Summary: At some point this summer, the ability to view a Twitter user’s recent images in a gallery/grid view vanished without warning. Twitter employees claim this is an “experiment”, but I’ve never heard of testing out crappy ideas just for the fun of it. What else could be behind this change and what are other users saying about it?
***UPDATE 10/1/12 – This afternoon I received a tweet from Belgian programmer Jean-Philippe Blary, stating that he had created a workaround in the form of a Google Chrome extension. I’ve added to Chrome on my machine and so far so good. Check it out and let me know how it works for you.***
Jean-Philippe Blary @blary_jp
@VTDesignWorks Hi guy! I created a Chrome extension to retrieve the carousel of thumbnails on Twitter! https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/please-bring-back-photo-g/dphcimgkdmgbfalcacldkcoedhbkijde
11:34 a.m. – Oct 1, 2012
Jean-Philippe Blary @blary_jp
@blary_jp @VTDesignWorks You can find an explanation in english here: https://github.com/blaryjp/twitter-slideshow
11:35 a.m. – Oct 1, 2012
You know how when you’re looking at an individual Twitter user’s profile you often like to click on “Recent Images” to check out some of the photos they post? Yeah, well if you’ve tried this at all over the past several months, you’ve probably run in to the same problem I have – grid view disappeared. Oddly the “grid” URL is still active, it just shows the most recent image:
If you’re new to Twitter, allow me to explain – Twitter’s recent images “Grid View” option was essentially the album/gallery view that allowed you to skim over thumbnails to determine which images you actually wanted to see in full size. Obviously this is preferable to having to start at the most recent image and flip/click through each one individually, and it’s pretty standard online photo gallery/album functionality. As I recall, Twitter even had a “Grid View” button in the upper right so you could easily return after viewing individual photos.
Twitter is rolling out “user galleries” to members beginning Monday. Galleries will display the 100 most-recent images the user has tweeted — dating back to January 1, 2010 — from supported photo-sharing services.
Galleries will live on a user’s profile and highlight a few recent images. A visitor can click the “view all” button to see even more images in either a grid view showing image thumbnails or a detail view highlighting the most-recent image and the text of the tweet that was shared along with it.
Even the images in those posts seem outdated because the recent image galleries evolved visually over the last year, before their sudden disappearance this summer, when we were all like:
So what exactly happened? Judging by this forum posting, it seems like a lot of people are asking the same question. In another thread on the same topic, Twitter employee Taylor Singletary sought to clarify:
@episod Taylor Singletary
This is not a bug so much as a current experiment. Twitter has never had galleries, but it was easy to interpret the grid view as being gallery-like. You may see a return to the grid-based views or other improvements in the future.
So, Twitter created a feature that everyone liked and is now “experimenting” with getting rid of it? I’m with the commenters in both of the aforementioned threads. Please bring back grid view, Twitter!!! I especially like the first response to Taylor Singletary:
Experiment failed. Please put it back. Obviously your users prefer the old method of being able to view all the images in a grid like fashion rather than having to scroll through one at a time. The current method of viewing images is annoying.
This one was good too:
@SherylLeee Sheryl S.
An experiment? What’s the hypothesis?
As funny as that is, it actually also raises a serious point – what is the purpose of the experiment? It seems ridiculous to think they were testing whether users preferred the grid view or not, because it should have been obvious that everyone would prefer an option that doesn’t require them to click through a huge slideshow to see individual pictures. But what else could they be testing? Given the unlikelihood that they’d be testing this, it sounds to me like a cover-up for some sort of programming screw-up that hasn’t been fixed. Maybe something broke during one of the big mystery outages they had this summer. Then again, certainly they have people with the skills needed to resolve something like this quickly and easily. Still, the fact that the URL (see earlier screenshot) still has “grid” would indicate a bug of some sort.
Clearly my conspiracy theory needs work, but the company line about an “experiment” is even more flimsy, so what is likely the real story? Twitter is a business, so Occam’s Razor would indicate revenue is involved. Did Twitter discover that with the addition of the gallery view, users were spending more time looking at those photos, which meant there were fewer opportunities to display advertisements (Promoted Tweets)? Whatever the real reason, no one seems to like the change, but the only way I think we’ll see recent image grid view come back is if enough people tweet their outrage. Even then there are no guarantees. Think about how popular, yet at the same time awful Facebook can be.
So, we’ll all have to wait and see if Twitter comes to its senses. In the meantime, I can only prescribe a strict course of: