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Social networks all over the map on reliability

By Paul McNamara
February 23, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Network World - That Twitter had more downtime last year (84 hours) than any of 15 social network sites measured by an uptime monitoring service should surprise no one: The site's "fail whale" is so famous it was just featured in the New York Times.

However, what may surprise some Twitter users and industry observers -- me, for example -- is that the site's availability performance showed dramatic improvement over the second half of 2008, according to Pingdom.

And the same cannot be said for LinkedIn, which appears to have caught a case of whatever had been knocking Twitter offline so regularly.

Those are a few of the findings from a report out last week -- "Social Network Downtime in 2008. The report covers Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Friendster, LiveJournal, Orkut, Bebo, Hi5, Windows LiveSpaces, Last.fm, Classmates.com, Reunion.com, Xanga and eight months worth of performance from Imeem.

Five from that group -- including heavyweights MySpace and Facebook -- recorded outstanding uptime records of 99.9% or better; the other three being Classmates.com, Xanga and Imeem.

"The survey reveals several interesting trends," says Pingdom's Peter Alguacil. "For example, a full 84% of Twitter's downtime came during the first half of 2008, when the service was still struggling with stability issues. July and onward has seen a significant improvement for the service. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is having the opposite problem. Each quarter showed a larger amount of downtime for LinkedIn than the previous one."

LinkedIn had 45.8 hours of downtime last year, second only to Twitter on the dubious distinction scale. Their public relations department didn't respond to my request for comment.

Third most often offline was Friendster, which logged the most lengthy downtime episode -- 23 hours over less than three days in November -- thus marring an otherwise middle-of-the-pack uptime record.

My takeaway: I'm going to lighten up on Twitter. ... And perhaps those of you who use LinkedIn can keep an eye on them for me.

They won't take good-bye for an answer

I learned to steer clear of LendingTree.com three years ago when my use of the site to search for a mortgage delivered nothing but spam. When I say I'm done with them, however, that's just an expression, as readers of Buzzblog learned last week as I passed along a tale of woe from a friend that redefines the phrase "customer-retention program."

This was the introduction: "Thinking about putting LendingTree.com to work for you (you know, the 'When Banks Compete You Win' folks)? Think again. Tried the service for a car loan and when they couldn't find anyone that wanted to loan me anything (which is a frightening glimpse into the state of the financial world since I have little debt and an excellent credit history) I went to close the account. But there is nothing on the site about how to do that. So I tried the customer chat option. Here's the transcript:"

Eight back-and-forths plus a supervisor later we get the bottom line: No can do; my guy is told they cannot deactivate his account.

The good news is that Buzzblog readers leapt to the fore with work-arounds, and one even reported having just gotten LendingTree to do for him that which it said could not be done. All in all, good fun, and you can read the entire transcript and string of comments here.

You can add your own there or here: buzz@nww.com.

Reprinted with permission from NetworkWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.
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