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Mini-Interview with Anil Dash regarding TypePad ‘issues’

I’ve just chatted to Anil Dash from Six Apart and he tells me:

“we know we’re not meeting people expectations, but we will make it right”

and also:

“this happened while we were adding redundancy to the storage system which is kind of like lightning striking.”

I was struck by Anil’s sincere desire to make TypePad and openness about how they’d failed their users here. From what he said to me in addition to these quotes I’d feel pretty confident that any TypePad blog I was running would be back to normal pretty soon. There are never guarantees in these things but I’d advise TypePad users not to dispair.

Every online service has their bad day, bloglines was down last night when I went to bed, del.icio.us was offline a few days back, feedster seemed to have problems yesterday for a bit. None of this makes TypePad being down ok – it definately sucks – but this seems to be a temporary thing from what I can gather from my quick chat with Anil.

update – there is an update at the Typepad blog which indicates that data is safe and there are no indications that anything has been lost. They expect things to be up again with bloggers able to log in this afternoon (Pacific time) but that for a day or two blogs might look like they were a couple of days ago. There are some instructions on how to get your blog republished and assurances that things should be ok in the next day or two. Hopefully this will mean Typepad bloggers are back up and running shortly.

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Comments

  1. James says:

    I’m a typepad user who was lucky enough to be able to make a full backup of my site just as things went bad last night. I had just finished sending out stack of e-mails that linked to a post about my brand new book when I started to get comments that the link was dead. The typepad application (posting and admin) was still running, so I was able to export everything — I hope that bodes well, since it looks like the core post data was not impacted by whatever went wrong.

    At the end of the day, I really like TypePad and Moveable Type — their support team has always been *incredibly* helpful when I’ve done something stupid to my site, and they respond extremely quickly. Lets hope things get better for these guys in 2006.

  2. Sure..no service can guarantee a 100% uptime and nothing is perfect in this world.
    But when you running a business on your service then it is extremely important to do your best to ensure reliability. IMO, I do not think SixApart did that..they’ve failed YET AGAIN and in such cases failures are not stepping stones to success but to lost credibility and more failures.

    –An avid Internet browser

  3. Rich Owings says:

    I have to wonder how many TypePad users are thinking today about migrating to another platform. At least I’m not dependent upon my blog for revenue, but as it grows, I’ve got to consider whether sticking with TypePad is a good business decision.

  4. James says:

    InternetBrowser – Six Apart has been working extremely hard to step up their infrastructure — that’s what is so incredibly frustrating about this outage. It was supposed to be an extremely minor disk array upgrade that wen horribly wrong.

    Many Web 2.0 companies hit the bursting point this year — Technorati was held together by duct tape and twine for several months, and the Bloglines team admits that they’re limping along until they get new infrastructure in place (it sometimes takes six hours for a post to appear as “new” in the Bloglines feeds).

    I agree with Darren that Six Apart is trying very hard to get things up to snuff. When I sent a query about the service outages in October, I received a sincere personal response from their CEO, Barak Berkowitz — that doesn’t often happen in this industry.

  5. I tend to disagree James. Technorati/Bloglines are free services.
    Typepad, AFAIK, is not and charges a premium even for its basic service and a company with such a business model can seldom afford to make costly mistakes.

    Also, this isn’t the first time they’ve messed up and it is hard to believe that they are trying to learn from their mistakes..and as Rich was pointing out following the latest debacle, typepad’s users might really start looking at other options including the free WordPress.com service.

    –An avid Internet browser

  6. Victor says:

    Rich, I’m wondering if it’ll tip because of today. I know from October’s issues, there were a slew of people who were threatening to leave. This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, unfortunately.

    Of course, they may compensate us again..but then I wonder how many times you can placate users this way.

    Vic

  7. Also, in my opinion I think TypePad should consider compensating their users either by offering an additional month of free service or in some other way which usually is expected following such events.

    –An avid Internet browser

  8. Victor Says:
    Of course, they may compensate us again..but then I wonder how many times you can placate users this way.

    I say.. he is right..but well, something needs to be done to minimize the fall away.

    –An avid Internet browser

  9. james says:

    There are several significant logistical challenges surrounding a move from TypePad (it’s definitely crossed my mind a thousand times in the fifteen or so hours since they turned my book launch into a textbook example of Murphy’s Law).

    I’d prefer to stay on Moveable Type, since I’m using custom MT templates throughout my blog. That means jumping to a small third-party provider, who will probably have much less sophisticated equipment and systems than Six Apart. The end result? I could easily get blown out of the water again. Moving to WordPress would involve some serious design work, and there are no guarantees that it won’t go belly-up at some point as well.

    The long and the short? I’m sticking with TypePad for my current blog. They’ve been investing heavily in new infrastructure, and this incident can only improve their backup and failsafe procedures. My next blog, however, will be running on WordPress. That provides a bit of redundancy.

    [btw, my site traffic seems remarkably normal today, especially since I'm re-hashing week old content. The wonder of search engines is that many people discover sites for the first time each day.]

  10. Victor says:

    I don’t suppose, other than that, there is much else they can do. If they keep compensating, then why not just make it a free service? ;)

    I can’t say that I know alot about their inner-workings, but I would think after a few (3ish ?) years of service, they would’ve gotten most of the ‘bugs’ ironed out and redundant systems in place.

    They’re going to have a lot of public relations work ahead of them. Looking on the web from October’s experiences, and today’s, the news is spreading like wildfire.

    Vic

  11. Victor says:

    If you’re not already aware, there’s another good update on their news page:

    http://www.sixapart.com/typepad/news/2005/12/update_on_typep.html

  12. Darren Rowse says:

    It’s hard to know. As I think about my early days of blogging I remember the move I had from a blogspot blog to MT. While the improvements were massive even on my own hosting there were downtimes.

    As I wrote in my previous post – the advice I’m giving clients who are on typepad is to hang in there and ride the storm. From what I can see the problem came when they were doing a largescale update which is a good sign to me. While the problem is frustrating at present they seem to be doing their best to provide a better service.

    of course my advice varies depending upon the goal of the blog. There are some blogs I’d highly recommend upgrade to hosted options with MT or WP partly for issues of uptime and data security but also for features and adaptability.

  13. I have no coherent single reaction to TypePad’s outage today. I just have a jumble of reactions.

    I have been blogging off an on for a year. I found TypePad just before Thanksgiving 2004, and since then I have tried a variety of blogging initiatives, some more successful than others. I bought their large package and I’ve had a lot of fun and grown a lot personally by experimenting with it.

    The other posters who have commented on TypePad’s support are correct. The support staff is responsive, friendly, understanding, supportive. They are a great crew — and when it comes to customer retention, they will be a strong reason for users to stay with TypePad.

    I think about once a week about migrating from TypePad to Movable Type. I like Six Apart’s approach to both the practical as well as creative and ethical sides of business, and I’d like to stay with their product line and brand. The Yahoo!/MT announcement — whose timing may be a blessing in disguise for Six Apart — certainly has me thinking a lot of “What ifs?”

    My strongest reaction concerns my client relationships. I have been trying to introduce blogging as a standard feature of work for clients. Today, I presented a new client with an up-and-going blog, filled with content, ready for them to take over and run themselves with my assistance. The client is not terribly web skilled, and the idea of blogging struck them with the same enthusiasm that I think a lot of more tech types felt a year or so ago.

    Last night, I printed out the entire blog, including embedded files, and had Kinkos bind it into a half-inch-thick book. I noticed today that TypePad was down and thought to myself, “Maybe the client will look just at the hard copy and not go to the broken TypePad site.”

    Wrong. When I visited with the client, he was leafing through my presentation book on the blog. But he had just checked it online and had discovered TypePad’s problem for himself. I felt myself burn because I vouched for Six Apart and on the day I wanted them to be most impressive, they were instead most confounding.

    C’est la vie. I hope that the Six Apart crew enjoys the best of luck restoring TypePad service — and I hope it happens soon. Some very good people must be mighty annoyed with themselves right now.

    File this under “When bad things happen to good companies.”

    I hope their p.r. firm’s crisis communications plan is being put into effect. If not, I’m available…

    – dtd

    My blog:
    http://www.straighttalkpr.com

  14. Victor says:

    Is the switch from Typepad or MT to WordPress a difficult one? I keep seeing it grow in popularity and have given it serious thought over the last month. They seem to allow for a lot of flexibility, which as a programmer, I love.

  15. Darren Rowse says:

    Victor I’m not technical expert but from what I know – someone who knows what they are doing can do it reasonably painlessly. I transitioned this blog from MT to WP (at the same time moved domains) a year ago and it only took my designer a few hours work from memory.

  16. Victor says:

    That doesn’t sound bad at all. If anything, I love their selection of themes. It’s a bit intriguing, also, as to why there are only a handful of designs available to TP users. Maybe once they get everything situated, we can begin to see Typepad really begin to flourish. Time will tell.

    Thanks for your response Darren.

    Vic

  17. Victor says:

    Yes! They brought it back up. No more blogging withdrawal symptoms. ;)

  18. Anil says:

    Doug, I’m sorry we let you down on your big day. We’re back up and running now, with no data lost, but we definitely are all sorry and understand that it’s a big breach of trust for your blog to not be there when you need it.

    We’ll talk more about what we’re doing to remedy this in the future, but for right now, I hope it helps that everything is back up and running. And Victor, if you’re frustrated with your customization options, you can use a tool like Adobe GoLive to tweak your design on TypePad or MT, and we’ve got a huge community of developers and designers who can help with that as well.

  19. Victor says:

    I haven’t ruled out GoLive. I’m sure it would help someone as “artistically challenged” as myself. I suppose it’s that, hire someone to do it, or give the design a go myself. Just trying to get a more personalized look.

    Thanks for responding. Doing so speaks volumes.

    Thanks,

    Vic

  20. Rian says:

    “Moving to WordPress would involve some serious design work, and there are no guarantees that it won’t go belly-up at some point as well.”

    I assume you mean a normal WordPress install, not a hosted site like you find on wordpress.com. In that case, WP won’t fail unless your server itself tanks. And even then there are plugins that automate backups and such so that if that does happen, it’s not an issue.

    There is also a mechanism to import MT, typepad, blogger, etc. blogs built into WP.

  21. Milo says:

    “Every online service has their bad day” — What? 1 or 0 dead or alive. No excuse for failure.

  22. Stuart says:

    Milo – of course there are excuses for failure.

    If you’re paying for your own hosting you won’t find a host that will guarantee anymore than 99% uptime and that sounds wonderful but you do the maths you find that over a year 1% downtime equates to 87 hours a year that they don’t guarantee.

    Nobody can guarantee being online 24/7/365 and it sucks when your site goes down but you just have to live with it. Even Google hasn’t been able to achieve 100% up time.

    So what happened here today was extremely bad luck for those that it happened to but no more than that.

    And to my Anil’s response looked to be far better than what others might have offered. My partner and I have lost serious money when our servers have been down but no one has offered us compensation because it just falls into that 1% black hole that is unavoidable.

  23. Ash Buckles says:

    I just started using Typepad and it seems to be working well for me. I’ve got 15 more trial days left.

    However, today I’m writing from the car on my new Samsung PDA phone – moblogginq with a PDA phone is not as much fun as I thought it would be. I think I’ll get a new laptop instead. Besides Typepad is not particularly compatible with smaller screens.

  24. Skipper says:

    We cancelled our paid Typepad account about a week ago, after only 3 months of use. After using the typepad for only a few months, it became clear that we could not continue to run a professional people search and public record blog for our visitors using their unreliable service.

    We installed WordPress directly on our site at http://www.skipease.com/blog and couldn’t be happier. We got out just in time to save our blog information, but now we are 3 months behind in building our traffic thanks to Typepad.

    New and experienced bloggers would do well to take the time to register a domain name of their own and install WordPress or other blogging software directly on server space provided by a reliable service provider. We should have done that right from the beginning.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] related: Niall Kennedy chimes in Anil Dash sounds the bell [...]

  2. [...] related: Niall Kennedy chimes in Anil Dash sounds the bell [...]

  3. [...] I’ll start on a positive though: Anil has spoken to Darren at Problogger about the issue here, and he saying the problems are like lightning striking. Seems they’ve had more than there fair share of lightning strikes this year….damn that global warming. [...]