Twitter is forcing me to unfollow people

August 25, 2009 at 9:03 PM (Uncategorized)

I want to start this with a disclaimer. I am not writing this to scold anyone that I follow or to ask them to change how they use Twitter. This rant is aimed squarely and solely at the people at Twitter Inc.

I have reached a roadblock in my use of Twitter. I cannot follow any more people who interest me. In fact, the more interesting a person is, the less useful Twitter becomes if I follow that person. This strange and seemingly contradictory situation is entirely Twitter’s fault.

Twitter treats messages that begin with @username as being addressed to that user and so most other followers won’t see them. Up until May, you had three options in how to deal with those messages from the people you follow. You could choose to see all of them, only the ones addressed to other people you follow or only the ones addressed directly to you.

If you were using Twitter in May of this year, you probably remember the controversial @reply change. Twitter Inc. found it necessary to change so as to remove the ability of people to see @replies from people they followed that were addressed to people they did not follow. It was causing a large strain on their network and the option simply had to go. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

Unfortunately, Twitter also removed the option to not see the @replies addressed to other people you do follow. When one person I follow says something to another person I follow, I see that conversation in my own stream, even though the message wasn’t addressed to me.

I don’t want to see those conversations. They do not involve me and they do not interest me. On rare occasions, I will see something interesting but, 99% of the time, I do not want to see these conversations. It is unwanted clutter in my time line and Twitter has taken out the setting that used to remove it.

I am now in a situation where I simply cannot follow any more people who share my interests. The very fact that we share interests means that we probably both follow a lot of the same people. These people talk to each other because of their shared interests and I would see both sides of the conversation. I’ve already had to unfollow a few people because they were constantly talking to other people I follow and it became just too much. These few people were completely overwhelming my time line.

You see the problem here? This arrangement discourages me from following people who interest me. Every time I do so, Twitter becomes less useful. That is exactly the opposite of how a social network should work and it is frustrating as hell.

I don’t want to unfollow people on Twitter. Some of the people I follow have become friends and I do want to see what they are saying. I just don’t want to eavesdrop on a conversation where I am not involved.

The people at Twitter Inc. need to bring back the option to filter out these @replies. That setting has to come back. This problem has grown to the point where I simply cannot continue to use the service the way it should be used. Twitter, please fix this.

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