Twitter continues to suck…

Look, don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter. I really do. It’s a great way to keep tabs on icons of industry, musicians and comedians, politicians and pundits, and friends and acquaintances. But there are some pretty frustrating and maddening little issues that prevent me from becoming completely enamored with the platform. I’ve already laid out my beefs with Twitter’s Direct Messaging feature; here’s a Part Two of sorts.

For example, why can I easily switch accounts in the different desktop and mobile applications, like TweetDeck and Twitter for iPad, but there’s no way to do so in the web interface? You have to manually log out and log back in as the different user, or start a private browsing session (e.g. Chrome Incognito). This seems like such a silly limitation when every single desktop and mobile app for Twitter allows it. I understand that the web site has to accomodate the lowest common denominator, but installing a full-blown desktop app seems overkill if I can achieve most of the desired functionality through the web interface.

Similarly, most apps give you the ability to “quote” a tweet, which allows you the opportunity to modify or expound upon another user’s tweet before posting it to your own feed. This seemingly simple feature is a huge time saver compared to manually copying and pasting a new tweet, adding quotation marks, and proceeding to make your own modifications. Unfortunately, the web interface only gives you the option to retweet an exact copy of the original tweet. I suppose I just don’t understand why Twitter wouldn’t make these features available on the web site.

Another trend I’ve been noticing over the past few months that seems to be an unnecessary contortion is the technique of making an at-reply appear as a first-class tweet in your feed. For example, let’s say I want to tell my friend about a sweet deal; I might write, “@jimbob has widgets for $10 each!” I also want this tweet to appear in my other followers’ timelines, but because it begins with an at-reply, it will not. To solve this problem, I could move the “@jimbob” to the middle or end of the message, but that may not always result in a well-structured sentence.

To work around this, people have been inserting a clumsy period at the front of the tweet to defeat at-reply detection, e.g. “.@susie Be sure to watch PBS tonight for a big surprise!” This gets the job done, I guess, but I can’t help but feel this would be a great opportunity for Twitter to innovate, perhaps by adopting a different sigil to use in front of the username (e.g. “&jimbob”, “*susie”) to preserve the old at-reply functionality but force it to appear in the main feed as well. Or perhaps they could allow you to retweet your own tweets.

Finally, it irks me to no end that Twitter does not follow their own documented policies regarding releasing inactive accounts. There’s a username I highly covet that hasn’t been used in over five years! This encourages people to do silly things like register domain names and file trademarks just to force Twitter to release the account under its anti-impersonation guidelines. It’s difficult to maintain the appearance of a vibrant ecosystem if there’s five-plus years of rotting undergrowth choking off new life. Clear out them weeds, Twitter!

What are some of your frustrations with the service?

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