Things engineers (should) know
Twitter tries to add and keep users with bad product design
Twitter is trying every trick in the book to get new users to stay on twitter and existing users to keep using it. Their team has taken a few pages out of Facebook’s book (“Facebook’s book” — that sentence was doomed the moment I started it). One of those involves showing users popular tweets they have missed since their last login. That’s how it should work, at least. And yet I often find myself looking at tweets under the headline “while you were away,” when I haven’t been away at all. Half the time, I’ve already seen those tweets.
Clearly, something is broken here. Best I can tell, I get shown a collection of old tweets when I haven’t opened Twitter in a while on a specific platform. Nice idea except not having used Twitter on my iPhone in the past 2 days does not mean I haven’t used Twitter at all in that time. I’m a frequent user of Tweetdeck, twitter[dot]com and Twitter for iPhone. All 3 of these platforms are owned by Twitter itself. And Twitter shows me up-to-the-minute recent logins from all 3 platforms under my account. They know that I used Tweetdeck 5 minutes ago, 12 minutes ago and 30 minutes ago. But when I open Twitter for iPhone later today, I will be shown 4 tweets ‘I may have missed’ that I already saw and ‘unseen’ notifications, of tweets mentioning me, that I have replied to.
“I often find myself looking at tweets under the headline “while you were away,” when I haven’t been away at all. Half the time, I’ve already seen those tweets.”
Despite complaints to Twitter, it has become obvious this is not changing anytime soon so I’ve been opting to ‘see fewer suggestions’ of tweets I may like, for months now. And Twitter keeps showing me suggestions. The issue here is so simple, I can’t believe I have this problem at all. Twitter engineers definitely know that people use Twitter with more than one platform. It’s the whole point of providing multiple platforms. But somehow they’re fine with this product design, which is baffling.