First of all, I honestly believe that Twitter HQ values developers and appreciates their contribution. That is why I decided to devote myself to this area a couple of years ago. I was amazed that when a dev reported a problem the engineer responsible replied here and tried to solve it. That is better than any big product I know of today. That is why you have so many developers putting in all this work.
I also believe that the last few announcements from Ryan and others have been the worst examples of third party developer management I have seen in 30 years in this business. I can see what Ryan wanted to accomplish in his latest message. He wanted to provide guidance. He ended up telling us that Twitter no longer wanted anyone to build clients, didn't explain clearly what a "client" meant to him, and pointed out that hundreds of apps that fail to meet his undefined "high bar" were cut off every week. Not good. Sorry, Ryan. You are right. You are not good at communicating with third party developers. At least not in written form. You look like a very cool guy with a lot of personal charm. Maybe it works better in person. You should spend some time talking directly to developers in small groups. It might help you develop some canned responses that work. Here is a simple way this could have been prevented. If you had a developer relations person with experience and skills in dealing with third party developers, who have completely different motivations from in-house coders, he or she could have quietly passed around a draft of what you wanted to say. This would have gotten very strong negative reactions. You would have been able to reformulate it to strip out the implied threats and turn it into a positive roadmap. It could have been framed as "Here are some areas we promise to leave open for developers. If you work here, we will give you all kinds of extra support and promotion." Here is another simple way this could have been prevented. Create an advisory board of developers. Rotate people through it every 6-12 months. Let them vet announcements in advance. Let them respond to the questions. It works in every other company I have worked with. Here is what could be done instead of these repeated bombs you keep dropping on the community. Give people a present. Announce that you will use some of your precious ad space to promote third party apps, and not just the ones with millions of dollars of VC who happen to work in your building. Find new ways to rev share with developers. Offer all expense paid trips to select developers to visit your office for a day to hang out. HOLD A DEVELOPERS CONFERENCE. There are many other things a good developer relations person could do. Talk to Guy. That is how he started for Apple. One last thing. Give this developer relations person a seat at the table when big decisions are made. I can read lots of signals, like this "high bar" nonsense, that there are negative attitudes inside Twitter towards developers. They are a pain in the ass. Yes. But they do hundreds of millions of dollars in development and promotion for you for free. Hire someone good for $100K+. Give them a million dollar budget to really take care of developers and run conferences and get togethers around the world. It will pay off many times over. -- Twitter developer documentation and resources: http://dev.twitter.com/doc API updates via Twitter: http://twitter.com/twitterapi Issues/Enhancements Tracker: http://code.google.com/p/twitter-api/issues/list Change your membership to this group: http://groups.google.com/group/twitter-development-talk