The #retweetFAIL

Nov 19 2009 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Blogging, Social Media, Twitts

I know, I know. A diversion from our usual. I'm actually not making fun of WEb2.0AwesomeszEleven!!!w00t!!! for once.
This thought connects, however, to a frequent problem I have with software companies. See this complaint about a cockup pulled by my favorite reference manager software, EndNote.

Endnote version X2, however, pulls a Microsoft-esque blunder in screwing with one of the fundamental features dear to this user. And they have the nerve to tell others who complained that it is the user who is just not giving this kewl new approach a chance! 'sclowns...

Now Twitter is pulling the exact same crap with their #retweetFAIL debacle.


In brief summary here's the dealio. This is for my co-blogging Twitt-refusenik Comrade PhysioProf, I'm not trying to insult the intelligence of the rest of you. Twitter is a near-instant but content limited communication form. 140 character limited. Nevertheless, as with all communication forms the power lies in the conversation. The exchange. The give and take. Also, in the passing-along of information. Preferably with original citation information intact.
Twitter (the company) provided some barebones functionality that was added to by many other vendors and individuals. These latter ended up providing additional essential "Twitter" features that the users have come to depend upon. One of these features is the "ReTweet" (RT). With a simple click, one prepares to forward the Twitt of another person that is found to be of interest, presumably to one's own readers ("followers" in Twitt parlance). Sounds like those chain letter spams you get from Aunt Maudie and your right-wing Rush-dittoing cousin, right? Luckily, the 140char limit and the ability to control who's Twitts you are reading prevents that from getting out of hand.
The conversation part requires an essential feature of the RT function. The ability to add a comment to that original Twitt that one is RT'ing. To indicate relevance. To indicate approval or disapproval. To cheer or boo. You know, to bloody interact. Social media = Interactive media!
Well, Twitter finally added the RT feature to their webportal access to the Twittstream. That webportal has been very clean and highly functional for my use. The only thing it was missing was RT. So now they added one. Only.....
It. Isn't. Retweet.
You can't edit the RT you send. You can't comment. You can't do squat. All you do is essentially forward what is now assuredly a spam to your followers.
Here's the company flak defense of their decision making. It is full of inexplicable mischaracterizations of their users' experiences. This isn't just me, click here and start reading. Users HATE this.
Users have figured ways to live with what old Ev calls the drawbacks of RT as implemented by thirdparty vendors. This would be the problems of figuring out attribution (what is original RT and what is editorializing) and "messiness". The problem of redundancy in some senses misses the whole POINT. If three people I follow RT the same thing, perhaps this is one way of judging salience and importance? Ya think? If you are getting a hundred RT copies maybe you are following too many people, knowhatimsayin?
"Untrackable"...wtf? I mean I like data as much as the next guy but I don't really need to know the RT history of a meme or something on a day to day.... O. Right. That's what this whole thing is about. Twitter needs to figure out how they are going to actually make money. The smart bet is that this complete and utter screwup is driven entirely by some scheme to monetize rather than by what they think users actually want. Jerks.

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