Massively Multiuser Feedback

There are a number of companies that have user bases in the millions and operate public networks that encourage their users to share their opinions on everything. These companies face an interesting and challenging issue which is that their users are loud and vocal right inside their product about changes that are being contemplated or that have been made. Operating a business like this presents a unique challenge and opportunity to leverage this feedback channel but not become hostage to it.

I believe that one of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s greatest strengths is that they did not let themselves become hostage to the feelings of their user base. They did what they thought was in the best interest of their users and their service. The first time I saw this was the rollout of the news feed. I don’t recall when that was but I believe it was nine or ten years ago now. The users were furious about the new interface and the revelation of “too much information” being presented and shared in it. The Facebook team hung in there and stayed the course and today the Facebook news feed is possibly the most powerful user interface on the Internet.

Etsy, a company I am on the Board of and have been an investor in for ten years now, has always had a very lively community discussion board system for its sellers (and buyers). The sellers who hang out in this community service have often been critical of Etsy’s product and policies. Sometimes these boards turn very hostile and I have watched Etsy struggle with how to both internalize and manage this feedback. On one hand it has made Etsy more sensitive and responsive to the needs of its seller community (which is a very good thing and at the core of why Etsy works) but it has at times made Etsy defensive and hesitant to make necessary changes to its product and policies. I think the Etsy team has gotten to a good place over the years on this issue but it took a lot of learning and a good deal of pain to get there.

Of course, the reason I am choosing to write about this now is the latest uprising of the Twitter user base over the algorithmic feed. The hashtag , #riptwitter, conveys both the power of the community and the hostility that it can take towards a company. 

I have been a private (before leaving Twitter’s board) and public (long after) proponent of adding an algorithmic news feed to Twitter. I know that many users and most of the hard core users prefer the reverse chronological order of the Twitter timeline. I don’t and never have. My favorite feature on Twitter is “what you have missed” and I am in love with and completely dependent on gmail’s priority inbox. For some of us, having a service surface what is most important to us is incredibly valuable. For others, it is an invasion of their control and ability to determine that for themselves. It is like conservatives and liberals. There is no right way to view the world. There are many ways and we have to appreciate that what works for some of us doesn’t work for others.

Twitter has had the technology to provide an algorithmic feed for years. They acquired a company called Julpan in the fall of 2011 which had much of the tech that was necessary to produce an algorithmic news feed. Twitter’s technology in this area is much better today than it was four or five years ago. And maybe that is why they have waited so long to roll it out. But they could have, and I would argue should have, rolled it out years ago. And, of course, they could have and should have (and will) release it with an option to keep reverse chronological order as the default timeline for those who prefer it.

Gmail doesn’t force priority inbox on its users. You can get everything in your inbox or just what gmail thinks you want to see. I prefer the latter but many don’t. 

So those Twitter users who were tweeting #riptwitter last week should chill out and understand that the company is not going to take their believed reverse chronological timeline away from them. And Twitter should both respect and acknowledge these loyal and passionate users (which Jack did) and should also have the courage to do what is right and frankly long overdue.

Finding the right balance between listening to your users and becoming hostage to them is hard. When you operate a large and public channel for these users, it is even harder. Being a CEO requires great listening skills, the ability to really hear and internalize opposing views, and then, ultimately, the courage to make the decision and go with it. That is true in terms of managing your team and your company and it is also true in terms of managing your user base.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    I’d rather have passionate users on both ends of the love-hate spectrum than users that don’t give a shit about my product at all.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Probably the most important point….

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Nailed it. I see all this uproar as a very positive sign.

    3. LE

      And in fact the first I heard of twitter was when Mike Arrington was constantly complaining because it was down.

    4. Vasudev Ram

      The programming language version of your comment – by Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of C++, a much-reviled (as well as much-liked) language:There are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses.Another:Anybody who comes to you and says he has a perfect language is either naïve or a salesman.Another, unrelated:I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.

      1. laurie kalmanson

        aaaaah, party time…Drescher and the toasterA disciple of another sect once came to Drescher as he was eating his morning meal.“I would like to give you this personality test”, said the outsider, “because I want you to be happy.”Drescher took the paper that was offered him and put it into the toaster, saying: “I wish the toaster to be happy, too.”

      2. sigmaalgebra

        Sorry, I’m not a fan of C++ or Stroustrup.Yes, I can admit that C had a role, and for some special purposes, still does.History of CThe programming language C was from Bell Labs and was documented in the now famous book by Kernighan and Ritchie in, as at…1978. IIRC the language was intended to be run on the DEC PDP-8 mini computer with just 8 KB of main memory.For anyone interested in programming now, C was badly out of date already in 1978: Why? Because by 1978 there were much more advanced programming languages on mainframes with, say, several MB of main memory. So, there was Algol, Fortran, PL/I, APL, the family of languages based on LISP, etc.; IBM had object-oriented software in firmware; and by 1980 there was SmallTalk-80. E.g., IBM’s System R, the beginning of relational database and its language SQL, was from IBM in 1974.More memory? Sure: The IBM 360/67 computer of 1967 had virtual memory and, also, virtual machine. IIRC, by 1969, the MIT Project MAC operating system Multics, with good hard/software approaches to security (capabilities and attributed control lists, still fundamental) was written in a version of PL/I.Gee, the “golden age of programming language design was in the 1960s”.So, C, in 1978? Nearly a joke.The role of C?(A) No run-time software so that it could run nearly without an operating system and, in particular, as the language for embedded software. In that sense, it was quite close to assembler.(B) Good for teaching beginning programming, from a relatively low level point of view, in academics short on money and using only tiny computers, e.g., the DEC PDP-8.(C) Good, compared to the alternatives, for software for, say, laboratory automation using, say, a PDP-8.(D) The Bell Labs operating system Unix was written in C.(E) Originally, that group at Bell Labs wanted Unix and C for scientific-engineering word processing and had some software, Runoff, no doubt written in C.Problems with CCompared with Fortran, that by 1978 was already quite old, C didn’t really have arrays; a programmer had to cook up their own; and, thus, there was no real language support for arrays, e.g., for checking subscript bounds.One of the severe problems of C was the very poor approach to handling character strings. Programmers taught string handling in C had to “unlearn what they had learned” before doing real work with character strings, and the programmers who didn’t relearn well were responsible for a huge range of security holes from buffer overflows, still in some Microsoft software not so long ago.I.e., the designers of C thought that it was really succinct, cute, and smart to say that a string was just a pointer to a location in main memory and the end of the string was denoted just by the first byte with a null character. So, when writing software, just look for the null character, say, in a loop.Bummer. Big time bummer. Totally sick-o bummer. Really hugely expensive bummer: Often in practice there is no such null character so that too often in practice the programmer’s software regarded much or all of main memory as the string. So, too often have a huge security hole: A hacker could send in some huge sequence of bytes that were, really, the machine language code for a computer virus, and the program, that looked for a null byte, would just load that code into memory and, in too many cases, execute it.Succinct and cute? Yes. Smart? No. The usual alternative? Sure: For each instance of a character string, have the starting address of the string and allocated length of the string. Then during debugging, have some code that makes sure all operations on the string stay within the allocated bytes and give a report of some kind otherwise.Sure, with this alternative, use more storage, and some of the operations on strings will be a little slower although some machine instruction sets, e.g., IBM’s 370, had some instructions that could make some such string operation both fast and safe. But, the C approach was a loaded gun with no safety and a hair trigger and, for a significant software project, a great way to shoot the project in the gut.As bad as C string handling was, when the Unicode multi-byte character set approaches became standard, the C approach was much worse.On a huge range of programming language issues, by 1970, PL/I was far, far ahead.By 1978, for scientific-engineering word processing, Runoff and related packages were soon badly out of date due to D. Knuth’s work on TeX, quite far along by 1980. Knuth had a huge advantage — he used the new Xerox laser printers that let him print arbitrary mathematical symbols and put any such symbol, at essentially any size, at essentially anywhere on a page, that is, was far ahead of the Runoff packages based on printers much like electric typewriters.Bell’s Pre-ProcessorsIn those days, that group at Bell Labs very much liked programming languages developed as pre-processors to other programming languages.E.g., Bell Labs had Ratfor, that is, Rational Fortran, which had, say, if-then-else and do-while which would please E. Dijkstra and the call for structured programming.So, write your program in Ratfor, pass it through the Ratfor pre-processor to Fortran, give the output to a Fortran compiler, do traditional linkage editing, and, get the executable program, e.g., file of type EXE.It’s clumsy! E.g., the Fortran compiler and Fortran debugging software never saw the software the programmer wrote in Ratfor so were not able to give error messages in terms of what the programmer wrote. Bummer.Well, Stroustrup developed C++ as a pre-processor to C.Well, sure, by now we have C++ compilers so get around the pre-processor nonsense.Weaknesses of C++But Stroustrup’s design for C++ remained constrained by what a pre-processor, instead of a real compiler, could do. In particular, what Stroustrup could do for debugging, memory management, exceptional condition handling, element data types (e.g., decimal arithmetic), and multi-threading were zip, zilch, or zero.For now, the worst part of C++ is its weak memory management. The situation is so severe that some wise commentators just flatly say that no one should use C++ for a large, serious software project.In particular, long in practice, there severe problems with memory leaks which were due largely to the difficulty C/C++ programmers had in managing memory, especially in the context of exceptional conditions and multi-threading. A memory leak is main memory getting allocated but, from programming errors, never freed, so as a program runs, allocated memory, and, typically virtual memory, keeps growing and growing, to absurd sizes.So, I’m no fan of C++.C++ ObjectsBesides, C++ and its objects are yet another programming style pseudo-religion. The devotees of the true faith are trying to program standing on their heads in a corner.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          C/C++ is the fabric which almost all current operating systems, garbage collected languages, databases, most used encryption layers and system level components are made of. The internet, Bitcoin’s blockchain, every router, the Rovers on mars, smartphones, you name it, all in C or C++. It is not about liking it or not, it’s like denying atoms or gravity.I would recommend every coder that would like making coding their career, to invest and get proficient in C/C++ and probably one or two scripting garbage collected languages of their choice. Of course you will cut and bruise yourself while you learn, but I can guarantee that you will never regret it and that it will pay off.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            We have no disagreement.Our statements are not in conflict.I know; I know; I know; sometimes learning really good things requires hard work, late nights, lots of caffeine and cookies, and suffering. Been there; done that; got the T-shirt, actually a stack of them.So, a lot of beginning programmers suffered learning C, especially struggling with the sparse, obscure, deliberately idiosyncratic syntax. So, they suffered. So, they assume that with all that suffering they learned something valuable. I’m not sure they did! A self-inflicted, unanesthetized, upper molar, root canal procedure (ouch!) is pain but no gain.At IBM Research, I used C to write some routines that PL/I could call to use TCP/IP.There is some C code in the code of my current startup, some I wrote, and some that is open source. There’s some more C code I wrote which is pretty good but which I replaced with some open source code doing things in a very different, and somewhat extravagant but highly conservative and cautious, suitable for long running in busy production without any problems, way.C itself is quite elementary: The hard part of C itself is just the statements to specify data types; as you know, there is a special, really tricky, part of the K&R Second Edition that tries to explain how that works. All the ordinary cases are easy, but there are some rare, tricky, challenging cases.Sure, can write++i+++++j++and lots of other triple tricky, deliberately idiosyncratic stuff if want. When write that stuff, God understands it and maybe the programmer, and, six months later, not even God.That tricky idiosyncratic syntax was heavily so that source code files could be a little smaller and could have a compiler on the 8 KB PDP-8. For crying out loud, now Windows 10 wants 11 GB of disk space just to install.In a C project for some significant code, the hardest part of the C usage is getting around its nonsense, e.g., digging into the internals of malloc and free (actually sparsely documented in K&R) and, then, writing some more code to help track, trace, etc. uses of malloc and free for help in debugging, getting rid of memory leaks, etc. And, really, need to beg, borrow, steal, or write a string package. And need some tools to keep track of the huge problem of include files.Along those lines, for C I wrote a matrix package. On a happy day I can delude myself into thinking that my package is nice — it’s not.There’s an old PL/I lesson: Lots of Fortran programmers wrote string packages. They were proud. And they were convinced that Fortran was nicely fast. Well, such a string package is even more important for C, and maybe C programmers believe that C is fast. Not so fast: For the early versions of PL/I, IBM took an approach much like that of the Fortran/C string packages, that is, called a run-time function for each little operation. Then IBM was honest enough to admit that that approach was too slow. The later versions of PL/I actually complied the string operations and were significantly faster.I suspect that objects in C++ are slow due to too much pointer chasing. The structures in PL/I are, in practice, about as useful as objects but much faster during execution — “Look, Ma, just a slightly fancy version of traditional array addressing and nearly no pointer chasing!”.For a C program of 100 lines, usually can just go as implicit in K&R. For a program of 100,000 lines, need a lot of tools to help keep track of the triple tricky stuff.When I read Stroustrup, in too many places I couldn’t get a precise understanding of just what would and wouldn’t work but guessed that Stroustrup didn’t really have such understanding, either. Some friends of mine who know C++ well confirm to me that Stroustrup’s book leaves many details of the language poorly/undefined.My guess was, to be clear on just what the heck C++ does, I should get a pre-processor version of C++ and study the resulting C code. Too soon I had much better things to do.A lot of good code for operating systems, subsystems, etc. has been written without C or C++. E.g., Multics was written in a version of PL/I — a much, much, much nicer language. The Multics-takeoff Prime was written in their tweaked version of Fortran and later PL/I.Right, IBM’s PL/I would not compile on an 8 KB machine, but it would compile on a 64 KB machine — with C/C++ we are still stuck-o with design decisions made for an 8 KB machine.ASAP, IBM wrote their more serious OS and subsystem code in PL/AS, PL/X, etc., which borrowed some syntactic sugar from PL/I and otherwise were essentially structured assemblers. IIRC, most of Apple’s code is written in Objective C. IIRC the favorite approach to threading in C on Unix was to use the Posix extensions. That is, C doesn’t have threads or coordination with exceptional condition handling or memory management.Just what Microsoft is doing with the detailed internals of the common language runtime (CLR), .NET object collection, C#, Visual Basic .NET, F#, IronPython, etc., I don’t know but I doubt it is all or heavily in C/C++.Not all code with managed memory is interpretive. E.g., managed code with managed memory is a big feature of C#, Visual Basic (VB) .NET, etc., and they are compiled and linked to, say, an EXE file. Just what versions of late binding, etc. they are doing takes some digging I’ve so far managed to avoid. At IBM our team did a programming language and a subsystem, and I got deep into memory management. One project kept a dynamic symbol table using a main memory implementation ofRonald Fagin, Jurg Nievergelt, Nicholas Pippenger, H. Raymond Strong, “Extendible hashing—a fast access method for dynamic files”. ACM Transactions on Database Systems, ISSN 0362-5915, Volume 4, Issue 3, September 1979, Pages: 315 – 344.Another project managed memory using Cartesian trees. These techniques are way beyond the memory management in C.Lesson: There can exist no always good way to do managed memory because for any 99 44/100% of the time great solution, there is a use case where it acts stupid.But for me, for my startup, for now, I just ask that what Microsoft did will work well enough for the code I’m writing. So far, okay, and I suspect that, over the horizon, still okay.I just love their managed memory — allocate stuff all over the place, although not to absurd levels, and know that Microsoft will clean it up nicely enough. So far, I have yet to free anything or write even one destructor. Yes I’m cautious enough, at times, to use their string builder facility since otherwise some really simple cases could really slow down due to the fancy memory management.My understanding is that by now there are some good alternatives to C for some cases of real-time and embedded systems. E.g., there was a lot of serious work on the programming language Ada, intended for the most serious embedded military systems.For the programming for my startup, sure, no doubt I could write it in C++; I could also write it in assembler standing on my head in the corner, but I don’t want to do that either!Yes, really, C is a very simple language — e.g., K&R Second Edition is short. A teaspoon is also simple. But digging a canal with a teaspoon is especially challenging, and so is writing significant, money making software now in C/C++.Since I’m a solo founder and 100% owner, I am free to f’get about C/C++ and write in VB .NET if I want to, and no subordinates, professors, managers, executives, or BoD members can tell me otherwise!But I’m less close to C/C++ than most programmers now because I started in programming in scientific-engineering software in Fortran, assembler, and PL/I, along with various scripting languages, macros in Knuth’s TeX, on IBM mainframes, PC/DOS, OS/2, and now Windows. So far I have yet even to touch a Unix or Linux system.Now, I’m, first, a startup founder in business, second, an applied mathematician, and, a distant third, a programmer. I’ve done much more in computing and computer science than I want; both are very important, and crucial for my business, but I don’t have much respect for either. I care much more about the applied math and the business. And I’m very glad to be far away from anything done by K&R or Stroustrup!One way to recover after thinking about C/C++: The Dimitri Tiomkin haunting, striking, gorgeous, ethereal music to the movie The Big Sky:…Then to get me back to normal, the Bach-Busoni, Chaconne, D Minor BWV 1004, by Valentina Lisitsa:…For a winter day with snow on the ground, like now, Vivaldi, Winter, as at…Ah, that should get me ready to get some more data ready to stuff into my database as initial data. Just got all I need for all the Bond movies! Did a bunch of editing with my favorite editor and, then, wrote a little macro to automate much of that work, to grab the name-value pairs I need from some of the data I downloaded.

          2. Lawrence Brass

            No disagreements, just sharing.So you carry C scars sigma, tip of the hat. I agree its not always the best tool, it largely depends on what is the problem you are trying to solve, but for system level type of things or for building libraries I believe its really hard to beat. For application level code I am not so sure, maintainability is a higher priority in that case. Mixing .net (or Java) and C/C++ may be wise, best of both worlds approach.Will enjoy the music later, when I am out of the dungeons.

          3. Vasudev Ram

            Great comment :)I was going to say roughly the same thing, but you’ve done it already. Will just add that Bjarne Stroustrup’s personal web site has (or had, some time back) a huge list of major applications developed in C++, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Same goes for C, of course. Browsers, Internet servers (web, email, FTP, …), database servers, office suites, … the list can go on and on …I’ll stop after reposting two of Stroustrup’s quotes above:>There are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses.>Anybody who comes to you and says he has a perfect language is either naïve or a salesman.

      3. Vasudev Ram

        Here’s another good one by Stroustrup, from his wikiquote page:…C makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot; C++ makes it harder, but when you do, it blows your whole leg off.And that may have led to this list:Shooting yourself in the foot in various programming languages:…I’ll just excerpt a few :)370 JCL:You send your foot down to MIS and include a 300-page document explaining exactly how you want it to be shot. Two years later, your foot comes back deep-fried.Concurrent Euclid:You shoot yourself in somebody else’s foot.Eiffel:You take out a contract on your foot. The precondition is that there’s a bullet in the gun; the postcondition is that there’s a hole in your foot.Forth:Foot in yourself shoot.Lisp:You attempt to shoot yourself in the foot, but the gun jams on a stray parenthesis.Perl:You shoot yourself in the foot and then decide it was so much fun that you invent another six completely different ways to do it.

    5. JamesHRH

      I would rather have leadership with a clear idea of what they are – when the strategy is in place, execution gets a lot easier.

    6. JLM

      .The opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. JimHirshfield

        What’s the opposite of hate?

        1. Twain Twain


        2. Chimpwithcans


          1. JimHirshfield

            ah ah ah

          2. Vasudev Ram

            eeh eeh eeh

        3. eva ricco

          here’s a good one to remember; If you don’t know~Let it GO.

      2. Lucas Dailey

        I’d say contempt is the opposite of love.Indifference is in the middle. At least according to this guy:

        1. ShanaC

          he’s a very smart researcher, though don’t neglect his wife who totally helped all of that

      3. ShanaC

        not vocal doesn’t equal love, hate, or indifference. speaking on something, being an active user, are two very different

        1. JLM

          .You prove my point using silence as the proxy for indifference. Isn’t indifference usually silent?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. ShanaC

            no, you can be an active user who never talks with a game product, per say. (lets pretend its candy crush saga – your most profitable, most active, and most likely to talk aloud about candy crush may not necessarily be overlapping groups)

          2. JLM

            .You have a promising career ahead of you as a politician — you picked some other question to answer rather than the one I posed.”per se” — not “per say”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. ShanaC

            🙂 and thank you – I have always had bad spelling. Speaking of politics..I’ll shoot you an email

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Good share. It would be so interesting to see what they could do if they went with the second revenue model. If Foursquare can do it…

    7. eva ricco

      Users that “don’t give a shit” is a fictional construct; found under the heading “ex-users”

  2. sigmaalgebra

    Good to know. As a result, for my startup Web site, I will delay having an e-mail address for users to give feedback: (1) I could spend too much time reading and possibly responding. (2) I know that initially the site will be less good than planned and don’t need users to tell me about the obvious, leading needed improvements. (3) If users give feedback but believe that they have been ignored, then they may become offended. (4) At least initially, I do know what further development I want to do and don’t want to be distracted.

    1. JimHirshfield

      MVP – Minimal Viable Pheedback

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Yup, in line with minimal viable product, don’t optimize too soon, while maybe can polish silver, don’t try that on raw wood. Early on will be beta test, then alpha test, then version 1.0, etc. Maybe when version 3.0 is running, start taking feedback.

    2. Lawrence Brass

      Absolutely agree with (1) because, as the register shows, you are a fast typer, prolific writer and never fail to reply. You would be held hostage by your keyboard forever. One of the best way to manage communication with a massive group of people using your systems is to mantain a wishlist where people can vote on what features they want to have or change, and you can comment and act upon say, the top 10.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Nice. A keeper. Not for the first few months of going live, but when desperate fighting of fires dies down and there’s an opportunity for some choice, sounds good. Thx.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          Sigma on fire. That is something I would like to watch and help with a bucket of water or two, if neccesary. :-)Its curious that in this type of business having fires is actually a good sign, specially when fires come from rubber tires. Lots of smoke and traction.

    3. K_Berger

      Alternative suggestion. Have an email address posted with a short message saying that you appreciate feedback although as a small startup it is impossible to reply to every email. If you are afraid of being a slave to responding then have it be saved somewhere and don’t even look at it, just collect the data. At the very least the emails can confirm that you have an accurate read on what improvements are needed.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Thanks.Give out an e-mail address but go weeks without even reading any of the messages — sounds from socially awkward (as a nerd, I’m really good at that) to maybe a little harmful (as a socially awkward nerd, often I don’t know).Although I don’t know just quite why, the first weeks after going live may be quite busy, and I’m guessing that being able to f’get about e-mail with feedback might be prudent. After a few weeks, easy enough to stick in the e-mail address in the main HELP page if I’m wrong.Here maybe I should go slowly, measure twice, saw once, focus, etc.

    4. RichardF

      I’d go with a feedback email address/contact form and an autoresponder thanking people for their feedback. I don’t think you’ll be inundated to start off with and you might miss out on some great user feedback.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Thanks!Ah, I was up all night but found out how to get the IMDB movie ID numbers — at IMDB, each movie has a number, and if for a movie know its ID and want to link to the IMDB page for that movie, then in the URL of the link just need the ID.Thanks.

  3. awaldstein

    As a brand no one really loves Facebook but as users we are pretty much addicted to it as a social drug.Twitter to me is the complete opposite.

    1. Jess Bachman

      Indeed, Facebook is the Phillip Altria of social.

      1. awaldstein


    2. pointsnfigures

      I am not addicted to Twitter, but it runs constantly because I monitor the news. It’s a better way to monitor the news over seeing it on tv, or having a box continuously shout it out.

      1. awaldstein

        I use it in similar ways. But honestly it is easier to imagine a world without Twitter than one without Facebook today.I said the complete opposite think for years.I’m non emotional about both and that brand wise is a bad thing.

    3. jason wright

      is facebook a brand?brands are for distinctiveness in a market. facebook is the market. it’s the ultimate brandless brand.

      1. awaldstein

        nicely said but have no idea but what a brandless brand saying that google is not a brand cause it is the market which it is.think maybe i know what you are driving at but not sure.

        1. jason wright

          possibly because facebook may be the first brandless brand we’ve seen. the winner takes all paradigm of the interwebs challenges branding.

  4. LIAD

    History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes’Facebook Newsfeed Revolt’ – Sept 2006Zuck: “Calm Down. Breathe. We Hear You”(…’Twitter Algo Feed Revolt’ – Feb 2016Jack: “We’re listening. We get it”( – Only difference is, Zuck came out and owned it. ‘We’ve done this. We believe it’s for the best. Trust me’. Jack didn’t. He talked in broad phrases. Didn’t really confirm or deny. Definitely didn’t own it.

    1. Twain Twain

      They’re very different people as is obvious when we watch this interview with Mark Zuckerberg:*…And then this recent one with Jack Dorsey:*…Mark comes out of the gate with confidence and “owns” it.

      1. LIAD

        he used to be very timid

        1. Twain Twain

          They’re both introverted types. Whilst Myers-Briggs isn’t precise, Zuckerberg seems to be more of an INTP whilst Dorsey is an INTJ.@MsPseudolus:disqus — Jack gives himself away in that interview when he says he wishes he’d learnt to trust people earlier. That speaks like someone who wasn’t self-confident as a child.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Ah, perhaps! I’m not sure if trusting other people, though, is directly tied to self-confidence? Two similar but different functions, no?

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        As a professionally trained actor, I see things here that speak volumes about Dorsey being far more confident and self-contained than either Zuck or Graham. They’re all confident, don’t misunderstand. But it takes a particularly deep confidence to be relaxed and not need to ‘perform.’Dorsey is way more ‘Zen.’

      3. jason wright

        revisionist corporate PR

        1. Twain Twain

          Compare Mark at YC Startup School in 2013 with Mark at Harvard lecture on CS in 2005:*…Count how many people were at the lecture.@MsPseudolus:disqus — In terms of body language, one signals like an Alpha and the other a Beta. Wall Street is full of über-Alphas so CEOs that speak their language will see their share price in better places.Mark has benefited from having several smart, strong and driven women in his inner circle (his mother+sisters, his wife and Sheryl Sandberg) who’ve all influenced what he does with FB and given him personal confidence as well as challenged his thinking.Listen to the fierce intelligence of Priscilla Chan in her first-ever interview:*

      4. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Notice how Dorsey never interrupts the interviewer when he’s speaking (I’ve seen a few interviews now, and it’s always the same). This is a prime sign of confidence.

  5. Gina Farish

    Fred, I just sent an email to you with the subject “it’s ok you passed on airbnb, this is better”. (Sorry for the unrelated post… want to make sure the message gets into your priority box, and afraid the smoke signals might dissipate on the way from Barcelona)

    1. fredwilson

      I saw both your initial and follow up email. I don’t reply to every email that I open and read. I wish gmail would let you know that I had opened and read it and chose not to reply

      1. Michael Elling

        “I wish gmail would let you know that I had opened and read it”Requires a level of coordination that’s never existed in the IP stack mindset (aka net neutrality).The web would be a better place if a system of settlements between actors existed the provided necessary price signals and (dis)incentives to clear supply and demand north-south and east-west.

      2. Lucas Dailey

        Simple solution: Use Gmail Labs “Canned Response” to give you 2-click text-blocks you can paste into replies. Just enable it, write a short “I read and appreciate what you sent..etc,” then you’re off to the races.Here’s the step-by-step instructions:

  6. Jess Bachman

    Zuckerberg has done the great things for Facebook the company, but not Facebook the product, which includes it’s users. Nothing wrong with that, that’s Mark’s job. There is constant tension between good product and good company and rarely are they in unison.Twitter, in it’s long march to be more like Facebook, the company, is ending up with Facebook, the product. Nothing wrong with that, that’s Jack’s job. But it is what it is.

    1. LIAD

      don’t buy it.I believe twitter’s motivation is – improve product – improve user experience – improve business. not destroy product – improve business.

      1. Jess Bachman

        I think “improve product” really depends on what you think twitter is and what needs improving. It’s hard to know.Improve business… that is easier to make gains on.

        1. LIAD

          fine but motivation is to improve product.some companies look to improve business knowing full well they’re doing it at expense of product.

  7. Steven Kane

    Cue the requisite Steve Jobs quote?“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”— Steve Jobs

  8. pointsnfigures

    Twitter has some kinks and there is still evolution to be had. I think video inside of Twitter, especially live video will be huge someday. We just haven’t seen a place where immediacy and people’s curiosity have intersected in a big enough way to prove it out.Yahoo on the other hand has way bigger problems than Twitter. I’d love to get my hands on that company and wrangle it a little. They still have a chance but they need to do it all differently.

  9. Ana Milicevic

    Twitter is dealing with a classic challenge that many a product leader has faced: its most vocal users use the platform very differently than incoming new users would and yet the product needs to make sense for both groups. Since there is no paid pro tier available today that’s quite a stretch. Old-timers (myself included) feel slighted at lack of innovation on what is perceived as important features and general sloppiness (e.g. quote tweet not counting as engagement, in-app user handle search very poor, and not to mention the lack of an edit tweet option). I’ve recently registered a new account and was taken aback at how poor the experience was, especially given the emphasis on new user growth and engagement.No one said that the shift from a loose social network to an interest-based one is going to be easy but somewhere along the way Twitter also became a media company where experience, curation, and the quality of content surfaced will affect future growth. I’m long on them while acknowledging they have a lot of work ahead.

    1. William Mougayar

      Good point that it is part of the interest graph influence we’re seeing here.

    2. Carla D'Souza

      I am from the Bay Area and have been hearing several rumors about Twitter stock going down to 0. Since something like this never happened before, I am wondering what it means to the company. Will the company still run ? What about the millions of revenue dollars they bring to the table? And how does the valuation work in that case ? Any ideas?This was the topic we were discussing yesterday watching Super Bowl in a suite at levi’s stadium

      1. Twain Twain

        Twitter’s share price won’t go down to $0.I know of one European media giant that’s gone from €53 in 2000 to €0.50 in 2016 and Twitter’s management team, the dynamics and quality of its core business and the wider ecosystem in which it operates are nowhere close to that type of scenario.Twitter mgmt simply need to hold their nerves. In terms of product and the increasing importance of AI algorithms, this is a good strategy that will benefit users longer term.

        1. Carla D'Souza

          Twitter’s story is so often compared to flagging a dead buffalo. the mgmt , product is a forgone history. you should have watched the recent Costolo’s speech here where he lamented the product in a brutal way

          1. Twain Twain

            Link to Costolo’s speech, please. Thanks.Costolo led Twitter as a product and a company to a 198% year-on-year revenue growth when Twitter IPO’d and was instrumental in a lot of its successes.

      2. Ana Milicevic

        I don’t think that’s a realistic scenario. W/ their revenue they’d be too good a target for PE if not the likes of Google (who should certainly find that level of real-time information interesting)

        1. Carla D'Souza

          I understand what you say, but the general perception here is that it is akin to a coffee shop now. As long you have people liking it, there will be some kind of income. Otherwise, people will only walk in to use the restroom. Twitter as you know is in the same situation. The valuation is that of a restroom’s, quite like the supposed coffee shopAlphabet doesn’t need twitter. With the acquisition and the other overhead costs incurred in the process, google is much better off building an awesome product.

          1. Ana Milicevic

            Yes, but to extend your metaphor, consumers need the restroom much more than they need the coffee. At the very least Twitter is an effective way to disseminate real-time information.Consumer-facing technologies with a slant at social really aren’t in Alphabet’s wheelhouse. It would be wiser to buy, focus on real-time data assets while letting consumer-facing Twitter continue to operate pretty much as it does today (if they were in the market for such things).

          2. Carla d'Souza

            Sorry, even the restrooms are so bad out there even the executives are going on a mass exodus to use the other ones across the street. Will get to know how bad they are in today’s earnings release

      3. ShanaC

        that would be odd

    3. Twain Twain

      First, the less +ve news … Wall Street doesn’t like the change.Then the +ve news … Twitter looks like a more mass-user friendly version of Google+. Google+ has 418 million active users as of Dec 2015, by the way. So if Google was to acquire Twitter … I’d have all my nerdy tech news on AI, Quantum Physics etc. and the more social, fun stuff in one place!Again, here’s my wardrobe and, no, I don’t choose my clothes according to whatever techco XYZ is doing but according to aesthetics, mood and skin tone. About 18 months ago, I worked out I couldn’t wear reds and fuchsia pinks in the same way I did in my 20s.Right now, my color sensibilities ver towards aqua, mint juleps and sky blues. Today I’m wearing red because it’s Chinese New Year (“新年快乐!everyone) and red’s very lucky and meaningful for today.

      1. Lawrence Brass

        新年快乐 to you Twain, enjoy your lady in red day. If you walk over a ventilation screen you already know what you have to do. 🙂

        1. Twain Twain

          LOL, thanks, yes!

      2. Twain Twain

        Ah, Disqus didn’t attach the Google+ image so here it is.

      3. Ana Milicevic

        Happy New Year!Yes, your point about G+ is spot on. Interestingly G+ is another one of those products that so often got compared to FB when it’s fundamentally different. I always saw it as more of an internal tool (e.g. for communicating within a large company before Slack came along) than a public-facing social network (which it really isn’t meant to be).Selfishly and as a super-user I’d like Twitter to remain independent and continue innovating around interest. I have a whole roadmap of what they should be building stashed away 🙂

        1. PhilipSugar

          I like your comments and read them, now that this thread is over, I have to tell you I read that first sentence fast and went whoa!!! I have to see where that one came from!!! I hope you take this as nothing but a funny tale, and a comment about my mind not your writing, or somehow harassing, or belittling because that’s how it’s meant.

          1. Ana Milicevic

            Ha! Hope I didn’t make you spill your coffee! 🙂

      4. Twain Twain

        @fredwilson:disqus will LOL at the weird & wonderful world of Twain and her 2 degrees of separation … and as it relates to how Twitter is turning from a “fail whale” to INTELLIGENT DOLPHIN.So … this morning I had to go to to get the link for an article Forbes published of mine in 2012 to send to a team in London and I saw this quote from Jack about serendipity.I LOL’ed when I saw that because back in 2009/10 I’d had a number of email exchanges with an AI guy working on MIT Collaboratorium in which I argued AGAINST algorithms based on chronological timelines. Bear in mind that I originally proposed timelines in …2000: Twain proposal for Zephyr deals timelines (…2006/7: Google Finance adopts timelines.Dec 2011: Facebook launches its timelines for Newsfeed.Time-space is important in AI as Metamind’s experiments with memory modules try to show. However, CHRONOLOGICAL timeline isn’t necessarily the way forward — which is why I’ve been arguing against this since 2009.

        1. Twain Twain

          @fredwilson:disqus — The second part of the story is that I was in Chinatown, Grant Ave for breakfast this morning. I walk along and what do I spot? A dress that goes along with my current color palettes in Modcloth pop-up store on Grant Ave.Check out the colors on Twitter’s homepage, the dresses in my wardrobe shared above and the fact this new dress I spotted shows …DOLPHINS RISING ABOVE THE WAVES.Not a “fail whale” in sight.I’m going to tweet Jack about serendipity and then some — LOL.

          1. Twain Twain

            @aexm:disqus @MsPseudolus:disqus @domainregistry:disqus @liad:disqus @wmoug:disqus @JimHirshfield:disqus @pointsnfigures:disqus @semilshah:disqus — Well, this Wed, Twitter team can expect some hard questions from Wall Street.But the funny thing Wall Street’s been myopic to is that Twitter’s strategy of late has been to encourage women back to the platform (let’s overlook the mishap that was Moments’ launch).(1.) They have new anti-trolling policies. Trolling was a reason women left Twitter.(2.) They’ve made homepage more like magazine and Pinterest format. Now, let’s remember how Pinterest’s growth (and indeed Facebook’s) exploded because its design and UX was more female-friendly.I happen to like this new Twitter and, remember, I’m one of those people who said to @fredwilson:disqus in comments a couple of years’ ago that Twitter wasn’t a habit but Google+ is.I’m the type of diverse, non-Power User Twitter needs to appeal to, to get the masses interested in using Twitter regularly.

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Right! Every time I hear him speak, Dorsey proves he *gets* it. All this other stuff is just distraction, side show. I think he’s focused on the right things and ignoring all the nonsense (mostly).

          3. Vasudev Ram

            >Right! Every time I hear him speak, Dorsey proves he *gets* it.Interesting. Examples?And what’s your opinion of the two-company CEO role (Twitter and Square)?

          4. Kirsten Lambertsen

            He answers the dual CEO issue in the video that Twain shared below…The _Platform interview.Here are some quotes I pulled from his fireside chat with the Blackbirds:”How do we match people up to a conversation that they should have, right away?””We need to invest more in our developer ecosystem.””We need to listen a whole lot more.”In that Periscope he called Twitter a platform for listening. Bingo! In the video Twain shared here in the comments, he talks a lot about the real-time nature and its ability to connect people thousands of miles apart who share a long-term or short-term interest. That ain’t Facebook 🙂

          5. Twain Twain

            Ok, folks, my Chinese NY day became even more ‘Twilight Zone’ bizarre … I’ve now figured out the new Twitter homepage was done by UX designers who spent a lot of time in Sotto Mare in Little Italy and Chinatown in SF (or similar places).@fredwilson:disqus @MsPseudolus:disqus @domainregistry:disqus @aexm:disqus @lawrencebrass:disqus @samedaydr:disqus ———Whilst face-timing with my mother, she reminds me to eat fish on CNY because, in our culture, the word for “fish” sounds like the word for “happiness and prosperity” so, in the evening … off I go in search of a fish stew SF is famous for called the cioppino.Yelp tells me the #1 rated spot is called Sotto Mare and it’s on the other side of Chinatown, near Columbus Avenue.I get there and …OMG! Twitter homepage colors are Sotto Mare meets Chinatown!Ah and see the building with the terracotta army? Emperor Qin was the one who got the Great Wall of China built and UNIFIED CHINA INTO ONE.So I have no idea WHY Jack Dorsey tweeted #oneteam when what they’re doing is unifying all the disparate pieces of Twitter (Vine, Periscope etc.) into #onetwitter.See? WHY DIDN’T HE SELL US THE #ONETWITTER VISION?!!! —instead of letting media and Wall Street drive the story Twitter’s having an identity crisis, being abandoned by senior management and users revolting etcetcetc.That spectrum from blue to green? That’s where the depths of the sea meets the sky and beyond.WHY DIDN’T JACK STRATEGICALLY POSITION IT AS THIS???!!!How did BBC report the new homepage?”The redesigned homepage, which will roll out on the Twitter website and mobile site, draws in live updates from some of the website’s most prolific tweeters.”Starting today, anyone can explore and discover different topics and stories as they occur, including some that are tailored just for you based on your location,” the company said in a statement.”Erm … “Twitter’s new homepage takes its color cues from the Emperor Qin and Chinese animal years street art in Chinatown as well as from the sea surrounding SF, and it unifies our real-time tools for users in #onetwitter” is a much more interesting story.

          6. ShanaC

            speaking of which, happy chinese new year!

          7. Twain Twain

            Thanks, Shana. The CNY Parade in SF happens on 20 Feb so looking forward to that with my friends here.I’ve eaten the obligatory roast duck too! We Chinese are so traditional about CNY food, haha.

    4. SubstrateUndertow

      “shift from a loose social network to an interest-based one”What cognitively-systemic interest-embued functions would be generically mandatory for a social-network to collectively mimic the imbued interest-functions operating within an individual ?- integrators- compressors – memory- differentiators- comparators- ? ? ? ? ?The imagination required to dream up such functional social-network analogues is the real network-effect challenge of our times.When you flesh out the attributes that contribute to an individual’s sense of”personal interest” that turns out to be a living/evolving/interacting set of goal-driven life/survival narratives.Twitter’s potential to evolve into a collective social-interest mechanism for persistently advancing our collective life/survival social debates/narratives seems only limited by our ability to conjure up such network-effect driven organic-anologes.Eskimos had many word/phrase differentiators for snow because it was so fundamental to their daily lives. Maybe when we become more linguistically acclimatized to living inside our new world of network-organics we will have many more mass culture words/phrases of referring to specific reusable network-effect functions.Sorry for the rant !It is the product of a polluted mindpoisoned by the organic level-mixing metaphors ofJames G Miller’s “Living Systems Theory” 1978

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Good thoughts.One of the central conceptual ideas of my startup, a Web site, is a user’s multiple interests. I don’t really have an interest graph and, instead, treat each interest as unique in all the world.Indeed, there is a column in several of the database tables — interest_ID.Then a fundamental intention of the startup is that a user will get, for each of their interests, a curation of instances of Internet content they like for their interest.Then for some social and viral connections, a user can send such a curation to others who might refine it for themselves. Of course, the easy way to so send is to use my Web site. In this way, there can be a social role and add to viral growth.So, if the site works as intended, soon there should be a network of engaged users — wherever that concept came from, maybe someone at AVC can think of a source.Then, can take your post and maybe identify more conceptual ideas for a still better site.

      2. Ana Milicevic

        Yes! It’s rather hard to explain why you like or dislike certain things, especially once they’re broken down to more atomic components (e.g. is it the veal in spaghetti bolognese that makes it your favorite dish and do you therefore like all other things w/ veal?). But I’m surprised they’re not going more directly for real-time around a topic, a location, or a subject. Perhaps this is what they think Moments addresses — it doesn’t for me, but potentially might for those magical new users.

    5. ShanaC

      yes, and hence the confusion between vocal user and user of interest from a product point of view

      1. Ana Milicevic

        Good product teams and product leaders get in front of this and proactively manage it, usually on platform. Strangely I haven’t seen much on-platform activity from Twitter’s PMs outside of using it as any other user would. Perhaps they are and I haven’t come across it, but given that a bunch of the super-vocals are in my network I feel like this type of activity should have surfaced by now.

  10. William Mougayar

    In a way, Facebook proved that algo feed was ok, so Twitter had that benefit ahead of them. When you follow 1000+ people, and there are hundreds of new tweets every few hours, there is no way to drink from that firehose efficiently, unless you spend hours on it, which doesn’t make sense.I think the algo feed is a welcomed evolution. It will make Twitter more relevant and more engaging to the majority of its users, and that’s a very good thing.The loudest voices aren’t always the voices of reason.

  11. dovcohn

    Timeline vs. Algorithmic are two completely different User experiences and I hope Twitter provides both. Facebook does this with “Most Recent” and “Top Stories”, letting users switch. (The only thing that continues to gall me is that it doesn’t save my preference (“Most recent”). It continually defaults back to Top Stories, forcing their preferred feed on me.

    1. RichardF

      I hate the way Facebook does this, it’s like saying “we are giving you the option to see your newsfeed the way you want to but you are going to have to work for it because we would rather choose for you”

  12. William Mougayar

    Speaking of Twitter and the Super Bowl yesterday, this was a pertinent tweet that popped in my stream and I don’t even follow that person.

    1. LE

      I am curious is he talking about journalists or is he really talking about bloggers?

      1. William Mougayar

        both, no?

        1. LE

          I think that bloggers are more likely to be much further on the linkbait scale since they have less of a cost of ink? (Even electronic ones since there are often no editors or anyone to review what they say..) So essentially pick a current topic that everyone knows about and write a polarizing position to get attention. Of course the traditional media does that I am just guessing to a lesser extent.

  13. Richard

    Fred, taking abount Twitter, any sense for the MAU of periscope?The quality of the content is getting better and better, this past weekend i watched a Dave Mathews Concert and watched several tutorials. Best part of the product is its social component.

  14. Tom Labus

    Twitter is more than Twitter and that’s what they have to deal with (if possible). It’s everyone’s hope, fears and ambition. Our world is usually in chaos so why shouldn’t Twitter be the same.

  15. jason wright

    the blue of the AVC logo is bland, that avatar is ridiculous, the background page colour is dull, and the font is so 2015.I’m sharpening my spoon.

    1. LE

      Your comment made me think the following question. “What is the difference between a userbase that is the product and a userbase that is the customer?” [1][1] You would think that with customers they are far less parental and actually eager to listen to feedback when it’s backed by money.

      1. jason wright

        perhaps ‘free’ platforms, funded by venture capitalists, are less responsive to the userbase.

    2. fredwilson

      How do you really feel? 😉

  16. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Twitter needs to tune out the media even more than any vocal minority of users. I read the Buzzfeed piece, read the Re/code piece, and then read Jack’s tweets.What a tempest in a teapot. They’re just bringing the While You Were Away feature to the fore, and that feature is, from my experience, very nicely executed.I wish everyone here could have seen the Periscope of Dorsey meeting with the Blackbirds week before last. This isn’t someone fumbling around, shot-gunning in hopes of knocking something down. He knows exactly what Twitter is and why it *isn’t* Facebook.Twitter’s in good hands.

    1. Twain Twain

      Facebook’s former CTO on Twitter’s new algorithmic changes. People who are technical and work in product know this is better for users and where algorithms are going wrt Machine Learning.@fredwilson:disqus @domainregistry:disqus @pointsnfigures:disqus @JimHirshfield:disqus @wmoug:disqus @lawrencebrass:disqus @aexm:disqus @semilshah:disqus @liad:disqus @InfoStack:disqus

  17. LE

    I believe that one of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s greatest strengths is that they did not let themselves become hostage to the feelings of their user base.Not only that but userbase and vocal user base are entirely two different things. A vocal user base is a valuable resource for some business decision but not everything about a business (same as with the government ..)

    1. jason wright

      government – “vote, and now go away”

    2. Twain Twain

      Valuing consensus can mute creativity and innovation.

      1. LE

        Jobs is grafting on his intelligence, ability and motivation to the genpop (general population). Most people aren’t that smart and nowhere near as motivated. That is why they are lemmings. That is why they waste their time playing around. Ditto for Ford vs. an average business who actually does need to ask people what they want. People who have personalities like Jobs or Ford don’t need this type of advice or encouragement.You know Oprah did a version of the same thing with “trust your gut”. That works fine if you are as capable as Oprah but not perhaps for the majority of the people that watch that show who are normals (I did watch it occasionally by the way so I am not saying “everybody”).

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Nice one!

    2. Twain Twain

      Thanks, adding that piece of brilliance from James Crook to my treasure troves.

    3. Lawrence Brass

      I would like to add to the quote… but has to lead the orchestra to play nicely what the crowd came to hear, not otherwise.

  18. Josh Jackson

    Great post. I think now that twitter has enough people chiming into the conversation of how twitter should run or operate their business they should be able to reflect heavily on the right approach and execute well. Here is what G. Moore told me via our twitter conversation that is helpful “[Twitter’s] issues is what is its persistent value proposition at scale – can it be delivered via the Twitter that we have already seen, or does it need to evolve in a non-disruptive way, or must it leverage next-generation disruptive technology to realize it.”

  19. LE

    Arrington’s first mention of twitter:…His later constant complaining about the SLA was what got me to think about it….

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Archeology from the party years, nice. I stop following Michael I don’t remember why, I thought at the time that he was a bit tough on people, I didn’t like that much. There is a great Fred vs Arrington video interview, a techcrunch event in NY I think.

    2. Vasudev Ram

      IIRC Odeo had a podcast-related or some such product before Twitter. Think I used it a bit.(Edited for typo.)

  20. Peter Radizeski

    It might just be me, but Marketers ruin everything, including social media. LinkedIn and Facebook look a lot alike right now. The problem twitter really has is volume. There is just too much noise. Maybe there should be a limit on how much one person can post or RT in a day.The fire hose effect of twitter prevents people from seeing the good stuff. Being able to curate your own feed would be great. Make it easier to make lists or give some a preference for good content.Facebook choosing my feed is annoying. And many folks have left FB. I notice how many people no longer interact or even post on FB. LI will face this problem soon. The content on Pulse is all over the map. Who has time to plow through the multitudes of content?

    1. Lawrence Brass

      You are not alone Peter. As in every profession, craft, and art there are people that excel and people that ruin things for their own benefit or just by doing stupid things. Usually Darwin takes care of them.

  21. Semil Shah

    It’s like governing a nation. You have your base, your evangelicals, your new markets, and lots of people who you’d like to bring into the system to get out the vote.

  22. jason wright

    i’m not generally a user of the NFL’s product, but why is the football that indistinct brown colour? I find it not easy to pick it up in flight. a more vibrant colour, say orange, would real football the balls are generally now white. brown was so 1950s.

  23. Eric

    Twitter has a huge noise problem. You either follow a few friends and it’s a ghost town or else you follow a few celebs and news sources and that’s all you’ll see.I don’t know if Twitter can design an algorithm to solve that, but I know Facebook sure hasn’t. It’s uniquely terrible at surfacing the content I want to see (Friends status updates, photos they took themselves, links they shared, in that order) in favor of stuff I have minimal interest in (memes) or don’t want to see at all (what they clicked like on, what events they clicked on, what groups they joined, anything else they didn’t deliberately choose to share). It can’t be that hard so I have to imagine there’s business reasons it’s so dumb. So I don’t have faith Twitter will get it right, just going on Facebook’s experience.Meanwhile I feel like I’m the only person holding onto an RSS reader to solve the news source problem, but I’ll be damned if it’s not still the best experience out there.

    1. kidmercury

      i’m with you on RSS. it apparently is too complicated for the casual internet user who prefers a wholly integrated experience that twitter offers, but i don’t know how anyone who is genuinely interested optimizing their information diet and remotely capable with digital apps could opt for something else.i think fb’s edge rank is actually pretty good. it is a complicated task, especially for people who have thousands of potential contacts on there. for a truly bad feed, see linkedin. fb blows away lnkd’s feed.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        What’s edge rank?

    2. Yinka!

      You’re not the only one on RSS: I still curse Yahoo out daily for killing YahooPipes. Nothing else is quite as flexible and powerful enough to let me remix news feeds so much detail.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        >You’re not the only one on RSS: I still curse Yahoo out daily for killing YahooPipesHa ha, good point. See my similar point about about how Twitter should create low-level tools, Unix pipe style, and let users build upon them. Coz no design decisions, no matter by how smart the people, can satisfy millions at the same time. So: give them tools to make Twitter into what they want – multiple differing wants. A (large) cottage industry could even grow up around such low-level tools.

        1. Yinka!

          That could theoretically work with great UI/UX that makes it easy for even the most non-technically savvy user. Doubtful prospect, given the ineffectual onboarding process in place now.

          1. Vasudev Ram

            Ya, good point. But I did not phrase my comment too clearly:By this:>A (large) cottage industry could even grow up around such low-level tools.what I really meant was, by “cottage industry”, was that non-tech users would not have to do it for themselves. Tech people (the cottage industry, so to speak, really consultants), would tweak the settings / script Twitter for those users.Of course it may be somewhat idealistic thinking, given industry realpolitik, but technically possible – and there are precedents – like Visual Basic’s VBX (and later OLE) “controls” (Windows term for software components), which started a completely new industry of VB components that less-skilled programmers could simply plug in to VB and use in their apps. And many companies made good revenues in that period from selling those components. The industry was big enough that there were trade journals for that field.

          2. Yinka!

            Ahh. Indeed, technically possible but strategically unlikely/blocked.

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      What Twitter isn’t ‘getting right’ is helping you onboard successfully.What are you interested in? Who would you like to learn about? What’s your passion?Twitter needs to help get you to those questions and answers right away and drop you right into the most fascinating related conversations. It needs to find a way to automate the process used by those of us who have onboarded successfully.Dorsey is keenly aware of this and will get it right.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        >What are you interested in? Who would you like to learn about? What’s your passion?But this is what I meant by my other comments in this post – how can Twitter know those things better than the users themselves?Wouldn’t it be better to give the users tools to “sculpt” Twitter into what each of them wants it to be?Or at least make an attempt to do so, rather than assuming up front that the Twitter team knows best and can decide for the whole user base.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          I’d love @Twain Twain:disqus to weigh in here :)I think that there’s probably some great language stuff that can match you up with conversations you should be a part of. Kickstarting your experience with something like that will make it easier for you to sculpt your Twitter. I wouldn’t say it’s knowing better than yourself, but it’s certainly better than dropping you into the firehose, no?Instead of asking me if I want to follow Kim Kardashian, it’s probably better to ask me about my interests and passions and suggest people to follow from there.Also, I have no doubt Twitter’s working on creating a search experience that will help people quickly find the conversations they want.This is what I mean when I speak of automating the method that we ‘power users’ have used to successfully onboard ourselves. I, for one, look for even just one person whom I know to be ‘authoritative’ on a topic I want to learn about. I find that person on Twitter and then pull the thread from there, following the same people that person follows. This is a process that can be automated and probably much improved by automation.

          1. Vasudev Ram

            I see what you mean. Valid and interesting points.

  24. Vasudev Ram

    A step that could help is for Twitter to provide options / settings / other techniques (such as a DSL – Domain Specific Language) that users themselves can use to filter / curate their feeds / timelines. Low-level tools, that can be built upon, and mixed and matched, to build bigger solutions, like Unix pipelines, but in Twitter. Like grep, sort, cut, paste, uniq, tr, etc. – not those exact same ones, but what makes sense for processing tweets / retweets / likes, etc.grep makes sense though, both plain grep and grep -v.Don’t know if they have made any attempts in this direction or not.Same idea can apply to many other startups whose users face similar problems of getting only the data they want or are interested in, out of a huge firehose . I’ve thought before that Gmail search could benefit from an SQL-like query language, instead of limited ad-hoc boolean and other queries. May have suggested it to them via their feedback form, don’t remember now.Solve the more general problem (thereby solving, at one stroke, many problems that are just special cases of the general one).- That more or less paraphrases what George Polya, Hungarian mathematician, said in his book “How to Solve it” – and from where I got to know of the technique:…This is also an example of the general technique of building tools to build (higher-level) tools with, rather than building the higher-level tools directly. Goes by many names, such as granularity, modularity, bottom-up programming, layering, etc. All related to the same overall idea and technique. It has many benefits, one of which is that more and varied high-level tools can be built (maybe by various teams) on the same substrate of low-level tools, that the core group builds. In the case of Twitter they could provide the low-level API (and build upon it themselves) and/or open the platform up to tool-building by devs. But they did that earlier and then withdrew it …Also related to the principle “Provide mechanism, not policy” – which was followed by X-Windows on Unix. They built a low-level windowing / GUI library and then built successively higher levels on top of it. They did not enforce the mechanism of how their APIs could be used in terms of look and feel, behavior, etc. They only provided low-level libraries for (themselves and) others to build on. That is why there can be, and are, many different window managers for Linux and other Unix variants, today.This separation or layering is one of the reasons why Unix is so long-lived and has become widespread, as in Android and iOS devices. It allows or enables software designs to transcend and live beyond the time of the designers who first created them, and to be used in ways that the designers themselves could not have envisioned.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      From the Wikipedia article about Polya’s book How to Solve It:- It has been translated into several languages and has sold over a million copies, and has been continuously in print since its first publication.- Marvin Minsky said in his paper Steps Toward Artificial Intelligence that “everyone should know the work of George Pólya on how to solve problems.”

  25. Yinka!

    I view it as a non-issue. Why not implement an algorithmic feed with the capability for those who want a chronological drip to flip the switch back for their feeds?I also think the #RipTwitter hashtag spread due to timing and because people enjoy participating in a lit conversation. Many of those posting did not necessarily feel strongly about it; they just relished the opportunity to show their wit via replies, silly pictures with funny captions, and to pass on others’ contributions to their followers by retweeting. Timewise, if this hashtag was started say, just as Beyonce and crew dropped #Formation, #RipTwitter probably would have barely made a ripple.And Twitter itself was probably somewhat glad for the temporary diversion provided from its other pressing matters.

  26. Stephen Voris

    When attempting to deal with reams of feedback, well-written paragraphs only take you so far. Up/downvotes are a welcome innovation (though not, perhaps, a recent one as internet time is measured) in cutting down inbox inundation, but they can be taken a lot further/deeper (Facebook’s “reactions” are by no means the only method here). Per-paragraph or per-sentence voting strikes me as a particularly useful tool for aggregating more nuanced feedback, without having to resort (as often) to walls of text detailing a position that rhymes with its predecessors’. Especially if that voting has a visual impact on the text in question – say, green highlighting for agreement, red highlighting for disagreement (with appropriate hue adjustments for colorblindness or varying cultural color associations), with the saturation increasing as the percentage of voters agreeing/disagreeing with the relevant increases. (Per-character or per-word voting would provide even more resolution, but would cost worrying amounts of memory)

  27. Dennis

    How do you balance providing a product that you believe is good for the market vs what users think they want?

  28. eva ricco

    Defining choices in forums seem to be made at the beginning..and the purpose of forums should be considered when defining any code of behavior. It seems a shame to me that so many that creators don’t seem to give it any thought other than user #’s. I understand that. Yet;in the long run; as more people turn to trading; abusive, unprof. & misleading comments will factor in huge losses for novices(& their dependants) + an exodus by those that are serious survivors – as we seek quality. If I want “South Park Trading”-I know where to find it-I don’t want it on Stocktwits. I want to learn. So; If anyone out there that has impact reads this; please class it up a little; reverse snobbery~been there.

  29. RobM1981

    I believe the author has left out a fundamental variable here: did the customers pay for the good/service, or not?For Etsy and Facebook then, sure, do what you want to do – it’s not as if anyone is paying.For IOS, however, I disagree. I am routinely badgered by Apple to upgrade my O/S on my phone or tablet, even though we both know that the ever-bloated newer versions render my device less-functional… and thus incent me to have to buy a newer one that really doesn’t do much that my current one does. This is unacceptable. There are no security risks to my device, so leave it – and me – alone. I paid for it. If I want the update, I’ll update.Ditto MS Windows. At what point does that “Update for free to Windows 10!” message become malware? I paid for my current O/S. I updated one device, and it was a nightmare. Now I choose not to update any more. It’s my device. OK, if you want to ask me, then ask me – but you have your answer… now leave me alone.If I don’t pay for it then, sure, badger me, change things, do whatever you want. But if I paid for whatever it is that we’re talking about? Then provide the service that I paid for and politely offer me changes – but don’t force me, and don’t badger me.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Great points, but which are ignored by many software and hardware product companies. Telecoms too. They don’t seem to have understood such basic points as not to badger their customers, on whom their sales and existence depends.

  30. Geoffrey LeMond

    I believe an “Unfollow All” button would improve Twitter UX considering how a person’s interests change over time. I’ve stopped using Twitter because I’m sick of those I follow. My 2 cents.

    1. ShanaC

      it sounds like you are growing and changing as a person, and that may lead to discontinuity with who you follow

      1. Geoffrey LeMond

        Very, very true. Perhaps Twitter’s user base is evolving too? The platform should optimize for this phenomenon. 🙂

  31. ShanaC

    Food for thoughVocal != core != target group of interest != majority of your users. Vocal users are users who talk a lot, possibly in very public ways. that’s it. There are many circumstances where you can and should ignore themVocal depending on its network structure may equal a very hard to control marketing channel