Colm Doyle A Developer Relations professional in Dublin, Ireland.

Twitter Sued for Nonpayment of Rent on San Francisco Office

Robert Burnson, reporting for Bloomberg:

Twitter hasn’t paid rent on its headquarters, or any of its other global offices, in weeks, the New York Times reported on Dec. 13. The company was also sued earlier this month for refusing to pay for two charter flights.

Twitter potentially getting kicked out of offices mere weeks after insisting everyone has to return to the office full time is about as hilarious as it is sad.

This is in addition to reports that Musk has cut things like cleaning services at the offices, leading to employees bringing in their own toilet paper.

I have to imagine the combination of forcing people back to offices and not cleaning those same offices is ripe for a constructive dismissal case, in EU member states anyway.

Bring back personal blogging

Monique Judge, writing for The Verge:

In the beginning, there were blogs, and they were the original social web. We built community. We found our people. We wrote personally. We wrote frequently. We self-policed, and we linked to each other so that newbies could discover new and good blogs.

I remember keeping a blog in my teens, including on GeoCities, and I do wonder if the argument above will be my generation’s “It was better in my day”. Every generation since mine has grown up on the web, so it’s only natural that when we get nostalgic for the past, it’s going to be about some aspect of our online experiences.

And honestly, I do remember the internet being, I dunno, friendlier back then. There’s still pockets of it to be sure, but by and large discussions on the internet can sometimes be more stress than it’s worth these days.

Regardless, this article really resonated with me and is a far more eloquent description of why I started to move almost all my writing here and off things like twitter threads.

You have another notification you didn't want or need

Linked notification

I must get a notification like this from LinkedIn at least once a week. Perhaps it’s the result of a notification job triggering that requires such a complex data fetch to display the actual intended message that it’s more efficient to simplify notify me that something is waiting for me on LinkedIn, but I cannot help but assume that a team somewhere in LinkedIn has a metric they’re goaled on which tracks the conversion rate from pushes sent to app opens, and this notification is absolute rocket fuel for that metric. And when it comes to metrics, you’ll always get the behaviours you reward, even if they’re not the behaviours you want.

Notification abuse is commonplace

The reality is that whilst this is a standout example of clickbait style notifications, LinkedIn is far from the only culprit. Almost every app considers notifications as a “growth” channel and not as a tool to notify users of important or time-sensitive information. Just last week, Instagram felt, at 11pm local time, that I urgently needed to know “Check out some of the most watched reels in Ireland today 🇮🇪”. I’m sure that’s true, but I’m also sure that I can find that information for myself if I want to and there’s no way it was time-sensitive.

Uber has even gone so far as to put literal ads into their push notifications. Apple updated their guidelines in 2020 to explicitly allow promotions, so I’m not sure this is even a violation of their own rules, but it’s still a pretty egregious example of how notifications are being abused.

Less is actually more

The funny thing is that a recent piece of research by Meta, who probably in total send more of these notifications than any other company on the planet, suggests that fewer and better notifications will actually lead to higher engagement and lower churn.

We discovered that the initial loss of visitation from fewer notifications gradually recovered over time, and after an extended period, it had fully recovered and even turned out to be a gain.

The problem is that it takes a long time to get to that point. Meta ran that experiment for a year. Most companies don’t have the patience to wait that long, and so they just keep sending notifications, hoping that one day they’ll get it right.

It’s time for some self restraint

So if spammy notifications provide short term gain, and it’s so common that even the platform owners themselves have done it, then what can we do about it?

Honestly, when it comes to punitive actions, there’s nothing we can do. Clearly Apple is okay with this behaviour so they’re not going to update the App Store Guidelines, but I don’t know that I’ve ever met a user that is excited about notifications like these.

What’s really missing is a way for users to provide actionable feedback to developers to say that specific types of notifications are not useful to them. Being able to identify valuable types of notifications like that is how Meta knew what to keep and what to trim in that year long experiment, but there’s very few companies who have the resources to do that kind of research.

Until the platforms build that kind of capability, or we’re all willing to invest in building it app by app, all we can really do as people who work in the industry is ask ourselves if the notifications our apps send are valuable for a metric we’re chasing, or valuable for user receiving it, but honestly, we’ve shown that those two things are not always the same thing

At the end of the day, shouldn’t we always be optimising for the latter?

New laws on tipping in Ireland

From the Workplace Relations Commission in Ireland:

From 1 December 2022, the Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and Gratuities) Act 2022 introduces new rules as to how employers have to share tips, gratuities and service charges amongst employees.

I’d noticed signage in various businesses recently which outlined how tips were disbursed, so I assumed legislation was coming, but apparently it’s already in effect.

I lived in California for a few years, and even though that certainly felt like a state with some modicum of worker’s rights (from the perspective of an EU citizen anyway), it still had scenarios that felt bizarre to me, like tips being used for a worker’s basic pay instead of the employer paying them directly. This legislation specifically outlaws that practice here in Ireland. It also specifcally calls out gig worker style arrangements and how tipping should in that situation.

A ‘contract worker’ is a person who carries out work other than as an employee, including on a contract for service. ‘Platform workers’ who are engaged in contracts for services will benefit from tips and gratuities. Those who use contract workers to deliver services will be required to display a contract workers tips and gratuities notice.

It’s great to see progress here, and also means I no longer have to clarify how much my server is going to get if I pay by card.

Followgraph: Find awesome people on Mastodon

Followgraph is a new tool from Gabi Purcaru that helps you discover new people to follow on Mastodon. The decentralised nature of Mastodon makes it hard to do this kind of discovery, so it’s good to see someone trying to solve this problem.

One particularly nice feature of the tool is that it doesn’t require any kind of privileged access to your account. It uses public data from the Mastodon API to find people you might like to follow.