Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Some thoughts on the changes that have been/are being made to the web interface of everyone's favourite waste of time, Twitter. I'm sure much of this is echoed elsewhere on the intertubes but I moan about this stuff every day and I thought I'd put it down in words. Feel free to ignore me.


I like the new in-line retweeting button/function; it makes it simple to pass on things that have caught my eye in my timeline. However, the UI is not brilliant, as follows:

1) Why is the Retweet button placed where the Reply button normally is? For users who have protected their updates (who you can't retweet like this) the Reply button is far right. For users who haven't, the Retweet button is suddenly far right and Reply jumps inside. This makes no sense:

2) If I retweet something, the picture in the timeline shows the person who originally tweeted it as well as a little grey icon to indicate it is a retweet. Fine, I'm all for credit where credit's due. But I also want to know why it has suddenly shown up in my timeline i.e. who reweeted it to their followers, of which I am one - I want to know the credibility of the retweet, if you like. At the moment, there is a tiny line of text informing of this, easily missed and not great UI:

As Alex has just shown me, Tweetie does this much better, showing both pictures overlapping and a coloured corner indicator, making it much easier to spot when skimming through the timeline.

3) If I retweet something, the retweet doesn't show up in my timeline. It could be argued that this is duplication, but it's not; I would like a record of when I passed it on to my followers, so I can keep track of the conversation.

4) Replies to the retweet go to the original tweeter; again, this might be argued to be correct behaviour to accredit the originator, but my followers might reasonably want to say "Why have you retweeted this, you muppet?", rather than replying to the content of the original tweet. Perhaps an option to do so would be helpful.

5) It has become quite common practice to annotate retweets with your own comments, which you cannot do with the button; it is a straight carbon copy of the original tweet. Again, this could be argued to be fairer as there is no opportunity to mess with the wording, but being able to give a reason why you have sent this message on adds context to the retweet for your followers. However, I have heard that Twitter are actively working on this functionality.


There was much debate about how @replies work and indeed Twitter changed this quite early on, so people weren't swamped with every reply from everybody linked to anyone else in your follower list. However, who you put first when replying to a number of people will have a bearing on which of your followers can see it. For example:
fourstar @sarahbrown @greatbiglizard What the hell are you two babbling about?
is quite different from
fourstar @greatbiglizard @sarahbrown What the hell are you two babbling about?
in that only people who follow sarahbrown will see the first one and only people who follow greatbiglizard will see the second one. Admittedly, many people follow both of them (they're lovely people; why wouldn't you?) and would never even be aware of the issue but this feels like a bug to me. I can understand there might be a distinction between a 'reply' (at the start of a tweet) and a 'mention' (within a tweet) but surely someone who follows me and any one (or more) of the people I @reply to should see that tweet, no?

I'm sure I have more niggles (and maybe I should get out more) but I've missed 30 tweets since I started this so I'd better go and see what everyone is so excited about.

No comments:

Post a Comment