Twitter is reportedly in the alpha stages of experimenting with a new version of its service that would see @-replies become phased out. BuzzFeed reports that Vivian Schiller, head of news at Twitter, first hinted at it this week during the Newspaper Association of America’s mediaXchange conference.
She reportedly called @-replies “arcane” and stated “We are working on moving the scaffolding of twitter into the background.” The idea behind this change is that a more a more ‘streamlined’ approach to the service would help new users understand the concept of Twitter.
Schiller has been downplaying her statements when asked about them on Twitter but hasn’t ruled out the the fact that there may be some significant changes on the way.
When asked if @-replies could become pushed in the background, similar to what Twitter has done with retweets, Schiller stated: “There’s a lot of creative thinking going on around how to make Twitter more and more intuitive. Watch this space.”
Some of this creative thinking surfaced in a screenshot posted by BuzzFeed which shows Twitter appears to already be phasing out @-replies in its Android alpha test group app. BuzzFeed obtained the screenshot from a user in the test group, which shows the app has eliminated user handles in replies to tweets, connecting them instead with just a conversation line.
The screenshot can be seen at the bottom of this page. Keep in mind it’s just a test and things could change at any time, but it does confirm that Twitter is in fact entertaining the idea of phasing out the version @-replies that exist today.
While this change could make the service more accessible to new Twitter users, it could upset some of the more loyal, long-time users. What do you think of this potential change? Is it a step forward for the service, or should they just keep @-replies the way they are?