By John Gruber
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In the immediate aftermath of Twitter’s mass layoffs and subsequent resignations, there were widespread reports that the staffing situation and collective brain drain were so dire that the site would collapse. Two weeks later — with World Cup soccer drama fueling record usage — such concerns seem to have been overblown.
Twitter Inc.’s mass exodus of employees leaves the platform vulnerable to a broad range of malfunctions. The social network will succumb to a major glitch at some point, technologists predict. It’s just a matter of when. [...]
Multiple teams that were critical for keeping the service up and running are completely gone, or borrowing engineers from other groups, according to people familiar with the matter. That includes infrastructure teams to keep the main feed operational and maintain tweet databases. #RIPTwitter trended on the site, as users and departed employees predicted an imminent shutdown and said their goodbyes.
Joseph Menn and Cat Zakrzewski at The Washington Post, “Twitter Death Watch Captivates Millions”:
Several critical teams essential to keeping the site functioning were cut to a single engineer or none by the departures Thursday, leaving the company partially on autopilot and likely to crash sooner or later, engineers said.
“I know of six critical systems (like ‘serving tweets’ levels of critical) which no longer have any engineers,” a former employee said. “There is no longer even a skeleton crew manning the system. It will continue to coast until it runs into something, and then it will stop.”
Remaining and departing Twitter employees told The Verge that, given the scale of the resignations this week, they expect the platform to start breaking soon. One said that they’ve watched “legendary engineers” and others they look up to leave one by one. [...]
Multiple “critical” teams inside Twitter have now either completely or near-completely resigned, said other employees who requested anonymity to speak without Musk’s permission. That includes Twitter’s traffic and front end teams that route engineering requests to the correct backend services. The team that maintains Twitter’s core system libraries that every engineer at the company uses is also gone. “You cannot run Twitter without this team,” a departing employee said.
Two weeks later and it seems they can run Twitter without that team. Or, perhaps, it’s just been luck and collapse is imminent.
Chris Stokel-Walker for The Guardian, “Twitter Has ‘50% Chance’ of Major Crash During World Cup, Says Insider”:
Twitter stands a 50% chance of a major outage that could take the site offline during the World Cup, according to a recently departed employee with knowledge of how the company responds to large-scale events.
The former employee, who was granted anonymity because of the sensitivity of what was discussed, has knowledge of the workings of Twitter Command Centre, the platform’s team of troubleshooters who monitor the site for issues such as traffic spikes and data centre outages. “Between the lack of preparations and the lack of staffing, I think it’s going to be a rough World Cup for Twitter,” said the former employee.
He suggested that an incident of some kind — such as a service responding slowly or incorrectly — is almost a certainty during the 29-day competition in Qatar, estimating a 90% possibility of something going wrong that users would see. The likelihood of Twitter staying online during the competition, which kicks off on Sunday, is no better than even, according to the former employee.
The World Cup is only half over. Let’s check back in another two weeks.
But while fears of technical collapse seem to have been overblown, Twitter’s advertising collapse is seemingly continuing unabated.