LinkedIn’s Version of the Fail Whale

Posted on April 2, 2012 | in Lean Wastes, Maintenance, Small Business | by


You know about the Fail Whale on Twitter, right?

If you don’t know, when Twitter gets overloaded with data transmission requests (lots of people using/checking/updating Twitter at one time) the system will crash and a picture of a whale will be displayed. This is Twitter’s way of indicating it’s temporarily out of order.

Well evidently LinkedIn has their own version, although it’s not clear if this is a result of scheduled site maintenance or if it truly was overloaded. Unfortunately this happened in the middle of the day, while normally scheduled site maintenance happens in the early morning hours.

When your company has a malfunction – a machine breaks down, a pipe bursts, a server crashes, the copier needs servicing – do you put up a “temporarily out of order” sign or do you try to get it fixed right away?

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3 Responses to “LinkedIn’s Version of the Fail Whale”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    Given it was the middle of the day, it must have been an unplanned downtime. Hanging a “down” sign and working to fix it immediately aren’t mutually exclusive.

    I think the better question (and Eric Ries talks about this a lot in The Lean Startup) is “what did you learn from this downtime?” and “what did you do to prevent it from happening again?” (looking at systems, not blaming individuals).

    • Chad Walters says:

      I was surprised to run into it mid-morning so it was probably unplanned. The good thing is that both the Twitter “down” sign and the LinkedIn “down” sign are/were not up long, as the problem was corrected. However, the frequency at which Twitter posts the Fail Whale makes me wonder if they are learning anything like they should from the occurrences.

    • Chad Walters says:

      But yes, you are absolutely right that having the “down” page and fixing the issue immediately aren’t mutually exclusive.

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