The Invisible Twitter

with 8 Comments

So almost 3 months ago, Twitter tried to quietly implement a “small settings update“. There was outrage, a #fixreplies revolt, and a #ductape solution.

The Invisible Twitter n. – The content users miss since Twitter stopped showing all  @ replies


I doubt most people still realize how the @ replies really work. Twitter said they had a temporary and a long term solution. Until that long term solution surfaces,  you only see the @ replies your followers send when you follow both people, or when the reply is not a reply.

My Conversations Are Now Silos

I went to read a blog post today from a good friend. I found this post on their Twitter stream. I thought the post was an important one and could not believe it had not generated any @ replies. I did not see much discussion. I decided to check out their profile to see if The Invisible Twitter was responsible. It certainly was. I was missing a lot. I am noticing more and more how siloed some of my Twitter conversations have become.

I am still missing content from smart people and I do not like it.

The Simplest Point

Just because I am talking or replying to a single person, does not mean others may not benefit from the content? Or more importantly that others may have something of value to improve a discussion.

There was almost universal use of a first character solution at first: putting any character in front of the @ symbol. But most of us, including me, are not using this solution as much if at all. It is so easy to forget. And you lose the ability to track back to the original message, forcing me to decide between two features.

Cliches Not Networks

Discovery and virtual people watching is one of the things I love about Twitter. Much of this discovery comes from seeing who the people you follow talk to. If I have a trusting relationship with one person, and I notice they are talking to other specific people quite often, it behooves me to check those people out. Yes this still happens, but I feel like it happens less and less.

The Quiet Blue Yonder

Some people on Twitter send upward of 50% to 75% of their tweets as @ replies. That can equal out to a lot of missed content if we do not follow all the same people.

Twitter is still of value to me, and I can’t really be sure how much the experience has changed. But it seems so against the original nature the social platform that is Twitter. I hope The Invisible Twitter erodes, somehow, and the simplest bits of discovery don’t dissapear completely.

8 Responses

  1. Nealy

    When is this going to be fixed? I'm having trouble with staying up to date with people I follow. Sucks.

  2. Andy Blu

    Was barely aware of this when it happened. I really only use Twitter to listen, but I have noticed less @ replies the last couple of months. Not sure how I feel about it. Less noise is good I suppose, but you are right, there may be a lot of great content missed. At a minimum keeping it as optional seems the right thing to do. Although we all know Twitter could not scale itself out of a cardboard box.

  3. jakrose

    @Andy Twitter has had some major scale issues and that is the root of the issue. Still, I would like to see Twitter catch up with their scaling at some point. They can only remove so many features before the service loses its soul.

  4. Tim Donnely

    Look, Twitter has had scale issues for years. Do not ever depend on them as a main communication channel. They have never proven you can trust the service.

    But I will say they do need to focus on scaling the existing service, not dropping features in order to focus on implementing new monetization efforts. Make sure you can “scale out of a cardboard box” before you worry about making money. Customers are first.

  5. Samantha J.

    Twitter should just allow us to name our VIP list. A list that we want to see all @ replies from. That would reduce the scale greatly but allow the small number of people that really want to see them all to be able to do so.

    This works assuming you have a small circle, say 100-200, people that you really want to listen to everything they say. I think that is what we are working with though.

  6. jakrose

    Love this solution to the Invisible Twitter Samantha. Allowing a VIP list for each person would solve the problem for me.

  7. jakrose

    I hope we get past the scale issues at some point. I would hate to lose Twitter as a communication tool. Though I suppose when/if that happens, something bigger and better will have already replaced it.

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