It seems from talking to lots of people there is still some considerable confusion around how Twitter @replies work. The problem is that @replies are a vital part of Twitter, they make it more about discussion than “status updates”.
The Twitter folks have never had a comfortable relationship with using Twitter for discussion. In fact @Replies took a while to come to the service, they were a community invention, then third party tools included buttons and tools to make it easier, and finally Twitter gave in to pressure and added support.
As you can see at the Twitter Blog even back last year they were worried about replies appearing in public streams …
We’re trying to avoid the situation of you hearing someone answer a question when you didn’t hear the question (for instance). Also, you don’t have to hear answers to the question from people you don’t want to hear from. (If you’re not following them, you won’t see their answer.)
They made it so you had to opt-in to all replies. In the end, they took away this ability altogether.
Twitter’s logic is quite compelling, until you realize that some people, me included, like to see discussion with people I am not following! It was a key way that I found new people to follow. If someone I was watching sent an interesting response to someone I did not know, I would hit the “in reply to” link in TweetDeck to get context. This was a key way I found new people to follow, and I miss it.
There is a workaround, but not for followers, it has to be initiated by the Tweeter. Twitter shows any tweet that does not start with @ to all of your followers. So if you want your reply to be seen by the recipient and everyone else, start with a character other than @. For example:
Yes @chrisgarrett Twitter SHOULD fix their reply system
Do you agree that Twitter made a mistake with this change or do you prefer to only see replies to people you are already following? Please share your thoughts in the comments.