Isn't what you are describing the task of a developer advocate, Taylor
Singletary and Matt Harris (and others?)?
On 3/14/11 2:44 PM, Adam Green wrote:
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
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