Why Twitter’s New Retweet Feature Sucks

by on 11/18/2009 • 204 Comments | Social Media

oopsLet’s play a game. On board?

Pretend PubCon never ended (man up, liver!). You’re still in Vegas. You’re having fun. You’re dancing. You’re partaking in some adult beverages. It’s 5 in the morning when you finally decide to stumble back to your hotel room to pass out. Groggy, with a headache, you wake up the next morning feeling content and still gigging in your head about all the fun you had last night. Until you turn over. AND THERE’S A STRANGER IN YOUR BED! Someone you’ve NEVER SEEN before. What the hell happened last night? CONTROL Z! Crap!

It’s jarring. To suddenly see someone you don’t know in your sacred space. That’s how I feel about the new Retweet Feature on Twitter.  Not because I’m having a “Facebook moment” where change freaks me out, but because they just ruined and violated some of the core ways people use Twitter. The ones users had created themselves.

Here are a few of my issues with the new retweet feature. Ask yourself: has Twitter forgotten where it came from?

It puts strangers in my stream

cutabitch

Now when someone in my network retweets something, I don’t get their avatar. I get the avatar of the person being retweeted. Ev assures me that I’ll “get used to this”, that it will “be a welcomed change”, and that there were lots of good reasons for it, but unfortunately for him, I disagree.  And I’m not alone. According to one poll, only 6 percent of respondents like the change as is. Showing the unfamiliar avatar does not give me “more context” for the tweet. It gives me less because I don’t know this individual. If I were to see Rae’s avatar, I’d know to trust the content. I’d know it already passed the snuff test. When I see someone else’s avatar, I’m thrown off and confused. Will I get used to it? No, I’ll simply learn to ignore things from people I don’t know. They’re now ads that I’ll tune out. Celebs like Justine Bateman found the change so jarring that she accused these strangers of being “shitheads” spamming her. There goes any value I once had from retweets. Or my ability to think about Mallory Keaton without giggling. The point is, using someone else’s avatar loses that trust factor. In social media, it’s always about trust.

It takes away my ability to add my own commentary

notcooltwitter
Realize that it’s the little and the silly things that your users love about you. Being about to add “that’s cool” or “zomg awesome!” may sound like a really trivial thing if you’re an CEO looking down…but your users live for it. That’s why they retweet stuff – to share the link but to also add their own sauce and flavor. It’s what Twitter is based on – the conversation between users. The new retweet feature doesn’t allow me to add my own comments. I’m stuck simply parroting back what was already said. Redefine the definition of what retweeting is and you limit the amount of content being passed around.

The new features also assumes that RT’ing something always means that you agree with it. That it’s a Google-esque “vote” for that content. That’s not the case. Sometimes I’m retweeting things because I think the content is moronic and I want to add my own commentary and point it out. I don’t get that right anymore.

It takes away my visibility in my own network

rhearetweet
It does me no good to find good content and retweet it if I’m not getting credit for it. Sorry. Let’s not pretend that a good deal of retweeting is not motivated by ego. THIS IS THE INTERNET! That’s why people share content to begin with. To show everyone else how smart and savvy and clever we are. Twitter just took away my finder’s fee.

Where’s the motivation now?

It excludes people who want to play

How do you create a feature that a large segment of your users can’t even use?

staysimpletwitter

They changed the definition of retweeting

facebooktweetingNow when you retweet something, you’re ‘liking it’ the way you do on Facebook. You’re not creating something new and of value, you’re simply attaching your meta data to something that already exists. It’s no longer a separate tweet. Andrew Mueller thinks this was done to bring value to Bing and Google. I agree with him. He doesn’t like the ‘we know best’ tone Ev takes in his post to explain the decision. I agree with him. They took about the flexibility of retweeting without giving users anything of value to make up for it. Obviously this wasn’t done for us. It was done for whatever master plans Twitter has. That’s fine. Until you disrupt my life with no benefit. If I’m going to be jerked around and made to jump through hoops, there at least better be something of interest on the other side. Otherwise I’m just going to beat you with the hoop.

There’s a point in every company’s time line where they stop listening to users and start thinking they know best. This is usually the point where early adopters die off and when sites become more complicated instead of smartly scaling themselves down. People don’t want fancy functionality. They want the box. They want to be able to retweet by hand and add their own thoughts. According to Ev, old retweeting is still “allowed” (wow. thanks, Ev!). However, I still have followers who will try out the new way and insert possible muggers, thieves and puppy killers into my stream. Twitter has now left me in a really uncomfortable position – let the strangers in and give up the sanctity of my network or block retweets from people in my network. I don’t like how that feels. I don’t like any of this.

Twitter, your new retweet feature sucks.  #justsayin

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

204 thoughts on “Why Twitter’s New Retweet Feature Sucks

  1. I feel like I should stand up and applaud. This is point by point all of the problems I have with the new ReTweet feature and even having read all of @ev’s explanation, I can’t get over the fact that Twitter willingly, knowingly and proudly picked up a feature created by the users and mangled it into something unrecognizable by the very people who invented it. #Fail, Twitter.

  2. Don’t forget too that you have the ability to BLOCK “official” retweets from people… which I will be doing to anyone using the feature regularly. So, you also could be losing reach… if you use “the new retweet” instead of the old RT, you’re going to lose visibility to me.

    • Someone didn’t read to the end of the post. :p

      I don’t know that I could block retweets from people because I’d be scared about what I was missing. For example, Rhea retweeted something earlier using the new “official” Retweet feature. I don’t want to block all of Rhea’s retweets. They put people in a really weird position here. Either play their way or miss possible info.

      • I’m blocking anyone using it from this point forward… call me a bitch, but I don’t want to come down for a drink in the middle of the night and find someone I don’t know in my kitchen, having a glass of water…

      • This is hilarious. Either you are terrified of seeing an unfamiliar icon, or you are terrified of missing what someone else wanted you to see.

        If Rhea thought it was good enough for you to see, then it passed the same sniff test that it passed when she awkwardly copied and pasted and edited it down to fit into 140 characters, just now you know who ACTUALLY said the thing first.

        If Rhea’s seal of approval isn’t enough for you to be happy to see the person she invited show up in your bed, then you can turn it off. With old Retweet YOU COULD NOT TURN IT OFF.

        • Erm, no. Assuming that everyone has the same litmus test for communication because they’re in the same social network is folly. You may want to see your mother’s tweets in your stream — does that mean that you want to also see the tweets of everyone she wants to? Of course not. We have different standards and add friends for different reasons.

          “Awkwardly cutting and pasting” may be the way that you retweet, but it’s not the reality for those of us who use Twitter as part of our social and professional lives. Applications such as TweetDeck (my personal favorite desktop Twitter app) give us a framework to elegantly retweet, and without restriction. Good etiquette says that we show the sources, but the person who is retweeting gets the ultimate credit because they have taken the time to pass it along to their network, to users that the original poster would not have otherwise reached.

          Twitter was made by great by its users, and stayed great because it stayed simple. Good software design is marked by as few features as possible, not as many. This is a marketing tool, as Andrew Mueller stated.

          • Your first paragraph summarizes exactly what I like about the new scheme and the ability to block the retweets of certain users.

            As battle lines are drawn over this, honestly what I have always wanted is more control over my twitter stream while other people also want… more control over my twitter stream. i think I’m the one who should have that control, which is why I want robust blocking features.

            The new retweet scheme isn’t perfect, but I like the effort to put more control in my hands.

  3. Agreed on all levels. Love the way you ended it. You should update the post and add a note suggesting people cut and past your 88 characters into a tweet?

  4. Wow, great post. Couldn’t have said it better myself. The new RT function adds zero value for me. The whole reason I RT is to add my thoughts to something someone else created or found interesting. I don’t even bother with the new way to RT, I simply keep doing it the way I did before. Swing and a miss, Twitter.

  5. Oh yeah, I agree, this new easy retweet button thing sucks giant monkey balls. You even added some additional suckage that I hadn’t even considered yet. Twitter has failed to learn the value of retweet and just threw a shiny button on there for people to click at. Boo.

  6. I was actually testing out the new feature when I saw this very post. After the read, Im affraid that RT may contain some sort of STD (stupid twitter disease).

    Great points Lisa, I dont think that the community will just learn to like it quite like they assumed. After a couple clicks I just assumed my new rt button was broken.

    By the way, I have to admit, I used the new retweet feature to share this article so that strange looking dude lying next to you in bed… will leave as soon as I can find my shoes.

  7. I hate it. There’s a certain amount of trust shown when you send out RT: @username and this new feature kills that.

    This makes me wonder…isn’t it time that the Twitter founders stop tinkering with features and worry more about reliability of service?

  8. All they really needed to do is just add the retweet button that would cause the message you intend to retweet to appear in the message window in the format of “RT @user Blah blah” that you could then edit, etc. When I first noticed the retweet button I was hoping it would be exactly this – not the gay stuff they did to it… BTW have you noticed that retweeting anything with hashtags it screws up the message?

    • Agreed. It should have been exactly like the Reply button. You click it and it makes things EASIER by inserting the user name directly into the box so there’s no worries about mistyping it. That’s what they should have done. Only, they didn’t.

      • I like the simple retweet button idea. They gave us that, but added a bunch of other strange activity.

        It does take away all creative license, which sucks, but I do love the retweet panel in the sidebar. Being able to see other’s retweets, my retweets and those that retweeted me is pretty cool.

        I’ve only made one retweet with the new feature and immediately had a dialogue going with the writer and another reader. That was pretty cool, too.

        So, put me in the conflicted camp until I can play with it more. Meanwhile, the old method still offers the ability for smart marketers to retweet valuable content in a way that’s visible to everyone in case they’ve been blocked for official retweet behavior.

  9. I just shitcanned using the web interface entirely. So far it hasn’t made its way into UberTwitter (BlackBerry) or Seesmic (desktop). If it does, then I have to seriously re-evaluate my Twitter use. I’m old. I don’t adapt well. It takes me days to weeks to adjust just when someone I know changes their avatar.

    I follow people for a reason, and I actually put some thought into it. Now I feel like that choice is being abrogated.

    I *really* hate this.

    • I’m still totally dependent on the Web interface unless I’m out and using my BB. I’ve tried some of the desktop apps and I just can’t settle in on them. I may have to try, though.

      • I’ve gotten quite fond of Seesmic. Couldn’t work with TweetDeck, and the colors were awful (while I guess you can configure them, it was too much work)

      • Have you tried Brizzly? It does everything I wish the Twitter web interface would do, including having a retweet button that lets me do what I want with my RTs. Tweet me if you want one of their invites.

      • Lisa, your post is awesome and I totally agree. And? This is exactly why I use itweet.net (and Tweetie on my iTouch) – so I don’t have to deal w/the Big Brother attitude. I recommend itweet ALL the time; I swear, Colby should start paying me, haha! It also has same-screen, threaded convos; my very fave feature. Check it out!

  10. I haven’t been unfortunate enough to get the Retweet “Whoa Someone F’d Up Here Button” yet and I so don’t look forward to having the un-pleasantries of it all….but I already hate it.

    I hope the Twitter Boobs that came up with this car wreck of an idea figure out it’s ok to be wrong and make mistakes; it’s part of growing up. Now that we’ve all learned a valuable life lesson….someone call the tow truck and get this mess outta here!

    Great post on this Lisa.

    • I don’t think they’ll actually go back and change it, but its better to say something than to pretend they didn’t just royally tank something great that users had created. I was all set to ignore the RT feature completely until I saw weird people showing up in my stream. That wasn’t cool with me.

      • I don’t like seeing strangers in my stream either. I’ve gone as far as an unfollow on the retweeter (especially if he/she was a Twitterfeed (and its kind) or if a weak interest. I know it sounds silly, but I kinda feel betrayed when I see someone has used it. I know …note to self …seek therapy. IT’S JUST A FRIGGIN RETWEET BUTTON!

  11. So happy I use a desktop app, and don’t have to see any of these strangers and puppy killers in my stream, and get to retweet at the click of a button. Twiter should have taken a look at how apps all do it before they implemented something like this.

    The unfortunate part of this is that apps don’t seem to support the new retweet; I had no idea Rhea had retweeted anything today cuz it didn’t show up in my stream :(

    • Right? It’s funny that apps have been successfully allowing retweeting and yet Twitter completely ignored that. I think it gives a lot more credibility to Andrew’s stance up above that this really is about search and Twitter extending its reach. So basically we all just got sold out.

    • “The unfortunate part of this is that apps don’t seem to support the new retweet; I had no idea Rhea had retweeted anything today cuz it didn’t show up in my stream :(”

      This is a good point… Noticed that people using the “old” RT method don’t show up in the section showing who has RT’d my tweets as well.

  12. The ‘favourite’ feature has been around for a jolly long time. It has been put to good use. I don’t see what was wrong with that – if it were sexed up a little bit, it would be fantastic, and remove the need for this fancy retweet feature. It is more of an equivalent to the Facebook ‘like’ option.

  13. Well done, Lisa, well done. Like Dawn, I primarily use a desktop app to manage my Twitter experience, so I haven’t been personally exposed to the (apparently atrocious) situation. But the crappy feedback I’ve read from friend has been overwhelming, to say the least. I guess for now we can only hope that if Twitter is indeed following Facebook’s lead, it will eventually adhere to all this negativity and restore order to the universe.

    You’re so right about the head honchos’ “we know best” attitude – hopefully they begin to understand that’s not the way to introduce modifications to community members. And you’re so right about the fact that WE made Twitter what it is today. Twitter started out as an incredibly simple, been-done-before, SMS-esque platform. We’re the ones who have transformed it into a power vehicle for sharing information. It’s irresponsible to drastically alter the way in which we share this information with no consideration to our reservations. Pfft.

  14. One question I have (and I have been too lazy to test it or actually look for an answer) is how do the various applications handle these retweets? Are strangers going to be inserted into my stream on whatever app I use? Currently it doesn’t look that way. (that could change or I could be totally wrong)

    So do I lose that retweet by a friend and miss out? How is it being handled by the API?

    • It sounds like a lot of the APIs don’t know how to handle the new retweet feature so they’re just not being shown — so you definitely have to worry about missing out on tweets. Which…kind of defeats the whole purpose of retweeting something you really like if you have to worry a large segment of your network won’t see it.

      WIN!

      • I don’t use the web interface at all. So I am not worried about people not seeing my retweets but me missing out on potential good stuff that others are sharing. So as long as I am covered I am fine… (isn’t that what social media is all about, oh wait)

        I think the API is where the real problem is going to come about. Most of the social media people not bitching about the change (and I think you are bitching in a legit and well thought out fashion) don’t use the web interface. How the API is going to handle the retweets in the long run is going to be where the huge backlash happens.

    • Brizzly wins here. (It’s like twitter web on steroids.)

      So far, Brizzly seems to SEE things RT’d the new way, but is attaching the avatar of the person I follow who RT’d it, and is using the usual label of “RT.” Love it. It looks very much like the old way of RTing. And when I RT something in Brizzly, it’s the old editable copy/paste looking one.

      Hootsuite is ignoring the new RTs, so far.

  15. Well said, Lisa! When are Twitter & Facebook going to understand that when they keep “making improvements” that end up messing with their core users’ experience using the service that they are going to lose us? Sure, Twitter, let the teeny boppers & their stupid memes take over & we will just all end up moving on to something else. OK, I realized that sentence made me sound like an old fart, but oh well. I don’t like changes when they are trying to fix something that ain’t broke.

  16. What I don’t understand about the new ‘retweet’ function is that they’re purposely removing functionality that we’ve all become accustomed to, and replaced it with a lesser, more invasive method. Given the points other commenters have made (mainly getting sold out for the engines), it won’t surprise me to see more of this down the road, essentially destroying the exact product they’re trying to monetize.

  17. It was very clear when Twitter changed the @ reply/mentions feature that they don’t understand the idea of how content is crowdsourced and how people and content is discovered. I.e. They don’t understand their users.

    But, in case there was any doubt in anyone’s mind, in case anyone wondered whether twitter might change that, the retweet functionality negates that entirely. Twitter still hasn’t taken the time to understand how their users interact with feeds, apps, and the site overall, which is a major flaw in product development. People want to discover users and discover content…but the one thing that twitter keeps screwing up is the discover-ability. I would much rather see twitter work on CORE problems like site stability and cleaning up spam than working on features like lists or changing entirely how a feature like retweet is used.

    Twitter is doing the one thing that pisses me off about most startups of their type…they aren’t paying attention to their users.

    • I think that’s a REALLY good point. They’ve already made users hack the way they’re now doing the replies by inserting .’s in front of usernames. Now we have this to contend with. Stop ruining the things we loved.

      And yeah, how nice it’d be if Twitter focused on the things that matter like, KEEPING THE SITE UP, instead of just mucking up what we already created for ourselves.

  18. I was completely prepared to dislike this post, read it, and then have to restrain myself from writing a “Settle down, you’ll get used to it eventually” comment. Then, I read it, and now I’m mad, too. To be honest, I hadn’t fully noticed the implications yet, because I usually use TweetDeck, but it’s the flexibility of the community-defined RT function that I love. You can RT something verbatim, you can comment, you can add emphasis (positive or negative), and you get to say it in your own voice to your own audience.

    The Facebook “Like This” is a great analogy. It’s the worst kind of online mental masturbation (other than Mafia Wars – looks around guiltily – and, well, porn). It gives us all something to click on, in pure Pavlovian fashion, without actually having to think or contribute.

    Of course, it’s new, so the Twitter team may get the message and make adjustments as time goes on. I’m sure they’ve had pressure to release an “offical” RT function and now they’re getting pressure because we instantly hate it. Hopefully, they keep listening and can preserve the community aspect.

    • Dr. Pete…the one thing that I think is missing is that they aren’t listening…just like I mentioned. They’ve had the ability to look at how users use the @ reply functionality, yet the ignore it entirely, people complained, they didn’t listen.

      Now with the retweet functionality, they ignored it once again…it’s critical for a product development team to understand their users and what they want/need and how they interact with the site and it’s core features. It is almost as if twitter COMPLETELY IGNORED how users CURRENTLY use the site. They could have easily pulled up examples, data around usage, etc. etc. etc. There is tons of user research out there that they could have leveraged, but, they did not…such a EPIC FAIL OF MASSIVE PROPORTIONS! #justsayin

      • Did someone say “user experience”? :) The one aspect that really stands out to me is the attribution. The whole point of an RT, as Lisa suggested, is to create a vote of confidence: “Hey, friends, I trust this resource and so should you”. Now, it’s like getting a random message from a stranger. The intent that the Twitter community originally created the RT for is completely missing.

  19. I am betting that at least some of the desktop apps will eventually adapt to this, though if they want a competitive advantage they’ll find a way around the crappy aspects.

    What also infuriates me is that new, unsuspecting users will have to have their hands held even more now than before. Many of them will assume the new “feature” is “just the way it is” until someone helps educate them. But I bet many won’t have a clue, and they’re going to get blocked a lot.

    This completely incompetent move reminds me of how MySpace got so arrogant that they became irrelevant. Wow. Didn’t take long for Twitter to step in that direction.

  20. Yeah! This is EXACTLY how I’ve been feeling about this. Plus, when I retweet I like to add a comment and the retweet feature doesn’t allow that — I tried, once. Personally I prefer to find new followers on my own and am not all that fond of having new tweeters popping up at random in what you’ve so accurately noted as “sacred space”.

  21. Applause! Simple as that. :)

    It’s one thing to add features to genuinely improve something like Twitter, but their new ReTweet system comes over, IMHO, as something designed by folks who don’t have to use it – as we’d say, it’s “new & improved” *

    *ie: messed about ‘because they can’ rather than for any practical purpose, especially when the previous version was working perfectly well, thank you very much.

    I have a very twitchy blocking finger at the best of times – strangers beware!

  22. One of the biggest benefits of the new online tools and content platforms that are available today is the ability to put something out there, generate feedback and then adapt and improve on the fly.

    It’s what good bloggers and software developers do.

    Twitter doesn’t seem interested in taking this approach. At least not in the feedback element and letting it’s users guide development.

  23. I found this article after Alyssa Milano retweeted it using the old manual way of retweeting. Had she retweeted it using the new button which is on her account I may not have found the article and I would have missed out on one of the most comprehensive analysis of the new RT feature.

    I agree with you that the Twitter crew has taken something that was working and in trying to implement it as a feature, they took a lot from it. But it’s no surprise since they have a track record of doing that now.

    Look at the @whoever thing users started doing. Twitter changed the way it works a while back so you could only see @ replies from people you’re following if you were following the other person too. For me, I loved that user-invented method of communicating because I could see and discover who else my friends were talking to that I may have been interested in following also.I made some great contacts and a couple of clients and friends too. Then it was gone.

    Ah well, the ‘majority’ of people using Twitter will love the new ‘feature’ and we’re not the majority.

    To this day, I still don’t like canned green peas, even though as a kid I was told I’d like them.

    • (Addendum to my comment above. Not talking to myself. I swear!)

      Maybe someone needs to whip up a greasemonkey script to hide that retweet thing. And while they’re at it, a script to hide that annoying slide-down thing that covers up the top nav after you’ve deleted a DM or saved settings.

      Who told these guys the new ‘features’ and other unnecessary crap would be a good idea, anyway?

      • Yes, I hate that slide-down thing! Especially when I go to someone’s profile to block them, and I can’t get away from the horrible porn avatar (I don’t want to see Britney doing that) easily because the Home link is covered up by a freaking floating layer.

        • I you click on the slide it disappears. my impatience finally paid off. I just wish other annoying things would go away as easily when I click on them in frustration.

          Maybe we should do a protest as a group or some such thing. Like no tweeting for a day. Or adding a #noRT tag or something for a day? #justsayn

    • For what it’s worth, I actually like the new way they handle @-replies. I don’t want partial conversations cluttering my stream constantly. If my friends’ friends are that interesting, I should see enough RT’s or @-mentions (or @-reply hacks) in other tweets, and THEN decide whether their conversations will add more value than pollution. (Otherwise I would have had to killed our social twitterfly @LisaBarone by now …)

  24. I just literally got the new RT feature two minutes ago when I refreshed my browser tab. And there’s a whole blog post here telling me how much it sucks before I’ve even used it.

    That sucks.

    I’m not saying I won’t think it sucks after using it, but people are already saying they’ll block my RTs if I even want to test it out? That’s more than a little disheartening.

    Yes, it is totally lame that we can’t add a comment to a RT. I can see that without testing it out. But all of you got to play with the new toy already, and some of us are only getting the chance now. You tried it, you hate it. Can we please play a while before we come to the same conclusion?

    • Can we please play a while before we come to the same conclusion?

      I don’t think anyone has taken that right from you. Just sharing my own views. If you’re not looking for spoilers, don’t turn on the TV.

      • No no, I mean the people who say they’re going to block RTs from those of us who just got the whole RT thing. I mean, if we try it out, we’re going to get blocked by people we know and love… so the whole point of RTing something to share with the rest of the class goes out the window. We’re being discouraged from giving it a go at all. Ya know?

        • I don’t like it… you only need to put a spoonful of chili powder in your mouth once to know you don’t like it right? I don’t like strangers in my stream. :)

      • Christina: I think if you try it out and the person you annoy actually knows and loves you, they probably won’t block you right off the bat. If they do…well then they probably don’t love you as much as you had hoped they do. :p

  25. Apparently Twitter thinks I am incapable of handling the power of their mighty useless web based RT feature.

    The rationalizations put forward by Ev and others are really as poorly thought out as the feature itself. If they wanted to add some sort of discover feature to the web based version of Twitter, add some little tiny blurb of dialog that is clickable under the actual Tweet. Perhaps I am being ignorant but does anyone ever really click on the “less than a minute ago” thingy’s which miraculously take you from the persons tweet in your timeline, to a stand alone version of the original tweet. Seems to me that fantabulous waste of space could have been used for something like “discover xyz on twitter” when a person is re-tweeted. Which perhaps could take you to instead of their timeline a search of their most re-tweeted messages or most clicked on links? Even those ideas are barely useful but certainly less of waste of space and confusion-less in the scheme of things.

    • I have, on occasion, clicked the “less than a minute ago” things when someone has a “super tweet” and I can’t read the whole message in my timeline. It’s NOT convenient.

  26. I’m going to argue the Pro side to a point. The new retweet is a work in progress, moving in the right direction, because of a software concept called “first-class objects”.

    A “first-class object” in a software system (known as “reified state” in the higher pay grades :) has a unique name, an identity and behavior. Retweets, as important user-visible objects, deserve these properties.

    Here’s why Lisa’s concerns are not objectively dire:
    – “Puts strangers in my stream”: Since when did Twitter become a gated community? Most Internet successes use the power of serendipity. Seeing the avatar raises my curiosity about someone who posted something useful enough to be retweeted by someone I follow. It also helps me recognize sooner when it’s time to unfollow someone who retweets junk. But I still get to choose any relationship with the original tweeter.

    – “I can’t add my own commentary”: This is a prime missing feature that makes new retweets a work in progress. Because of the object thing, a comment feature has to be done right. There’s a simple, elegant proposal by “angiasaa” to the article at http://tinyurl.com/yl6789w.

    – “Takes away visibility in my own network”: Well, what’s more important, the message or the messenger? Twitter can extend this simply with a pull-down listing everyone in a person’s network who RT’d the tweet. There’s your notoriety. :)

    – “Excludes [retweeting protected accounts]“: No argument there, this is a silly omission that blocks info and does little to “protect” the original tweeter.

    – “They changed the definition of retweet”: Yes, retweets are now first-class objects. They are no longer free-form messages with an inconsistent relationship to the original. This will make Twitter data easier to propogate (see search deals); make Twitter more efficient, due to less replication; and remove the noxious RT @… overhead, allowing users more space to commment. When comments are supported, as they must be.

    It’s misleading to say that only 6% of users like the new retweet. 6% like it “as is”. They are probably the ones who couldn’t be bothered with RT @… and the editing in the first place. Another 50% (I’m one) say it’s a start but needs work. 44% is a lot of resistance, but Twitter is facing new requirements. It will meet them with modern software engineering that brings benefit to all stakeholders.

    Thanks for reading, anyone!
    twitter.com/livecut

  27. What keeps going through my head is the old cliche, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Twitter’s creators seem to be continually distracted by new, shiny objects and fail to focus on what matters. It’s like painting the house before you put the roof on. Why do we still get so much spam and so many phishing scams? Why do we see so many avatars that should only be displayed on porn sites, and that are violations of the TOS? Why does the API act up at least once a day? Why do I see Fail Whale five frickin’ times in one day? I guess you’re not supposed to bitch about stuff you get for free, but damn. They’re reducing the value of it before they even get to the monetization.

  28. Well having thought about it, I’m a little less pissed. It’s a temporary inconvenience for me. Since the new Retweets don’t show up in Seesmic, I will be missing them, but most of the people I want to see RTs from will likely not be using it anyway.

    But also, Twitter has already shown the power of the masses to influence how it operates. As I understand it, both the @ and the RT just sorta evolved. Maybe the hashtags did too. Plenty of people hate the new one and will continue to use RT. And if Twitter does something dopey like try to force people into the new Retweet, then we’ll start using something else (I suggest FU) and someone will write an app that accepts that, and pretty soon the new RT will be FU.

  29. @Tim Wood – your “puts users in my stream” perspective is flawed. If I don’t know the avatar or name of the person that shows up, I don’t trust them. If I have to look to see the tiny little “retweeted by” text, that’s a serious user interface flaw.

    Your “takes away the visibility” perspective is also flawed. The functionality has it now that if one of the ppl I follow ReTweets, then another does, I apparently won’t see the second. Or third. If the first comes in at 6AM, and I don’t sign in until 8PM, I will have missed what five of my trusted network of tweeters gave a vote of “worthy” or “important” to.

    The simple fact that they did not properly beta test this massive change validates the view that @Ev and @Biz are once again taking unilateral action without fully understanding the consequences. THAT is a serious business model flaw.

    They stabbed us in the back when they changed the @reply functionality and we lost the ability to discover new followers from our existing network.

    This step just twisted the knife.

    • Alan-
      We just differ on the stream question. If I want to pre-vet followers, I can protect my acct. I’d rather see new info, then decide. A drop-down RT-er list would answer your issue substantially.

      On the visiblility point, I see & read diff. things. To my experience, *each* RT of a tweet re-posts the original tweet in my timeline with the *updated* list of RT-ers. So I always see the original tweet as of the *most recent* time one of my followers RT’d it.

      It’s a tall order to expect someone to know all consequences of a decision in advance. That’s why we have “emergent” behavior. I think Twitter has thought beyond what it has delivered, but we don’t often have the luxury of waiting for a “complete” solution. That’s how you lose opportunities.

      As for the knife imagery, you’re overwrought. All the drama around this misplaces the energy of capable people.

      • COrrection:
        > as of the *most recent* time one of my followers RT’d it.

        Should read: “as of the *most recent* time someone I follow RT’d it.”. Sorry.

      • I’ll accept that we have different perspectives which both hold merit. Especially the concept of a feature being able to evolve over time.

        In regard to my being “overwrought”, I stand firm in the belief that a company with millions of followers is that much more obligated than most to use the Beta testing model. It’s the only responsible path. They used it for Lists, at least to a certain degree. So why did they skip that process with the ReTweet?

        Either a business has a built in methodology for new features that holds true to industry best practices or it doesn’t. Twitter does not. Those of us who believe in the importance of such concepts will always hold accountable those companies that have the financial capacity and depth of users, to take the same view but fail to do so.

      • Making unilateral decisions without taking into account the needs and feelings of those who use your product or service the most can be catastrophic when it comes to building brand loyalty. Once users believe you don’t care what they think or that you don’t value their opinions, what reason do they have continue advocating for your brand?

        “Delay is preferable to error.” – Thomas Jefferson

  30. I might be in the minority, but I like the new feature. It tucks nicely next to the reply button and it keeps sharing tweet around simpler I think. No more chains of RTs that are meant really as backscratching more than real sharing. How many people jumping in with those with huge numbers of followers actually follow the links and read the content and care to share that?

    I also think the opportunity to share followers you think others might like with your followers is cool. It makes it more of a commitment to do the RT and your followers will be able to jump in to their streams when you’re in to them, rather than waiting for something like a #FF rec.

    A RT wasn’t something new before. It was a RT. That was the definition. You can still copy/paste a tweet with the @name in front and add your commentary. What’s different? Ego. That’s all.

    Peace,
    @vinylart

    • This isn’t about ego. It’s about trust. I don’t care if my followers see my avatar when I retweet, but a lot of them do. I do, however, care that my ability to add my own commentary has been eliminated. Just because I retweet something, doesn’t mean I agree with it. Sometimes I want to call “SHENANIGANS!” and the new retweet “feature” prevents me from being able to do that.

      Instead of simply incorporating a retweet button that would function like the retweet button in TweetDeck or a host of other third party applications, Twitter chose to bastardize the very principle behind the retweet. Imagine your friend heard a funny story on the subway and instead of calling to tell you about it himself, he had the person who originally told the story call to tell you about it. Would you enjoy that? I wouldn’t.

  31. Great post! I completely agree with you, Lisa. In fact, I sent the exact feedback to them yesterday and today! I likened it too, to unlocking my door and finding strangers in my home. I don’t like it at all.

    Have you also noticed that now when you copy & paste the RT to use it the “old” way, it adds 2 blank lines and you have to backspace 4 spaces and add 1 space to line up the Tweet now after the username? Bizarre.

    Excellent and simple way would have been to click on ReTweet and have the tweet automatically pasted (w/username) in the window so we can comment & condense as necessary. Very simple. Here’s hoping they tweak the ReTweet feature!

    • This copy/paste bug is a regression and truly annoying. They used to leave no space between name and text. Then copy/paste started working as you’d expect, name text. Now this junk comes in. It’s a symptom of the global Twitter problem of mixing control info and data together, which is what the new RT is beginning to solve.

  32. Just used the new RT, and I have to say while I don’t think it “sucks”, I *am* a bit disappointed. While I don’t have to worry about The Limit, it *does* mean that RTs exceeding 140 get cut off. Has anyone else noticed that?

  33. Interestingly (ok, not really), the new RT’s don’t carry on to Facebook for me (the ones I create by hand do go there), but they do go into the Twitter app in LinkedIn, where they display as a traditional, handmade RT.

  34. It quite shocked me the part where you say “people I don’t know”… I mean, it sounded like you really know (in real life) all of your followers, which, if true, I guess you still have a lot to discover in Twitter :). (guess most probably I’m wrong).

    Everything else sounds good; I feel like having one new option when it comes to RT :), I use the one I consider better for each occasion…

    • it may sound crazy that I “know” all 400+ on Twitter that I follow, but I feel like I do. Even if I haven’t had a beer with them, I “know” them from the Web. I’ve had conversations with them or I’m very familiar with what they do. So when I see someone I don’t know suddenly appearing…it’s actually quite jarring. You’re right in that not everyone uses it that way, but…I do. So I can only speak for myself here. :)

      Do you really think there’s a situation where you’d benefit from using the “official” over the “manual” way? I’m curious.

  35. I think this was a beautifully written post for 3 very distinct reasons:
    1 – Don’t take away my microphone.
    2 – Don’t make me seem less trustworthy.
    3 – When did what you care about start to be more important than what I care about?

    The fact remains that the quicker ability to RT instantly becomes suck when I cannot add my commentary or as you described it, sauce. Damnit don’t tell me I can’t have an opinion on something. If I want to aid in someone’s shine, let me say “she f’n rocks #forreals.” If I want to call someone out like it’s a Comedy Central celebrity death match, then let me do so.

    Things are supposed to get easier and cleaner. You’re supposed to shade more towards Facebook – simplicity, than MySpace – huh?

    This is just as much about my personal ego, as it is my personal trust factor. You are making me look less important and less trust worthy. How in gigabytes green earth do you not understand that Twitter? So you’re taking away both my microphone and my name tag?

    I don’t want to have to search for who I trust is re-telling me something. I’d rather shorten “you must be joking buddy” to “u must b jokin bud” to save on characters, then have pictures of people I don’t know or don’t care to know infiltrating my stream. I follow whom I follow for a reason. Thanks, last time I checked that’s my choice.

    Or wait….are you taking that away in the next update?

  36. One more Bad thing about the new Retweet function. It makes it too easy. Folks are using it to RT abundantly, rather than selectively.

    One good thing: it solves the problem of fitting a RT into 140 characters without having to edit. And the tweeter’s name still lives in small type underneath.

    But that’s the only good thing I’ve found. I agree with the rest of your comments on the issues.

  37. Amen to this post. Took the words right out of my mouth, and I made these exact points when sending feedback to Twitter about the button. Ev’s explanation is an arrogant crock, and the last person this button is for is the user.

    As soon as they force the button on everyone, I’m switching to Tweetdeck.

    • Why wait? You should switch to TweetDeck anyway. I forget what tweeting was like without it. :)

      I’m so not looking forward to TweetDeck bowing to the will of Twitter and making their RT button work like the new web UI does. I will find another 3rd party app. Surely one will have the balls to leave the original retweet procedure unmolested…

  38. I used the new retweet feature a couple times today and also didn’t like the way I couldn’t add my own little comment to it. Why is that? It seems that I should be able to easily do that and that it would be one of the things they automatically added to the feature.

    Also, the random out of context tweets from people you don’t know are just darn confusing. Is Twitter going all “Arrested Development” on us? In other words, can I expect a three episode arc featuring Charlize Theron as a special needs person that makes no sense and robs every ounce of magic from something that was once so cool and fun?!

    Mixed metaphors aside, I still like Twitter and it’s still fun. Just hoping not too much more happens to tweak my experience there.

  39. Well said. I can’t really add anything to the article OR any of the comments here, other than I really fuckin’ hate the new feature. Sent in a feedback that I’m sure will be ignored just like everyone elses.

    Thank god for apps…as long as they’re not forced to change the feature as well. If they are, this could be the death of Twitter, because it’ll be even more like any other “look at me I’m popular” social site already.

  40. Pretty sure Twitter’s plan is working, add a feature everyone will hate so they will abandon the web interface. Focus on the API, let 3rd party apps fight for users, and give the recovered bandwidth to Google and Bing ;)
    Job’s done!

  41. There were sure a lot of comments to this idiot bloggers “Glenn Beck” way of scaring people about the new RT feature. Why is there such a big push to dislike this? Because people with a lot of followers all they do is RT. And I’m not talking about real celebrities I’m talking about the celebritwitterers. It’s hard for them to justify their false numbers mostly in part because of automated accounts. So in order to keep REAL peoples attention they randomly RT just about anything the figure would be interesting so long it’s can be appealing to everyone (politically correct). Their lack of creativity and originality is what make Twitter non-sense and full of spam.
    It just took me a couple of seconds to figure it but for old people your defense for lack of brain cells capable of problem solving is equal to a crying baby at store wanting his momma to buy him candy. Please STFU! Move on.

  42. So a couple weeks ago at the Rethink Hawaii conference VC’s and start up gurus were encouraging developers to actively screw with their users and remove and change features just to find out what people really think is important and what they really love about a product.

    Any chance that is what Twitter has just done?

  43. Isn’t Twitter, at the core, about using it THE WAY YOU WANT TO?

    That’s why I focused on this part of @ev blog post about the
    new re-tweet functionality:

    “Keep in mind, there’s nothing stopping you from simply quoting
    another tweet if that’s what you want to do. Also, old-school
    retweets are still allowed, as well.”

    So, I will *choose* (if I don’t find the new way helpful after
    more testing) to go back to “business as usual”.

    No big deal. I still follow only 40 people. Don’t auto-follow
    anyone back. Don’t use auto-DM. All because…

    “That’s How I WANT TO Use Twitter”

    You don’t?

    Cool! :-)

    Dr.Mani

    @drmani on Twitter

    P.S. – My #1 reason to like the new feature? It’s ONE CLICK
    easy!

    (Oh, ok, you nitpicker you – two clicks… but still, EASY!)

    • Not cool. Because I don’t get to choose how I want to use Twitter. Because if someone I follow decides to use the new retweet function then THEY’RE PUTTING STRANGERS IN MY STREAM. It doesn’t matter if I use the feature or choose to ignore it. Their actions affect me.

  44. Beta grabbed my account today, so thank you for this Lisa. Awesome to see it got around on Twitter too.

    I know it’s a free service and that I can try other apps, but this is reminding me of FB, and why I use it with one eye looking over my shoulder. I don’t *trust* FB, they do whatever they want, without care to users.

    Now Twitter is starting to feel the same way. I didn’t care how many times that fail whale came down, I still trusted them to do their best with what resources they had. But going in and manhandling the emergent community in this way, big no-no and you only have to read around here enough to see why.

    Who knows how they’ll pay attention, but they asked what I think about the new feature, so I just sent it off:

    I really do not like seeing strangers in my Twitter stream. And when I disable the function for a particular user, there seems to be a lag time before it goes away. Now much of my time on Twitter is spent trying to undue what the new feature changed on my account.

    Guys, Twitter is awesome, a game-changer, and a world-changer. You know this. You know how powerful Twitter is, and can continue to be. But you need to listen to the users to keep this up, and to take it even further (http://outspokenmedia.com/udc). Don’t make the same corporate mistakes that Twitter makes increasingly transparent every single day — no, every single second via every single tweet.

    I love Twitter and I’m grateful for how much you guys have already changed the world. Thanks for receiving my feedback, and I do hope you listen to it.

  45. I don’t like the new feature either, although I use Seesmic and so rarely see it. But I was checking it out on the web interface today and yuck! I don’t need strangers! I want to clearly see who thought it was worth retweeting to their followers. If I like it I can check out the person who posted the original tweet on my own, thanks.

  46. Hi Lisa,
    I think your arguments are a bit overreacted… I like the new RT feature. It’s just a microsyntax being promoted to metadata.

    You say: “It puts strangers in my stream”
    Think about it. The retweeted strangers ALWAYS have been there in your stream. Before the RT feature, they were shown as part of the tweet. Now they are shown as first class authors. Which it seems right, considering the RT as “a simple act for replaying or copying another user’s tweet and giving them credit.“). Philosophy of RT is to spread a message from someone; I don’t care who is the retweeter (as long as she’s in my network, which it is).

    You say: “It takes away my ability to add my own commentary”
    Again, from the same microsyntax page above: “RT is a way of quoting or forwarding someone else’s tweet, usually verbatim.“. Despite the word “usually”, I think a retweet should be an immutable object. Chris Messina himself, the author of this microsyntax, says in a recent blog post: “sometimes you want to give credit to someone [...] for something they said or linked to, without quoting them verbatim (which is what RT or “retweeting” is for, in my estimation and use)” and proposes additional microsyntaxes. Take a look at /via, maybe that’s what you’re looking for if you want to share another user’s tweet, but at the same time adding your value. Besides, how many cases have you experienced that you simply can’t RT the whole user’s tweet AND adding your comment, because of the 140 chars limit. So: leave RT for a clean, untouchable, verbatim copy of a tweet, and use via or another keyword for replaying content+giving credit+adding value.

    You say: “It takes away my visibility in my own network”
    Come on, Lisa! For ego incentivation we already have Facebook! :) I don’t think Twitter is about ego, beginning from the fact that you can follow but not necessarily being followed. RT doesn’t add value or reputation: if you are in my network and you just retweet things, you have no more value than an RSS aggregator to me.

    You say: “It excludes people who want to play”
    Ok, I don’t have a strong position on this one. But I think that if the user has chosen private tweeting, he wants private tweeting. Anyone of her network spreading her tweets to the outside world is not playing nice with her.

    You say: “They changed the definition of retweeting”
    As I clearly stated before, I think they not only did NOT changed the definition, but they made that definition stronger.

    LK

    • Spot on here. Some of the criticisms presented are slightly over-wrought. Especially when this is an optional feature*.

      If it puts an end to the huge RT: @1 RT: @2 RT: @3… lists that I’ve seen, I’m all for it.

      *Except for the fact that THEY PUT STRANGERS IN YOUR FEED! – well, put a picture where there used to be a username…

    • Luis,

      VISUAL PROCESS
      Some of us are visual creatures. Not everyone crunches data as their method of interaction. As a result, the avatar is the first line of my knowing who sent it to me. Now I have to pause longer to see the “retweeted by”. But in the mean time, I already feel intruded upon due to the visual process. It’s a human nature thing – built into our DNA and that’s not going to change.

      VALUE
      You say “RT doesn’t add value or reputation” that is far from true for many of us. I start following someone, and over time, if the links and RTs they provide improve my life in some way, then that tells me this is someone to pay more attention to, and appreciate more.

      VISIBILITY
      Yes, it DOES take away my visibility in my network. In the business world, for those of us who care about such things, my name being associated with providing added value is MASSIVE. This is NOT about ego – it’s about building brand identity over time. It’s how we become known and build reputation and trust.

      • Hi Alan,

        You make very interesting points. However, and considering myself a visual creature too (I would say: specially!), I don’t see why anyone should feel intruded for seeing a strange avatar, when we all know for certain that *every* tweet in our feed must come from one of our contacts. Do I really want to know who RT’d what? Ok, yes, maybe I want, and that’s why I still can see the retweeter. But, is it more important than the tweet itself and it’s author? I already know about the retweeter, and I already consider herself an interesting person to follow — I wouldn’t be following her otherwise, right? On the contrary, who is this strange person, who said something that my trusted contact considered valuable enough to RT? Do I like what he said? Maybe I want to know more about him.

        I insist: Twitter is not Facebook. I see Twitter as a communication tool more than a social networking tool. I use Twitter to learn a lot and to be updated of everything that happens in the worlds I’m interested in. I’m interested in the tweets. I’m interested in the persons too, of course! But once I’ve added them to my network, I want them to help me know more interesting people.

        I admit you’re right about the value of the RT, let me rephrase myself: “RT doesn’t add THAT much value or reputation to the retweeter”. Yes, it adds some reputation, but I still think that the original author deserves my attention if had one or more users that RT’d him. Check out the Whuffie Bank (http://thewhuffiebank.org) if you still doubt about the value that deserves the original author.

  47. Yup, it definitely looks like most folks need to move to something like TweetDeck, which I use, so you don’t have to worry about this particular change.

  48. Lisa – kudos for taking a stand and speaking out!!! Oh wait, that’s what you do. hehe!! Seriously, I’m right there with ya on the part about not being able to add my $0.02. It’s the #1 reason I’ll rarely ever use the new Twitter RT feature. I’ve gotten into the habit for some time now to add my comment in [square brackets] at the end – otherwise, I think it makes the RT kinda bland. Like, “here’s something I found but I can’t be bothered making my own comment” and just tossing it into the pond. So, granted, we can choose to RT the “old-fashioned” way (heh!)… ;)

    @marismith

  49. Correct me, but can’t you still RT manually from the Twitter app and get the same results we’ve always had? Granted, the only way I knew how was laborious.

    Or use your favorite 3rd party app. I like Tweetdeck for the computer and Twittelator Pro for the iPhone.

    I think if Biz and Ev and anyone else at Twitter with less than 2 or 3 letters in their name will get the drift when 90% of RTs are same as they ever was.

  50. Here’s precisely why I’ll simply stick to good old TweetDeck. :-) The web interface has generally been annoying me ever since the number of my followees exceeded 100.

  51. Honestly I am baffled at how much so many people dislike the new retweet feature. On the other hand, the people that are against a feature are always louder than the ones that like it and say nothing.

    Anyways, I LOVE the new retweet feature. I love the fact, that I can now retweet 140 character tweets super fast and easy. Or any tweet for that matter. I like that convenience and I like the fact that I don’t have to cripple a long tweet when I retweet it.

    Who and what is stopping any of you to use the old RT if you want to comment??? For just simple retweet purposes the new feature is BOMB.

    So people show up in your timeline that you don’t know. All of those are marked with the retweet symbol so you can see it was a retweet. All in all its just retweets and not more foreign tweets will show up than before. Remember RT retweets are also foreign tweets showing up in your timeline just with an avatar you know.

    Besides if you want to comment on a tweet you can also use this format: Comment Re: linktotweet.ly

    Big ups,
    Kahlil

  52. Oh dear. Over reaction or what?!

    The whole point of the Re-Tweet function, surely, is to highlight to others a tweet you happen to enjoy, or recommend, or find funny, or…well, “like” ? To go off on a mad rant about the thing is to miss the point entirely. “It puts strangers in my stream” sounds like a fair misunderstanding of how Twitter actually brings people together (you ever used TwitterFall? )

    Honestly, things like Twitter are not worth the amount of irate bile you’ve used in this post!

  53. Regarding the loss of editing rights: to me it isn’t about simply adding “wow” or “cool” (which should still be allowed) but about being able to disagree or add a quick observation that adds value. Sometimes I want to take half the other person’s tweet away because its extraneous material they’ve added and because the shortening of the tweet would increase the chance of the Retweet being Retweeted which, of course, is supposed to give me credit.

    Example: A few days ago Twitter automatically retweeted a tweet about the Pacific Garbage Patch that had a spelling error from the OP that I had wanted to change + I had wanted to remove a sarcastic comment the OP had made “Nice going guys” directed at mankind for having polluted the ocean. I didn’t think my corporation needed to be making any sarcastic comments, thank you very much. But Twitter *forced* me to make that sarcastic comment in the automatic retweet.

    I won’t be using that function anymore. The problem is it blocks PowerTwitter’s decent Retweet plug-in. :-(

    Be prepared for more corporate faux pas as managers are *caught* for expressing opinions not appropriate for their companies…opinions that Twitter quasi-forced them to make by not giving them the option to send a tweet the way they would want to.

    Ev seems to have misunderstood the psychology (purpose) of retweeting and the control we want over the process. Twitter needs to just work with the PowerTwitter plug-in people to allow an RT button on the Twitter.com webpage to create a Retweet ready for EDITING before publishing. PowerTwitter’s plug-in for Firefox was a Godsend until the new Twitter beta destroyed it and made Twitter life so much harder for me, temporarily, this week.

  54. Hi Lisa,

    funny that all these things you think are bad I welcome.
    Finally I can see who wrote the tweet and have to search for the originator. I see his avatar and know more than only the Twitter account. I like to get to know new people and I like to see new faces!
    You still can add comments by doing a retweet the old style. Nobody tells you can’t go on RT @someone …
    Of course it takes away your visibility if you only retweet other tweets. So maybe you should think about tweeting some original content!
    Of course you can’t retweet protected tweets. There is a reason that someone protects the tweets. Who said you have the right to make protected tweets public?
    And sorry Lisa, retweets at the beginning were only the original content only. Lateron people began adding or changing the content. Finallly I only have the original content! So often I read retweets that had different meaning from the original tweet, because words were omitted or changed!

    So Lisa, all these “bad” things I see as very positive!
    And it is clear people complain. You complain because you have to find some topic to write about! And some users complain because they want everything as it has been. Please no changes! So funny that most people I talked to like the new retweet function!

  55. Lisa – I have been following your tweets and would agree that the new RT function could be better.

    I do believe however that this seems to be good for businesses looking to get in front of new customers. If someone were to RT a business tweet, it would be great for the businesses avatar to appear. With rumors about twitter looking to monetize off of business accounts – this seems like a possible reasoning for how this new function works?? If that were the case, it looks like they put businesses (and $$$) before their user experience. :(

    Would love your feedback Lisa!!

  56. By the way, I was referring above to the concept of retweeting a tweet that has a link to a good article or blog posting. That is where there is leeway to shorten the lead-in and remove extraneous comments (I tend to delete “wow” and “check this out” and “awesome”). This editing is normal across the Twittersphere and, out of maybe 1000 RTs, nobody has ever gotten angry with me about their content being altered. People tend to find RTs to be a major ego boost and reasonable edits are accepted as part of the Twitter culture.

    At the same time, twice in six months someone RT’d me and ruined the message with an unfortunate edit. But they still gained more loyalty and points with me for having paid attention in the first place. :-)

    Obviously, if someone makes a standalone tweet with no link, one faces a higher standard of editing than when they are linking somewhere with their tweet. But, even then, it is part of the Twitter culture (and business culture in general) to have control of what we send out.

  57. Surprisingly enough, with all the right-on-ness this post does provide, you missed what might be the most telling explanation for this feature: perhaps @ev and crew are actively trying to drive off the Tweeps with a brain, in favor of the mindless reflex-buying masses. More analysis on this at my latest bloggage.

    • No, that post tries to be clever but misses the entire point. At least when I’m snarky I’m typically on the money. That post is just throwing shit hoping someone will notice.

  58. Your post reminds me of a story about one of my nephews, who was warned as a little boy “never talk to strangers” — and after thinking about it, said, “If I never talk to strangers, how will I make any new friends?”

    One of the best things about Twitter is its greater openness compared to other social networks; it’s much easier to “meet” new people on Twitter, and that means being introduced to strangers.

    The new retweet functionality improves my Twitter experience, because it’s like getting an introduction at a party or a conference. The focus should not be on the introducer, but on the person being introduced. Let’s face it, there are some Twitterers who do nothing but retweet all day and don’t produce anything original on their own. I don’t think that’s entirely fair — the new RT method ensures appropriate credit is given to the original source, which to me keeps RTs more honest.

    If you want to respond to or frame when retweeting, you can still do it the old, manual way. I haven’t seen the RT comments functionality, yet, tho, and am curious to see how that will meet this need.

    Nevertheless, I appreciate and agree with your underlying claim for the value of curating one’s follow list; if folks are thoughtful about who and what they retweet, the new faces in your stream will be helpful suggestions, not surprise invaders. Thanks for the post and discussion!

  59. I feel 140 characters is a bit too restricting, so I hope they’ll allow me 20-30 more…

    I don’t think the new feature is evil, but it goes against the core Twitter experience because the way we’ve all done retweets is as central to the medium as the 140 characters. What “sacred cow” might be threatened next?

  60. I held off commenting until I had some time to use the feature and see if I came across any high quality new people to follow. What I’ve seen so far is endless RTs of quotes (if I want positive quotes I’ll read the f’ing bible) which have led me to profiles that appear to either be automated or worse. Not likey the new RT feature (but I do like lists).

  61. Another authentication problem is that there are no doubt people who we follow that we trust more than other people we follow. Not knowing who sent the link can send you to places you don’t want to be or asking ‘who sent this S***?’ It’s all about trust and context, which is what the retweet feature has lost.

    And while I didn’t think of it before reading this post, this move does seem to be pandering to Google/Bing/etc and real-time search.

  62. Obviously written by a long time Twitter- and I agree on all. I especially don’t like that I can’t see my RT in the stream, either. Maybe if we all ignore the button they will remove it due to lack of use.

    • Cathlyn,
      Because the new “feature” is built into the web interface, the vast majority of web users who are oblivious, and most assuredly, most “new” users will simply be sheep to slaughter. Playing right into the hands of @Ev and @Biz.

  63. I agree with the article Twitter Ungets It Yet Again:

    http://macmudgeon.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/twitter-ungets-it-yet-again/

    If they want to invent an LT = Like This, then their new function could be that.

    But an RT is another beast. An RT is supposed to get the Retweeter most of the credit. It is unfortunate that Lisa made the point about “seeing strangers in the timeline” (not the least because of the blog posts making fun of her fear of strangers) because the converse is the real problem – Lisa’s contacts make RTs so Lisa will like them or know them and their causes/businesses better. Few people do things purely altruistically in this world. Clicking “Like This” on some media is an exception…but RTs on Twitter were never altruistic like that.

    Twitter should rename this “LT” and introduce a button for RT that works like Tweetdeck and other apps do by giving you a chance for a last-second edit before clicking Update.

    There was no need to invent the wheel. What could have gotten into @Ev’s mind that Tweetdeck and the apps had it all wrong with this? You don’t fix something popular that isn’t broken. Nobody is going to RT stuff from Pepsi to help Pepsi become more famous. The new invention is not what people know as “RT”. It is “LT”.

  64. My personal view of the new retweet button is that it lacks in personal connection, although an easy option for those unable to type in ‘RT’…

    I have used it a few times, but it is not my favorite twitter tool (as of yet)

    Perhaps if there are a few upgrades, allowing us additional space to make a comment would help personalize the social networking experience in Twitter.

    It is a twitter tool, and there are many twitter tools out there, all optional for use.

    If the ability to manually type in RT is taken out and we are unable to make any type of comments, in my view, this could create a potential future problem.

    Overall, as long as the previous option remains(to manually type in RT) and there is a possible fix to personal connection through the RT button, it could be dynamite for marketing.

    Social networking is about connecting….that should always remain top priority.

    My thoughts :)

    -I have been online enjoying social networking since 1992 when compuserve first gave birth to text chat. I had to hook my atari up to a modem that made odd noises, pay about $80-100 a month just to access their live feed of scrolling text among 300-1000 global users(not sure if anyone recalls that lol)

    in all that time, if a personal connection between people is not present, it generally falls to the wayside…I would love to see a personal option for comments added to the retweet button.

    Blessings and thank you for the opportunity to comment.

    Gem

  65. You know, after reading more comments on the whole “foreigners drinking coffee in my kitchen” argument, it occurs to me one of my favorite aspects of Twitter is the fun of discovery: discovery of other perspectives from new voices outside my stream.

    Some of the most worthwhile people I follow are people that I found by looking back to see who posted the original tweet, or by looking at other people’s streams to find interesting voices, etc.

    You still see the person who RT’d the post– so now you see the “stranger’s” icon and name up front. Hmmm. Not so big a deal. Same info, different format. And this person comes into your kitchen, to borrow a phrase, from someone in your stream… again, I usually trust the people I follow to have views that are of interest to me… otherwise, I probably don’t follow them.

    You really view a stranger’s icon in your stream like they’ve come into your house unvited? #seriously? I’d say protect your tweets if friends can’t invite friends to your party.

    As for the matter of not being able to add comments to an RT? Totalitarianism. Fascism. Whatever it is, it’s an ism and it sucks. And I’m sure they’ll add it in as soon as they get their next installment of that last $150,000,000 infusion.

  66. There’s a new “pro” article here: http://funsizebytes.com/post/249185992/retweets

    One scary thing in this article I had not heard of until now: “DELETE THE HEAD AND THE TAIL DISAPPEARS. If the new method of retweeting is used…” it is only necessary to delete the original tweet “… and all of the retweets will disappear too.”

    So it’s now much easier to kill “offensive” news. Hmm… Who is really behind this “feature?”

  67. If you don’t have something to whine about, you don’t have a blog! Come on, a lot of us are bloggers here. It’s true.

    I’ve been on Facebook since it opened to the non-collegiate public. The whining after every change, begging for the old Facebook when the old Facebook was once the “new” Facebook and something they previously hated has gotten tiresome. It doesn’t matter what changes or if it’s an improvement. People are going to freak out.

    They’ll create countless fan pages and groups protesting the changes (the irony). They’ll protest and claim to leave. Then Facebook keeps growing. Then the people stick around and learn to love it, but will never admit to the overreaction.

    I’m new enough to Twitter to witness the first Facebook-like freak-out here, and it’s much of the same. Twitter changes the way its obsessed users interact with the service. Users freak.

    There are lots of reasons this is an improvement. And I think many are overreacting to the negatives (like strangers showing up in your stream, even though they were already there before — just not their pictures). Also keep in mind that this is only phase one. You’re likely to get comments back, and Ev has even said that’s the case. Patience.

    Or not. Freak if you want. Then quiet down when you’re used to it. Then freak out again when they change it down the road, begging for the “old Retweet button.”

    Either way, it’s entertaining. So it makes for a good blog. Continue!

    • Glad it’s entertaining Jon because guess what? If we didn’t raise a stink, changes that occur on most large sites where those changes address user concerns would NOT take place. Big sites or services often completely ignore users. Yet not always. Facebook actually made a number of changes because of the outcry. Was it perfect according to everyone who raised their voice? No. But it was a semi-fair compromise process.

      While most of us don’t expect things to go our way just because we speak up, NEVER underestimate the ability of people who raise a concern on such a massive scale to result in a positive impact.

  68. I like that you now have the option. You can use the old RT for some kind of situations and the new for others, and you can block retweets from a person or globally, you couldn’t do that before.

    And for my #abookduct collaborative writing experiment, this new retweet is gold. Too perfect. As if it was custom-cut for my account. It’s all about your intent with sharing a given tweet and which retweet applies best to it. In the future we may be able to attach a comment tweet to a retweet as well. Twitter’s still simple for whoever wants to keep it that way. For those of us who jumped in on TweetDeck and the such, though, features like this make it that much more flexible.

  69. I’m with you all the way on the RT “feature”. Commentary is critical (another instance of Context is King).

    It’s been interesting reading the comments (here and elsewhere) though. They really do highlight the diversity in twitter users, and what and how they expect their experience to be. People really are strange :-).

    Seeing the avatar of the original poster is jarring, but it does get your attention!

    Based on replies I doubt that twitter will change anything though. I still suspect that it has more to do with trying to control server capacity (that is obviously at the limit) than anything else. I’ll keep cutting and pasting my SMA-RT’s (as coined by @DenVan).

    cheers, Andrew

  70. Haven’t read all the comments, but had to add a major kudos to you! This is a best summary of everything that I hate about the way Twitter has implemented their version of ReTweet. I don’t dislike change, in fact I love innovation and new ways to do things – especially online – but this change is for the worse and completely ruins the RT effect.

    I agree that we will start to ignore these “strangers” randomly appearing in our streams!

  71. A lot of folks have commented that finding unfamiliar avatars in their stream is offensive. A few folks have insisted that it is not. It seems to me that here, as with the classic economic definition of value, “a thing is as offensive as people find it.” I fail to see the grounds by which any one person can insist that something is not offensive to someone else. You’re entitled to your own sense of (non)offense, of course, but you can assert until you’re blue in the face that this doesn’t offend someone else, and you’ll simply be wrong.

    As to the degree of reputation bestowed by RT: my two favorite followees (@timoreilly, @ravenme) have gained that position almost 100% on the basis of their retweets. In Tim’s case, his stream is almost 100% retweet, so I venture to say that essentially all of his 1.3M followers judge him by his retweet value. When I see Tim’s avatar, I know three things as surely as I know my own name: (1) It’s a retweet, (2) it’s worth my attention, (3) and it probably will link me to someone I ought to at least consider following as well. But if I first see the unfamiliar face … what do I know? For this sort of reason, actually, I have already publicly begged Tim not to use the new feature (not that he ever yet had).

  72. Here’s what I lament, at least on initial inspection. I don’t necessarily recognize who the retweeter is without seeing their icon. That icon is a visual cue that permits me to mentally identify and rank my perceived value of the tweeter/retweeter and their tweets/retweets, and therefore, makes skimming easier. Some are more likely to hold more value to me than others, thus I pay more attention to them while glancing quickly at others. I remember that distinction most readily by the icon, not the account name. So I find the change incredibly disorienting.

    Frequently, that mental measurement of an author’s value is entirely contingent on how I’m feeling at the time or how much time I have to skim the tweets/retweets, and therefore I don’t think they can be universally determined by a sorting mechanism that relies on consistent categorizations. I’m wondering if some of the disagreement about whether this change is good or bad stems from differences in how one’s brain processes information.

    Also, I don’t think simply reverting to doing it the old way myself solves this. Unless I can convert the new-style retweets from others into looking like the old format, I’ll struggle with the issues I outlined. (I do know the sky is not falling so I’ll live; I’m just sharing thoughts. Obviously, as others have suggested, it may get better with revisions, and I can always go seek a third-party solution.)

    • Rick

      I’ve touched on this exact issue, because I’m a visually oriented person. And no algorithm, formula or other logic based rationale will ever change that. People who argue against that concept are, obviously, NOT visually oriented, and stuck in a logic circle jerk.

  73. Another downfall of the new retweet that I haven’t heard many people mention is the fact that if you @reply, it goes to the tweet originator, rather than the person who retweeted it.

    So, if you want to reply to the person doing the retweeting, you must either visit their profile directly and reply to another of their regular tweets or manually input @username – both of which render the “in reply to…” functionality useless.

    And the hits just keep on comin’…

  74. In addition to the issues you cited in your post, I also don’t like the fact that when I use the retweet button, the items I have chosen to retweet don’t show up in my Twitter feed on my blog. I know that some of my readers are not on Twitter, and I like to give them the additional value beyond what I write (insights that people tweet about, links to interesting posts/articles).

    Initially when I tried to do the “old-fashioned” retweet on Twitter, I got an error message on my blog’s Twitter widget. When I removed the retweets and resubmitted them via HootSuite, it worked. What a pain!

  75. well i agree that it puts strangers in your place/in your home screen but it isn’t retweet, and it is great because if one has protected tweets then why should someone retweet those things and yeah via and RT are still there if you don’t like retweet, the new retweet is just a big “like” and i love it but not in the way it puts strangers in my feed but don’t we love some strangers oh come on we do like and comment stuff that was liked/commented by our subsciptions in freindfeed and not that it is out freindfeed is super twitter

    and someone saying twitter to learn from MySpace or Facebook seems strange for keeping things simple i would say facebook might be but who says myspace is simple it is the best clutter on the web
    http://www.scripting.com/stories/2009/11/19/theNewRetweetIsCool.html

    and yeah Lisa i came to this blog/site for first time today but i am yor follower do read content on twitter but never followed you from there
    it is good how great you all girls team is doing good work

  76. OK so i like the fact that re-tweet shows how many other re-tweeted but i agree i want to be able to tweak the text… i can only use the new re-tweet is i totally agree with the whole message not just wanting to pass the link forward… its good that username doesn’t take up space anymore but aside from that i agree i dont like the new re-tweets if you are interested i also blogged about beta testing retweet and my thoughts on it

  77. I was an early requester of a RT button almost as soon as I joined Twitter in 2007, but had they bothered to ask, they would have heard something like this: “Yeah, I wanna retweet without having to re-type, ’cause that’s hard to do on a hand-held but definitely want to be able to edit it myself.”

    FAIL. Yeah, we’ll get used to it. Or ignore it. Or some bi-polar combination of the two. But now we know. Now we know that you know better than we do about what to do with Twitter… from a users perspective.FAIL.

    Still, we love you, Twitter.

  78. “They’re putting strangers in your stream.” Meh. They were already putting stranger’s words in your stream, possibly with a short comment, usually not, since many tweets are near 140 characters in length. You’re jarred by the avatar of the person who actually twitted the words one of the folks in your network felt were worth repeating. Just doesn’t seem that bad. You might be meeting someone new who isn’t a puppy-killer or a serial rapist but is actually someone that might be your friend one day. Way to go negative.

  79. I think most are agreed that the “strangers in the stream” issue is irrelevant – most professionals have a standing search going on where tweets will automatically appear if they mention certain keywords.

    However the “Loss of Credit for those in the RT Food Chain” and “No Ability to Edit” issues still loom large and I am shocked Twitter hasn’t been pushed to rename this a Like This (LT) function while introducing a real RT button.

    I noticed that Twitter does give credit to everyone in the RT food chain if the original tweeter goes to a special “Retweets” page to look at statistics.

    But this new function does not give viral public credit to the people who retweeted something before you…unless they were smart enough to do a real RT (SMA-RT) in which case your Twitter Retweet will have *their* avatar because they would count as the original tweeter.

    We who workaround this are getting retweeted with our avatars :-)

  80. So long twitter been nice knowing you. Seeing strangers in my time line is just plain offensive. Was a real shock today when I saw this, was like my account had been hacked.

  81. A stranger called me on the phone once. I was offended and violated. It was such a shock that I had to move to a different city.

    I’m sorry, folks, but it just seems like this is a lot of drama over not that much of a big deal.

  82. There is also this reason too:

    I have Twitter set to change my Facebook status so I can RT cool/helpful articles for my Facebook community to see that don’t necessarily follow the same people I do on Twitter. The ReTweet button doesn’t update your Facebook status.

    I still do it the old fashioned way: RT baby :)

  83. Sorry, couldn’t be bothered reading comments 16-182 so this may have already been said, but if so a point worth re-iterating… I suggest that you need to see Twitter as two separate things, an underlying infrastructure and then secondly their own web interface which is just one out of many clients that can be used for the service. At an infrastructure level, they have added a new feature that didn’t exist before. It doesn’t take away at all the capacity to continue to RT as you did before.

    Most of your criticism is however about the way these new RTs are presented—with the icon of the original tweeter rather than the person who RT’d them. This is solely an interface design issue, as far as I can see—there is nothing whatsoever to stop another client application from instead prominently displaying the avatar(s) of those people you follow who have RT’d it, with only a smaller avatar say of the original tweeter. That way, it becomes essentially like the current RT except you could have an (potentially optional) avatar of the original tweeter. In this scenario, the only thing that has been lost is the ability to add commentary to your RT. IMHO, it would have been much better if the new RT functionality allowed an easy explicit link between RT and commentary. This could immediately be done in a subsequent tweet which the client app could tie to the original one in your interface, probably through an “in reply to” type link (may require be able to use the existing “in reply to” functionality in the Twitter API).

  84. I don’t really like retweet either but I am curious why this article is so anti-retweet yet just to the right of the headline you have a retweet link.

  85. @Dan – The retweet link at the top of this page doesn’t do the “new-style” retweet we’re excoriating. It does an “old-style, awkwardly cut and paste” style retweet, which is what we like. What we’re complaining about is that the Twitter “Retweet” button (on the Twitter UI, and in more and more clients) does the new one.

  86. Why don’t we just keep retweeting the way we have and quit using the “retweet” feature…That is a simple, easy form of protest and it doesn’t change the user status quo.

  87. Enjoyed your comments on this topic.

    I also don’t like that when someone RTs my tweet I don’t see it on my page of Mentions, so I can’t appreciate or thank friends and fans.

    Imran

  88. I haven’t read anyone else comments yet so maybe I’m “retweeting”myself but I just copy the tweet that I would like 2 retweet into a new tweet & totally bypass all that. Since I do 95% of my tweeting from my Berry 9700 I don’t have most of these issues except for the annoying avatar retweet. BTW this message was done on my Berry

  89. I think its no good because it sort of displays a signal that twitter was out of touch with the way their platform is used, affects people, and the way in which social cred is spread (You do have my permission to tweet something using cred and spread like that. They Rhyme!). It may seam trivial but, because of the difference between account names and the actual @screennames, sometimes its just less confusing to rely on profile pictures (Which is why you should pick a good first one because it will brand you no matter what and it needs to remain static. Your Tweets change constantly but some things should just stay the same to make people comfortable. Wow, that could be a whole nother thread and I’m still typing in parentheses). Looking over at the profile pic of the person who is retweeting rather than being retweeted in my own experience, and I’d hypothesize many more folks are the same, lends a great big deal of credibility (or the other way around!) to the person being retweeted. So basically the face I know, by retweeting the guy I don’t know, is actually doing the guy I don’t know a huge favor by propitiating his own credibility. Think of it as “crediting cred”. Otherwise, if there are unfamiliar looking faces in the little square pictures to the left of 140 characters of pure distilled eloquence, then it doesn’t really matter to me what those characters say, it just appears to be spam cluttering my otherwise carefully tended twiter-garden.

  90. Do people actually still care about this anymore? More than, like 100 people?

    People who like the old way will just use “RT.” It turns out the world didn’t end. And my Twitter stream is much more productive now that certain retweet over-sharers are squelched, yet I still get their original content.

    Twitters new RT was an improvement, because it introduced more choice. I guess some people don’t like it when others might chose to do things a different way, but that’s progress.

  91. Not getting the avatar of the person sending the retweet is particularly annoying. This needs a rethink!

  92. Today I had to search the Internet for instructions on how to retweet and still be able to write my own text! I do not tweet that frequently and the first time I retweeted was using the RT button. I thought “Hey, isn’t there a box where I can add some text of my own?”
    I agree. The retweet button sucks.

  93. I would just put it simply and say that Twitter sucks! …in real life, because if you have a life then why waste time tweeting away!? …in business – now thats a different story ;-)

  94. I get value from seeing the retweeter’s avatar. It tells me what kind information is probably in the retweet. I can scan my stream for tweets that are likely to relate to what I’m focusing on at the moment based on who passed it along.

    I’ll be using the old style RT. I want my followers to know what came from me, for the same reason I want to know who RT’d the stuff in my stream.

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