Four Unfortunate Ways Twitter Is Killing Tweetdeck

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By: Hillel Fuld

Twitter, as a company, has made its share of mistakes over the years. These include implementing its own retweeting system that makes it significantly more difficult to see how many people retweeted you and who they are (not to mention the fact that when I use the Twitter retweet, I can’t add my two cents to the original tweet, it all kind of defeats the purpose), the Twitter URL shortening service, which seems to break more links than it shortens, or many others. But the good news was that with all these issues, I always had Tweetdeck to fall back on. Then Twitter bought Tweetdeck.

Wait, let’s back up a little for those of you who are not familiar. Twitter, as I am sure most of you know, is a microblogging service that allows you to share short updates of 140 characters with your followers. You can also add links to external articles, photos, videos, etc. Except, contrary to what all the hype might lead you to believe, Twitter is just the foundation for an entire ecosystem of applications that use the Twitter API (not going to explain that term, feel free to read more about what an API is), it is not the end, just a means.

So there is an entire world of Twitter developers out there from Windows applications such as Tweetdeck and Seesmic, Web apps like Hootsuite and Twimbow, iPhone apps like Echofon and Tweetlogix, and Android apps like Twicca and Twidroyd. Other platforms also have their share of Twitter apps including Ovi (Gravity), Windows Phone, Playbook, and the list goes on. There are of course apps that are available cross platform and the leading name in that category is Tweetdeck.

I have been using Tweetdeck for years, since pretty much day one, and I have recommended it to hundreds of people. Not only is Tweetdeck the best Twitter client on PC and Mac in my opinion, but the team and especially Richard Barley, who was the Community Manager till recently, is super responsive and professional.

Like I said, then Twitter bought Tweetdeck, which at the time was good news since, as I mentioned, I love the team and thought they deserved the acquisition. Many commented over the past few months that Tweetdeck updates, which were a frequent thing until recently, had slowed down. All that did not matter as far as I was concerned because Tweetdeck still blew its competition out of the water. Until now.

Tweetdeck recently rolled out a new Tweetdeck for Mac and PC, which came on the same day that Twitter released a new Web UI and a new app for iOS. The interesting thing about the new Tweetdeck is that it is native, as in a regular application like Office, Skype, or any other software you download to your computer. Until now, it is was an Adobe Air application, which is a pretty buggy and resource hogging technology. So, I was optimistic.

Then I tried the new Tweetdeck and all that changed. The interface is different, the options are gone, the customization abilities are missing, and overall, the experience is far inferior to its predecessor and even other competing applications. That makes me sad, especially knowing that this is the only choice moving forward and the old version will no longer receive updates or support. I used the new Tweetdeck for a few minutes then went back to my old version and have not looked back since.

The following are four ways that Twitter is effectively killing off Tweetdeck as the industry leader in Twitter applications:

 1: No More Old School Retweets

With the new Tweetdeck, there is no more retweeting someone the way people used to in the good old days. Not to get too technical here, but in the old Tweetdeck, you can press Retweet and a tweet is automatically generated with the letters RT and the person’s name before their tweet. In the new Tweetdeck, you can only use the native retweet option, which as I mentioned above, is problematic, to say the least.

There is also a “Quote tweet” option, which essentially adds quotation marks around the original tweet for you to add your two cents. Now, essentially the quoting option accomplishes the same thing as a retweet does, and some might say I am arguing semantics here, but this, to me, is a classic case of “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”. Retweeting is one of the things that made Twitter to enjoyable and viral from day one, I just don’t see why Twitter felt the need to go and change the way people retweet each other. Do you?

2: More Clicks, So Many More Clicks

Using the new Tweetdeck, it’s as if Twitter gets paid per clicks. The most basic functionality, that required one, maybe two clicks in the old Tweetdeck, now require for or five, sometimes, even more. Retweeting someone for example was one click to prepare the tweet and then Send in the old Tweetdeck, now requires anywhere between four and five clicks depending on whether you want to retweet or quote.

Adding or removing someone from a list is the same story, only a whole lot worse. There is no option anywhere on the UI of the new Tweetdeck to add someone to a list, unless I am missing it, in which case, we have another problem… You have to click the person’s profile, click Lists, and… yea, even this doesn’t work. It seems Twitter forgot to add list support in the new Tweetdeck… Which brings me to my next point…

3: Screen Real Estate

One of the best parts of the old Tweetdeck was the fact that you were able to see all your feeds at first glance without even clicking once. I had seven columns open at any given time on my 24′ display. Why seven? Well, I have my Twitter account and I manage the Twitter account of Appboy and inneractive, that’s three. Then I have my direct messages column and three columns for my favorite Twitter lists. I follow over 8,000 people so Twitter lists make it possible to stay on top of the relevant updates and people without getting lost in all the noise.

In the new Tweetdeck, you can have a max of four columns on your screen with the fifth column displaying a huge arrow to scroll right and see the rest of your columns. To that I say, why?? An entire column for an arrow? That prime real estate could have been utilized by Robert Scoble’s Twitter list of tech influencers and instead it is populated by an arrow? That is what’s called a design flaw that is a deal breaker.

4: Follower Count on Tweets

With the old Tweetdeck, you could configure that under every tweet, the app would display that person’s follower count. It was a useful and unique feature to have. It is gone in the new Tweetdeck. Why was it useful? Not because you should judge a person by their follower count, that is just crazy talk. The reality is that with so much spam being sent daily on Twitter, you need an effective way to separate the real people from the bots.

A profile picture is one way and nine out of ten times, a profile without a picture is a bot. Follower count is also an accurate tool. If someone follows a thousand people and has zero followers, there is something very wrong. Generally speaking, there is a correlation between follower count and the amount of time a person spends on Twitter.

Before you cut my head off, I am well aware of the amount of spammy tools that builds up follower count without the need for any engagement on the part of the user. When a person uses those tools, I will discover it in a matter of seconds by looking at their tweets, but when someone has a totally unproportional follower/following count, I am not even clicking through to see their tweets. Like I said, it was a useful feature in the old Tweetdeck. Any particular reason Twitter had to kill it?

Here is the thing, there are so many more issues with the new Tweetdeck to add to this list, but do I really need to go on when you  have a perfectly fine old Tweetdeck to resort to? Yes, the lack of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare support in the new Tweetdeck is a problem, but I didn’t even get that far when basic functions that I do a hundred times a day are not possible in the new Tweetdeck.

Combine all that with the fact that Twitter rolled out a new Web UI on the same day as the new Tweetdeck came out and you have one less reason to ever open Tweetdeck.

Sad but true, and something we see far too often when big companies buy small ones. Unless things reverse themselves, Tweetdeck is on its way down and with all the problems with the new Tweetdeck, it is taking the fast road too…

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Hillel is Co Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at ZCast, a company taking on the pain of modern audio broadcasting. Hillel also blogs for many influential sites including TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat, and others.

Additionally, Hillel mentors startups across Israel in different accelerators including The Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator, Techstars, The Junction, and more.

Hillel has been named Israel’s top marketer, has been featured on CNBC, Forbes, and many others and was recently added by Google to its marketing experts program. You can find and talk to Hillel on Twitter. He is @Hilzfuld.

  • Welcome to HootSuite.

    • +1 / Like / total agreement.

      HootSuite pretty much takes care of all of that. I hear you on the loss of TweetDeck, but I’d wandered from that path long ago as I worked between multiple computers and couldn’t be bothered to load up an application each and every time 🙂

  • Great post Hillel. I, too, installed the new Tweetdeck sorta excited to see what kind of new features would be brought in and was super disappointed by the new version and quickly went back to the old version.

    I don;t know if you saw this with yours but with mine, my Tweetdeck account didn’t even import the bulk of my lists & saved searches so I will have to manually set them all up. The word “ARGH!” came to mind when I saw that.

    Lastly, as I mentioned on Twitter: The only reason I can think of that Twitter is moving towards the quotes for retweets as opposed to the good ol RT is that it saves one character due to the space between the RT and the person’s Twitter handle.

  • I’m with you, Hillel. I’ve been using TD for years, and have been growing more and more disappointed with it (e.g. having to update my settings EVERY SINGLE TIME it updates, can’t you remember I want to see international fonts?)

    I have been holding off switching to Hootsuite out of loyalty, but I’m pretty much at the end of my rope here.

    By the way, since you aren’t southern, I’ll just help. “If it ain’t BROKE, don’t fix it.” Not broken 🙂

  • Ha, thanks Talia, I couldn’t bring myself to write “broke” with my grammar OCD and all 🙂

  • Dude, I’m a grammar nerd if there ever was one, but you can’t mess up the way something is supposed to be said! 😀

  • Really good article, I was totally fucked up when I saw new Tweetdeck yesterday, so much problems, missing stuff, ah… Terrible! I had to download 0.38.2 again… Question is how long it will work now, if we know that twitter makes changes to it’s API really often…

  • Adam Casto

    I agree. Those are my main points as well (using the Chrome plugin). Though I would probably add the general lack of consistency as well. Such as:

    There are three different ways to “go back”. The ESC key works on the compose modal box (though it clears anything you were typing) as well as clicking the “X”. Clicking the background does nothing. The ESC key doesn’t work on any other modal dialogs, for example, you have to click the “X” to close it. When opening a tweets details or whatever, you have to click the “<- Back to home" link.

    That giant right-arrow takes you to those columns on the right (and breaks horizontal scrolling), but then no left arrow to take you back. You have to use the column navigation thing at the top.

    Then there are just the annoying things, like: No ability to delete tweets. Broken keyboard shortcuts. No threaded view or option to see conversation. Broken inline photo/video viewing. No longer shows if someone is following you back. No longer allow you to view inline someone's profile pic (takes you to twitter site).

    So so so annoying. I just got done switching my Linux desktop environment from Gnome because they decided to go and change the entire UX in Gnome3, and now this. I have probably spent a good week this fall just trying to find alternatives or workarounds to tools I use everyday because someone decided they needed to change everything that worked.

  • And… they just deleted Mobypicture from the image and video sharing options. There are many many user complaining about this.

  • My friend on Twitter @oytamarind told me there is a great word in German for things like this:
    “Schlimmbesserung” which means an improvement that ruins everything.

  • Cat MacKinnon

    i was blissfully unaware of just how much TD had changed, until last night. i tried sending two separate replies during a conversation, and noticed that long updates weren’t working (i’m still using 0.38.2 or whatever it is). so i headed over to the TD website to see if there was some kind of outage (the old TweetDeck crew was pretty great at letting everyone know when there was some kind of service outage, or other support issues).

    when the new website loaded, my heart sank. i could tell almost immediately that the TweetDeck of the past was no more, and spending just a couple minutes on the website confirmed that. no more TD blog, the support section is pretty sparse, and everything just felt cold and corporate. kinda like they were saying, “here’s the new TweetDeck! download it and then go away.”

    and then i found out that, not only did Twitter kill the long update service (which was great when having an ongoing conversation with someone), they killed the Linux client. i’ve been using Linux almost full-time for the past two years (i think i only log into my Windows partition every few months). not only is there no Linux TD client available anymore, they seem to have erased all mention of Linux from the TweetDeck website, aside from the suggestion that i could use the new web-based TweetDeck client…

    except that i use Firefox and it doesn’t work in that browser. i don’t like Chrome, and i don’t like the fact that Tweetdeck only works exclusively in TWO browsers (Chrome and Safari). it’s been quite a while since i was an active web developer, but i thought we’d long since moved past having websites only work in certain browsers. it’s a huge programming faux-pas for a site to not work on any browser, and if the new TweetDeck web app is supposed to be based on HTML5, there’s absolutely no excuse for it not to work in FF! hell, even Angry Birds for Chrome works in Firefox!!!

    besides, if i wanted to use a web-based Twitter interface, i might as well just use the regular Twitter website. with as many features as Twitter has stripped from TD, i no longer see the benefit. given that Twitter is rolling out a brand new interface across their website, part of me wonders if they’re intentionally destroying TD so that users will come back to their website.

    back when Twitter acquired TweetDeck, they assured us that it would still be the best Twitter client available. i expected them to make some changes, but they effectively stripped away every good feature that TweetDeck had and ruined the best Twitter client available.

  • Flo

    I found out a way to bring back the normal ‘RT @…:’ retweet into the desktop TweetDeck app. (The desktop app for Mac that is.)

    It’s very easy and only takes two minutes, just follow these steps:

    – In Finder, right click the TweetDeck icon and choose “Show package contents”

    – Open Contents –> Resources –> htdocs –> web –> scripts

    – Replace the “default.js” file with the following file:

    – If needed, type in your password and restart the TweetDeck application and you’re done.

    This small modification actually turns TweetDeck into a nice app. Glad I found it out. Doing this on a PC cannot be more difficult.

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  • Twitter didn’t do themselves any favors after they basically ransacked Tweetdeck after they bought it. They stopped listening to the user – which is a terrible thing to do when it comes to social media. Someone above said “Welcome to Hootsuite”… I think they’re right.

  • hatie123

    I updated my TweetDeck when the new one was available and I just could not get used to it. Too many negative changes. So I uninstalled it and installed the older one, thank God. Now if I get a notice to update TweetDeck then I just click no. My problem is solved.

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  • So true I am having huge problems. I loaded in a way of sending my tweets to my FB and now I have lost my other twitter account in the tweet deck. Any idea how to reinstall my other account? I really miss having linked in on my tweet deck too.