Twitter changed the game with their new rules that significantly limit the usage of their API. Much has been written about that but nobody actually asked some very important questions that I’m curious about. Before publishing them here I sent these questions to top technical bloggers and journalists, and they didn’t seem to be interested at all (not even a reply). But I still don’t believe that the questions are irrelevant, so here they are. If twitter doesn't answer them, at least I hope to get some “most likely” answers in the comments:
- Why do you need these limitations? We all assume that it’s because of your business model, and we are totally fine with you making money, but how is imposing these limitations helping? If you want to display ads, can’t you simply send the ads with the API, and cut API access for those filtering the ads? Or, alternatively, make the API paid (pay-per-usage) – this worked for Google. Or a hybrid solution – if you are a displaying tweets in real time, pay, otherwise use it for free.
- Why the display guidelines? What’s the benefit of a unified display for you and for the users? Users so far have been perfectly aware that they are reading and interacting with tweets even if the tweets are formatted differently. Furthermore – you’ve been changing twitter.com a lot in the past. Imposing a unified look will mean either that you won’t change anything in the future, or that API clients will have to make changes every now and then.
- Will you kill TweetDeck? It is a traditional client which currently violates a lot of the new rules.
- Have you considered that browser add-ons and smartphone apps can still do whatever they want with tweets and you can’t do anything about it? A browser add-on can modify the look, can append additional actions, etc, without using the API. Likewise, a mobile app can have an embedded browser and modify the DOM. Existing clients may move in that direction and you won’t be able to enforce your rules. It will just be less convenient for the developers.
- Why are you blocking additional actions for tweets? The rules say that you can’t have any addition action attached to a tweet. But these are options that many users like and want - translate a foreign tweet, schedule a retweet, reshare the tweet to other networks, email a tweet, read-it-later, and more. Why are you are effectively killing a lot of useful functionality? How does that contribute to your business goals?
- Did you know that the new rules will cause a lot of “collateral damage” and in what way is this justified? You may have wanted to kill “traditional clients” only, but so far the integration with instagram, tumblr, linkedin, ifttt (and more) has been broken (some of these are not necessarily due to the changes themselves, but to youroverall intention to more strictly enforce rules)
- Why do you say that your users own their content, but you don’t allow them to have it distributed to other channels (the reason linkedin and ifttt dropped twitter support)? They can still do that by manually pasting it to all these channels, but why making it harder for them?
- Do you know that your apps and web client are not that good? I can’t use the twitter app for android because it is slow and gets stuck all the time, so I use TweetDeck. Also, your clients lack a lot of little things that make me choose other clients.
- Why aren’t you answering questions of developers (mine, at least)? I emailed every relevant email address I found and also asked at the discussion forum. After my initial “rage” against the new rules I decided to approach the issue in a more civilized manner and asked you how exactly can I change my service to conform to your rules. But no answer for a month and a half now.