Updated: Alex Payne, a Twitter engineer, is shutting down his personal blog after a comment he posted on Twitter became the subject of a TechCrunch blog post and caused a minor firestorm among Twitter application developers and others involved with the company. The comment (which has since been deleted from Payne’s stream) referred to “some nifty site features” that had been implemented on the internal version of the Twitter site. The Twitter engineer said that if users had access to the same features, “you might not want to use third-party clients.”
As the TechCrunch post described, this caused a bit of consternation among developers, some of whom were concerned that Twitter would be implementing features that might compete with third-party Twitter tools such as Tweetdeck, Seesmic, etc. As TechCrunch writer MG Siegler noted in a post on his personal blog about the response to his piece, certain Twitter staffers were unimpressed with the article and expressed their displeasure (via Twitter, of course) over what they seemed to think was an overreaction to Payne’s comment.
So did the Twitter incident cause Payne to stop blogging? He says in his final blog post that while he intended the personal blog to be a place where he could talk about ideas, his posts had started to “spark whole conversations that I never intended to start in the first place, conversations that leech precious time and energy while contributing precious little back.” He also responded to someone on Twitter that he had been considering taking a break from blogging, but that the TechCrunch post “certainly pushed me to consider how I communicate.” And he said that he is “still baffled as to why anyone pays that level of attention to what I have to say.”
While the Twitter engineer said he will continue to use the service he helped create, it sounds like he will be more cautious about what he posts and the possible implications. He says: “Over time, I’m coming to realize what sort of messages I can communicate effectively via Twitter, and what sort I can’t.” And in a Twitter post, he says: “Learn from my mistake: talk about your business carefully.”
Although it’s too bad that Payne will no longer be sharing his thoughts about the service and its implications on his blog (which I confess I had become a fan of), it’s somewhat comforting to know that even one of the key architects behind this popular social media tool is still learning how to use it effectively — as we all are.
Update: Here’s a video clip of some Twitter staffers discussing Payne’s comments at a recent “tweetup” with Twitter developers at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco (thanks to Kosso from Phreadz, who posted a link to this video in a comment below):
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):