The new Twitter retweet system has been unleashed, and it's a classic example of taking something that worked, and breaking it. Rather than simplify something most regular Twitter users understood and used rather creatively, they have now created a hybrid pastiche of behaviors where retweets will mean different things to different people, depending on how they were generated, and which client is in use when perusing them.

It's just nutty. I was contemptuous of this idea from the start, and early experience from most users suggests that I was right to be. It's an example of what happens when people who own a service believe that their narrow experiences represent everyone else's, and what they may or may not want. As I tweeted recently:

The two biggest lies in business are: "Our research shows.." and "Our customers say they want…"

The old method of retweet will still work, but you can be sure the Twitter clients will all handle it differently. But all in all, rather than improve the experience, they have simply made it very difficult to understand who sees what, and why.  Far from simplifying things for new, or casual users, they have greatly convoluted them. Even experts aren't quite sure what happens, let alone able to explain it easily.

I just don't have time to really explain all of this right now, so I will just list a few articles that try to explain what they have done, and let you figure it out. I will try and clarify my take with updates, so bookmark this for later reference 

If someone comes across a really solid explanation of how it all works, please Tweet or email me, and I will pass it on here.

If you have specific understandings of the behaviors (and you are certain about them), post as comments below. I will edit and include them in a more formal guide later.

Why Retweet works the way it does  — Twitter CEO, Ev Williams explains in a way that will the most make sense (as far as this sense goes) to social media geeks and people who enjoy reading self-serving corporate business case modeling repackaged in pseudo user-interest clothing.

Project Retweet: Why It Will Change Twitter for the Better —  Mashable's take on the new Retweet before it was released. I find this article to be sorely lacking, and a bit of PR puffery planted by Twitter in an attempt to justify something they wanted to do anyway, and got help explaining the rationale wherever they could.

Save the Retweet — Dan Zarella's excellent early effort to prevent this farce from ever happening in the first place. (Wasn't loading at press time, but probably will soon.).


The Reviews Roll In: New Retweet=#FAIL