Epic fail: Why is twitter walling the reply-garden?

Today's Twitter update was not a minor bug fixing issue: the reply-policy has been completely revamped, and most twitter users are not too about the fact that from now on users no longer see public replies sent by friends to people thy themselves are not following. This is how ReadWriteWeb puts it – and after reading 4 Pages of heated discussion on this post, I'm still not sure what the new policy *really* means.

And that is the fault of the official explanation on Twitter's corporate blog which is quite short and leaves some questions open. The first paragraph seems like a good explanation:

We've updated the Notices section of Settings to better reflect how folks are using Twitter regarding replies. Based on usage patterns and feedback, we've learned most people want to see when someone they follow replies to another person they follow?it's a good way to stay in the loop. However, receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don't follow in your timeline is undesirable. Today's update removes this undesirable and confusing option.

But later today Biz Stone updated the text with a second paragraph which kind of nullifies the message of the first:

Spotting new folks in tweets is an interesting way to check out new profiles and find new people to follow. Despite this update, you'll still see mentions or references linking to people you don't follow. For example, you'll continue to see, “Ev meeting with @biz about work stuff” even if you don't follow @biz. We'll be introducing better ways to discover and follow interesting accounts as we release more features in this space.

This is the whole blog-posting by the way – and it seems to imply that the “reply”-status of a tweet solely depends on the position of the @username either in the beginning or somewhere else in the message. This doesn't make a lot of sense. Before today's update users had to chose the reply-behavior via a drop-down box in their settings/notices section. This dropdown has vanished without a trace. And frankly I do have no idea about Twitter's motivation for cutting us off from third party replies, which are one of the best ways to discover new users. Naturally, you're much more inclined to be interested in new people your friends talk to, but Twitter takes all this away. So please stop walling the garden – we want our old reply-policy back. Or, as tet3 puts in on Twitter's public support page:

Removing configuration options which substantial numbers of users used, rather than educating users is lazy, stupid, and insulting. Twitter is a great service, and it's where the people are, but boy, does the management know how to screw good stuff up.

3 replies
  1. featureBlend
    featureBlend says:

    This whole fiasco boils down to “scalability”. I read a blog post long time ago called “Don’t blame Ruby, blame Scoble.” http://bit.ly/knyIi , which I thoroughly enjoyed. At that time i didn’t think about twitter let alone understand the power of the platform.

    Today it seems to be the same problem, and your last quote sums it up really well. I could go on, however i’d much rather leave you with a cool link http://news.ycombinator.com/ – one that i enjoy and hope you would too.


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