Tales from the Net

a work in progress

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How can a social network site miss the boat so completely?

twitter logo

My annoyance with Twitter has slowly been building since one of their last updates. I don’t like how Re-Tweets (RT) are handled in the latest updates so I put off updating the software. Twitter’s new authentication process recently went live (a good thing), and it forced me update TweetDeck, the client I use to follow Twitter. And this update included the change that I had been avoiding for months and months: the new RTs.

If I didn’t update, I wouldn’t be able to log into Twitter. So I updated, and the RTs are just as annoying as I thought they would be.

With the new style RTs, strange people show up daily in my Twitter stream; it’s disconcerting because I have no idea who they are. And in what I have to assume is an unintended consequence, it makes it very difficult to acknowledge people who I follow, kind of leaving them out in the cold.

When I RT someone, I try very hard to include everyone who is part of that chain so as to give everyone credit. With the new style RTs, I can’t do that. I can only RT the person who shows up in my stream – which isn’t always the person I’m following. Of course I want to acknowledge the person I don’t know, but I also want to acknowledge the person I *do* know. In order to RT the way I want, I have to manually type in people’s names.

To make matters worse, with a new-style RT the avatar of the person I am following is practically microscopic in size and has no name attached in TweetDeck, so I have to hunt to find the avatar’s name, memorize all of the avatars (not going to happen), RT the way Twitter forces me to, or not RT at all. Twitter gives me no way to easily RT the way I want to RT, or to view my own Twitter stream in a manner I prefer.

I suppose the Twitter folks think new style RTs make following new people more likely becasue you actually see their avatars in your tweet stream, and so your own social network will grow because of this. Maybe Twitter doesn’t care about this, or maybe they have some paternalistic view that they know better than I do how I want to use the system.

Whatever their reason, it leaves me dissatisfied. I want to be able to control my own experience as much as possible, and this rollout takes away options from users instead of making the system more flexible.

posted by Deborah at 9:40 pm  

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