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Twitter Removes 'Via' Stamp From Web Client (thenextweb.com)
171 points by twapi on Aug 27, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 73 comments

Twitter's image would be better served by the bandaid-removal approach. Everything bad - all at once, rather than this drip-drip-drip of changes perceived to be hostile towards its developer community. You have to figure they've got a road-map of where this heads, so why not do it all at once and consolidate the pain?

"Severities should be dealt out all at once, so that their suddenness may give less offense; benefits ought to be handed ought drop by drop, so that they may be relished the more." - Niccolo Machiavelli

I'm not sure that Twitter can afford to be feared - they need to be loved. Twitter doesn't lord over a Renaissance Italian fiefdom; their serfs can migrate to other city-states at will.

But first, there needs to be another city-state.

Twitter can't afford to be feated? Sure it can! The only people who could possibly fear twitter are developers. Regular Twitter users mostly don't give a crap. They jump on whatever client they like, Tweet a bit, read a bit, and go about their lives. I really think developers are really overestimating our importance to Twitter at this point. We're a small portion of Twitter's users and they arguably don't need us anymore. We made it popular and better but now they can cut off access to their API completely and replace all third party functionality and our screams would echo in our echo chamber but fall on deaf ears the moment it escaped the chamber. Non-developer users may shed a tear and write an angry blog post but they'll all forget, move on to the new official Twitter apps and the rest of us will still be complaining about it on HN (a couple hundred of us may pay to scream about it on app.net in protest too).

It's not right but it is what it is. I think it's better to accept this now rather than have to deal with our denial later.

Edit: I mentioned they could cut off all functionality. That was hyperbole obviously but they can cut off access to a hefty chunk of the API and replace what third parties are doing nonetheless.

The only problem I have with this as an end user is that Twitter brought out all of these applications and completely ruined them. I was excited for Tweetie and it offered the best Twitter experience hands down, only beat by Tweetie 2. Twitter for Mac was great back in the day too. When Twitter bought Atebits, they stopped touching the Mac app and completely destroyed Tweetie.

> "But first, there needs to be another city-state."

Facebook? I'm unsure if Twitter's userbase is as married to the 140-char limit as Twitter thinks they are.

I don't care about the 140 character limit, but I do dislike Facebook strongly. Twitter relationships are asymmetrical. I can follow Wil Shipley or Joss Whedon without them having to approve it. Facebook Pages aren't the same either, as they're more of a platform for people to talk about brands, rather than a stream of updates.

Maybe the elite who are willing to pay will migrate to app.net, but even if they do they're going to be set apart from people who don't want to pay $50, which means that even if I do sign up for app.net, I'm also going to have to keep my Twitter account.

Facebook added subscriptions a while back and largely deprecated people Pages (you will, for example, see that Zuckerberg's personal profile can be subscribed to; it isn't a Page, it is his normal profile).

sounds like you want google+. you can add anybody to your circles, and you get a stream of updates from that circle.

I'd agree with this. I've always felt G+ was a halfway-house between Twitter and Facebook.

I mentioned this in the Tweetbot thread, but http://rstat.us looks very promising. They syndicate your posts to Twitter, are working on a Twitter-compatible API[1], and use OStatus so are compatible with other services running the protocol (like the somewhat more neglected-looking identi.ca).

[1] https://github.com/hotsh/rstat.us/tree/twitter-api

Perhaps app.net could be the other city-state?

Yes, a walled (maybe) and elite city-state at current rates.

Yeah I don't see Joe the Plumber moving there any time soon.

Because incremental change is way easier to manage and deploy and test than massive ones.

In technical rollouts, yes. But twitter's ticking people off with a bunch of new policies...

Actually I agree with you in this case, given the massive amount of attention on Twitter now, but in situations of lesser scrutiny, the 'drip-drip-drip' is often the the more cunning move.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creeping_normalcy and all the related concepts, eg boiling the frog etc.

Except you know, if you boil a frog slowly, it will still jump out.


IE needs more actual examples, instead of metaphors that turn out to be completely wrong in practice.

Most of what is creeping these days is way too debatable...

What's more interesting is that each of these little drips is turning into front page news material. Every time the giant shifts in its sleep, the villagers run amuck.

It was about time, always wondered how 'via' improved user experience in any way.

EDIT: since I'm getting downvoted because some of you don't agree:

There's like 140M active Twitter users (as of March 2012) and like, 30 clients (guesstimating). If I assume there's like 1M developers on Twitter (which I don't think it is), this feature is still useful to less than 1% of their user base. Not exactly a "must have" feature IMHO.

It helped people discover new Twitter clients by seeing what other people were posting with. I'll admit that this benefit may not have been anywhere near worth the added clutter and screen space, but it was good for something.

Exactly. I found out about new clients quite a few times because of the via stamp.

Not only that, but it helps them discover new apps. For example, 'posted via Instagram would be useful', as would 'posted via Camera+' etc.

Twitter is encouraging services to use their new Twitter Card feature for things that syndicate to Twitter like Path and Instagram. This gives the App that posted the tweet additional attribution than "via Path" or whatever...

Although the rollout is slow, it's the ultimate solution for twitter because it does provide a better experience. For those kinds of apps at least.

and it helped me to remove useless/automated tweets from timeline using a home-made greasemonkey/user script.

Totally agree ... the via tag was very useful for helping decide which automated, bot, spammer to avoid. It provided additional context for tweets.

That's your own fault for following spammy accounts.

My friends use automated apps like Instagram, Foursquare, GetGlue ...... and many more. They are not spammy.

Just like Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky”, its purpose was more to communicate something about the brand rather than to serve some useful functionality. In Google’s case, it communicates playfulness, in Twitter’s case, it was geeky openness. Clearly this is not true for Twitter anymore.

According to Twitter's own numbers, there were over a million registered apps... last year. By their own growth numbers, assuming they didn't increase (very unlikely), there would be almost 25 million registered apps today.


How many of those apps are people using T or running ThinkUp instances?

It's doubtful that many of these apps offer any functionality that could qualify them as a client.

The via stamp told you whether a tweet was posted via desktop or mobile, which can be useful to know.

It's not that we don't agree, it's that we (or, personally, I) don't see how you wouldn't know what its benefit could be. That you would think "it's about time" was worth posting at all based upon not knowing the benefits of the feature, even if those benefits only accrued to other people.

But hey, I suppose it's easier to say we don't understand your point to the degree necessary to agree with it, than it is to suspect a fundamental flaw in your own reasoning.

It certainly encouraged innovative and creative developers.

And how exactly is that?

Free publicity for their new twitter clients and tools.

In terms of social interaction it adds quite a bit. Imagine the tweet: "This party's awesome".

Seeing if it was published from Twitter for Blackberry, Tweetbot for Mac or EventualTweet tells me a lot about yourself as a person (and believe me, stuff like this makes/breaks relationships).

Are we still at the stage of judging people based on what smartphone they own? Good grief.

While I'm more on your side, it's worth noting that it's more than what smartphone, it's "are they tweeting about the party from their phone or from their laptop/PC", which I think does say something about a person, even if it's not something I'd pay any attention to.

I thought 140 characters making or breaking relations was somehow frivolous. I did not realize that those clients had a relationship weight associated with them as well.

What are we in grade school?

Yeah, it's of no interest except to nerds, who are always a minority.

Regarding the downmod, did I say something false?

Probably because you said nerd. Makes guys feel bad and all. And maybe because people here think the via is great for advertising their awesome super one of a kind twitter apps!

I personally don't like the idea of via on any service. Unless it is an automated message then in that case it should be flagged as a computer generated message.

I'm sick of this kind of twitter stories. This is just a hype about Twitters' internal affairs. Their business. Why on earth this is top news or even on frontpage? They have just skipped showing 2 words. If the story was about "how twitter hypothetically screwed and made 2 man hours work of deleting two words from tweets 2 man days of work" I'd be more willing to read it.

Please - this is not about hacking, this is not about technology, this is not even about entrepreneurship - I would really love stories about twitter's opensource projects, twitter's technology choice, twitter's software development methodologies, twitter's devels' thoughts about samsung-apple case. But this is not news worthy. At least not news worthy for Hacker News.

Tell ya what I'm sick of.

This kind of comment.

Why on earth should I care what some anonymous person thinks is newsworthy? You've got a counter right there showing you exactly how many people find it worth reading.

If it's interesting, read it and/or comment. If it's not, scroll past. Flag if you want. But the only thing less newsworthy than a given story is your assessment of its newsworthiness.

Look, there is something wrong about this.

This story has 97 point at time of my writing, 44 comments. It's top story. Learning C with gdb story has 297 points, 80 comments and it's on third row.

It's not based solely on points, it's based on points and time.

Thank you. I know how could it be calculated. Well I did not look into the code but I deducted it. But I was just trying to make a point in the context.

Actually, I'm a HN regular and I find this story interesting. I find it interesting because it's an indication about how Twitter intends to treat developers - a signal that I should worry about about building off other APIs and not the Twitter API.

> "a signal that I should worry about about building off other APIs and not the Twitter API."

Call me crazy, but hasn't this always been the case? Relying on an API out of your control is fine if you're running a website, but if you have a business and you rely on the Twitter's and the Facebook's of the world to keep you going then it's only a matter of time.

In the beginning this was not the signal being sent out to developers, so I will call you crazy :)

I understand the risks. Hell, I'm even taking them with my own project, but I always hoped if you add value to the API owner and that they created the API to give more value to their users why would they company cut you off?

As in all business there are risks. No company have every parameter under control. Building a business off other companies API is one of those risk variables I'm willing to take.

However, Twitter is quite clearly telling us that it's not a risk worth taking anymore.

So why are you not just skipping my comment and wasting your precious time on answering me?

Why are you not just skipping this story and wasting your precious time commenting on it?

> Please - this is not about hacking, this is not about technology, this is not even about entrepreneurship

Sorry, but it is. It's a masterclass in how to do a bait and switch. Start out completely open, let open developers build your community, then shut them all off once you don't need them any more.

This is not even about entrepreneurship

At some level consider it is? (1) symbolic the evolution of strategy; or (2) its part of a larger narrative on openess vs trusworthiness; or even (3) its might ve PR issue.ETC.

Also, its always interesting to look back and put this in context: like this http://dashes.com/anil/2009/12/the-twitter-api-is-finished.h...

Sure. You are right about it. But is it that important?

You mean, important enough for HN to see it and vote on it?

Is HN that important for you to follow up religiously? For many it's not. For many it might be. It differs from people to people like almost everything else.

I really liked the via tag for one purpose.


I liked to know when folks were live tweeting versus time delayed tweeting as it gave me context. If they were live, I'd respond. If they weren't I'd just consumer the content (if interested) and move on.

"First-party clients" is certainly a new euphemism in this context.

This is very clearly the end of Twitter as a "platform". Now that Twitter is huge, they don't want or need developers or 3rd party clients. They want to centralize everything into a monetizable service. That would've been fine if that was their plan from the get-go. The bait-n-switch they're doing disingenuous at the least.

So what now? Status.net hasn't gained traction, and it's obviously too early to say anything about tent.io, but I am very, very hopeful that eventually a new open, decentralized platform/protocol will emerge as the next-generation social communications platform to replace both Twitter and Facebook simultaneously.

dramatic much? it's not like 3rd party clients stopped working

You'd have to be silly to not expect what Twitters next move will be.

"We've always been at war with third-party clients."

Twitter needs to shit or get off the pot. Either they want a nice big ecosystem and they make money by leveraging their ridiculous amount of 3rd-party traffic, or they listen to the biz dev guys with their nice haircuts and just force all traffic through their official points. It's so wishy-washy, with the Tweetbot Alpha token pull, and this it's very clear they're saying this is the new way but through so many layers of subtext it's like reading a management presentation on blue-sky thinking.

This is an unfortunate move. I found it very useful to see who was tweeting using an app that suggested it's the real person, versus tweets coming from large, paid enterprise apps using Twitter's API -- big "social media management" software that a marketing organization would use to schedule tweets at pre-designated times.

The API changes stated that they wanted all clients to look the same and to have a similar experience. Could this be a hint that they want to rule out 3rd party clients slowly but surely?

I think they are more concerned about users avoiding ads than they are about a consistent user interface.

Not too long now before twitter releases pricing?

Pricing for what? Users? That would be an unequivocal death knell. Developers? Possibly. However, it's doubtful that Twitter stands to gain any significant revenue from charging for an API. Their audience for advertising is so much larger and more lucrative, a paid API would be of trivial importance to their bottom line and a waste of time.

I don't think they'll charge for anything. Doing so would relegate them to the same, minuscule potential user base as App.net has.

This should not be surprising to any of you.

one more step closer to monopoly

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