Limitations of twitter

10 Apr 2008 - 12:48am
8 years ago
8 replies
2495 reads

This one's for the twitter users out there.
What limitations do you face using twitter? I for one would like to be
able to see all posts from a single user in one place, be able to post
pics, have twitter convert the URL into a tinyURL before submitting
the post so I know how much more typing space is left....

What limitations do you face?

Sachendra Yadav


10 Apr 2008 - 7:21am
Dave Malouf

Hi Sachendra,

I love Twitter, but one of the main reasons I love it is the API. If
I don't like something about native Twitter, there is always someone
out there creating a better GUI to handle so many of these problems.

I recommend Spaz or Twhirl as they are X-platform, stable and great
features that you can't get in Twitter native client.

one of your issues is in the native client. Just go to[id] and you see all the posts of a single user.
(Is that what you meant?)

I like the idea of "concatenating" the URL when it is typed, i.e.
when I type a URL hitting "space" should auto-change it into a
tiny-like URL. There is no reason that a tool like Spaz or Twhirl
can't do this themselves.

Features that I'd like might be more about the API (meaning 3rd
parties couldn't do it unless Twitter makes it available):

1. I'd love to be able to create groups of people that I follow and
turn on device notifications based on group selection.

2. I'd like to be able to have views of "conversations" (or
threads) so that if I have a back&forth across time that it is easier
to track a thread. Sometimes a reply happens hours after the initial
message (in an email way) but it gets lost. (@'s and directs).

3. I think the back-channel stuff is interesting but should be made
easier. has taken on a piece of this, but what we did
for Interaction08 was just great!

-- dave

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Posted from the new

10 Apr 2008 - 6:10am

It would be nice to see both sides of someone else's conversation without
having to go digging.

Martin Polley
Technical writer, etc.
+972 52 3864280

Sachendra Yadav <sachendra at> wrote:

> What limitations do you face using twitter?

10 Apr 2008 - 7:50am

Hi Dave,

What I meant was viewing "conversations" like you mentioned in your
second point. Something like what Gmail does would be cool where I
could expand/collapse conversations.
I also like Martin's idea of giving both sides of conversation, I
think facebook's Wall does something similar.

Sachendra Yadav

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Posted from the new

10 Apr 2008 - 8:52am

I find this idea of tracking conversations in twitter interesting. From
the Twitter site:

"Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate
and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one
simple question: What are you doing?"

That does say "communicate" but it doesn't say converse. It's based on
answering one question. Twitter has morphed from being a simple status
updater to being a global chat program. The "limitations" we're talking
about are outside of Twitter's focus. It's not a forum, it's not a chat
app. It's a status feed. Since Facebook was mentioned, think about the
fact that they have two separate tools for communication and status
(status and the wall). Sure, I can see the "wall-to-wall" conversation
thread, but that's separate from the status.

Now, that does not mean the API doesn't create opportunities for third
parties to adapt to the usage, or even that Twitter might not enable
features to adapt to the usage, but in regards to the original purpose of
twitter, conversing wasn't it. I'm not sure the folks at Twitter expected
the use of replies and direct messages to overtake the basic tweeting as a
primary usage.

Just my $0.02.

Lance E. Leonard
Evermind Media Group, LLC
lance.leonard at

10 Apr 2008 - 9:36am
Sunny Beach

I was part of a group that presented ideas for Twitter yesterday.

Our focus was on the ability to manage groups of contacts and the related psychological research.

I posted a PDF with the design recommendations (6 images and short descriptions) at:

Sunny Beach
Graduate Student
University of Michigan School of Information
Human-Computer Interaction Specialization

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10 Apr 2008 - 11:18am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.

> I for one would like to be able to see all posts from a single user in one
> place

You can do this by going to that person's profile page.

> be able to post pics

Try either Twitxr or using a combination of a Tumblr blog and TwitterFeed.
Twitxr lets you post pics and then updates Twitter for you, but it's not
very good. Using Tumblr, you can email pics to your blog and then have
TwitterFeed udpate Twitter automatically based on the RSS feed for the
Tumblr blog.


10 Apr 2008 - 12:05pm
Dave Malouf

I'd love if twitter had some of the more robust features that iRover
has. iRover isn't really good for the "ambient" stuff the way
Twitter is, but it is great for sharing media and ideas.
Unfortunately, the interaction model is a bit too "heavy" for me
and there is no way to easily limit your primary feed to just your
friends and well few people I know use it making it even more
useless. "People are the best content".
-- dave

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Posted from the new

10 Apr 2008 - 5:14pm
Ben Fullerton

Being the interaction designer at Twitter, I should probably jump in
here ;-)

First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk about our service -
it's nice to work on something that encourages discussion, positive
or otherwise. Before I get going, I should point out that I only
joined the team in December, so although I can talk about early
design decisions, I wasn't present for them.

So, when we talk about limitations with regard to Twitter, it's good
to also think about the constraints that we've built into the
service. We've found that these constraints actually encourage use,
so perhaps it helps to dive a little deeper into what a couple of the
most important ones are and why.

First, the 140 character limit. This was mainly to do with the origin
of Twitter as a mobile service - it was originally designed to work
with SMS. But this constraint is a very important one - it encourages
people to update (because you don't feel like you have to sit for
ages writing an enormous post like I find myself doing now) and it is
responsible for the "ambientness" of the service (the updates you
produce are easy to digest for the people who receive them), among
other things.

(This ambient nature of Twitter and other services is an area worthy
of separate discussion - Leisa Reichelt coined the term "ambient
intimacy" around a year ago, and talked at the Reboot conference
around it - if you haven't seen it already, the slides and a blog
entry are essential reading:

Secondly, the question - "what are you doing?" - helps our users to
frame the conversation. Of course, people are now quite happy to avoid
answering the question at all, and use @ and direct messages as a way
of communicating seamlessly across the devices which we support. But
having the question there is a trigger for use - it means that a new
user (or even someone who has been using the service for a while)
never sits looking at a blank input box thinking of something to type
- there is a prompt. And you can always answer "what are you
doing?", because you're always doing something, even if it is
incredibly mundane

(An aside: this is also the cause of many of the charges against
Twitter - people assume that the conversations on Twitter are just
responses to that question, and by extension are not interesting at
all. As with most things, it makes a lot more sense once you start to
use it.)

Also, as David mentioned earlier, if there is a use which we don't
cover with any of service touchpoints, then we have our API which
people have already built some fantastic stuff on. And we're
completely happy with this - our goal as a company is to become a
global communications utility, the framework on top of which people
exchange short messages between each other with whichever device they
happen to be next to. We don't want to (and couldn't - we're still
only a tiny company) build everything that we'd like to, which is
why it's great when other people do.

We have a million and one ideas for how we would like to improve the
service, but my background (as a service designer) makes me always
think of how the whole service works together rather than just a
single touchpoint. So we'd always try to add features that make
sense across all the ways people access and use our service (which
are currently web, mobile web, SMS and IM). Also, as communication is
our core offering - it's what we as a service are about - any feature
we do add will always be related to that.

As for the future: well, currently, my main concern has been tidying
up a few things about how the web UI works (as we've been
constrained for engineering resource to actually build new stuff),
but I've also been working on some really exciting new features,
which we hope to launch soon - some of them are perhaps more obvious
than others.

Finally, I should also say that I'm more than happy to continue this
discussion privately or receive suggestions from anyone who'd like to
offer them. There's plenty more to discuss, which I hopefully will be
doing via various channels soon!



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