Yesterday, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey launched an interesting experiment, asking his nearly four million followers to send him what they want to see the company improve or create.
The replies ranged from basic design gripes to extinguishing national socialism, but today Dorsey boiled the responses down to four basic themes. The result is a kind of New Year’s resolution list for a company that’s coming off a very rough year. It’s not everything that came up, but it’s clearly the four areas Dorsey finds most compelling.
Thanks for all the feedback yesterday! 4 clear themes you want us to work on: abuse, edit, topics & interests, and conversations. https://t.co/hMJMZ3P0Rz— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
Abuse: obviously a ton of work ahead but biggest ask was for greater transparency around our actions (or inaction) and faster shipping— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
Edit: clearest ask was to provide a quick way to fix errors. Anything beyond requires showing edit history given tweets are public record— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
Topics: lots here but simply being able to follow topics was strongest request. Being more topic/interest-focused (v account) opens up a lot— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
Conversations: this is a big part of the magic of Twitter and currently really difficult to follow & manage. We'll work to make this easier— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
We'll consider everything we heard from you. Not going to ship all of it, but will be more transparent about why and what we learned— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
This is a pretty good list! Starting with abuse is smart, since it’s easily the most urgent and complex problem facing the platform, but making any progress on the other three would also be a pretty good way to get people excited about Twitter.
The bad news is, Dorsey is punting on each of them and for obvious reasons. On the abuse front, the problem isn’t a lack of transparency so much as a lack of consistent tools and policies. But building those tools and enforcing those policies is expensive and time-consuming, so transparency is probably the best we’re likely to see.
Editing tweets is another example. There’s a lot of interest in the idea, but Dorsey’s proposed the weakest version of it, because any stronger version would quickly present an avenue for abuse and a threat to Twitter’s value as a public record of events.
The other two themes describe genuinely compelling additions to Twitter, both attractive to users and potentially valuable sources of income. But capturing that excitement would mean building and shipping a real product. As Anil Dash pointed out in his own wish list, Twitter has had real problems doing that, and it’s hard to believe the ravages of 2016 will make it any easier.
That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The future is unwritten, and if Dorsey can execute on these ideas over the year to come, we may all spend next December writing about how 2017 was the year Twitter turned things around. But if this is the company’s new direction, it will be flying against a very strong wind.
Disclosure: The Verge is partnering with Twitter for a live show at CES, which should be fun! Hopefully they’re not mad about this piece, which is an independent editorial product.