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Foursquare latest social-media site to stumble

What's worse than having an extended site outage that merits a lengthy, apologetic blog post? Having another site outage hours after you've confessed your site's sins.

Twice in two days, Foursquare checked into its unhappy place. The increasingly popular location-based site, which allows users to broadcast their social and business outings to friends, spent about 11 hours out of action Monday, then swooned again for several more hours Tuesday.

Thumbnail image for foursquare_logo.jpg

In between, the New York startup posted a note on its blog--titled "So, that was a bummer"--that explained the underlying problem and listed steps it was taking to prevent a future recap.

Many of those remedies involved future refinements to Foursquare's database system, none of which, obviously, could be put in place soon enough to stop whatever knocked the site offline again Tuesday night. But one change helped a little, by taking some mystery out of the malfunction: Foursquare's newly-launched site-status page.

By 6:39 p.m., the Foursquare status site had warned users of a "Partial Site Outage." Four updates and 3 1/2 hours later, it offered this description: "Running on pizza and Red Bull. Another long night :/"

I'm sure most users would have rather seen a note to the effect of "we've just rebooted and things are working fine." But even a "things are still broken" message is more news than many sites and services provide when they're down.

Two weeks ago, Facebook suffered an hours-long outage. But the only information it provided to users during that time was updates from its Twitter account. (Good thing Twitter didn't suffer its own outage then.)

Other companies have done even worse. After I criticized Verizon for not using an old system-status page to alert DSL customers of interruptions to their broadband service, the company revised that page to alert customers that "The system status tool is inactive!"

Experienced users know to check such third-party sites as downrightnow for reports of trouble and some assurance that it's not just them having issues with a site. But there's no replacing a dedicated system-status page, running on its own server, at an easily-memorized address: status.example.com or example.com/status.

Foursquare's new status site passes that test, as does Twitter's; Google's falls short by residing at a less obvious address.

Who else does this well? What sites desperately need to get with the program?

By Rob Pegoraro  | October 6, 2010; 7:04 AM ET
Categories:  Digital culture, Gripes, Social media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Skype (sort of) available for non-Verizon Android phones
Next: Facebook event: Fact-free speculation?

Comments

Back when I had Vz DSL they had a good system status page. It saved me many a call to tech to see if it was me or them. They have no ststus page for the FIOS service. If there is a *major* problem they will put a message on the tech support line but, mostly, I am on my own or it's a call to tech.

Posted by: tbva | October 6, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse

And people still think "cloud computing" is a good thing? This is why I won't "go there" and rely too much on such things! There are going to be outages on the internet, it's a fact of life. No matter how high tech we all get, parts of our world will always resemble the infrastructure of say, Byelorussia. Nothing is 100% reliable, and we should all plan on that!

Posted by: jeffcoud2 | October 6, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Foursquare - anyone over 23 that engages in this needs to grow up.

Posted by: password11 | October 6, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

FourSquare is lame. Try FaqueSquare and make up your own titles and locations. http://www.faquesquare.com

Posted by: lmanion85 | October 6, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

FourSquare could go offline permanently and I wouldn't even notice.

Posted by: brewstercounty | October 6, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I just experienced my own personal "outage" from the wapo website. I was unable to access you from my Mac's menu bar, then when typing in the URL, then when clicking on the Google search result. Finally removed all my cookies and was able to access you again. Interesting that someone has targeted the Post!

Posted by: annapolisth | October 6, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

OH wow, OK this looks like a lot of fun dude.

www.be-anon.net.tc

Posted by: clermontpc | October 6, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

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