Posted by: Laura Phillips Garner | February 19, 2010

WordPress Uses Twitter, Blog To Talk to Subscribers About Outage

WordPress uses social media to keep subscribers apprised of Thursday's outage.

Thursday, February 18, 2010, is a day of infamy for WordPress.com as its 10.2 million blogs—including Virtual Butterfly—went down for 110 minutes from about 2 p.m. to 3:50 PST.

The outage was WordPress’ worst in four years and took down VIP blogs like GigaOm, TechCrunch, and WSJ Magazine.

WordPress fostered much goodwill by using social media to keep its subscribers apprised of the situation. WordPress Creator and CEO Matt Mullenweg sent out two Tweets and made a post to the official corporate blog that was the basis for news stories on sites like DigitalBeat, PCPro, TechCrunch, Mashable, and BBC News. However, WordPress did not offer any information to the 58,113 fans on its official Facebook Fan Page.

In “WP.com Downtime Summary,” Mullenweg explained that an unscheduled change to the WordPress network’s core router broke the Web site and all the mechanisms for failover between WordPress’ locations in San Antonio and Chicago. He assured WordPress bloggers that all of their data was safe and secure; WordPress just couldn’t put it up on the Internet during that time.

Mullenweg did note that the affected blogs lost an estimated 5.5 million page views, which is a big deal for blogs big enough to sell advertising. Quantcast estimates that 237.3 million people around the world look at WordPress.com blogs every month.

Mullenweg assured all of WordPress’ users—from the VIPs to new blogs like Virtual Butterfly—that WordPress is looking into what happened and coming up with a plan to make sure it does not happen again. “I know this sucked for you guys as much as it did for us — the entire team was on pins and needles trying to get your blogs back as soon as possible. I hope it will be much longer than four years before we face a problem like this again,” Mullenweg said.

Judging from the 350 comments left on Mullenweg’s post, WordPress users appreciated the transparency and the updates via social media. For example, shamballa9944, author of Exquisite Traditions, said, “I, for one, truly appreciate your transparency about this problem. We all have things happen and nothing works 100 percent of the time. But it’s a rare organization that will step up, own it and learn from it! That’s that these things happen for–to learn! Kudos WordPress!”

Another blogger acknowledged Mullenweg’s assessment of the situation. “Yeah, it did suck. Twitter (and Huff Post) was a-twitter with comments, updates, speculations and conspiracy theories,” said 06880 Blogger Dan Woog. “The upside is you guys communicated pretty quickly and well — and though we couldn’t access our own blogs, all of us banded together in other ways, and held each other’s hands! Also: Who knew there were 10.2 million WP blogs in the world?! Thanks for solving the problem quickly. And yeah, four more years without an outage like this would be cool.”

Yet, VIP blog GigaOm.com was less enthusiastic. “It seems the company [WordPress] has enough goodwill to spare a couple hours of failure,” GigaOm.com’s Liz Gannes told the BBC. “But one thing’s for sure, people won’t be so friendly if it happens again.”

–Laura Phillips Garner

Advertisements

Responses

  1. […] WordPress’ quick response and constant updates via Twitter seemed to help stem the flow of any sort of frustration, with many users leaving […]

  2. Interesting how one social media site leaned on another to spread word of an issue. It’s nice that they came forward with some details of the issue in such a quick manner.

    • It just goes to show that companies have to rely on multiple channels of communication these days. Media is just too fragmented to do otherwise.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories