It looks like Twitter is now in the process of deciding how they can please everyone all the time. Its most recent change to its service is to eliminate the option to see @replies that involve folks you don’t follow. Here is part of Twitter’s explanation from their blog
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.
Needless to say many people are not happy about this change including Jason Kincaid over at TechCrunch. Part of his take goes as follows
There was an option to receive all @reply messages from any users you were following. This led to an increase in noise, but it also exposed you to new Twitter users and conversations that you might have otherwise missed out on. I’ve had it turned on for over a year. But apparently that option has confused too many people, so Twitter is killing it
He goes on to say:
Gee, thanks Twitter. I didn’t realize that an option I manually activated was undesirable. Any other things I shouldn’t like that you’d like to make me aware of?
In what the company called a small settings update, users no longer see public replies sent by friends to people they themselves are not following. (Fragmented conversations, they are called.) This isn’t a small change at all, it’s big and it’s bad. The new setting eliminates serendipitous social discovery.
So the thought is that there has been such an influx of new users that are not tech savvy enough to make decisions that could cut out the noise that confused them that the folks at Twitter unilaterally removed the option all together. Long time Twitter users, however, had learned to use that opportunity to discover people that they may not have ever been exposed to. Rather than too much noise it was noise they wanted to sift through themselves and determine for themselves who to pay attention to and who to not pay attention to.
In a rather poor attempt to appease these folks Twitter has come up with a process to refer other users via a suggestion format
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.
Never fear though because the post goes on to assure us that Twitter will be making more decisions on your behalf on the best way to use their service in a way that they deem fit in future updates. Ah, can you smell the freedom?
So what’s your take?
Update 2: It looks like the system needs a complete overhaul. Twitter gives an official response:
The problem with the setting was that it didn’t scale and even if we rebuilt it, the feature was blunt.
They also explain how they plan to tackle the problem in the interim.