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Six Apart's trial by fire

Six Apart has hit more than its share of speed bumps in its short time in business, including a pricing strategy that irked users and its controversial acquisition of LiveJournal. But now the San Francisco blogging company may be facing its toughest test yet - reliability problems that are causing users to question their devotion to its flagship TypePad blogging service. Six Apart founders Mena and Ben Trott addressed the problems last month and again last week. And Six Apart employees have been trying to answer concerns in the comments sections of users' blogs. But it seems the fixes haven't satisfied all users. The Blog Herald posted a round-up yesterday of recent gripes from disaffected customers - admitedly a minute sampling of TypePads's large user base.

The problems could hardly come at a worse time for Six Apart, as other hosted blogging services such as Wordpress.com emerge to challenge TypePad.

Blogger used to be the poor-performance whipping boy in the blogging world, and they weathered the storm. Six Apart will presumably do the same. But there's got to be a lot of furrowed brows in SA's South of Market offices these days.

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The biggest complaint from bloggers like myself is that they have done nothing to satisfy their customers financially. Their customer pay anywhere from $5-$15 per month for their service. Last month alone I sent over 20 help tickets. Not once have they offered to pay for even one month of service. I imagine many bloggers are at their wits end and will be switching soon if things don't change quickly! Rapid growth is no response to poor performance!

Jason Corsello on November 10, 2005 7:22 PM
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Hi... I run corp dev and sales at Six Apart. We fully understand that users pay for TypePad, expect a higher level of performance as a result and many haven't been receiving it of late. We will be posting something very shortly to respond to the need for financial renumeration. We needed to get a full sense of the operational problems so we could understand appropriate compensation.

Andrew Anker on November 11, 2005 10:42 AM
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Maybe I'm missing something, but what does "get a full sense of the operational problems so we could understand appropriate compensation" mean?

If your customers have been paying for a service that doesn't work, why wouldn't you do everything in your power to refund first and ask questions later?

Vanilla Chin on November 11, 2005 12:09 PM
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By far, during the last year or so, the Typepad service has degraded to one of the worst among the paid services. Their Helpline ticket guys simply respond with a general apology and "we are aware of it". What I think is happening here is this: Typepad folks seem to have "figured out" that, like Microsoft, if you have large enough customer base, you can keep ignoring the product problems and issues, customers will soon get used to griping and will live with it anyway. Wrong. I am about to cancel my Typepad service and move to other platforms.

SimplyTired on November 11, 2005 1:39 PM
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Personally, I think the service is quite good, and the quickest, shortest path to having a professional looking blog without having to dedicate professional resources or gain technical expertise.

Like everyone else, I am frustrated by the degradation of the service in the past few months, but also feel that the company has been reasonably transparent about their problems, and what they plan to do to fix them.

The grass is always greener but in my experience, with growth comes growing pains.

That sucks, but that's life.

Mark Sigal on November 11, 2005 4:22 PM
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Hi, I'm one of the people in the trenches keeping the Typepad service working in the face of a number of technical challenges and very rapid growth.

Simply stated, we've had more hardware failures in one month than I've seen during my entire career. That, combined with an ongoing data center move and hitting scalability limits caused the problems people have seen recently.

So we've moved heaven and earth to stabilize the service. And we've largely had success. Since wednesday we've had stability even during our peak times. And now that we're in a colo with plentiful power you'll find that we scale well to meet future deman.

Management, support and the people like us behind the scenes care deeply about giving our customers and their readers the best web experience possible.

Paul Lindner on November 11, 2005 4:33 PM
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