Typepad outage – bloggers bail

Blogging, Personal, PR, Technology — By on December 18, 2005 11:30 am

Typepad went down for about 18 hours on Friday. Many bloggers are now bailing on the service – Neville Hobson has been planning his for some time and is moving to WordPress (see his new blog here), the ever insightful Jeff Nolan, of SAP’s Project Apollo, has had enough and is moving to WordPress too, and Dennis Howlett is ‘outta here’ – presumably to his Moveable Type platform.

I like Typepad for its simplicity but the scaling issues are a concern. I’m already backing up my blog regularly but think it might be time to upgrade to a WordPress or MT hosted service. Yahoo now has a hosted Moveable Type service. I presume the upgrade path from Typepad to MT is going to be smoother than to WordPress, but from what I’ve read it’s a painful process either way.

Personally I haven’t lost any posts or images yet, but the warning signs are all there. From a communications perspective, it’s a tough one for SixApart since its users are sensitive to service disruption and also have the ability to be highly vocal if they’re not satisfied. SixApart has built up a lot of goodwill, but is now running down its credits. Andy Lark sums it up nicely:

The bar is low, stop letting it hit you in the head. We are with you and love what you enable us to do. But you’ve got to start leaping over that bar. Otherwise we will become users, not evangelists.’

If it continues it might even be worse. We will become ex-users and detractors.

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  • http://profile.typekey.com/dahowlett/ dahowlett

    Hi Morgan – the reason I bailed was because I discovered that 6As failure was as a result of the way in which they werer doing the disk/DB swap – amateur hour I’m afraid.
    For businesses of the kind I’m trying to get into this stuff – stupid stuff dooesn’t cut it and I can’t in all consciousness remain on a platform where they haven’t read Enterprise Class Service 101. I only hope this doesn’t spike the interest that’s being generated. I’m sure the waverers will back off but that’s life.
    The worst atrocities on this stuff are in the PR BS of Steve Rubel who has made a laughing stock of the industry in his apologist manner and the rubbish he wrote about comparing this with eBay 1998-99. either he’s blind, stupid or both. I suspect it’s both.
    Niall Kennedy missed a golden opportunity to nail the customer service and scalability issues with Anil Dash. Instead of which we were treated to a sanitised ‘fireside chat.’
    No wonder the blogosphere is so anti-MSM, they don’t like it up ‘em.
    I’m glad I can remember what journalism is like. Abd I’m glad I don’t pander to the ‘crowd.’
    Needless to say, I’m spraying appropriately worded comments in appropriate places. A bit like a tom cat on the prowl.
    BTW – add one more defector – David Tebbutt.

  • http://www.morganmclintic.com Morgan McLintic

    Hi Den – it’ll be interesting to see how 6A responds to this. Some clearly believe that Steve gets preferential treatment, or at least privileged information. Hence his vociferous defense.
    He’s entitled to his analogy, though I don’t see Typepad becoming as big as eBay anytime soon. Too much competition and not the same advantageous market dynamics for the leader.
    By the same token I hope 6A reaches out to you as a prominent nay-sayer, at least to explain and to clarify. You are obviously a lost customer but they may be able to do some damage limitation by a simple apology/compensation. Unlike many bloggers you rely on Typepad for your business venture so feel the pain more than most, I expect.
    Clearly with you, there were not many goodwill credits left in the bank.
    I too feel sorry for Loic, who’s a great evangelist. I don’t think this will deter too many new bloggers embracing the medium, but it may impact Typepad’s own subscriber numbers. But that’s business, as you say.
    Most likely, a number of users will start to slowly migrate away rather than endure further downtime or risk total data loss.
    I may include myself in that. You’d kick yourself if you didn’t act. But let’s see the response. Growing pains I can live with. Just as long as they aren’t chronic. Which may well be the case.

  • http://www.anildash.com/ Anil

    David, if you’ve got suggestions for other questions that should have come up, please feel free to email me and I’d be glad to answer them and you can post them on your blog or whatever you prefer. We’re certainly not dodging any of the conversations around TypePad.
    I’m not sure how constructive your points are… we’re aware that we’ve let everyone down, and we’re making the improvements we need to be more bulletproof in the future. Nearly everyone evolves from having multiple single-points-of-failure to having redundancies on each stage of their infrastructure. We’re among the first (and most prominent) to go through this in the blog world because we’re among the first and most prominent to be in this business. As the downtime on other services indicates, it’s something that takes time to solve.
    Some might feel Steve gets preferential treatment. They’re all welcome to IM me or Skype me at anildash, or to call my mobile phone at 646-541-5843, same as Steve or anybody else who can read my blog and find that info. I find most people who feel we play favorites either don’t try to get in touch with us or aren’t TypePad subscribers.
    Morgan, I think you can feel safe going forward on TypePad. We’re making investments in our reliability and uptime that I don’t think many other platforms will be able to match over time. I can go into more details other than what’s already been said, if you’d like, but I hope it matters to you somewhat that we’re trying to have a relationship with you. On other platforms or services, that wouldn’t even be an option, and I think that will make an even bigger difference over time.

  • http://www.morganmclintic.com Morgan McLintic

    Anil,
    Many thanks for taking the time to comment and for providing your contact details. It does indeed matter. Showing there is passion and personality behind any brand is important. Even more so in this medium, where customers can be vocal advocates or detractors.
    Like I say, I have not been affected beyond the downtime last Friday. No loss of data so far, but that is of course a concern.
    Jeff Nolan, at Venture Chronicles (http://sapventures.typepad.com/) points out that services such as Salesforce.com have a complex hosted app but do not suffer downtime. Even when they were small uptime was excellent (I’ve been using SFDC for about four years without incident). Point being – it can be done.
    Many users, like me, do like Typepad and we don’t want to change. But we can’t afford to lose our data while the company experiences growing pains. And we don’t want our faith to be shaken.
    The trouble for Typepad is that if you build your datacenter infrastructure really well – no-one will notice. Make a mistake, and everyone does. Plus we have the means to be vocal about it.
    I do however sympathize with Den who is building a business, using Typepad as its blog engine. His trust and exposure are far greater than mine, so his response will be more immediate, more emotional and more vocal. He has a lot of skin in the game as a near full-time blogger.
    I’m pleased to hear about the investment. I like service when it works and I really like the people I have met and spoken to. I hope you guys pull through. No doubt this lesson was hard won. And perhaps there will be others.
    If it was easy though – everyone would do it.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/dahowlett/ dahowlett

    In fairness to Anil I was in a strop when I wrote what I did not that I would take any of it away. In any event my harshest criticism was not for 6A but others.
    I wasn’t mad at Steve for any percieved preferential treatment but the blasé way in which the whole thing was dismissed as if it was on ‘oh well’ situation. As many have observed, it was from that. Given Steve’s position, it seems remarkably silly.
    Niall just blew it – I’m sure you’d secretly agree withme on that Morgan. OK – credit for going in and having a go but…
    The combination left me very worried, as did Scoble’s apparent alignment to the apologists. I’ve made my postion clear on Socbleizer. And on Micropsersuasion -couldn’t find a way of leaving a note on Niall’s site though I’ve posted elsewhere, including Dave Taylor’s blog.
    I’m actually not a lost customer. I’m paid up for a long time to come and own an MT licence that’s currently on hold for other reasons + a Yahoo! hosted MT licence. And I’ve been at pains to not say ‘never.’ That really would be stupid.
    I wrote Barak and Loic a very long explanatory note in the early hours of Saturday morning about the situation in what I think were pretty measured tones.
    I too feel for Loic in this and I’ve told him so. He’s been a real champion in Europe and continues to do great things in France.
    I don’t think the US really understood that in Europe, we were out for 18 hours – a whole day gone. And for a few of us, where the platform has become business critical, we lost real money.
    Others have been critical of the comms issue. That is a factor but not in my decision.
    I contend that TP is really a consumer service and for that, this kind of outtage is bad news, but not catastrophic. I believe 6A needs to grow up fast and that might mean a lot of change. And as an infrastructure player, it has to scale. And it has to decide where it wants to play – in the commercial world, consumer or both. If it wants to play ‘business’ then ther’s much to be done. MT doesn’t hold a candle to WP, EE or Drupal at the moment in terms of flexibility. OSS maybe not as slick (but watch for WP 2.0 this weekend) but it works and scales within the limitations that most people currenlty have withblogs for business and internal communities.
    For a direct comparison, you might be interested in my account and interpretation of EDS’s outtage earlier today. It’s the difference between maturity and adolescence.
    Hey Anil – fancy going mano a mano on a podcast to address this? i’ll be polite – promise…

  • http://profile.typekey.com/anildash/ Anil Dash

    David, I’m glad to talk to anyone, but framing it as “mano a mano” doesn’t really feel like it’s setting up to be a productive conversation so much as a display for people who like to watch drama. Given that you’ve promised to be polite, though, I’d be glad to have a dialogue as soon as schedule permits. Shoot me an email at anil@sixapart.com or IM me at anildash and we can work something out.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/dahowlett/ dahowlett

    Dopped Anil an email with a short recording so he gets a favour of where I’m coming from and can hear what I sound like along with a suggestin that he contact Morgan to get a low down on what I’m REALLY like. (Morgan and I go back many years – he can provide the unfiltered view Anil) Waiting…

  • http://profile.typekey.com/dahowlett/ dahowlett

    Dropped Anil an email with a short recording so he gets a favour of where I’m coming from and can hear what I sound like along with a suggestion that he contact Morgan to get the low down on what I’m REALLY like. (Morgan and I go back many years – he can provide the unfiltered view Anil) Waiting…

  • http://www.morganmclintic.com Morgan McLintic

    Yes I can vouch for Dennis’ journalistic qualifications. He’s experienced, knowledgeable, direct, quick, detailed, hard, reasonable, prolific and at times profane. He’s no push over, gives people a fair say, sticks to his convictions but is open to be convinced and is big enough to admit if he’s wrong. Which he rarely is.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/davidtebbutt/ David Tebbutt

    Anil: please note there are two of us ‘escapees’ – Dennis and David. Here’s a Flickr pic to help you:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nevon/71168586/in/set-1530501/
    And, for anyone who wants to move from TypePad to WordPress, here’s a description of how I did it:
    http://teblog.typepad.com/david_tebbutt/2005/12/moving_from_typ.html
    Take a look at the comments because Anil makes a few contributions there.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/dahowlett/ dahowlett

    Anyone interested in how this conversation is panning out might be interested in looking at:
    My place: http://www.flacknhack.com/?p=299#comments
    and at poor old David Tebbutt’s place – the poor fella was only trying to help and now he’s getting a piece of it:
    http://teblog.typepad.com/david_tebbutt/2005/12/moving_from_typ.html
    But if Anil is in any doubt about the severity of what he’s dealing with, then I’d recommend a trip to:
    http://sapventures.typepad.com/main/2005/12/more_than_a_com.html
    This coming from someone who’s a part of SAP – which invested rather a wad of cash with 6A recently. Now if one of SAP’s own VCs is concerned then imagine what their customers will make of it. Last time I heard, they had market control in the biggest apps space on the planet.

  • http://www.morganmclintic.com Morgan McLintic

    David – thanks for shots from Les Blog and for the stepthru to WordPress. Not sure I have the stomach for all that, but am trying out WordPress.com to get familiar with some of the features.
    Den – Jeff Nolan is one of the smartest guys you are ever likely to meet. He’s actually moved out of SAP Ventures now to take on an operational role. I caught up with him last week and he has some great projects in the pipeline for SAP. They’re semi-confidential at the moment but he’s already stated they involve greater use of social media such as blogs and podcasts in assisting SAP’s communications. That and a whole bunch of other activities.
    When Jeff speaks (and he speaks quite quietly) people listen.
    Anil – hope you agree to do the podcast with Dennis. He will give you a fair shout. He probably just used the phrase ‘mano a mano’ since he’s been sunning himself in Spain for too long. Going native Den?

  • http://profile.typekey.com/dahowlett/ dahowlett

    Sure – Jeff’s in my RSS as well! Not heard from Anil in email though he’s made some odd remarks over at my place.

  • http://www.morganmclintic.com Morgan McLintic

    Yes I hear the mantra of don’t move from TP since other platforms won’t allow you to come back. I mentioned on David Tebbutt’s that for some the change is a distress purchase, so a return wasn’t really on the cards. I’d rather hear the reasons TO stay rather than ones NOT to change.
    As for me – I’m staying at present, but it’s always good to be reassured.