09 Sep 2012

Why killing tweet source is a bad idea

Twitter is pulling the tweet source entity from their official clients. Well, at least, I have noticed this in the Android, web and some other apps. They sure have their reasons for this (obviously part of the 'no third party clients' move). I however think it is a bad idea.

The source entity simply tells you a tweet's source - a web app, mobile app, desktop app, a service, etc. While this may seem an unimportant piece of info, it has its uses.

Discovery

Tweet source helps you discover new twitter services, apps and clients. I have personally discovered a couple of apps by just checking out strange tweet source in my timeline. Well obviously, this is why twitter is removing it as it poses competition threat to their official clients.

Device grouping

The source can help sort your timeline into device groups. For me, I know which of my friends run on Blackberry, ones that are on iOS, the others on Android and so on. I can as well deduce a couple of things from this. When are they mostly active on web? When do they switch primarily to mobile? Who are the ones that run on mobile web clients? If I'm offline and need someone to help me check out something on web, who do I quickly buzz? If I have a quick question about my android phone, who do I direct it to? Who can help me test a Blackberry app I'm working on?

The Adjectival clause

Source describes a tweet. If I see a post from Buffer, I know it's automated. It doesn't mean the user is online at that moment. If it is a link to a post, then it is probably not a post that is few minutes fresh. If a friend posts "Good morning" and the source is from IFTTT (one actually did), I know I don't have to reply as he might still be in bed when that was automatically posted.

While it is probably no good hoping twitter will bring it back, I can only hope that

  1. They don't remove it from their API
  2. Other clients don't kill it as well (many are already)

My name is Opeyemi Obembe. I build things for web and mobile. You should follow me on Twitter (@kehers).