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Workaround for Twitter @Replies Issue

This version was saved 13 years ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Shoq Value
on May 14, 2009 at 8:43:38 pm




PREFACE  @Twitter co-founder Evan Williams recently posted that something in this "article is wrong."  But he has offered no details, and it could be some technicality, or an assertion about their intents, or something in the related articles. No way to know until he tells us. Many Twitter users have read it, and find nothing materially incorrect. 


This article was distilled from several tech-articles and tests made by several people, but if something is wrong with it, it will be changed as more is learned. It was not meant to explain all the nuances of the issue, but only what most Twitter users could do to ensure that their public replies to users were seen by all of their followers--as many always presumed that the always were.  


Because the issue is confusing and changing,  you might jump to "Background," before reading these updates.  They're intended for many thousands of people who have already viewed the article. 


UPDATE 1:  Twitter Blog posted this update.  Doesn't seem to material change any fix suggested in this document. Studying it further. 



UPDATE 2: A few of us have gone through it, and the new Twitter explanation really just doesn't seem to say much new, but merely rephrases how all of this happened--and what might happen later. The one detail not explained in first version of this article (because it really wasn't relevant), was that according to Twitter, 97% of you never enabled the "see all replies" option in the first place.  But that option has now been removed altogether, and that removal, plus a change in the default reply behavior that it governed, was what caused "this Kerfuffle" in the first place.


What this means is that most of you were never seeing "all replies" from people you followed anyway, but you just didn't realize it.  In some ways, that's almost more disturbing, as most users seem to have assumed that they were always seeing ANYTHING that their friends were saying, unless it was a Direct Message. No doubt, many will now come to learn just why they often felt they "were not getting updates others were seeing." (a commonly heard refrain)


Bottom Line: Despite many origins and explanations, we feel the conditions discussed below are still substantially true. If you want your replies to be seen by all of your followers, even if they don't follow the person you are replying to, then follow the instructions herein.


HOWEVER: The author urges you to proceed at your own risk. While many people have reviewed this content, and we all believe it to be accurate, this problem is so confusing, that only some real Twitter documentation will clear it up.  Until then, some of us find this workaround solves a problem that many people may not have known that they had.





For recent updates on this issue, follow twitter.com/shoq




For reasons known only to Twitter, their handling off @replynames is in transition from something most people understood, to a new and convoluted process that has confused almost everyone.


If you really need to real the whole weird backstory, as written by geeks who will confuse you with pointless jargon and concepts you have no use for, just start here: http://bit.ly/3cVkAAnd then if you have courage, see Twitter's blog post presuming to clear things up (kinda, sorta) here replies-kerfuffle.


If, however, you're a normal person who enjoys simple language, and because all of this will probably change before you've digested this page, then...


as of right now, all you really need to know is this: 


Twitter has changed how @replies are handled.  By default, when you click any kind of "reply" button (on the Twitter web site, in Tweetdeck, and in some other client program), your tweet will only be seen by the person that you @replied to, and only those of your followers who also already follow that person. This really upsets many of us who want--or need--to discover new people by watching who our friends engage by @replying to them.


To Illustrate:   Should  @whitehouse reply to @northkorea with a message like "We're invading your weird little country at dawn," the only people who will see that reply are @northkorea and anyone following that name.  Thus, even though you follow @whitehouse, you could miss their reply message if you never knew there was a @northkorea to follow in the first place. 


See the problem? This new and confusing policy removes the wonderful transparency that made Twitter a great place to discover people and ideas, and it's completely contrary to the spirit of most forms of social networking.  Twitter has suggested they will find a way to fix this.


But until they do, here is a very-less-than-ideal...




     If you want your followers to see your reply to someone, even if they don't follow that person:


  • WITHOUT USING ANY REPLY BUTTON:  Simply type their @replyname at the beginning of your tweet.

    There are two main downsides to this:


    • You can't easily copy the name into the input field using a single click (annoying for heavy tweeters).


    • The conversation is not a true "reply thread," so people who view your tweet: 1) cannot trace back to the tweet you were replying to, and 2) they cannot "View Conversation" using search.twitter.com Since many people do both to follow the context of a tweet, this is major PITA (click link, or just ask your granny what that means). 


  • USING ANY REPLY BUTTON:  Just use the button to copy the name into the input box. But train yourself to add a period or exclamation point in front of the @reply name. It's really annoying to have to do, and it uses up one more precious character, but after a few times, it becomes a habit.


!@shoqsmom Because I placed an exclamation point before your @name, all of my followers

will see this tweet, even if they don't follow you.


  • NOTE1:  While this makes it easy to reply, and forces the tweet to all your followers, the tweet will NOT be threaded (as discussed above). 

  • NOTE2: Simply prepending "RT" to front of your tweets has the same effect as an exclamation point.  It will be seen by all of your followers--assuming you actually wanted to retweet (copy).


     If you only want those also following a @name to see your reply to them, simply use any standard Reply button function.



If you want to sign a formal petition about this, here's one. (There are others.)




For News and Updates On The Issue



  • Follow Twitter's blog for the latest smoke screens, reversals, or policy changes at  http://blog.twitter.com/


  • Follow the #fixreplies hashtag for tweets from all the Twittervillians who want this problem fixed..NOW.


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