In an effort to make the service more useful, Twitter has turned replies into Mentions. The reason for this change is because so many Twitter users will use the @username phrase in the middle of a tweet. Before this change Twitter would only treat it as a reply if the @username was placed in the beginning of a tweet, but now Twitter will treat a tweet with @username as a mention no matter where it is placed.
This is a good move for Twitter but I still think there is room for improvement with regards to replies (now mentions). Twitter needs to place a link next to every tweet pointing to a list of replies to it. Several times a week I will find myself looking at a tweet by a popular user, that user is asking a question in the tweet, I would like to see answers to it but the tweet was posted 6 hours ago. In a circumstance where the tweet is fairly new I can just jump over to Twitter Search and type in @username, but when it is an old tweet trying to find replies to that specific tweet is terribly difficult to find.
The data to filter like this is there, Twitter knows what tweet you are replying to (or mentioning) when you use @username in a tweet, but currently the only use (that I know of) of that data is showing you what tweet someone is replying to.
For example I’m looking at a tweet by @gruber with @dooce in it, underneath it is the link: “in reply to dooce”, this is very useful because I get some context about what @gruber is talking about, but what would be more useful is if @dooce’s original tweet would allow me to find @gruber’s tweet.