tyler butler

Twitter @replies Changes

There’s been some hoopla on Twitter today after a poorly handled announcement that the option to control whether replies from people you follow to people you don’t follow show up in your feed. This was an option in the Notices section of the Twitter settings that was off by default. The original post from @biz made it sound like they were trying to reduce confusion and that it was no big deal. That’s a bit naive – they should have seen the backlash coming a mile away… Dave Winer has a good summary of problems with how they messaged things.

@biz later posted that they had heard the feedback, claiming it was a scalability problem with the implementation. I initially didn’t buy that argument, but the description over at ReadWriteWeb clarifies things somewhat. This comment over at Winer’s post clarifies it further. I think I understand now, given their architecture, why this would be a beneficial change for them to make.

But that’s not what I’m ultimately writing about. Much of the complaining from people opposed to the change has been that it makes it harder to meet new people on Twitter. If you see a reply to someone else from a person you follow then you might also be interested in following them. OK, fine, I buy that, but for me, I simply want to see everything people I follow say, regardless of who they say it to. With clients like Tweetie and Twitterrific 2.0 (iTunes link) able to browse through conversations effortlessly, I can use the tweets from my timeline as a jumping-off point to see the whole conversation which someone I am interested in is involved in. My goal is not to find new people to follow (though that does happen occasionally), but rather, just to see what interesting things people I follow are saying. I don’t care who they’re talking to. It’s not like everything @Lincolnator says to @MajorLB is completely uninteresting to me just because I don’t follow her.

The proposed changes as they stand right now don’t solve my complaint. But it’s early; the smart people at Twitter will figure something out, and hopefully, it’ll solve my scenario and world hunger at the same time. One can hope and dream.

You can see the protests/commentary on Twitter itself by searching for #fixreplies. It’s still the top trending search term as of this writing.