After painstaking analysis of Twitter’s 404 page (above image), I’ve found the reason for the downtime of Twitter, it’s not what you expected: the infrastructure, users, or external factors, it really comes down to poor deployment of internal resources.

Whales can only go one way, gotta get those birds going the same way.

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70 Replies to “The Truth Why Twitter is Over Capacity”

  1. so what do you mean with poor deployment of internal resources?

    putting manpower on the wrong projects? wasting money on other things than server capacity? having semi professional developers working on the core application?

    until further clarification i still think its a ror issue… πŸ™‚

  2. Good catch :).

    By the way, it’s not a RoR issue. It’s either a lack of servers, or a poorly built infrastructure. Rails scales just fine if you know how to build a scalable application (just like any other framework/language).

  3. Making a whale fly is a sysyphian task, to say the least. It’s time to rethink the whole thing and start from scratch. This whale ain’t never gonna fly.

  4. @ Ike
    Wow, talk about a nerd joke LOL, that’s about the pinnacle… and I can’t believe I got it… crap.

    Jeremiah, that’s funny. We were talking about this in my office yesterday; whether it’s good or bad that they have a “cute” 404 page. I’d have to say a bad sign that they do, but brand wise sort of good for us that they acknowledge their issues.

  5. or maybe it’s a PR stunt, heck we all talk about twitter when it’s down rather then just using twitter when it’s up (just kidding)

  6. i had no idea you had such a sense of humor…

    at least they’ve upgraded from the hamster-in-wheels and the o-so-dated dwarfs-on-levers.

  7. haha, jeremiah, i should have expected something like that from you. you crack me up. marc uhlig cracks me up all the time too πŸ™‚

  8. Very observant, Jeremiah!

    So do those bird know Rails or what? Looks to me half of them are migrating and some continue on their present course. Which is which, not sure.


  9. lol nice.

    On a serious note, Jeremiah, do you feel Twitter can rebound from their recent miscues and an apparent loss of ‘thunder’ that it held on to for quite some time now?

  10. Well, it looks like they’ve reached “big company” management capability before they reached big company status. I mean, it usually takes at least 300 people to get half going one way and half the other!

    Reaching scale early: priceless!

    Congrats, ev & biz!

  11. Jeremiah,

    Thanks for the chuckle. I am always struck by the fact that the whale would be much easier to move if it were floating in the water. Bringing it out of the water makes it weigh more. Maybe the problem is the birds are ALL following the orders of some Twit who doesn’t know squat about how to move a whale. Then the two birds flying the wrong way would be the hero’s for pointing out how absurd the request was in the first place.

  12. Is the whale sleeping? Please tell me the whale is sleeping, right? Right? It’s not dead or anything?

    Jeremiah – thanks for the laugh and the “d’oh” moment b/c it took me a minute to really “see.”

  13. Jeremiah, you are hilar.

    It’s funny, when I saw the new whale-themed 404 page today, my first thought was, “Why doesn’t Twitter divert their resources from clever artistic ‘sorry our site crashed’ pages into actual fixing the problem?” A novel thought, I know.

  14. Hmmm, if you look at the picture, there are 4 birds facing one way and 4 birds facing the other.

    Maybe the objective isn’t to get the whale to move to the right or to the left but just to get the whale, which could be a metaphor for the chunky unwieldy code Twitter has, to move up (i.e. SCALE UP).

    So, the birds facing different directions could be just to balance the horizontal forces so that whale will only move along one axis which is the vertical one.

    Who knows. Back to analyzing Alias.

  15. I love the humour of “helpful” birds actually creating the problem πŸ™‚

    Interesting things happen when someone comes at you from the opposite point of view. If creative mashable things happen, I’m happy for Twitter to have a nervous breakdown once in a while.

    Nice to see some levity amongst the angst and sturm/drang of social media πŸ˜›

  16. @alexdc 100 Point word score for the use of Sisyphean!

    correction: spelt Sisyphean
    “Endlessly laborious or futile”

    1. Greek Mythology. Of or relating to Sisyphus.
    2. Endlessly laborious or futile: Their patients’ lack of education and the high cost of medicine make health care a Sisyphean task (Frank Gibney, Jr.).

    [From Latin SisyphΓ„β€œius, from Greek Sisupheios, from Sisuphos, Sisyphus.]

  17. Aloha Jeremiah,

    TX 4 sharing this!

    I can’t tell you how many peeps tell me that
    “I broke Twitter” cuz I’m just like Scoble.

    Naturally- I thank them & take it as a compliment.
    But now I can tell them it’s really NOT me – OR Scoble.

    via Hawaii

  18. No way man, have you ever lifted a whale out of water? (ok. neither have I.)

    The kind of fine-tuned coordination required is mind-boggling. I applaud the efforts of those tweets and you should too.

    Shame! (:))

  19. Yep. Birds flying in the wrong direction is usually the problem. The real problem there is no lead bird guiding them along. Just a big fat whale of a problem to support.

  20. @Tiggr LOL! You’re right about the spelling, though; one should not rely on a Google search as a spell-checker πŸ˜‰

    “In Greek legend Sisyphus was punished in Hades for his misdeeds in life by being condemned eternally to roll a heavy stone up a hill. As he neared the top, the stone rolled down again, so that his labour was everlasting and futile.”

  21. It’s amazing what you can see when you take the time to really look.

    @BarbaraKB Because 25% of the birds aren’t “team players,” the same needs to be true for the whales name, hence, Mody…………:)

  22. Dear Jeremiah,

    Not to obliterate the point you are trying to make but I couldn’t help but notice that the graphic used, where, you (or an assistant) may have missed the other two birds that are theoretically flying in the opposite direction. Further, There is an equal amount of birds in either direction which should make this a “sitting duck” situation, I wonder why ‘they’ chose a whale to begin with. It may have been easier for eight birds to lift a duck than a whale, unless of course they think this is “a whale of a problem” … : /

    Maybe the birds are trying to save the whale from ‘El Niño’ (hence why the ocean is orange instead of blue).

    Sorry, had to mention it. I am really good in details! However I could not find Waldo…. πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for your time,


  23. Jeremiah – underneath it all, we are all human beings πŸ™‚

    I feel for Twitter. They are using the right framework (RoR), good hardware (Sun), but the database seems problematic (mySQL).

    But that can be a red herring, even Oracle can crawl to a halt if the application or hardware is not playing ball.

  24. Hmm… That explains it. And here I’ve tried over 30 times to upload a picture to my profile and kept receiving that message. Get your act together, silly birds.

  25. lol I had to reread that and look at the picture again to get that joke. Just got that 404 when I tried to change my picture on there πŸ™‚

  26. Server overloaded? I don’t think so, this is just a plan to get the ball rolling and they may be thinking in charging or even limiting tweets per day and maybe offer a plus account option that lets you post unlimited tweets. internet is a business and you have to stay alive somehow.

  27. He’s right. The twitter page is like a bird(light)What twitter needs now is a whale(big)It’s presently top-heavy so it falls.Unfortunately it can’t be fixed.Once you build a page its done.You have to build a brand new one.And what a page it will be !Wait till you see.Happy hunting.Heigh-ho !

  28. Andddd it's down again. Oh, and it's 50% of the birds who are wreaking havoc. Although, it is unclear which 50%. Four one way, four the other, and a possibly stoned whale dangling over….red waves? Fly, birdies, fly!!!

  29. Andddd it's down again. Oh, and it's 50% of the birds who are wreaking havoc. Although, it is unclear which 50%. Four one way, four the other, and a possibly stoned whale dangling over….red waves? Fly, birdies, fly!!!

  30. ahahahaha dude i love it. those birds. jesus the birds! i hate those stupid birds. and i also ask you this. why don't those stupid birds the drop the white whale back into the ocean. where the damn thing belongs anyway.

  31. Its server issues. IF they tell you different theyre lying. Any ITT TEch junior project manager would tell you that. Need to go to a more flexible, a better load balancing structure, and/or expanding virtualization model.

  32. I agree but we cannot completely neglect that RoR can be the root of the problem. The reason being, RoR is not a technology of choice for a Real-Time-Application. It does scale really well. Maybe its the FIFA '10…people are being overly generous with tweets during the biggest tournament on Earth.

  33. It's not my intention to disapprove with anything here, but, how did you exactly came to this conclusion? I mean, “After painstaking analysis”, where we have done this and that, conclusion is this and that. Well, where is “this and that” in your analysis? If you say something, we would like to know on what grounds was it. I'm not saying you are wrong, but this post looks like “well, we just have to fill out post qouta for today”.

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