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You're implying that the user interface and metadata of a site like twitter has no development or maintenance cost?

That's right, keeping the following header

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" href="...">

pointing to a URL that already exists and works just fine doesn't cost anything. If the primary reason had been maintenance cost, they would have removed the feature itself.

The way to remove a feature gracefully is to first stop promoting it in any way, sometimes up to and including making the docs more obscure, because it's rude to urge people to use a feature on Day N and then rip it away from them on Day N+1. Particularly if some of those people are your business partners.

The next step, in many cases, is to send out sorrow-filled notices to the feature's users saying, in essence, that you're end-of-lifing the feature as of date X. Though often the bad news is artfully disguised. (e.g. "Look at all the glorious new stuff that we're rolling out to replace that tired old feature that will now be deprecated and slated for removal.")

Only in step three do you just shut it off. You might even shut it off gradually, as when Google shut off their old design for Gmail, a process which is still going on and appears to be taking literally years.

How much time elapses between the three steps depends on the details.

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