new twitter
Credit: BigStockPhoto.com

First, let me say that I love Twitter. I was a slow convert, but love it despite its problems. And that said, I’m continually amazed by Twitter’s ability to create problems in an attempt to solve problems that were never really problems in the first place. “New Twitter” is just the latest example.

“Wait. What are you talking about?” I can hear a few of you thinking. Well, let’s see….

First Came the Retweet Button, Inhibiting Conversations

 

Retweeting has always been an important part of Twitter — the site’s viral element. It also enabled people to RT something while adding to the conversation (such as by tacking on a brief comment of their own). Then Twitter decided to add a RT button.

I think they really did mean well, given that the RT button meant you didn’t have to copy and paste in the original poster’s handle, saving you some of your 140 characters. But if it wasn’t to enable you to add more commentary of your own, how valuable is that saved space really? Not very much.

Add to the lost conversation factor the “strangers are now appearing in my Twitter feed” issue (because RTs aren’t posted from the person RTing, but from the original poster instead, even if you’re not following them). Suddenly you have more problems introduced than the feature actually solved.

Next Came “Who to Follow,” Being Told Who We Should Befriend

 

The “who to follow” feature was the next gaffe. I don’t know about you, but I never asked Twitter to tell me who I should follow. I didn’t ask to have companies and people I greatly dislike constantly thrown in my face because we have a shared interest or two (I even had someone I’d previously blocked in there — seriously?). And I didn’t ask for help choosing who I might be interested in. I could do that by checking out friends’ and colleagues’ feeds and lists. I could search.

Now Twitter had the opportunity to do this well. They could have created a separate page for their darling “who to follow” lists so they were optional. But they didn’t. They put them front and center, above-the-fold on everyone’s start pages. I like working right through Twitter’s site. The “who to follow” feature did such a great job displacing information I actually wanted to see there that it’s made me rethink that.

new twitter
Credit: BigStockPhotos.com

Now Comes “New Twitter”

 

I’m sure there are some good elements to “New Twitter,” as they’re calling it. But once again Twitter’s stepped in changing things in a way that potentially causes more problems than what they were trying to address in the first place.

A few examples?

  • The new format screws up established Twitter backgrounds for professionals and businesses.
  • I’ve seen colleagues who switch and then have a hard time switching back when they don’t like it.
  • The last time I previewed it, “New Twitter” took two clicks to get to someone’s full profile page instead of the normal one click.
  • Sidebar data is crammed — kind of like forcing everyone to use a double-sidebar on their blogs even though we all know there’s a tendency to litter extra space with unneeded garbage.
  • The real content of the site (you know — the, um, tweets) are less prominently displayed than they are on the original Twitter layout.
  • Not only is “who to follow” still too dominant in the sidebar, but “trends” (which I don’t give a rat’s furry little behind about most days) are equally so.

I’m not exactly someone who’s against change. I just prefer intelligent change, well-thought-out change. And from what I’ve seen, “New Twitter” fails to meet either of those conditions. But who knows. Maybe Twitter will eventually stop pretending to know what I want, actually ask me (and you), and manage to give it to us without screwing up anything else in the process. For the time being I’ll tick to “Old Twitter,” thanks. And the moment “New Twitter” is forced on me, I’ll either switch to other platforms that don’t try to make my mind up for me, or I’ll simply find better ways to spend my time.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Jenn, I had a similar post about other social media platforms thinking for us. Great minds. 🙂 I’m with you – cut it out! Give me options, fine, but let me decide if I want your latest & greatest.

    My Twitter account has not had the “new” Twitter added yet – although it asks me all the time if I want to check it out – uh, no.

    I just read somewhere (and my baby boomer brain can’t remember where) on how many people do not access Twitter directly. They have Hootsuite (like I do) or some other application. On Hootsuite, you can turn off the Twitter RT function so you can continue to add your comments to the RT.

    • Yep. This one was inspired by a combination of a recent conversation we had in the comments and a mini-rant on Twitter I had about “New Twitter” with Laura Spencer. It was that point where I really noticed that every time I looked I found something else wrong with it, and that a Twitter rant really didn’t get it across well enough.

      I’ve tired both HootSuite and Tweetdeck, and I’m not really a fan of either. Plus, I prefer seeing the branding people have on their own profile pages for further background, especially when I find someone new. If the new version is forced on us, then I’ll have to go back to Tweetdeck or something, but I’d really prefer not to. Knowing me, if that happens I’d sooner drop Twitter and take that kind of networking elsewhere… at least when I got fed up with the other app.

      • We love your rants – of all sizes. 🙂

        Maybe I’ve just adjusted to Hootsuite or it’s because of changes they made – not sure which. The whole thing can still get overwhelming. I still go over to Twitter when someone starts following me so I can check them out, but that’s about the only time I do.

  2. It is obvious to me that the few are moving toward limiting our options. Most will be willingly herded into having their choices made for them from this new Twitter change to the announcement best explained by Marty Weintraub on Aimclear of big G taking away almost all keyword phrase variations.

    I made the mistake of accepting the new Twitter and was stuck with it for a few days before an option appeared allowing me to change back. I will now stay with the older version as long as it is available although i suspect it won’t be long before we are forced to the new version.

    Those of us who prefer to think for ourselves should make sure we have URLs and contact information saved becuase I foresee a day when as many alternatives as they deem possible will disappear from mainstream sites. We need to be strongly connected with each other BEFORE that happens.

    CommentLuv is one way we do that. Blog collaborations such as our Bloggers Supporting Bloggers are another. I hope you and your readers will join us.

    • Yeah, I remember you tweeting about being stuck with the New Twitter setup for a little while. I’m just glad you were able to change it back to the older version since it’s what you wanted to do. 🙂

      Fortunately in the case of Twitter at least people have options with other platforms for tweeting. Of course the visual problems still come up when these things are found via search engines when people visit profile pages. Not being a fan of the other platform options in general, I don’t consider them much of an option for me personally, but I’m at least glad to know they’ll help others around some of the issues.

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