Thank you, Twitter, for suspending my account and not communicating with me about it, aside from sending me a set of automatically-generated instructions when I filled out the challenge form on Tuesday night. I needed something to blog about today, so you did me a favor. Thank you even more for restoring my privileges before posting time today, because now I can be magnanimous with this rant.
I am sure there’s a reasonable explanation for the suspension, and I am not writing this to complain about it. This isn’t really a complaint at all. It’s more a critique of the business practices you have forced me to observe over the last couple of days. And to share my feelings, of course.
I am not sure when you actually suspended me. I discovered it around midnight Dec. 3. I went and checked for a message from you giving me notice of the suspension, and my inbox was empty. Then I went to your suspension page and did some reading. I went to best practices and rules and read some more, trying to figure out why my account was suspended. I finally gave up trying to figure it out and just filled out the challenge form.
Once I filled out the form, I received an auto-generated message telling me to read all the stuff I’d just spent two hours poring over. I responded as instructed. Aside from the restoration of my privileges at noon today, which I am very grateful for, I have not received a single word of communication from you. Not even an autoreply acknowledging my message on Tuesday night or my follow-up message this morning.
WTF, Twitter? If you can auto-generate the “Follow Suggestions” and “Trending on Twitter” messages that continually clog my inbox, why can’t you send me a receipt for a support inquiry?
Here are a some things you could have done instead of suspending me without notice and failing to communicate with me for two days:
1. You could have sent me an auto-generated notice of suspension and then sent me an auto-generated acknowledgement once I followed your instructions.
2. You could have suspended my account for a specified period of time, explained to me exactly what I was doing wrong, and then reinstated my privileges on the condition that I not commit the same transgression again.
You did neither of those things.
What all this makes me wonder, Twitter, is:
Is this level of communication with your users indicative of your other day-to-day business practices?
I have to say my suspension felt punitive and it didn’t have to. I am happy to follow your little rules (it is your platform, after all), at least to the extent I can understand them from reading your web pages.
What I am not happy with is having a suspended account, being left to guess what I did wrong, and not knowing how you would respond if I simply created another account using my other email address.
I am even less happy about the fact that I had dead links to my Twitter account on two blogs that I update every day, on a public freakin’ Google Plus page, and on my LinkedIn profile for an unspecified period of time because YOU killed those links and did not have the courtesy to shoot me an email telling me what you’d done.
This is no way to treat a new user who has almost zero invested in your service and has no problem simply walking away and talking bad about you to everyone he knows if you continue to piss him off.
I know a single suspended account doesn’t look like a big deal, but little things have a way of piling up. It is in your best interest to look at this and figure out whether it’s just one of those things that happens sometimes, or whether it is indicative of some organizational or cultural flaw that you need to fix. If it’s the latter, and you ignore it, you are going to wake up one day and realize all the little things have turned into one huge snowball.
You really don’t want Wall Street to decide you are overvalued just at the same moment a large portion of your user base is starting to look for alternatives. That would not be very good for your stock price; and it is exactly what happens to companies that systematically alienate consumers of their product.
One last thing, Twitter. I AM STILL GUESSING ABOUT WHY YOU SUSPENDED MY ACCOUNT. I think I know why, but I cannot be sure unless you tell me. And until I am sure, I have no way of knowing whether or not my behavior is risking another suspension.
I am a blogger. Most of my “personal status updates” come with links. Not just links to my blogs; links to things I find on other blogs as well. That is what bloggers do. We share links with one another all the time. Links are a sort of currency to us and we use them to show positive regard to one another.
Your policies that deal with links are vague and possibly self-contradictory in places. It is impossible to read them and form a rational opinion about what you, Twitter, consider to be acceptable link-sharing. Please clarify them on your web pages or send me an email answering the questions I asked in my first email to you on Dec. 3.
And please explain to me why you allow commerical news organizations to spam links all day long while you’re suspending a user that’s following fewer than 150 people and had a total of 62 tweets on his timeline at the time his account was suspended.