Twitter sucks and must be run by amateurs

I can't say that I've ever known any kind of Web-based service to suck as much as Twitter, yet be as simple and popular. It really boggles the mind.

As just a regular user, it can be annoying enough with the constant outages and failures. As a developer, it's even worse. In my case, I put a simple hook in CoasterBuzz to publish links from our news page using our short URL's. At the time, you could do simple authorization, as well as OAuth. Since I wasn't dealing in nuclear secrets, and the .NET libraries for OAuth and/or Twitter were somewhere between weak and non-existent, I took the path of least resistance and did up some basic auth against a super simple RESTful URL. It took all of five minutes. And hey, all the docs said is that they'd support basic auth for a long time (or something to that effect).

Then yesterday, I noticed that the publishing is failing. I look at my error logs, and it's 401'ing. I do some looking around to find that they've turned off basic auth. To add insult to injury, I see this on their blog:

Fortunately, developers have known about our transition to OAuth since last December, so they’ve had time to update their apps."

Wow, really? Everyone knew? It's news to me. I pushed out my silly stuff in February, and there was no mention anywhere of any intention to discontinue basic auth, or dates or anything else. Lame.

So I'm chatting with a friend about this, and as we're chatting, lo and behold, e-mail from Twitter lands in our inboxes simultaneously. It contains this gem:

"Over the coming weeks, we will be making two important updates that will impact how you interact with Twitter applications. We are sending this notice to all Twitter users to make sure you are aware of these changes... Starting August 31, all applications will be required to use “OAuth” to access your Twitter account."

You know when this would have been great information? Weeks before September 1, when the e-mail arrived.

My issue is not about using OAuth (however much I'm annoyed that the once simple API is not simple anymore). In fact, the technical merits of using it aren't even an issue to me, as it took less than an hour to fix the problem, and most of that was just evaluating libraries. What annoys me to no end is how unprofessional these kinds of changes are. People are building businesses around Twitter. It's not OK to pull crap like this.

Between this and the annoyance of intermittent outages for the world at large, I can't understand how Twitter is the only game in town. I realize there's a critical mass issue, but the world is a fickle place, especially when it comes to the Internet. Perhaps it's because no one wants to get into a "business" that, to date, has no business.


  • i don't even do anything w/ the twitter api and even i knew about this months ago... and twitter has been quite stable for a while now (

    if you are building your "business" around twitter, maybe subscribe to their blog.

  • Yo must be joking, I'm not a developer and even I knew they were going over to OAuth. Is this some kind of reverse sarcasm at other less informed developers? Are you mocking them?

    If you aren't it shows you in such a bad light: You take the path of least resistance, you put your app out there and forget about it, and then you react in such a juvenile way...

  • I actually implemented some Twitter tie ins for an app I made in February as well. I can say that there was indeed information in the API/developer section of Twitter that said you should use OAuth going forward and that eventually they were going to phase out basic authentication (however they didn't say when). The only reason I remembered was because I used it as an excuse to write my own OAuth library.

  • Dude, EVERYONE knew about this if you've been doing anything serious with the API. I don't even work with the Twitter API and I knew about it a long time ago. I think you may have to just leave the cave for a minute or two. They've even been supporting both for a long time.

  • "A bad workman always blames his tools"

    Maybe the article should have been entitled "I suck and am an amateur"?! Harsh, yes, but seriously how can you say that Twitter sucks and is ran by amateurs when it's clearly your mistake (read the other comments backing this up, it isn't just MY opinion).

    April 2010:

    June 2010:

  • The twitter app I use on my iPhone (twitterific) stopped working as well. No longer able to authenticate...

    The commenters above don't appear to have read the part of your post where you said there was tons of info about it, but no mention of them shutting off basic auth on Aug. 31. I too received the email only after my twitter apps stopped working. I thought my account had been locked out and was going to go delete it, but the website was still working.

    From a user perspective and not a twitter developer, this was an extremely bad move. What would possess them to send the email saying everything was going to hell on a Aug. 31, on Sep. 1???? Wow.

  • I knew there would be flames, and frankly I'm not surprised, but Patrick pretty much nailed down my point: You don't sunset a feature in a public API without a specific and well publicized (i.e., directly notified) date. Heck, you don't even do it to an internal system with internal customers.

    I don't follow Twitter itself, and I get limited utility out of it. I'm a Twitter pusher to get others to come to me, but I get very little utility out of it in a consuming way. That said, you don't put out a notification after the fact that you change something, and say you'll do it in the "coming weeks." That's amateur hour, especially for a public API.

    And it's stable? Please. Look at their status page, there are problems almost every day. Look at the API status page and seem low uptime numbers every day. I just fired up TweetDeck and it took two minutes to see all columns populated. Stable, indeed.

    Clearly I wasn't alone in the surprise, even though "everybody" knew...

  • Man, it looks that maybe you're the only amateur here, everybody knows about OAth for long time. Before blaming twitter you should thing that the service is quite good for a no business service. No other site in the whole world let's you communicate with tons of people the way twitter does.

    Anyway if you don't like just don't use it, it's internet democracy

  • If you put aside your Twitter fanboyism for a moment, you'll see that it had nothing to do with what I know about OAuth. And frankly, its reach alone does not make it "quite good." Anyone who thinks that "eyeballs" are a metric of success is living in 1999. Twitter and Facebook are no infalible.

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