Social Media Moms, Twitter

Dear Twitter, Please Fix Your @s

8 Comments 25 June 2009

Once upon a time, twitter had no @s.

If you wanted someone in particular to see your tweet, you used their name and hoped they’d catch it.

Then people started using @ in front of the name so others would know who the tweet was directed to.

Twitter saw it, and thought it was good.

And It Was Good

Then Twitter decided to multiply the goodness and allow @ to link to a tweeter’s page and added a link for people to see their own @s if they wanted to check.

And it was still good.

Then Twitter decided to allow people a choice of whether they wanted to see others @s or not. And some chose to see and comment on others @s and others preferred that @s stayed covered.

And still, all was good.

But then twitter decided to take away all choice. And allowed no one to see @s that didn’t involve them.

And it was NOT good. And lots of people complained and wanted to show their @s.

So twitter backed down, but only part way. And they allowed people to show their @s only if the other person already knew both the @ser and the @see.

And this is where it gets serious.

Because before twitter covered their @s, when someone I respected carried on a public conversation with someone I didn’t know, I’d get a good idea of what the new person was like, and could follow them if I wanted.

Not only that, if it was a conversation that I had additional information about, I could join in and share what I knew.

The majority of my first twitter friends were made this way, by enjoying conversations and wanting to get to know someone better; people like Susan Reynolds, Connie Reece, BarbaraKB, Dr Mani, jjprojects, Tindle, and the list could go on and on.

In fact, I’d bet that many of us made new friends that way.

Since twitter took away the option of seeing others’ @s, I’ve noticed a dramatic change in my following.

Before the change, out of 10 new followers, at least 3 or 4 would be real people and not spammers or bots. After it, I’m lucky if 1 out of 10 new adds is a real person unless I’ve participated in a #chat recently.

Coincidence? Possibly, after all twitter has gone big time lately.

But still, I think it’s at least partly a matter of @s covering.

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Your Comments

8 Comments so far

  1. Ruprecht says:

    Boneheads, all …..

  2. Robyn says:

    Love this post, @Teeg - and I agree 100% - that was my favored way of meeting new connections and joining in on conversation. In my opinion, removing the choice was a big step backward for Twitter.

  3. Very well said. Has there been an official explanation of the change?

    Phyllis
    http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller

  4. Alex says:

    I agree - and because I also run a ‘pro’ account for a charity (@dogstrust) it makes it even harder to find those supporters / dog-friendly individuals out there we should be talking to.

  5. BarbaraKB says:

    *sigh* Hard to believe that seeing all @’s was the default setting, right? I believe it happened because of Twitter’s huge celebrity growth: Twitter does not want to serve up all the pages involved! Maybe come back again? Sure hope so because, yes, it’s a great way to find new folks. I *try* to not do direct @’s when I believe convo may interest others. Others put “.” In front of @. Either way, human can overcome technology…. Always!

  6. Tiffany says:

    Well put! Exactly what I have been thinking!

  7. Costello says:

    I seldom use that and even twitter so I never thought of that. In general, it is good to have such functionality though.

  8. The more I thought about it the more it bugged me, user revolt? 😉


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