Written by: Terry Van Horne | November 24, 2009
This post was started right after the ReTweet changes were made… alas before I could finish the RT was rolled back and releases out of Beta! Believe it or not I was continuing with the 3 Stooges theme from the Twitter Lists post for the dev team… in fact the video is a Stooges Classic “The Plumbers”!
Twitter Tries To Change Retweets, Doesn’t Get The Social In Social Media was pretty condemning of “the boys” basically saying they didn’t know their audience. MilwaukeeSEO did consider both sides of the story and did defend “the boys” to some extent.
I think Twitter do in fact know their users all too well. When researchers came to the conclusions they did on the RT changes then Twitter’s dev team with even more data anticipated we’d skirt the new rule. The structure of the new RT is basically to facilitate something new which I’ll go into more later.
Why Change the RT?
Below are excerpts from a blog post by E.V. Williams explaining the RT changes. I’ve added commentary after some, others, I felt either didn’t require comment or don’t deserve a comment cuz they are just smoke and mirrors intended to deflect criticism!
Attribution: Agreed! Authors deserve recognition for writing and RTers deserve recognition for their part in the sharing. The most important outcome is credit for authors of posts. I agree there is still a negative for the RTer who may gain new followers based on quality of their shares.
Mangled and Messy: The only part that made real sense here is that people are faking recommendations. This is not good but… it still doesn’t ensure this stops it does provide an indication of what may be a forged recommendation.
Redundancy:of the first three most of it is semi true this is just asn addition that makes no sense. It may be a problem for Twitter search but it is an indicator of buzz and I don’t know a marketer who does not want to see it. If you want to do something constructive fcking ban #FF or allow me to stop that shite!
Let’s face it: Some people over-retweet. You may be interested in what they personally say, but you don’t need to know about every link and charity cause they pull their RT-happy trigger finger on. The only choice you have today is deciding if the benefit of getting their occasional gems is worth the cost of their retweetarrhea.
“retweetarrhea”, could have come out better, but, what the other posts have missed is that it’s not “one of the boys” deciding for everyone how to deal with the problem. IMO, the Twitter Dev team are trying to kill two or three birds with one stone.
Retweets potentially reveal very interesting data. After all, if something’s worth repeating out to all your followers, that’s a signal that it’s more interesting than something that’s not (over-retweeters aside). If something retweeted by a bunch of people, relative to how many are following the original author, that’s valuable data that may help people discover interesting news more quickly. Third-party developers have recognized this and built sites to try and track this information. But it’s fundamentally hard because the data isn’t structured.
Yes a lot of data is lost through the editing of Tweets and ReTweets. Agreed the meta data is useful to 3rd party apps… but… for me it’s more like “so what I lose more data then they gain”. I lose the ability to see what my followers are RTing, what those I follow are RTing and are interested in, and who else is intrested in that topic.
Since many of these people are people I know or know about that gives me info that I can’t get from a 3rd party app. As to the 3rd party apps the ones I use seem to be able to work fine with the old RT. The rest that are complaining are just nosy and want to sell our data or use it to calculate the Influence a person has!
The Positives Provided by a Changed RT
- Protect authors tweets, not a total solution unless the author tweets it first. For blog posts co-ordination between publishing and initial tweet will be important.
- More user control of the stream i.e. those who don’t want a lot of RTs in their stream. I have never minded it because it shows me who is interested in what, to some degree it indicates who has influence and the amount of influence they have over their followers.
- Segregates the RT signal and protects them from edits. This is necessary for the next big step for Twitter i.e. monetization.
- Finally an easy way to RT on the web!
Perceived Negatives of a Changed RT
Strangers in the stream seems to be one of the reasons this RT lead balloon isn’t flying. This one I don’t get… yes there is a strange picture but it is the person who “owns” the tweet and/or is likely the author of the material.
I see it as an introduction and maybe we can stop the #FollowFriday nonsense! That is far more annoying then someone who RTs a lot. Do I really give a damn about some list of people to follow. Give me a reason to follow. I have unfollowed more for #FF BS then RTing too much!
The RTer is named, the only difference is there is no ability to add a comment if the RTer wanted to comment. Personally I often use the web interface and only about 1/3 of my Tweets contain a comment.
This feature is perfect for that the only real downside is RTer will get less benefit from the activity since the small print notation in the RT is harder to pick up. That in itself might decrease the RT volume, though, I doubt it.
What are the ReTweet changes Really About?
I think Twitter assumed their users would adapt to using the Via or just continue doing RTs as they have done in the past. The “untouchable” RT is perfect for ads as I alluded to in Twitter and the Agents of Influence and Measuring Social Media Success which was a series on Twitter Metrics in guest posts on the Firehorse trail.
The excerpt below was posted by Nathania Johnson on November 11, 2009 on SearchEngineWatch and indicates they also thought there is something else at play:
Unfortunately, this seems like creating 2 solutions for 1 problem. If you have a problem with someone Retweeting too much, why not *just* create the ability to turn off their Retweets? Additionally, if these Retweets are so unwanted, then isn’t displaying them as organic Tweets from strangers making the problem worse?
The quote above is something I noticed as well. I agree it was like two new pieces instead of just implementing what users figured out themselves. In particular the segregation of the RT signal is significant because IMO, it’s the most obvious choice for ads with the bonus of protecting authors.
In the previously mentioned Twitter Metrics articles I mentioned that Agents of Influence would be Tweeting paid links… for instance through www.ad.ly. This signal has to be segregated because there is a danger of running afoul of FTC recent guidelines for disclosure.
This piece in the NY Times explains how there are likely already ads being clicked on without proper disclosure. In fact a well known member of the SEO community started tweeting messages I am positive were ads. I immediately unfollowed. Fine if you are making a few bucks, just frickin tell me before! Don’t try and sneak it into my stream. That’s just being an ungrateful a$$ehole. :-)
Ads don’t work on any level if people can edit them. These fledgling ad networks are either going to pay Twitter for space or Twitter is watching and will buy the best one.
Robert Scoble did two great posts on the ad situation but I’m not so sure it’s a SuperTweet because AIUI the meta Data is already in every tweet! The posts are Twitter to turn on advertising “you will love” (here’s how: SuperTweet) and More thoughts on in-Tweet advertising.
Persanally don’t see any reason not to use the RT for ads… definitely don’t need a another signal to deal with in managing the Twitter stream! Either way investors put up $100M a few months ago, IMO, they did that knowing this was coming, not that Bing and Google were going to pay for access.
For me, to some degree the RT changes looked like the dreaded hammer syndrome” (not that one, this is a carpenters joke) i.e. when all you have is a hammer… everything looks like a nail!
I think it is a little of that, moreover, like the plumbers below we don’t call the Twitter dev team “Larry, Curly and Moe” for nothing! Overcapacity… occasionally is acceptable, when it’s weekly and systematic or the result of a DOS attack… well, in the end $Billions will/are being invested in addons and commercialization… not sure that is a sound investment… yet.
Truly this is another of those moments where you wonder what the hack are Larry, Curly and Moe thinking! Remember the one where the boys do the plumbing job on the judges house… classic Curly! Kinda reminds me of the way the DOS attacks were handled by the Twitter team.
Enjoy “the Boys” it’s a classic and one of my favorites!