5 Things Twitter Needs

Post by Maxime Rousseau

Every since I've joined twitter back almost two years ago in March of 07, I've been tweeting on a regular basis. I love Twitter not only because it's a great place to dump all the thoughts and reasonings that are too short or stupid to blog about, but also because when one logs what he/she is doing on Twitter, there is no telling what follower will reply, and what kind of conversation will ensue. In that sense, I think of Twitter not only as microblogging, but also as a great big open SMS conversation. Thanks to my followers, I've found tons of new sites, and equal amount of funny/interesting videos, and shared tons with lots of interesting people.

However, Twitter has it's faults.  If I had the power to change 5 things the service, changes would look something like this.

  1. Stable servers. The summer of 2008 was pretty rough for twitter, most likely because of a boom in member count and the increasing number of third party services that started to use the Twitter API (I'm thinking Twitpic, amongst others), the Twitter servers went through some serious problems. From what I understand, the app had some major scaling issues around that time, but I can't quite understand if it's a hardware thing or a Ruby on Rails thing. EIther way, the twitter server are much more reliable now than they were last summer, but I still occaisionally see the dreaded failwhale when searching or browsing some pages or using more advanced features. 
  2. Groups. What's a social networking site without groups? What happens when somebody wants to follow a hundred or more people, and keep track of all the tweets in a organized way? Group pages would allow me to see just the tweets of the group members, while would simplifying mass following. Similar to the @reply system, users could post an update to a group by typing *group before their tweet to post to that specific group. 
  3. Proper implementation of the tagging system. The #topic system is widely used, but it seems that putting in the #topic tags has no effect on search results. If I search for "cats", I get all entries containing "cats" and "#cats", yeilding irrevelant search results in some scenarios. #topic tags also shouldn't be a part of the already very limited 140 character limits. Tags should be splitted in two groups: #tags which are visible, which can be used in the following situations:
    Check out my new #bmx wheelset!
    And ##tags, which would be invisible in the tweet's text, but that would still tag the post with ##whatever. #tags and ##tags could also link to a page where all recent tweets tagged with the concerned text, and could also include a neat little tag cloud.
  4. A built-in video or photo/video viewer. Twitpic is becoming increasingly popular since the advent of the iPhone, and I can't recall the number of Youtube videos that have been linked to me from tweets, so the next logical step is to add some sort of AJAX picture and video viewer right onto the twitter home page, as to reduce load times for the end user. Heck, even a pop-up system like those found on forums would be nice, but one thing's for sure, many users would greatly benefit from not having to load another page to view a picture or video. 
  5. A properly implemented search function. Although there is a search function, I find it somewhat discreet. The only link to the search function is on the bottom of profile pages, so I'm guessing that very little people know that it exists. What I'd like to see is search boxes on the right sidebar on each and every page. On profile pages, a "Search user updates" bar, on future group pages, a "Search group updates" bar, you get the idea. Then, the #tag system could actually be used for something. 
Most of these udpates would represent an addition the load that the Twitter servers already have a hard time managing, but for Biz Stone they would be trivial to implement and a tremendous addition to a great site. I hope to see them live in a near future!