Twitter @Replies Kerfuffle: Not Just About Discovery [en]

[fr] La suppression de son flux Twitter des @replies à destination de personnes que l'on ne suit pas n'est pas un problème uniquement parce qu'elle entrave la découverte de nouvelles personnes. C'est un problème, parce que cela nous prive d'une partie (parfois importante) de ce que partagent sur Twitter ceux que nous suivons.

A day or so after my blog post alerting you to the change in the way Twitter showed you @replies from the people you are following, Twitter broke the silence with a blog post giving more detailed information on the technical reasons why they removed this functionality. (Don’t see a direct cause-and-effect phenomenon here — I’m not that influential, despite what some may believe.)

Though I appreciate their apology about the communication disaster, there are still a few open points as far as I’m concerned:

  • 97% of accounts did not use this functionality: this does not mean that they had chosen not to use it. Had the default setting been “show all @replies”, you can be sure that more than 3% of users would have been viewing all @replies
  • if I follow somebody, why would the default assumption be that I don’t want to see what they write to other people I don’t follow? Here’s what would make sense for me: default setting should be that if you follow somebody, you see all their tweets. Now, to cater for those who get frustrated by half-conversations or chatty followees (hey, you chose to follow them in the first place), allow suppression of “@replies to people I don’t follow” on a per-user basis.
  • the reason I am mad (and others too) about having @replies to people I’m not following stripped out of my stream is that it is depriving me of part of the public tweets of people I chose to follow. If I hadn’t seen @giagia’s tweet responding the @isntit on May 11th, I would have missed out all the fun around the heated “babies at conferences” debate. This isn’t about discovering a new person. This is about keeping up with stuff somebody I’m following (Gia in this case) is tweeting about, and involved in.

So, please, Twitter: don’t assume that all this is about discovering new people. It’s not. Since you removed @replies to people I’m not following from my stream, everything is more quiet, and I’m missing out on important parts of my friends’ lives.

Edit: oh, and while writing this post, I discovered that Twitter search does not go very far back in time. What next? are we going to discover that our oldest tweets have silently been removed from the database, one day?

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