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As I might have mentioned once or twice before, I'm creating my own blog software that this is using. In it, I rely heavily on Twitter - it's the way I log into the admin area to add posts and other stuff, I use Twitter to announce new posts, and have adopted Twitter as my commenting system (if anyone ever found anything I write worth commenting on ;)) I do this because Twitter has some very cool ways to work with them, saved me a lot of work, most of the system is pretty elegant.

But I do that with zero trust.

Twitter broke faith with its developers once before, in a BIG way. When they launched, they had a wide open API and encouraged the API, among other things, to be used for other clients. And some really cool apps came out, showing not just Twitter but other sources in one easy convenient list. My program of choice on the Mac is one called Socialite, which can combine Twitter feeds (multiple if desired), Facebook feeds, and RSS feeds. I treat feeds like inboxes, something to go through all when I have a chance, rather than rivers, check to see the latest stuff from time to time. It was great. Not perfect, always some quirks, but improvements were made over time.

Then came May 2011 and Twitter arbitrarily said "NO MORE". No more third party clients. No more mixing of data from multiple sources (no matter how useful that is to the users and what interesting things that results in). No more space efficient displays of tweets, each tweet must be spaced the way it's done on the website. While they didn't kill the existing third party clients, they drastically limited the number of new accounts can be used on those clients, killing any hope of growth.

This SUCKED. And while Twitter has reached out to developers with improvements to its API and advocating people use it, it continues to suck and continues to limit the ways I can use Twitter. Because of this change, a Socialite 2 was shelved, Socialite 1.0 was mothballed so if something changes that breaks it (either OS API changes or Twitter API changes), it's gone - and gone with it my morning convenient list of "everything to go through". And that may make me just give up on Twitter, because the web clients and official iOS clients just don't do what I need. (And what that does to this blog, well, I've shelved projects for less.)

I get they needed to monitize. Fine. Require third party clients to display promoted tweets in all their glory. They want some consistency in display, fine, set requirements on what much be displayed in the list, what a details view looks like. But Twitter, your clients are NOT the ideal way for everybody to read your content and forcing everyone into it just makes unhappy users - and unhappy users sometimes go elsewhere. You're also not the only source, blocking combinging your data with others doesn't hurt the other data, just makes unhappy data.

And the thing is, Twitter could reverse that. Come up with new rules for third party clients (leave out the no combining with other sources). They could earn back developer trust and make their users happy.

But they won't. They'll still make arbitrary decisions in their benefit regardless of the impact on their development "partners" and their users. And that's why I don't trust Twitter. And while I find them useful, I don't really like them. I want that to change, but it's up to them.

Posted on March 9, 2015, 8:29 am

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon

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This blog is powered by an experimental program called RSB for Really Simple Blog. RSB ©2015 by Donald Brown. Thanks to the people at Twitter for a really cool API and Dave Winer for inspiring me on this.