It’s a week later … do you know where your replies are?

19May09

It’s about one week after “The Great Twitter Reply Farrago of ’09.” Time for a check-up: how we doin’?

  • My timeline does indeed seem to have fewer replies in it. That’s basically no surprise, given the announced compromise implementation. The Twitter team didn’t actually say that “reducing messages sent” was the goal (rather something about the internal costs of their processing), but I can’t judge that, and I can judge this, so FWIW: yes, to the best of my ability to judge, they seem to have accomplished their “reduce the load” objective.
  • I have not seen a single reply and thought “hey, that other person might be interesting to follow.” Again, not surprising, since Twitter has already told me they won’t be sending me such things any longer. Well, a teeny surprise: the twitterverse-at-large had quickly invented a way to get around the Twitter changes, but it appears that no one in my twitterverse is bothering with that. Too bad: people who take the time to spread the community sound like they might be interesting folks to know, but I guess I never will šŸ˜¦
  • It might be more than 3%! Browsing through the Twitter trends for #fixreplies, I find some people saying they used to turn the option on and off, so Twitter’s count of “those with it on at some particular moment” might be a bit off. Probably not much, I suppose.
  • Now this surprises me: I believe that my own twittering habits have changed. Used to be, when I replied, I took a bit of time to make sure the reply was interesting: self-explanatory, or at least self-intriguing, maybe adding something to the discussion. I notably don’t do this any more. I’m sure my tweeples will confirm that my reply tweets are not as interesting as they were a week ago. Unless they care to allege I was never very interesting in the first place, of course.

I’m inclined to take this as spectacular vindication of my clap-of-doom review of the original change: I think the original, non-default behavior was crucial for community building; I think its low usage (only 3%) must mostly be because nearly 97% of people never bother with options anyway.

On the other hand, I’m also inclined to accept Twitter’s claim that supporting the option was too expensive to live. (I’m grumpy about their particular choice of which universal behavior to preserve, but supporting options? Yeah, that can hurt.) And I do believe (I do I do I DO) that they’re all about community building, and are working on some good community building facility that doesn’t hurt.

And once again, I gotta say: I’m impressed as all get-out, both with the Twitter team and with the twitterverse, for responding so quickly and effectively. In less than 24 hours, there was a big mistake, a coordinated reaction,Ā someĀ overcomingĀ ofĀ hurtĀ feelingsĀ onĀ allĀ sides, a compromise negotiation, a short-term palliative, and at least the beginnings of a long-term strategic reassessment. It really was a spectacular accomplishment!

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