Normally I am fast asleep at the time that I am writing this, but it is quite warm here and I can’t sleep when it is hot. Not being able to sleep, I decided to browse the new posts on my Google Reader. After sifting through all of the stuff I don’t care about, I came across some news from TechCrunch that Twitter is removing a large part of the service’s @ reply functionality because it seems to believe people are too stupid to figure it out. Maybe I am just cranky because I can’t sleep, but this sounds like a great opportunity to go on a good rant.
Is there anything about Twitter that confuses you to the point of frustration or even wanting to quit the service? Do you find @ replies confusing? I didn’t think so. @ Replies have been around for nearly as long as Twitter yet apparently all of the sudden they are too confusing for people. What is most perplexing is that this functionality that is being removed, the ability to see everybody’s @ replies even if you don’t follow the people they are talking to, is that this functionality isn’t even enabled by default. You have to go into the settings and enable this feature yourself. If people are too stupid to figure out the basics of twitter, what are they doing mucking around in the settings area in the first place? If people can’t figure out what this functionality does and how it affects their experience withe the service, I think that is more twitter’s fault for not explaining it well enough instead of just implying that their users are stupid.
The truly annoying thing about all of this is that they seem to be eliminating one feature after another without adding anything. Just recently, they announced that they were killing the auto-follow feature that a user has to request to be an option in the first place. Why are you killing a feature that is obviously valuable to some people while most users don’t know it exists so that it can’t change how they use the service? I am not completely against killing features as I understand that sometimes they aren’t useful or cause more problems than good, but killing used features for no reason and not replacing them with new functionality is something that has always irritated me. It is the purpose of a service to move forward, not back. While many services are adding features, the fastest growing service on the internet seems to be taking them away with no legitimate reason for doing so.
Twitter seems to be becoming too reliant upon third party services to fill in the gap. I will admit that while there are some really stupid services out there, there are a ton of great twitter apps and services that bring a huge value to the twitter experience. While I think it is great to let the twitter community grow and do its own thing, it is not right to expect them to pick up the slack and make new services just because you kill off an existing feature. You can help the community grow in many ways, but lowering the value of your service by disabling features is not a good move for anybody. Twitter needs to wake up and realize that it has a ton of competition from services such as friendfeed and needs to spend more time improving and stabilizing the product instead of moving backward and disabling existing functionality.
Enough of my late night rant. If you haven’t already, give a listen to episode #23 of the Global Geek News Podcast. A new show should be out Thursday or Friday.