Twitter proclaims the death of the #DickBar

Ronny Kerr · March 31, 2011 · Short URL:

The QuickBar, which displayed trends on Twitter for iPhone, lived a short, unappreciated life

Less than a month after Twitter launched the latest major version of its iPhone app, the company has issued a new version that removes one of the most publicly detested features from the previous update: the QuickBar, or, as it was lovingly nicknamed by iPhone tweeters, the #DickBar.

Days after the initial rollout, Twitter quickly updated the app to address user concerns, but apparently it wasn't enough to stem the flow of complaints.

Though Twitter still believes there’s value in a feature that can promote trending topics and other things happening on the site outside of the user’s personalized stream, the company wants to start building that feature from scratch:

“Rather than continue to make changes to the QuickBar as it exists, we removed the bar from the update appearing in the App Store today,” writes Doug Bowman, Creative Director at Twitter. “We believe there are still significant benefits to increasing awareness of what’s happening outside the home timeline. Evidence of the incredibly high usage metrics for the QuickBar support this. For now, we’re going back to the drawing board to explore the best possible experience for in-app notification and discovery.”

User complaints about the QuickBar were all across the board but, in general, the thing irritated people because it took space and attention away from the timeline for irrelevant and uninteresting trends. On top of that, the bar naturally incorporated Twitter’s Promoted Trends, which turned people off who thought that maybe the company had sacrificed product quality for the sake of advertising space.

A quick look at Bowman’s own Twitter account (@stop) reveals a couple more details as to what exactly didn’t work about the QuickBar and what it’s future looks like.

The most obvious, of course, is the lack of an option to simply disable the bar, which Bowman says “would have been ideal.”

When asked how hard it would be to make the bar personally relevant by showing trends based on people followed, interests and shared links, Bowman admits that it’s harder than it sounds: “More difficult than you think, especially at scale. Believe me, we're trying.” At least we know they’re working on it.

In the end, the positive side of this story is that Twitter is no Facebook. One would imagine that if Facebook had released a feature like this that sparked user outcry, nothing would have really changed. Facebook has a habit (good or bad, it’s debatable) of sticking to its guns, no matter what. Twitter seems a little more open to user reception.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.