Twitter to the Rescue!

No, this isn’t about anything as dramatic as Demi Moore possibly helping to prevent a suicide.   Just a couple of real-world examples that reminded me of when Doug Beizer included me in an article in Federal Computer Week, discussing how I use Twitter as a research tool. Today brought that article back to me.

First, I needed a little help choosing a character to separate fields that would pop out of a Web form.  I wasn’t developing the form myself – that was my team member.  But we weren’t sure what character to use, because one field would be people’s email addresses, and all kinds of things appear in those.

Twitter to the rescue!

Something weird is going on. Can you try http://www.epa.gov and click on "Learn the Issues"? It works for some, not for others. Thx!

I asked, and several people quickly recommended the pipe character: |.  I even got feedback before I needed it; Jim Lootens told me he’d had a comma in one of his work email addresses, and later someone else suggested using a comma.  Forewarned is forearmed!

Then a little while later, @studiojmm told me several links on EPA’s  home page were broken.  Well, naturally I checked, and everything was working fine for me.  She was so helpful via email, though, that I wanted to figure it out.   We got into a quick web meeting so I could see what she was seeing.  Lo and behold, the links were broken for her!  I immediately suspected a script we use to learn how many times people click on each of our home page links.  It’s too much of a server hog, so we only do it on the home page, but it’s very useful.  We don’t track who clicks what, just that, say, the link to thus-and-such was clicked X times last week.  I was worried, because if she was seeing those links break, maybe there was a firewall issue and the whole world was seeing broken links all over our home page.

Twitter to the rescue!

Something weird is going on. Can you try http://www.epa.gov and click on "Learn the Issues"? It works for some, not for others. Thx!

Many people quickly responded that everything was working fine.  I still needed to help @studiojmm figure out what was going on, but at least I knew I didn’t need to quickly yank the script off our home page, and thousands of people weren’t getting frustrated on our home page.  As it turned out, there probably was something strange going on with her company’s IP addresses, and I forwarded her name and concern on to someone at EPA to look into it.

Thinking about it now, Twitter actually came to the rescue twice here: because of Twitter, she got help she needed and I got confirmation our home page wasn’t broken.

Just more to add to the reasons why I tweet.

BTW, while looking for Doug’s article, I found again Ari Herzog’s blog post about how people use Twitter.  I still like my description: as “a source of filtered, purified water out of a raging river,” meaning I regularly get references to good blogs and articles from people whose opinions I respect (See Ari’s post and good responses for more descriptions).

Do you have “Twitter to the rescue!” stories?

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4 Responses to “Twitter to the Rescue!”


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I’m on Twitter @levyj413

  • @MeghanJG Wow! Yep, I called into Science Friday when they had Tim O'Reilly on to discuss social media and gov't. 3 weeks ago
  • Just realized I've been doing social media for the gov't for 10 years! 3 weeks ago
  • @ariherzog Hi Ari. I've been pretty quiet on Twitter for a while now. Just focused elsewhere. 1 month ago

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