Recent Web site malfunctions have called into question the reliability of one of the most popular microblogging sites, and coupled with user criticisms the site might be quickly drowning. For the past several months, Twitter ha

s experienced technical difficulties that have frustrated users because of the difficulty to detect such difficulties even exist.

The site enables users to blog in 140 characters or less as often as they want, with such updates showing on individual profiles as well as a community stream of the user’s friends—similar to a Facebook user’s home page.

Within the last several months, though, Twitter’s streaming updates have sporadically failed to show a majority of updates, leaving users to guess that either their friends are not blogging or that there is a technical difficulty.

In most cases, it is the latter. In late April the site was problematic for a period of three days.

“We're all used to Twitter outages, but this is something different,” writes blogger and Twitter user MG Siegler. “Something behind the scenes is misfiring, but only just enough so that not everyone realizes,” he writes.

The commonality of such malfunctions reflects the site’s scaling issues, as over the past two years it has struggled to keep the site running smoothly amidst massive growth.

The site runs on Ruby on Rails—a unique Web site framework that was initially purported as easy-to-use. Two years later, Twitter may be abandoning that framework in favor of starting from scratch with Java or PHP.

The switch may not solve Twitter’s problems, though, as starting from scratch will undoubtedly lead to similar scaling issues.

Growing frustrations with the site are pushing many users to visit the site less frequently or abandon it all together. Technical difficulties could be the sign of a larger Twitter glitch—an inability to keep its users.

By Danny Scuderi
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