Using twitter as an outage notification

Benjamin Billon bbillon-nanog at
Sun Jul 5 16:59:43 UTC 2009

I agree.
It seems (I didn't look for solid proofs of that) twitter went down when 
MJ's die was revealed. I don't want to know why (not enough cloud 
computing stuff?), but I still believe there is maybe not always an 
ultimate solution to all problems.

Twitter and its friends may sometimes help, that's for sure. But at an 
higher level, we don't need the info right here right now, we only want 
the issues to be solved. Still meaning the DC/ISP/hosting company has to 
keep a straight and up-to-date list of customers in order to contact 
them directly if necessary (but this is not part of the problems' 
resolution, this is commercial/relational matter), which I never saw in 
real life.

Furthermore, I personnaly don't use Twitter and as few "social 
networking whatever" websites as I can.


Skywing a écrit :
> Hmm... doesn't that kind of defeat the point of using Twitter instead of your own infrastructure to begin with, aside from adding another (Posterous) single point of failure for all your communication mechanisms?
> Perhaps it is not so important for snow days vs. outage situations, but it seems to me like it would be simpler and more reliable to go directly to the source and not use Posterous.
> (Besides, I suspect the chances are reasonable that between mail/www/Twitter, you're going to have a low set of users in the other social networking sites crowd who don't have any overlap to begin with.  Diminishing returns?)
> - S
> -----Original Message-----
> From: JC Dill <jcdill.lists at>
> Sent: Sunday, July 05, 2009 08:18
> Cc: nanog at <nanog at>
> Subject: Re: Using twitter as an outage notification
> Roland Perry wrote:
>>> There's the temptation by some of companies to leverage the latest
>>> technology to appear "cool" and "in tune" with customers, but by far and
>>> large, when something goes down customers either do no nothing, wait, or
>>> call in.  I think the best use of everyone's time is to make sure
>>> their call
>>> center/support desk has the capability to post an announcement to
>>> those that
>>> call in.
>> It's a High School. They don't have a "support desk" (or more than
>> handful of phone lines [1]). Even the local radio station can't cope
>> with one call per school asking them to broadcast the news that they
>> have closed due to bad weather.
>>> And then make sure something gets posted to the website.
>> Unfortunately, the number of students polling the website for news
>> means it can't cope with the traffic.
> Really?  Um, wow.  How big is this school?  Is the webserver on an ISDN
> line?
>> I don't believe they can justify paying more for better web hosting,
>> just to manage this once-a-year half hour event.
> This is a case where it makes *perfect* sense to offload emergency
> notifications to another, larger system such as twitter, *as well as*
> post to the school website (ideally via a blog, so you can use posterus
> to do both actions in one email).  There's no fee, the cost to "set
> up"[1] is your time to securely configure a posterus account and a list
> to send to posterus (see below) and then to send an announcement post to
> posterus (and thus post on the school blog and on twitter) and to send
> an email to all students and parents notifying them so they can follow
> the school's announcement feed on twitter.
> jc
> [1] To setup: create an announcement mailing list with a name like
> post72045gh at - the name is kept private.  The mailing list
> will send to posterus (and yourself - do NOT use this list to send to
> regular users - if you want to do that make a different list, a public
> list).  This prevents students from sending out snow day emails by
> forging the school's secretary's email address and sending to posterus
> themselves - they would need to guess the name of the mailing list and
> send "from" that name to posterus to forge a snow day email.
> For even more security, set the list to no approved posters.  The people
> who are authorized to send out the announcement will be authorized to
> *approve* posts from non-members (who are everyone).  Anyone on the
> school staff can post (but still, keep the address private, only
> distribute it to those who need to know!).  The posts are held for
> moderation and are sent to the people who can approve, and they have to
> click on the approval link and approve the post before it gets
> distributed.  Test this system with the people who will use it, so that
> they understand what happens if they are the first one to click on the
> approval link, and what happens if someone else is first (no messages
> left to approve).  Also, make sure they can remember the password for
> moderating the private email list - the whole thing grinds to a halt if
> none of them can remember their password at 4 am when they try to send a
> snowday announcement and it remains stuck in the distribution list and
> never gets out and posted.  The usual system people use to remember an
> infrequently used password (of having a password on a note by the
> computer in the office) doesn't work at 4 am when everyone is at home.
> jc

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