No More Tweet Counts
Written by Lucy Black   
Friday, 27 November 2015

If you are a member of the Twitterati, last Friday was a sad day. Twitter turned off the Tweet counter feature and does not intend to restore it.


When we reported Twitter's intention to introduce redesigned buttons last month, we noted the fact that a consequence of this update would be the loss of the share count, something that many Twitter users really valued.

Now the change has been implemented and it is retrospective - you can no longer see how many Tweets an existing article on this site, or any other site, has had.

In the blog post referred to in @TwitterDev's Tweet, Michael Drucker tries to minimize the importance of the Tweet count writing:

The Tweet button counts the number of Tweets that have been Tweeted with the exact URL specified in the button. This count does not reflect the impact on Twitter of conversation about your content — it doesn’t count replies, quote Tweets, variants of your URLs, nor does it reflect the fact that some people Tweeting these URLs might have many more followers than others.

OK, it wasn't a perfect feature but it did provide information that was openly available.

Drucker also made the same point that we have often reiterated about not trusting proprietary APIs that can be changed on a whim. The way he puts it is:

Additionally, the “count API” has never existed as part of our public, supported and documented API endpoints; it was only intended for use by our own web widgets. We’ve often cautioned in our developer forums that use of such undocumented endpoints shouldn’t be relied upon, as we cannot commit to supporting them.

The reason for removing the count API is defended as being part of Twitter's migration away from Cassandra to its next generation distributed database known as Manhattan.

Drucker also suggests that the decision not to reimplement is essentially a financial one:

The choices are to deprecate the feature, or rebuild it on a more modern tech stack. Rebuilding has its own costs, and would delay our work on other, more impactful offerings for our developer community. After talking to several of the top customers affected, we chose to not continue the feature.

So far there hasn't been a huge outcry about the missing feature. Does this mean that it wasn't really that important after all?



More Information

Hard decisions for a sustainable platform


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Last Updated ( Friday, 27 November 2015 )