Hey, have you heard? Twitter is changing its Retweet feature, and everyone is complaining about it. Hubspot’s Dan Zarella says the feature “could completely eviscerate most of the value out of Retweets.” PC Mag‘s Lance Ulanoff calls it “frightening dictatorial.” And fired-up users are tweeting their frustrations en masse, tagging each missive with “SaveRetweets.”
So what’s changed, exactly? According to Evan Williams:
[new] design is simple: There’s a retweet link by each tweet and, with two
clicks, it will be sent on to your followers. The meta data (about who tweeted and who retweeted) is not
in the tweet text itself, so they never have to be edited for length.
And … you will only get the first copy of something retweeted multiple times by people you follow.
Having used Twitter’s new Retweet feature, I can assure you that it’s nowhere near as apocalyptic as some bloggers make it seem; it’s actually pretty ingenious. And bless his verbose heart, Williams just posted a 6,500-character defense–on his
blog, not his Twitter feed–that deftly addresses the three main user
gripes. We’ve summed them up in fewer words (but significantly more than 140 character) here:
But Evan, there was nothing wrong with the old Retweeting system!
organically retweeted tweets can be edited, even if the original author
is properly understood as the author, it’s not necessarily for what
they really said. Inaccurate attribution is possible in any medium. But
in Twitter, because of the character limit, it’s often necessary.
People shorten and edit retweeted tweets to make them fit along with
the extra metadata. Even when for legit purposes, that can be
misleading and unfair to the author. Worse, RTs can actually be easily
faked, which has become a form of spam, wherein well-known people are
shown to be promoting something they never twittered about.
[Also,] if five people you follow retweet the
same thing, you get five copies, which can be useful but it a lot of
noise. This comes up even more in search. Popular users can get
retweeted enough to saturate a search query. Coincidentally, as I’m
writing this I came across this:
drandakis @ev I need a filter than removes multiple RTs of the same tweet. Can’t stand it anymore…
But Evan, I don’t want strange avatars popping up in my Twitter feed!
You’re already reading the content from
these people via organic retweets. This is just giving you more
context. My experience is that you get used to this pretty quickly, and
it’s a welcome way to mix things up. If you find someone constantly
throwing people in there you don’t like, as mentioned before, you can
turn off Retweets from them (while still following their non-retweets).
And if you really don’t like it, and you only want to see what people
you follow wrote themselves, you can turn off Retweets for everyone you follow (individually). Organic RTs do not offer nearly this flexibility.
But Evan, I want to be able to edit my Retweets!
We left [that function] out of this first version mostly for simplicity. It’s
especially tricky when you consider transports like SMS where adding a
lot of structure or additional content is hard. But we have some ideas
there, and it’s possible we’ll build that in at a later date. (This
point should not be missed.)
What about those cases where you really want to add a comment when RTing something? 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. We had to prioritize some use cases over others in
this release. But just as Twitter didn’t have this functionality at all
before, people can still work around and do whatever they want. This
just gives another option.
[Images via Twitter]