Sunday, January 2, 2011

Twitter's New Interface Still Has Issues (API Pop-Up Box Asks Me to Log In)

So, if I was running a social media service like Twitter, one which faces stiff competition, I would place a priority on fixing bugs. After all, if there are other places where people can share what is going on in their lives without bugs, people will tend to share there instead. Which is why it makes no sense to me that Twitter has had a known bug in its new web interface for about a year now.

This bug randomly pops up a dialog box asking for User Name and Password. If that wasn't bad enough, the box seizes focus and suddenly appears over the top of another browser window, which is annoying to say the least. However, that's not quite as annoying as the statement on the Twitter site saying "We are still in the preliminary stage of identifying the causes of this problem."

Great! Six months or more of complaints and you're still in the preliminary stage of finding out what the problem is? What other company gets to treat its customers like this? As a CISSP the headline statement that "Your account is not being phished/compromised" is particularly worrying. I mean a. How do you know? b. What a great scam. Here's how a bad actor intent on stealing user names and passwords could proceed: Create a phishing box that looks like the one that Twitter claims is not a scam. People Google the problem and get assurance from Twitter that this is not a scam, and the scam cheerfully carries on.

For about 15 minutes some 15 days ago I thought the bug was fixed, but n-o-o-o it came back, and it is ugly. It makes the new interface impossible for me to use in Firefox. I'm not going to switch browsers just to use the new interface. It should work in Firefox, which has more users than Twitter. So I am still using the old version of Twitter, which is not a huge inconvenience, but now Twitter has started telling me "You’re using an older version of Twitter that won’t be around for much longer." 

Great! Who would have thought this was a good business plan: Introduce a new version, discover and document bugs, fail to fix them, then make people use the new version. Just in case you think this is me being dumb or curmudgeonly, check out this page where Twitter cheerfully documents the bug as though it was of little concern, and more than 100 people describe their frustration with this ongoing problem.

I was going to supply my own comment but Twitter was over capacity last time I tried. IMHO this is not a sustainable business model, unless the point is to drive Twitter traffic to other interfaces or other social media services such as Facebook (which has never told me it is over capacity and has, despite an awkward interface, relatively few bugs).