Twitter, explain your motives to your users!

First it may sound like a small, very technical matter affecting only a fraction of Twitter users. But it boils down to much more and I’ll explain it in a minute. I already described the technical problem in more detail in two recent posts, first in German and after becoming aware that it concerns people worldwide in English. To sum it up, folks like me who recently started blogging and twittering can’t tweet under a hashtag feed if the tweet contains an URL along with the hashtag. The message only shows up for the followers. This is a nuisance if you want to get active on Twitter and/or inform users on your posts. So it affects a lot of bloggers and new Twitter users. The company simply discriminates against them.

Twitter’s explanation/excuse for this is given by @episod (Taylor Singletary) at its developers‘ forum. He writes: „Some tweets, for whatever reason or current selection strategy, aren’t indexed by search, while others are. The selection strategies change & evolve over time. The search index is not meant to be an exhaustive accounting of all public tweets, it’s a collection of tweets that the indexer indexed for searching.“ User @jihanj pinpoints the issue: „I understand that Mr. Singletary @episod is trying to explain that not all tweets are supposed to be indexed and some algorithm under the hood decides what gets in and what stays out depending on their „relevance“ to the user query. He also assures us that no one is „blacklisted“ per se and we will all get our fair share of exposure on search page if only we were to adopt best practices and be more patient. What I and so many other users above are trying to say here, however, is that we do understand that some tweets don’t get indexed, but the algorithm seems to be „broken,“ in that it is arbitrary and doesn’t necessarily promote “relevance“.“

I couldn’t agree more. I tried hard to move Twitter to explain its index policy and solve the problem. I asked Twitter’s @hilfe, @support, German market director @rowbar and the press department. Either they haven’t answered at all or they just directed me to the general lukewarm info above. This is insufficient. Twitter is a key player in communication worldwide. We the users are entitled to get a much better, truly informative and transparent explanation by a company making money by our communication. Algorithms are not done by coincidence. Twitter’s top management determines the index policy and then algorithms are done according to it. They can be changed.

Therefore, I call upon on anybody who is affected by this problem or who just cares about a fair relationship between us customers and corporations in general, to get active and write/tweet to Twitter! If you make your voice heard, you can change more things than just a company’s attitude towards its customers. But if you don’t stand up for your rights, probably nobody else will, no matter if the other side is a multinational corporation like Twitter, a government or any other large organization on this fine planet.