Why Foursquare downtime is starting to matter

Why Foursquare downtime is starting to matter

Foursquare's down.One way to measure the popularity of an online service is the public’s reaction to its downtime.

As we’ve discovered in recent years, when Twitter goes down it’s a big deal for a lot of people. Likewise with YouTube, Flickr or any other large, widely used online service.

Reaction to downtime is important because it shows that the service matters to people. Foursquare has suffered some significant downtime this weekend – one yesterday an one today – and the public reaction shows that, while its userbase is relatively small but growing fast, people are really starting to rely on it.

Let’s take a look at some of the tweets users have posted about the service’s most recent downtime:

  • @Duluen says: “Darn foursquare!!! I actually want to check in somewhere and ur down?! Lame”.
  • @leonardaustin thinks: “Foursquare having downtime is much more annoying than twitter being down.”
  • @laurenmyrtle complains: “Driving all day long to get back to NJ and foursquare seems to be down. A little sad about it.”

…and there are many more examples out there too. Even on a quiet Sunday when fewer people than normal are likely to be out and about, it’s provoked an emotional response.

So, why do people care about Foursquare being down? It depends on how each individual uses it. Those who use it simply to share their current location with friends will be annoyed as a useful tool is missing. Those who use it to gain mayorships, badges and deals will be frustrated that a fun pastime is missing from their lives.

Those who use it to keep a record of places they’ve been in life might be most annoyed; you can’t check in retrospectively. I’m writing this post on a London to Manchester train after a weekend in the capital. My possibly once-in-a-lifetime visits to locations well outside my everyday routine today are lost forever.

Foursquare, to its credit, was on the case to get the service back up and running relatively quickly and at the time of writing it’s up and running again. While it’s been a bad weekend for Foursquare outages, and system stability surely needs to be a priority for the company, the New York-based team can at least be happy that they’ve joined the ranks of services that people care about.

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Shh. Here's some distraction

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