Twitter CEO Evan Williams Expands On Project Retweet, Says Future Editing "Possible"

Over at his blog, Twitter CEO Evan Williams has written a detailed explanation of the thought process that went into Twitter’s re-imagining of the standardised, what he calls organic retweet function that Twitter veterans have come to know and love.

It’s worth reading the article in full, but I draw your specific attention to Williams’ remark about how this first build of the internal RT function does not allow the retweeter to (in any way) edit or comment within the tweet.

The other thing some people will not like is that, unlike organic RTs, there’s no way to annotate or leave your own comment when you retweet something with the new system. Some people annotate with every retweet, some don’t do it at all. But it’s definitely useful in certain scenarios. We left it out of this first version mostly for simplicity. It’s especially tricky when you consider transports like SMS where adding a lot of structure or additional content is hard. But we have some ideas there, and it’s possible we’ll build that in at a later date. (This point should not be missed.)

Because of this, and on the likelihood of those same Twitter veterans continuing to use the organic retweet method, Williams adds:

What about those cases where you really want to add a comment when RTing something? Keep in mind, there’s nothing stopping you from simply quoting another tweet if that’s what you want to do. Also, old-school retweets are still allowed, as well. We had to prioritize some use cases over others in this release. But just as Twitter didn’t have this functionality at all before, people can still work around and do whatever they want. This just gives another option.

Williams also makes the point that sometimes you can see too many instances of the same retweet in your timeline, and one of the positives of this new system is that it will cut down on lot of this noise.

Assuming that is, of course, the small but vocal Twitter minority don’t ignore it entirely. I think that second build can’t really come soon enough. The dilemma then, of course, is that an edited retweet is an different tweet entirely, and therefore has to be treated and presented as such, which brings us back to the noise. It’s a tricky one to compromise and I would suspect that whatever the outcome a certain percentage of users are going to be unhappy. After all, they nearly always are.