August 3, 2008
5 reasons why I hate Twitter
Well good day folks. I’m back on Twitter, did you hear? How exciting and nice of them to fix things! I’m so thrilled to be back. I’m also considering where I may decide to move to now… I’m considering a move.
I’ve been using Twitter since February 2007. During that time I have accumulated 1,516 followers. That’s 1,516 people who find some form of value or entertainment in my tweets, thanks guys. I have posted nearly 9,000 tweets on Twitter. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been that active! It seems like just yesterday when I was celebrating my 8,000th tweet.
The following are five reasons why I hate Twitter, but before I get into that I should also give you five reasons why I love it. What’s a tweeter to do?
Top five reasons why I love Twitter:
1. Immediacy. I was among the first people to know about the earthquake in San Jose last year and in Los Angeles the other day. News travels quickly on Twitter. A kid was saved from prison in Egypt, because he was able to tweet that he had been arrested, the community instantly kicked into gear to quickly find him a lawyer and get him home.
2. Social. An example of this was during SXSW. I had had enough of the parties and wanted to spend a relaxing quiet night out for dinner. I tweeted to the SXSW attendees (using the #sxsw tag) and within minutes Kris Smith replied. I now consider Kris a great friend with great taste in Austin Italian restaurants!
3. Human Search Engine. Who needs Google when you have Twitter. A friend and I were stumped when we saw an actor who’s name we couldn’t place. We snapped a shot of him and shared it with Twitter, and within minutes we knew who he was. That story here.
4. Relationships. It’s remarkable how many people I have met on Twitter who I now consider close friends. It’s on Twitter where many relationships are created. I’ve presented about the way it’s very difficult to B.S. in 140 characters or less at PodCamp Toronto and PodCamp Nashville. You need to find the perfect words to explain yourself, there’s little room for embellishments. So you can get a true sense of a person after only knowing them for a few tweets.
5. Back Channel. Go to any tech conference and you’ll see the majority of people using Twitter as a way to communicate when a speaker is in session. At SXSW we tweeted to each other how ridiculous Sara Lacy’s interview was with Facebook’s Matt Zuckerburg. At Gnomedex last year a presenter was talking about alternative energy. His presentation skills lacked a little, so attendees took it to Twitter to better explain what the speaker was talking about, it was incredible to witness.
Of course my main love for Twitter is the Community (bonus #6), I believe everything above is a part of the Community. Without the people there would be no Twitter. I don’t love Twitter, I love the people on Twitter who make it such a vibrant place to be. I don’t love Twitter, I don’t even like Twitter at the moment – I may even hate them.
Top five reasons why I hate Twitter:
1. Stability. Those who have been using Twitter long enough will remember those cute kittens with screwdrivers. That was a sign that Twitter was down as they were “doing an upgrade”. We patiently waited for it’s return, so we could get back to the conversations we were having. As Twitter became more popular the kitten became an upside down bird, here’s a video I shot last year about it. Now it’s the Fail Whale. The only thing Twitter has been consistent about is changing it’s down time animal, and well, it’s down time.
2. Management. I’m not looking for love, I have plenty of it from my friends and family. It does irk me a little that @ev and @biz have never bothered to follow me back, or at least recognize some of the things I’ve done proclaiming my love for Twitter. These things include:
- Made my business cards Twitter themed
- Created a video to celebrate my 8,000th tweet
- Designed a fun t-shirt
- Created and co-host The Nothing Show, a comedy show based solely on Twitter tweets and celebrating Twitter users
- Did a presentation on branding with Twitter at PodCamp Nashville and PodCamp Toronto
- Created a video screencast on Twitter for newbies, so I could help new folks understand and join the community
All of these things and no recognition from Twitter.
3. Suspended. This is the cherry on the hate pie for me. You can read my recent posts about this, but basically I was wrongly suspected as a spammer and subsequently had my account suspended. Picture having your email service provider suspend you from your email account without warning or explanation. Think of all of your contacts now unavailable to you, consider all of the on-going conversations and not being able to access them again. This is how it felt.
4. Communication. When Twitter recently received 15 Million dollars in additional funding they categorized their service as a “communication utility“. Why then could they not communicate to their users why their accounts had been suspended suddenly without notice? Instead, it appeared as a joke to it’s owner Evan Williams, who was enjoying wine and pie while some of his most loyal users were panicking:
It took about 24 hours before we had any response from Twitter on why our accounts were suspended, and even then we still had no *real* explanation. I do appreciate Jason Goldman, Official Twitter Rep, for reaching out on the Get Satisfaction page which we were all monitoring by the minute. However, I was not impressed when I received a “form” message from Crystal at Twitter. I replied to her and never heard back. Lastly, there was no mention of this on the official Twitter Status page or blog.
5. Apology. Take my email analogy and consider how you would feel, or as if someone took your personal journal and address book and refused to return them. I felt terrible during this experience. While Jason did apologize to us in his Get Satisfaction post, the apology was coming from the wrong person. This happened to eight of us: @tibbon, @pfanderson, @conniecrosby, @narain, @skalik, @marjarpanic, @abrudtkuhl and I (@davedelaney). Surely it would be easy enough to send us a quick tweet apology Evan?
It’s been a wild weekend for me. I’m still undecided whether I’m going to remain a user on Twitter. I really want to thank everyone who helped this weekend. I found I was getting most of my news on Plurk, which is another micro-blogging service worth checking out. We should also consider identi.ca as a rocking alternative to Twitter, because it’s Open Source and functions very closely to the way Twitter does. You can also follow much of what’s going on on FriendFeed, for some reason I’m just not there loads – yet.
The stability of Twitter hasn’t really improved. Over the last year I have had followers be disconnected from following me for no reason and vice versa. The fail whale is still showing his ugly head too often, as is the Twitter maintenance page. The management clearly don’t know how to communicate, even though they have created an incredible communication service (when it works).
I’m undecided what I’m going to do. I still see a lot of value in Twitter, but it’s flaky stability and lack of customer service make it a service I can no longer fully trust.
UPDATE: What I did with my Twitter t-shirts.