No one likes downtime, both IT and consumers alike. However, plan vanilla error messages do not help your brand. As we have seen with Twitter's Fail Whale, downtime can often unleash creativity of the masses.
The multimedia blogging service Tumblr has had some major downtime lately (including a full day offline in December), prompting the company to add a new data center to deal with its growing traffic. Tumblr users are annoyed, and have created a series of sites inspired by Tumblr's frequent outages - including Reasons Tumblr went down, When Tumblr is down and the simple - yet pointed - rodent photo essay - Tumblr Needs Hamsters.
But Tumblr blogger and author/illustrator Matthew Inman, who pens the Web comic The Oatmeal, got graphically creative and posted a green mutant beast as a potential mascot and icon for Tumblr outages. Tumblr responded by adding the Tumbeasts, as they have been dubbed, to their error page. "We may have forgotten to feed the wild Tumbeasts that roam our datacenter, resulting in gnawing and/or mutiny," the message reads. "Animal control has been alerted."
Like any good mascot, the Tumbeasts also have their own Twitter feed so one can keep up with their antics. It is hoped that the Tumbeasts will attempt to keep things light whenever the Tumblr staff are scrambling to restore service. That's the case again this morning, and Tumbeast sightings - and complaints about them - abound on Twitter. It's good to have loyal users who can endure outages with good cheer (made easier by the fact that Tumblr is a free service). But you also don't want your downtime mascot to become an Internet celebrity.