It's not exactly news that Twitter slows down or even fails from time to time. Hey, Twitter tongue firmly in cheek, even coined the "Fail Whale" term. So, this morning when Twitter was running slowly from the web browser I didn't give it much thought until I noticed the web sites that were being linked each time my page loaded - specifically "google-analytics.com".
I tweeted a comment or two about Twitter's desire to get user stats being more important than Twitter wanting to give its users snappy performance. I also tweeted a comment about moving to cloud computing and the need for companies (not just Twitter) to partner with their cloud application providers and the fact that private interfaces or api's (for partners) may scale more effectively than the public interfaces.
Once I looked at the problem more clearly I think that it is not (solely) Twitter's to resolve. It turns out that more and more of the SEO/SEM/Marketing and web pundits are using google analytics to track their links and tweets. Initially tracking tweets would not have been tweet effective because you only have 140 characters so a google-analytic tracking url like:
http://TopdogSEOmagnet/Computer-Technology-Update/HowNottoWriteaProjectPlanforDummies?utmsource=twitterfeedme&utmmedium=twitter (not a real URL)
would not have left much room for an actual tweet message. But with the rise of tiny url services that long URL becomes http://tinyurl.com/yzpdl65 (or even shorter). So when your web client loads the home page and even one of your twitter followers have these kind of links in place things really slow down. My short-term solution since I don't really care about Google analytics was to point google-analytics.com to 127.0.0.1 in my hosts file. Drop me a note if you want to do that and don't know how.
The tinyurl issue has been discussed elsewhere as a potential security problem because it does hide the URL and potentially allows phishing and other types of browser-based attacks to fly under-the-radar, but I haven't found any other discussion on the performance hit to twitter (and presumably other services) from the tinyurl plus google-analytics combination.
Did it make a difference? Well, my page load time went from about 5 seconds to 1 second!