Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fixing Twitter With Reputation Systems

Chuq Von Rospach:

As someone who does community management for a living and uses Twitter as my primary social network, I see the problems on a daily basis, I see the friends of mine who have cut back their usage or given up entirely, and I find myself constantly self-editing my use of the service to stay away from topics I know are more likely to bring out the trolls, because Twitter simply doesn’t have the tools in place for me to protect myself if they arrive.


It’s clear to me they don’t know how to fix it, and that management really isn’t committed to wanting it fixed. Here’s one problem: Twitter uses how many accounts exist on the system and Monthly Active Users (MAU) as numbers used to judge the health of the company in their reports to the financial markets.


Twitter actually needs two reputation systems: one is tied to the identity of its users, and one is tied to the links that are used in postings to twitter. That latter one actually needs to go one level deeper, because the reputation should be built based on the final content the link points to, so that all links that end up pointing to the same source end up with the same reputation.

Chuq Von Rospach:

So, by using user actions (positive and negative) about a single tweet to generate a ranked listing of the tweets generating the largest negative response, we can bring that tweet to the notice of the abuse team, who can evaluate it. If they decide the tweet is abusive, they can delete it and that act will affect the reputations of everyone who interacted with that tweet. If the tweet includes a URL (and things like graphics have internal URLs so would be included in this) then that action can be rippled out to all tweets that include that URL or any URL that ultimately links to that content, and the same actions can be taken on all users interacting with all tweets that involve that URL. So the single administrative action can remove a problematic piece of content from the entire system with thoughtful systems design in tracking the content in the system.


Second, these systems will bias a system towards a reduced diversity of opinion because it will be biased by the reporting tendency of the larger sets of users. That’s inevitable and one reason to weight the abuse team decisions heavily is to give them influence to counter-act that. It should be noted that communities tend towards this reduced diversity over time with or without systems like this and I haven’t seen a reporting system designed yet that doesn’t introduce some bias against diversity, but it’s something to be aware of so that your management policies can try to minimize the bias. Echo chambers are inevitable, they seem to be human nature. I used to feel they needed to be actively discouraged, but these days, I’m not so sure that the fight is worth the effort and stress to the community. It’s a big subjective grey area.


Can’t fit your Tweet into 140 characters? 🤔

We’re trying something new with a small group, and increasing the character limit to 280!

Aliza Rosen and Ikuhiro Ihara:

Sometimes, I have to remove a word that conveys an important meaning or emotion, or I don’t send my Tweet at all. But when Iku Tweets in Japanese, he doesn’t have the same problem. He finishes sharing his thought and still has room to spare. This is because in languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.

Jack Dorsey:

This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence!

John Gruber:

I’d rather see them keep the limit at 140 characters but add support for plain text media attachments[…]

Given that Twitter is not profitable, I’m kind of surprised that longer tweets are a free feature. They could have added a paid tier with this and other advanced features.

Update (2017-10-04): Kurt Wagner:

Fast-forward 18 months, and Twitter finally did ship longer tweets, though with a much smaller character limit still in place than originally planned.

But that fear of straying too far from what was comfortable — and the protracted two-year timeline from product conception to launch — sums up Dorsey’s return as CEO of the company he founded, which happened exactly two years ago this Thursday. In that time, Twitter has survived, but it has failed to take big swings or move with the kind of urgency necessary of a company that’s fighting for its life.

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