As you may or may not have seen, Twitter’s had a rough go of it from its users (including me) over the past couple days as a result of how they’ve handled the backlash from their “small settings change” which removed the option to handle reply filtering. The rough go’s well-deserved, too, as Biz Stone on the Twitter blog cycled through explanations — a no-no! — first calling the reply filtering option confusing and then attributing the sudden removal of the feature to a technical limitation. Then, Biz blogged a change to replies that potentially made the feature even more confusing. I’m not going to get into those gory details; Marshall Kirkpatrick has a good writeup of the changes at ReadWriteWeb (disclosure: I do design work for RWW part-time [including the graphic in the Twitter post]). Finally, Biz set the record straight, acknowledging the communication failures of the preceding day, explaining that the removal of the feature was both a decision relating to user experience as well as technical and scalability issues (the technical issues apparently demanded a sudden removal of the feature) and a clear plan on how to restore similar functionality.
I’m cool with this explanation. What befuddles me is why Biz didn’t acknowledge it was a technical problem in the first place — I suspect this would have been taken far better if he’d done that first. What’s done is done, and I’m eager to see if they can build out a scalable feature which helps meet the needs of the 3% who strayed from the defaults. (The 3% revelation prompted a little fun from Robert Scoble on FriendFeed; thus, the image above, which you can get on a t-shirt if you want.)
Again, though, I’m feeling a bit better about things now. I miss the increased firehose of my timeline, but at the same time, I’m growing a bit used to not seeing all the replies, and that feeling like I’m missing something is waning a bit. You know what else? It’s nice to know that everybody has uniform settings now. I actually feel better about sending replies to users in public than I did before, because I have a tendency to reply in public a lot and thus would come across as noisy to those who were early adopters or had set the settings to full-blast. Now, I don’t have to worry about that. If someone really wants the noise, @s and all, there’s my FriendFeed, which is honestly better for conversations anyway.