Does Social Media Site Reliability Matter?

Over the past few weeks there has been a pretty consistent trend of conversation in the blogosphere surrounding site downtime. One meme that frequently reoccurs is that “Twitter is Down.” Just last night Mike Arrington posted an error message from Twitter which said “We just lost a database about 5 minutes ago and this has severely impacted the site.” That doesn’t sound like to big of an error, right?

This morning when I woke up, the first site I checked out was Plurk. I might be a Plurk addict now but when I loaded the site, it wasn’t functioning properly. I couldn’t update my status and eventually I was prompted with the following error:

I was a little shocked that only 2 days after I started using the service, it was already having scaling issues. Twitter regularly has issues and back when MySpace became popular it was also down every few hours. If you provide a free and useful service, I’m beginning to think that reliability is not as important. While people become frustrated, with not having access to a site, they will still come back later and try again.

According to Compete.com, Twitter saw continued growth last month despite their substantial downtime. So do you think social media site downtime really matters or is it just a bunch of loud people complaining about nothing?

Twitter-Compete Screenshot