Did Twitter Change The Way Replies Work?

Did Twitter Change The Way Replies Work?

There was a big kerfluffle on Twitter today over speculation that the company had changed the way @ replies work. In a nutshell, some users were reporting that they could no longer publicly reply to conversations.

When you reply to someone on Twitter, the message starts off with an @username prefix. But only people who follow that @username will see your reply. To get around this, users have long put a period in front of the @ symbol, which makes the tweet visible to everyone as in [email protected] That essentially lets users reply to someone publicly.

But today people were reporting that no longer worked. And it was all over Twitter. Most of this seemed to originate from one blog post on the Incidental Economist, which claimed that if you used that [email protected] trick after hitting reply, only people who followed the both users would see the reply. It noted that typing the “[email protected]” prefix into a new tweet manually would allow all your followers to see the tweeted reply, but that doing so broke the threaded conversation view.

This was greeted with glee in some circles, befuddlement in other, and of course, a lot of WWIC anger.

In my experience that was not the case. Note this back and forth in which @ClaraJeffery, who I do follow, sends a [email protected] reply to @AlyssaRosenberg, who I do not. The tweet showed up in my timeline, and also as conversation view.

I’m still waiting to hear back from Twitter as to what the official word is, but in the meantime, are you [email protected] replies? [imgclear]


Philip Bump reports that this may only be going on with the mobile apps, as per this piece in The Atlantic Wire. [imgclear]

Update 2: Twitter says it’s a bug, and they’re going to fix it.

Rod Begbie says it’s been happening for more than a year. (Here’s his discussion about it from January 2011.)