The other day, I saw the term "TDD" explained as "Twitter driven development", referring to the chance of "something happening" after sending a tweet to SE Inc. being much higher, compared to writing lengthy, polite question/answer requests here on MSE.

And answers or comments making such statements often see dozens of upvotes quickly. So there is a lot of agreement about that.

(Note: please don't get hung up on the term TDD-Twitter driven development. That is really just one example to point out the effectiveness of other "channels".)

Yet: it seems that nobody "walks that talk"?! When I turn to Twitter or Facebook, there is often zero community feedback to be found.

Example: the CEO tweeting about "the loop".

Only one comment on the same day, and just a handful on the next. And "like counts" all below 10 so far. Compare that to the first MSE question for that topic (4K views, tons and tons of answers, comments, votes).

Now: I am not at all suggesting that some shit-storm occurs on other media (seriously). That won't help.

But I am wondering: as said, we all (?) agree "other media are more effective", yet "silence" there.

Thus my question to the community: what are your specific reasons to not use such "alternative" ways to express your concerns?

(To be precise: I am not suggesting to abandon MSE and to form new communities elsewhere. I am merely curious why so many people say "X is helpful", but yet so few "do X").

  • 12
    I stated one reason here I'm lacking a Twitter account
    – rene
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 9:10
  • 20
    Same here. I refuse to use Twitter or Facebook.
    – Lundin
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 9:31
  • 3
    Just saying: I rarely use my "main" twitter account, until recently. And I got "another one", which I solely use to add likes here or there. I think there is a wide spectrum of ways to "use" Twitter without really going down the negative rabbit holes.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 9:57
  • 8
    Me too. Twitter wants me to "verify" myself by giving them my cell number. No thanks.
    – DK Bose
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 11:02
  • 5
    Because we're better than that. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 14:07
  • 1
    @curiousdannii So getting out a polite message that has a chance of being heard and acted upon ... is somehow "bad", when it doesnt happen on MSE? I really don't see how "being better" manifests itself in this context.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 14:10
  • 2
    @Ghostcat That description does not accurately apply to the previous cases of TDD that spawned the meme. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 14:12
  • 1
    @curiousdannii See my update to the question.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 14:15
  • I hope this question is not suggesting that TDD is helpful. I think it is more or less the opposite of helpful. One of the dark sides of social media impacts on the real world. Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 10:24
  • @Trilarion To me, this is about a "set of tools". I said repeatedly on MSE "the community lacks leverage". Without leverage, you have nothing but words when it comes to a conflict. Meaning: if TDD would work to convince SE Inc. to listen "more and better" to MSE posts ... then I would very much consider that helpful. That isn't the same as saying "the community should completely switch to TDD from hereon".
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 11:01
  • 1
    @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica I understand. I don't believe TDD works or has worked in that sense. It only worked to do things worse, that's why I said it's the opposite of helpful. It's not really development towards better, at least it was so far and I think that might be by design (similar to what Resistance Is Futile is saying in her answer). Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 11:29
  • There are some interesting responses on Twitter if you search for pchandrasekar feedback. Commented Nov 30, 2019 at 21:34

6 Answers 6


Because the community is gathered here; you'll maybe find a few fellow users on said social media channels, but nowhere near as many as here. When I voice a concern here, I'm certain it's viewed by many others who might feel the same way as I do. They'll express that with upvotes and supporting comments, which make me feel better. Elsewhere, the main reaction might be 'I have no idea what they're talking about'. It's far easier being the majority than being the minority.

Of course, there's a self-reinforcing effect here; the community is not on Twitter / Facebook (at least not for Stack Exchange related topic) because their peers aren't. There must be some threshold above which a sub-community on a social medium will start to grow rapidly, but I have no idea what that number would be - I don't use social media often enough.

  • 1
    I didn't say that we have to "form" a community there. It could be enough that a few well known users ... leave a tweet here or there, that then collects dozens or hundreds of likes over the rather short periods of times.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 9:21
  • 3
    I don't think it will collect such a number of likes unless there's a community, but that's just my 2 cents.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 9:23
  • 1
    Well, when links to Twitter/facebook show up here, and just 10% of the community click those, and leave a like here or there ... that alone would look different.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 9:59
  • There's a not-small Twitter community of SE people, involving staff, a bunch of the mods, and some of the power users. Recently, though, it seems to have quietly dissolved. People are still following each other, but actual SE stuff hardly comes up in discussion. I still cynically tweet at times, but...
    – Mithical
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 14:55

Twitter Driven Development only works if you are April Wensel [1] [2] or have 20K+ followers or your views align with views of SE management.

Yes, I posted few tweets now and then, not that I thought they will gain any traction nor give any results. I have seen other tweets from other members of the community, again without too much visible effect for the reasons stated above.

And since Sara Chipps measures her own KPI by the number of people she blocked on Twitter, any persistent criticism will be an exercise in futility.

  • 12
    This. I don't reply on Twitter because I expect censorship. There's enough censorship on MSE, so I'm not going somewhere where it's way worse.
    – Athari
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 12:00
  • 13
    @Sonic Do you have any particular reason why you removed persons name from my answer? I think it is relevant in this case because it is example that shows what kind of people do have influence on other medias. I haven't pulled it out of thin air. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 13:25
  • 3
    There's a place you can check for edit reasons: the edit summary. I'll also add that it's factually incorrect - back when the original tweets were made in early 2018, they actually didn't align with views of SE management, they resulted in a change. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 13:28
  • 5
    @SonictheReinstateMonica-hog Yes, I have read your reason and still didn't get it. I haven't said a single non-fact about particular person. Yes, probably instead of and I should have used or in sentence. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 13:53
  • 9
    I for one think that edit was wrong. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 14:38
  • 11
    @djsmiley2k, agreed. I don't know that April person but they tweeted under that name, and that's what they are known as here. I don't know what the intentional obfuscation is supposed to bring us. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 14:40
  • 3
    @SonictheReinstateMonica-hog How do you know that in 2018 that wasn't the view that SE management had?
    – Lamak
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 14:59
  • 1
    @Lamak: Because April Wensel very harshly criticised (so bold in some tweets that they were later deleted) Joel Spolsky (and Jeff Atwood) for promoting so-called "elitism" (in his blog posts). Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 3:54

Because, when the community tried to tweet to Sara Chipps, she took pleasure in the fact she could just block people.

Enter image description here

Sure - you can argue it's about trolls, or what not, but when you're in the position she's in, then it comes with the expectation that you're contactable. Now, surely the most sensible way to speak to SE would be via the SE platform?

Same way you'd talk to Facebook, via Facebook instead of going to Twitter. The fact of the matter is, it doesn't matter what communication method you use - 90% of it is ignored utterly, unless it happens to hit that magical point of going viral, at which point it becomes the most important thing right there and then. (Then proceeds to once again fade into the background of unimport once the flames die down).

  • 8
    I left critical tweets here and there, and not once have I been blocked. Neither by her, nor by the CEO, nor by SE Inc itself. So?
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 12:55
  • 5
    You seem to be saying she should not block trolls, because should should be "contactable" by them, that she should let them troll her.
    – Raedwald
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 13:00
  • 16
    You're only trolled when you respond (or care). I'm not saying she shouldn't block abusive people, I'm saying being proud of the fact you've blocked so many people, when in a position that you should be contactable and "open" is a weird thing to boast about. Imagine Elon Musk posting about how many train trips he's taken this quarter? Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 13:49
  • 12
    Blocking or not blocking is, in this context, not particularly relevant (though you may know my opinions about that). The message is important, and the message says that disagreement from third parties should not be considered, much less acted upon, because clearly the opposition is out of its collective mind whereas the poster has seen the light™ and is obviously right. Therefore, ignoring arguments from others is a positive road to success (KPI). I cannot emphasize more that this reasoning is flawed, trolls notwithstanding. (Well, I can, but I've been suspended before because of that.) Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 14:27
  • 1
    Thank you @FrédéricHamidi for putting into words my thoughts, so precisely. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 20:22
  • 1
    @FrédéricHamidi I agree, this is a very strange attitude for a supposed director of public q&a. But let's not forget: A) I am not talking about going after individuals with my question. I am asking "are there alternative ways to get SE Inc. to listen". B) that tweet is from her private account. And plenty of things on her Twitter account have no relationship with SO or SE Inc. ... and what I have learned, too: when you tweet in the wrong spot, then you end up with plenty of stupid, insulting, harassing responses. So you block. I guess what I am saying: the answer by Rebecca nicely outlines ...
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 8:28
  • 1
    the "deficiencies" of Twitter. And one of them is: people sometimes reduce themselves to short messages ... and these messages are mercilessly ripped apart, and tons and tons of intention is projected into 5 or 10 words. You speculate about motivation and intent. Maybe you are correct, but maybe things are more complicated. (but me, too, I disliked her tweet, and the fact that she doesn't consider it necessary to respond to negative feedback there, makes your points even more plausible). And, the +20 likes on some of the responses on her tweet since I put up this question ... maybe help, too
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 8:32
  • @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica "the +20 likes on some of the responses on her tweet since I put up this question ... maybe help" That's exactly what I don't like about Twitter and other social networks. For content platforms like this one up/downvotes are fully okay. But for my private life, I rather not have that. And in this case, it's even more complicated because the private persona of Sara Chipps and the professional one share the same account. For a private person this tweet would be fully okay and no further questions asked, for a professional representing a company, probably less. Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 11:40
  • 2
    @Trilarion I know, and I agree. But then: actions drive consequences. I wouldn't dream of putting up "SO related" stuff on SC's twitter feed. But when people who are somehow in the public view go forward and mix such things on their accounts, well. Actions have consequences.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 11:58

I can only speak for myself, but I dislike social media intensely. I have a Twitter account, and use it sparingly from time to time, but it feels like all of social media is trying to drag me into the molasses of wasting all of my time all the time.

Also, social media these days seems to be operating very much in a soundbyte and no-nuance fashion and tone, which is not very attractive for me to partake in nor is it very useful to have actual discourse.

While this here place is also plenty nuance free and has been getting worse lately, it's still nowhere near as bad as Reddit or Twitter. Those places are where productivity and happiness go to die the death of a thousand cuts. In general: no thanks.

  • For some Twitter obviously works. Not sure how, maybe they are better with it or they have a higher tolerance of the faults of it. Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 11:34

The term TDD is mostly just a joke with a bit of underlying truth behind it.

As long as the company somewhat agrees with the opinions of its users, the "usual" channels work as intended. Things like the feedback on voting rewards or how "the loop" is going to be received by the community will of course get most feedback right here on meta. This feedback also works as long as the company agrees that it's actually a good thing.

It's when the company does not agree with the general users that things reverse. Posting and arguing here on their own SE sites becomes fruitless since they'll just ignore it anyway. That's when the users will try other things to force the company to listen.

One of those things is to affect the world's opinion about said company. This can be influenced by popular social media platforms. If Twitter somehow blows up with a very negative view of the company, they really cannot ignore it anymore or they risk losing any potential new users, and combined with the already unhappy existing users, they risk losing everything.

Hence, they will listen to certain tweets, which makes the TDD joke funny.

Does this mean that the SE Inc actually does Twitter-driven development? Of course not! Tweets usually aren't really effective anyway to get anything done from a company. The only thing that matters is when you can strike just enough fear coming from public exposure to force certain things to not be ignored.

  • Fully agree. In a way, the Twitter posts that had an impact on the company were more political in nature (aimed at public shaming). The generalization of that would probably be political campaigning. Not that I want to be part of that. Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 11:33

...what are your specific reasons to not use such "alternative" ways to express your concerns?

For starters, Twitter and Facebook are both blocked in China.

Twitter, in particular, is not to my taste: I'm only interested in hearing well-thought-out ideas, supported by evidence (e.g. data explorer queries) or at least a reasonable argumentation. I don't feel like I can learn from snappy quips by random people on the internet (even if they are enjoyable).

Facebook is for family and friends. I once posted on Facebook about a Area 51 site proposal I thought they would be interested in, and people thought I was posting about aliens. They just don't "get it".

As for in-person communication: I talk about math.SE and MathOverflow at conferences. I sometimes mention Chinese.SE to people who are learning Chinese. But nobody seems majorly interested.

  • 1
    You are missing a lot then. The powerful side of Twitter is about finding those people who are worth following. When you pay attention to that, you can learn something new every time you go there. Because such people often do exactly that: present well thought ideas, based on documented evidence. But I agree that "being blocked out" is an extremely inhibition.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 4:51
  • @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica She is also gaining a lot by not doing Twitter, mostly time to do other things. I usually read magazines to get to know well thought ideas (long term subscriber of national geographic and some science magazines). Couldn't do that if I hadn't the time for it. It's always some kind of compromise with time. Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 10:22

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