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5 Holes That Twitter Needs To Fill (And Soon)

Twitter’s had a torrid few months and continues to have problems with error rates and API calls, but that’s simply scratching the absolute tip of the bugs and issues iceberg.

Here are five big holes that Twitter needs to fill.

Staff

Twitter is clearly understaffed. The company is actively hiring – there are 39 vacancies at the time of writing – and that’s a good sign, but they really need to step it up.

The company has documented their void in engineering, but of equal concern is the size of their support team. @Delbius et al do the best they can, but more often than not support enquiries still get little more than an auto-responded list of frequently asked questions and a rapidly-closed ticket.

I’m not sure exactly how many of their 241 current employees work in support, but I do know that only three of the 39 vacancies are in this area. In both cases, it isn’t enough – only 11% of my readers rate Twitter’s support as good to excellent. A whopping 79% rate it as below average to terrible.

Better Privacy Solutions

As I’ve documented on various occasions on this blog, Twitter’s block is not actually a block at all. The only way to get true security on your updates is to make them private. There needs to be a middle ground.

One possible solution would be to give users some privacy options on their profiles, similar to Facebook. There only really needs to be three settings:

  • Make my profile visible to everybody
  • Make my profile visible to everybody logged on to Twitter
  • Make my profile visible only to people I approve

Option one would leave Twitter functioning how it does now for the majority of users. By selecting option two you could stop users accessing your profile who you had blocked – anyone who tried to access your page who was not logged in would be encouraged to do so (and perhaps see a partial page, again like on Facebook). Option three would be for complete privacy.

Bottom line: when you are promised a block feature, it needs to actually do what it says.

Where’s The Retweet Opt-Out Button?

When Twitter first added their internal retweet fuction, they gave you the choice to opt-out of seeing retweets from certain people. This turned out to be very wise, but just as we were getting used to the feature they took it away again. It’s now been missing for months – and as far as I can tell we’ve never had a reasonable explanation as to why.

It’s a problem that often makes the retweets by others area unusable – or worse, redundant. We don’t all share the same tastes, and following somebody doesn’t mean we should have to see everything, especially if the option is (or rather, was) there to turn some things off.

Bring it back. And while you’re at it, let us add annotations to these new retweets, too.

UPDATE: As of July 28, this is back. Something I said?

Verification

At the time of writing, Twitter has verified just 2,808 users – a number that’s probably just a little shy of the bonafide famous people who sign up every month.

Okay, so it’s a big ask. But there are some major, longstanding celebrities, power-users and brands on the network who have never been given the stamp of approval, including @wossy, @glinner, @jimmycarr, @problogger, @copyblogger and @cnnbrk. The latter which, of course, was the #1 most-followed account on the network for the early part of 2009.

And while it’s possible that some of these folks have never actually asked to be verified, I know for a fact that some of them have – and were completely ignored. Maybe their publicist didn’t press hard enough.

And while Twitter does occasionally verify a big name, most of the time it seems to be randoms and oddities. Many of whom have often literally just signed up. Maybe their publicist pressed extra-hard. I hate to say it, but the reality is that if you’re famous and American, you appear to have a much better chance of being verified than if you’re famous and not American (un-American is a no-brainer).

To be fair, @biz, @jack and @ev aren’t verified, either, but that just supports my theory that they’re imposters.

Verification was a good idea, but it’s been handled badly. While I’d love to have my account verified, I fully understand that I’m going to be miles down the list. But verifying some famous folk while ignoring others – many of whom are relative unknowns – seems more than a little ridiculous.

A Better Personal Messaging System

We’ve been here before, but it’s still (tragically) true – Twitter’s direct message system sucks. Facebook’s internal message system sucks, too, but it’s still better than Twitter’s. At the very least we need a way to mass-delete unwanted messages, a search feature, threaded conversations and group DMs, but it would also be nice to have folders, manageable spam filters and some control over who we allowed to send us DMs – even if we weren’t following them (for example, maybe you could tick a box that let verified users or a select group of brands contact you privately, with the onus then on Twitter to ensure they didn’t abuse this privilege).

Conclusion

There are many other things I could list – a decent internal (and editable) filter system is long overdue on Twitter, for example – but the issues, bugs and oversights above are, to me, the most concerning at this moment in time.

What about you? Which Twitter holes, glitches and bugaboos are giving you the most grief?

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