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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sam Freedom to Twitter - We Have a Problem Here...!

twitter,social mediaI discovered a problem with Twitter a while ago. I just figured that it either wouldn't affect most people, or that it was too minor for anyone to care. Add to that, Twitter's "bug reporting" doesn't seem too readily available or easy to use.

This Problem with Twitter is as Follows:

Somehow, some way, Twitter is capping the number of followers who will appear in your DIRECT MESSAGE dropdown menu.

Normally, you would reply to a direct message by clicking on its envelope icon. But, as some of you know by now, you sometimes get a message saying,
"(So and so) must be following you in order for you to send them direct messages."
But, you're absolutely certain they ARE following you! Even the "D NAME msg" attempt yields the same result. The only workaround is to visit that individual's Twitter homepage and click on their "message" link.

Why Does This Happen? And Why Does It Matter to Me?

It probably happens due to scalability concerns. In other words, it would probably be a logistical, and resource, nightmare for Twitter to populate everyone's "direct message" dropdown box with every single one of their followers. Some people have 1000s of followers and if you multiply that times all the Twitterers a-twittering, it could be staggering.

Instead of populating the dropdown boxes with all those names, they just trust you'll have the ingenuity to find your way over to that person's homepage "message" link. Inconvenient? Yes. End of story? Probably...

So Why Does This REALLY Matter to Me?

Well, right now, this Twitter problem is nothing more than a mere inconvenience; although, across the broader spectrum, it will, initially, leave a lot of people scratching their heads. But the real problem is the potential for all kinds of "unintended consequences."

Take, for example...

tweetlater,twitter,social mediaMany Twitter users now appreciate the value of Tweetlater. It gives them the opportunity to do things like "autofollow" and send "welcome messages" to new followers. It gives the option to send a welcome message privately. Twitterers use this option for several reasons:
  1. They don't want to seem obnoxious sending multiple public auto-tweet welcomes;
  2. It gives some of the more ambitious users an added way of directly inviting new followers to their blogs and sites;
So, one can be under the impression that all the new followers are getting private welcome messages but if the cap on the "direct message dropdown" box has been reached, are they getting those messages?

Currently, the answer is yes. Maybe, and this only a guess, because Tweetlater sends the private message via the "message link from the follower's homepage" pathway and not the "D Name msg" pathway from our private message area. But, that is only a guess.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, as stated before, the inability to tweet direct messages to new Twitter users past a certain, unknown, amount, seems, currently, to be nothing more than a minor nuisance. But as more and more 3rd party applications, and all their clever users, come into play, what "unintended consequences" might there be?

For the average person, perhaps none other than a chronic case of mild confusion. But, to the business owners, corporations, political candidates, conglomerates, and, so on (e.g. CNN, Barack Obama, McCain, etc), it could result in serious loss of potential.

Take a look at this list of 3rd party Twitter applications and see if you can envision any problems this "minor inconvenience" potentially presents.

Sam Freedom"s Internet Marketing Controversy Blog

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