ReTweets – Is Twitter Breaking Community Features
According to yesterday’s blog post, Twitter has plans to work retweets (RTs as they’re used) into the online application. According to Dan Zarrella this is a summary of the change in function, “Twitter plans to add a button to the Twitter web client that says “Retweet” that will allow you to send the same exact Tweet, withno editing, to your followers. Your followers will see the original poster’s avatar and name, even if they’re not following them, and the only indication they’ll see that it is a ReTweet will be a small line of light gray text underneath it.”
I saw a sputtering of tweets today on the topic, and I’m inclined to jump on the #SaveReTweets bandwagon. However, if we’re to assume Twitter has the interests of the community in mind, I would like to add some helpful critiques.
The image above is an example of the proposed change to retweets. The retweet button is a good idea, but here’s why I believe the “retweeted by biz” line fails:
1. This drawing assumes I use Twitter.com to read & post my tweets. Folks who are taking advantage of the power of Twitter are using third party clients.
2. The implementation shows the original poster’s avatar. When scanning through a list of tweets, I look at the avatars first then read the tweet. This ties into my 3rd point –
3. I’m reading the tweet AND/OR following the link because I trust the person who retweeted. In the image above, I won’t see @Biz’s avatar, and I’ll ignore @Ev because I don’t follow them.
4. The implementation doesn’t allow for a retweet chain. Sometimes I retweet two or three people, as I didn’t discover the thread AND I can introduce my followers to more people. For example, RT @Person1 RT @Person2 this is a really great tweet.
5. A driving factor for me on Twitter is discovery. The changes to @replies and now retweets hampers discovery of new folks. Since RTs can be ignored, I won’t be introduced to new people, and I won’t be able to introduce folks to new discoveries.
6. I’m already using some great third party tools to track retweets. Twitter isn’t adding a feature that will be helpful to me, rather they’re breaking my current workflow.
Looking at Twitter’s blog post the changes are in hand, and will be pushed on users after a trial period. My hope is that they consider how retweets have been implemented by the community before trying to reinvent the wheel.