Actual Conversations On Twitter Not Possible Until Twitter Lets Us

One of the big complaints about Twitter is that conversations are hard to follow. Users can write a response to a Twitter message (or anything else), but the easy way to do this is to add an @[username] tag to the Twitter, which refers back to the original Twitter user. But by then that original user has often moved on to other subjects, and it becomes impossible to follow the conversation.

This morning a new service launched called Tweetree that tries to solve this problem by threading conversations. It works, sort of, but there are occasional errors as the service tries to match up which messages refer to what, and it rarely tracks deeper than one comment. Hardly a conversation.

This was all tried before with a service called Quotably, which actually worked much better than Tweetree. Quotably is now sadly in the Deadpool. Quotably was a good way to track conversations on Twitter, but it too had its problems keeping up.

The fact is that Twitter purposefully doesn’t want users to be able to track conversations. The content begins and ends with a discreet Twitter message, up to 140 characters long. Competitor Friendfeed does a nice job of tracking conversations by letting users reply to actual messages, not just users. Twitter, for whatever reason (possibly to keep things simple), just doesn’t want that. And until they do, nothing is going to change.

Tweetree has other features, like embedding videos and pictures that people link to into the stream. But without proper conversation tracking it won’t gather more than a handful of users, and will soon be forgotten.