For the last nine months I have been working on creating a Twitter management application that added value to the Twitter experience. The application, called Tweasier, is currently in beta testing and has several hundred people using it on a daily basis – I have found their feedback absolutely invaluable and I now recognise the importance of having a beta period. During these nine months I have seen a variety of Twitter applications have their services or features throttled by Twitter and I have been asking myself why?
A good example of this was Twitter Karma which allowed the average Twitter user to sort their friends by people who were following them back. It was a useful tool which meant, that if you so wished, you could cleanse your account from time to time and keep the numbers down to a reasonable and manageable level. Sometimes people you follow, just stop using Twitter altogether and leave their account static, so a spring clean can often be effective.
As Twitter has grown, so has the online noise in an average users Twitter account. The early adopters of Twitter used to see pretty much everybody’s tweets but now, as there are so many interesting and insightful people out there to follow, you can occasionally miss an important tweet or two. For a news junkie like myself I hate to think that but that’s the way it is on Twitter these days and we have all come to accept it.
Too Many Fail Whales
Twitter has had a bit of a bad run recently launching a few new features which have stumbled and cause the network to break down on regular occasions. Sometimes I actually feel I might as well start having a relationship with the FAIL WHALE as I see him more often that my own account. However, this has prompted Twitter to reduce the limit of requests third-party-applications like Tweasier, Tweetdeck and Hootsuite can make it to its API (down to 175).
By doing this applications have become much less stable and I personally think this may well start affecting the user’s relationship and love for the network. I have seen several tweets today highlighting that Tweetdeck has broken again and I would hedge my bets that it is just this strangulation of the API.
My Advice to Twitter
So my first bit of advice to Twitter is to sort the stability of the network out and return the trust to the users and the developers which have helped make Twitter as popular as it is today.
My second piece of advice is to re-examine bringing back bulk unfollowing. Now don’t get me wrong I am not a spammer and I don’t believe in spamming but surely there is a better way to stop Twitter spammers than removing the usefulness of bulk unfollowing from all third-party applications.
Twitter actually changed its rules in January and now only allows single line unfollowing. In other words you can no longer use an application to select all etc. In my opinion this is wrong, so please bring back features like bulk unfollowing, so the regular users can trim their accounts when they need trimming otherwise it makes it a far harder process to spring clean an account and this means lots of people will be following dead accounts which is surely a bad thing for Twitter anyway as it is clogging up the network for no reason.
My answer to stopping the spammers is simple, when a users syncs their account with a third party application their details are kept in the user’s profile. Why then can’t Twitter just have some kind of notification that flags up when an account is growing and reducing at an alarming rate using one of these applications? It could then ban these guys whose accounts fluctuate and keep the normal users happy by giving us back a host of useful features.
I would love to offer Tweasier’s users the capacity to select all but the way the rules stand at the moment that won’t be the case for some time.