Twitter made a system change yesterday that disables the ability for me to see @replies to someone that I don’t follow myself. For example, say I follow @John, but I do not follow @Jane. Prior to the change, I could, optionally, see any replies from John to Jane. The key for me is that it was previously an option, and was not even the default setting. Yet another example of someone trying to think for me because they think I can’t think for myself!
If you read the Twitter blog post describing the reasoning, the change is even more confusing, or at least the reasons for the change are. Twitter states this feature is “undesirable” and “confusing”, presumably for you, the Twitter user. But it was an option that I had to enable in the first place. If it was truly so confusing for users, find other ways to mitigate, such as explaining it better in the settings section, or require additional verification when a user enables it. But don’t insult your users by telling them what is undesirable or confusing to them, let them decide.
My suspicion is the feature was undesirable to Twitter itself, causing the fail whale to appear too often due to increased traffic and processing on their servers. So they throw their hands up, find a traffic stream easy to disable, and blame their users intelligence as the reason for making the change. Unbelievable! A more honest approach would be to say we are disabling the feature due to the increased load on our system. Same end results, but a more honest approach and less insulting.
Now, to back up for a moment, I do believe that Twitter can change their system to work anyway they want; it is their system after all. And, while I disagree with the change itself, the real unfortunate part is the stated reason for making the change. The only folks who could be confused about the feature are those that took the extra steps to implement it in the first place. Stooopid users!!
I found the feature useful as it introduced me to other Twitter users that my followees conversed with. In some cases, I would follow the user as well, but in all cases it gave me a more complete picture of the folks I follow. Not that I follow a lot of people nor have a lot of followers, but this change just decreases the size of the Twitter universe to me, and potentially decreases the value of Twitter for me. Time will tell.