Today it has been hard to avoid TwitRank on Twitter. TwitRank is a fun little app which gives you a title. Nothing more, nothing less, or rather it wasn’t supposed to do any more or less. Due to an oversight of the developer, the app tweeted its results whether or not you checked the “post results to twitter”.
“TwitRank” was a global trending topic very quickly as people started to complain…
I decided to track down Dan Jasnowski, TwitRank’s developer, to get his side of things:
AB: Hi Dan, before twit-rank exploded today, most people hadn’t heard of you. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
DJ: I’m just an 18 year old teenager from Spain. I do both web developement and programming (only in Java [for now]).
AB: Twit-Rank caused quite a stir today on Twitter, something I know you certainly didn’t intend (or at least not for the reason it did). Could you tell us where the idea came from?
DJ: I’ve always wanted to try my hands at the Twitter API and my interest in unique titles gave me the motive. So, I just made the program and put it on the web. It went unnoticed for around two days before a massively-followed twitter user tried it and the rest is history.
AB: And what a history! Did the sudden surge in usage take you by surprise?
DJ: Yes, it did. I’ll say I felt popular. I even saw the words “Twitter Rank” is world-wide trending topic. I was amazed at how fast it grew. Thankfully no blogs like Mashable, TechCrunch, or Gawker, have picked up on this because then there would probably be more angry mobs.
AB: Obviously the reason Twit-Rank became so talked about was not the purpose of the app, but there are some malicious apps out there too. Do you have any thoughts on how (or if) Twitter could stop apps like that appearing?
DJ: Maybe if enough people report an application to a certain webpage in a short time — it would get AUTO suspended. My guess.
AB: We can’t really talk about Twit-Rank without mentioning what has caused all the fuss. Basically the check box for tweeting the results wasn’t “hooked up”, right?
DJ: That’s right. At first [when testing] I always tweeted the message so I didn’t know until I kept getting tweets about the error back… and A LOT of them.
AB: A simple mistake for anyone to make, though it seems to me that some reactions to it were over the top (my own included I am ashamed to say). What has the negative attention been like and are people calming down again now?
DJ: The negative attention hasn’t been too bad, I did get a lot. At 3:09 PM (usa est), I got a message that Twitter suspended the application. It took me around 2 hours to fix it. Since then people have calmed down. Most say I did it on purpose, but they’re wrong.
AB: It was an honest mistake, and you’ve been commendable in putting your hands up and saying so. I’m glad that Twitter didn’t get too anti-social for you, but I guess you’ll be testing future apps a hundred times before launching them?
DJ: Haha, yes – definitely.
AB: Do you have any future twitter apps in the pipeline yet?
DJ: Not at the moment. I just wanted to get a feel of the Twitter API. I have other projects I’m busy with.
AB: But today’s excitement hasn’t put you off Twitter?
DJ: Not entirely. I’ll still be on. I’ll just be more careful with my apps that I create.
AB: Well thank you very much for your time, Dan. It has been a pleasure chatting with you. Is there anything we’ve not spoken about that you’d like to add?
DJ: No problem, same here. I’d just like to apologize for my error in today’s commotion.
TwitRank was always safe to use, but now it also behaves as it was always intended to.
Anyone who puts their hands up and says they made a mistake is a good guy in my book. Dan has a lot of balls for an 18 year old, I certainly wish him all the future success (and hope to get sneak previews of his future apps too ;) ).