A quick thought on retweeting

Networks, Theory, and the Web — Sean Bonner @ 11:40 pm
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Earlier today a friend posted a link on twitter that I wanted to pass on. If I was in front of a laptop I would have simply retweeted it, however I was out and about and reading twitter on my iphone via tweetie. I didn’t see a retweet option like I have on tweetdeck, and since there’s no cut and paste on the iphone passing on the link was next to impossible. So I posted a feature request asking for retweet on and iphone app, and it was quickly pointed out to me that tweetie already had it. Well, sort of.

Instead of using the standard convention that everyone already uses for retweets which is:
RT @username: original message

Tweetie has their own take on it which is:
original message (via @username)

This is kind of annoying, but whatever, it serves the same purpose so cool deal. I echoed the requests of some others that tweetie change this to the standard convention at which point Jay pointed me to this post – “RT vs Via: Round 2.” In this post the folks that make tweetie argue that while it’s very clear that most people use RT, and that everyone keeps asking them for RT, they aren’t going change via to RT, or even add an RT option at this point simply because they don’t like it. That’s fine, it’s their software so they can decide what features they want to include or ignore but I think making a post about how you know everyone is using something a certain way and they are begging you to get on board with it and you simply won’t do it shows a huge amount of disregard for your users. If tweetie was just some random free app that would be one thing, but it’s not, everyone using it threw down hard earned cash to get it. It’s no secret that ignoring how users want to use a service in favor of how you think they should be using it is a bad call. That’s arguably the magic bullet that killed friendster and textamerica and made way for myspace and flickr. There’s nothing saying you have to like how customers are using something, or even that you have to use it that way yourself, but limiting their ability to do it or making them jump through extra hoops to do it out of spite is kinda, well, ill advised.

That said, there’s a few places things can go from here. Someone else can see the need for this feature and copy what tweetie is doing exactly and simply add this one new thing and I promise tons of users will jump ship for that. If there’s one thing I’m sure of it’s that iPhone users are very loyal to the apps they love until something comes along that makes things easier and then they are as fickle as it gets. I’ve lost count how many twitter clients I’ve had and dropped for something better. I think tweetie is hands down the best twitter client for the iphone out there right now, but tweetie with RT would be better and I’d switch in a heartbeat if someone built that.

That’s one option. The other option is the folks behind tweetie (or folk, I’m not clear on that) stop being stubborn, realize that people want to use something a certain way and make that easier for them to do. If they are so hell bent on “via” being better, they should keep it as well, but adding the RT option should be at the top of their todo list.

The thing is, I get what they are saying about “via” allowing you to add something original and unique to the tweet while still giving credit where it’s due but I’d argue that if that is the case “via” and “RT” aren’t the same animal and shouldn’t be competing for the same space. When I post a RT, frequently it’s because I want to point people to someone elses idea. I think they said something interesting and I want to pass that on. Editing that idea to make it my own is counterproductive and actually kind of lame. Sure if you are just passing on a link (as I wanted to do this morning) then adding your own context can be good, but with only 140 characters to play with, often the non-link part of the tweet is a simple description and there’s not much room for customization. Sure in a perfect world everything everyone ever wrote would be interesting and unique, but the fact is a lot of people don’t have the time or ability to do that, and just want a quick easy way to share one persons ideas with another group of people and RT makes that painfully easy to do. I’d love for tweetie to add this feature, but if they don’t I’m pretty confident someone else will. The fact that the discussion has progressed to round 2 I think makes that pretty clear on it’s own.

UPDATE: Looks like RT will be added to the next update. Awesome! Thanks so much tweetie!!

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4 Comments »

  1. Yes, this. I am totally in favor of the providing-an-option option. Sure, the group of people I follow doesn’t tend to RT often, but it’s my mistake if I ignore how popular it is. I wonder whether “vias” will increase noticeably as a result of Atebits decision for Tweetie, though. What’s Tweetie’s share of the iPhone twitter market?

    Comment by Jay — January 28, 2009 @ 11:55 pm
  2. Solid post my friend. Retweeting has become a huge part of Twitter. Just yesterday I asked what types of things people retweeted and got some good feedback. I’ll have to check out Tweetie.

    Comment by Clintus — January 29, 2009 @ 2:47 am
  3. I hate retweeting. Eff that noiseeeeeeeee!

    Comment by Erica — January 29, 2009 @ 3:04 am
  4. [...] was immediately psyched. I’ve been a fan of retweets for a while and one of the main reasons I’ve continued to use TweetDeck despite it’s [...]

    Pingback by Some thoughts on Twitters new ReTweet feature — November 11, 2009 @ 9:57 am

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