Users: #fixreplies. Twitter: “No. Thanks for the great feedback!”

twitter logoRetweet this. If you disagree with Twitter’s decision to hide replies to ppl you don’t follow, start your replies with #fixreplies.

— @nazgul (aka Kee Hinckley), on Twitter

56000 tweets later, in We learned a lot, Twitter founder @biz admitted that the “user feedback” they had cited as part of their original decision didn’t include Twitter users who liked discovering new people or participating in various conversations.   [This isn’t not particularly surprising, since the company’s founders don’t use the service the way most users do, and these days appear primarily focused on celebrities rather than real people.]

Biz also admitted that user feedback wasn’t actually what drives their decisions:

The problem with the setting was that it didn’t scale and even if we rebuilt it, the feature was blunt. It was confusing and caused a sense of inconsistency. We felt we could do much better.

In the short-term, there’s a partial workaround which has the side effect of destroying the threading of conversations.  In the longer term, they’re “designing a new feature which will give folks far more control over what they see from the accounts they follow.”  While this seems like a potentially-good thing, it’ll be tough to do without compromising Twitter’s simplicity.  And given that it’s taken them almost a year to do even basic integration of search onto profiles, it’s hard to be optimistic about how long it’ll take.

Biz closes with

Thanks for all the great feedback and thanks for helping us discover what’s important!

Apparently not straightforward communications, getting broad feedback, or users’ desires.

Good to know.


PS: nazgul’s got some excellent perspectives in a comment on Mashable.  Aliza Sherman’s The Growing Feedback Fiasco on Web Worker Daily sets #fixreplies in a broader context of how social networks are changing the balance of power and requiring companies to be more aware of — and responsive to — their users’ preferences.  And Catherine P. Taylor’s Watching Twitter’s #fixreplies Firestorm on Social Media Insider gives a good feel for the intensity of the tweeting.

Update: Jenna Worthman’s The Trouble With Twitters in the New York Times is timestamped 6:21 p.m., which means that this latest episode of hashtag activism once again made it into the mainstream media in about 24 hours.