My Advice To Twitter

I’ve been using Twitter for over two years now. It is one of my favorite online services. However, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated lately with some of its shortcomings. My frustration reached a point that I recently posted this tweet: “Sometimes I get the feeling that if I entered the Twitter headquarters, all I’ll find is an empty room with a hamster on a spinning wheel.”

My tweet was clearly over-the-top, as I often am, but I do have genuine thoughts on this matter. Therefore, I have crafted and submitted the following list of advice and suggestions to the “powers-that-be” at Twitter.

Faster Page Loads

I would like the “New Twitter” site to be a little more responsive and serve faster page loads. I can’t help but feel like the Twitter website as a whole has gotten slower over time; even more so since the redesign this year. I am well aware that their servers process a mind-boggling mass of data every second, but the end-user experience at my computer can be less than ideal at times. This is one reason why I like to use external Twitter applications like Tweetie, and not use the website unless I need to.

Exporting Features

Twitter seriously needs to offer better exporting options for users accounts. I want to be able to download a complete archive of all of my current Twitter data in a variety of different formats at any given time. I’ve grown tired of fiddling with Twitter backup companies, and I’ve used several of them. I’ll say outright that Tweetbackup doesn’t work at all. I’ve never had that service work for me even once! Backupify is a reliable service that conveniently archives all of my tweets on a schedule, but I can only download that data in CSV format, which I have to load as a huge spreadsheet in Excel.

More importantly, exporting in general is currently limited by Twitter to your last 3,200 tweets. That is all you can view or access, period! They promised some time ago that this artificial cap would ultimately be lifted. To date, that hasn’t happened. As users accounts grow ever larger, this issue needs to be addressed. Longtime users can have upward of 10,000 tweets. Today, those users are left in the cold if they want to roll back to the tweets in their early years. Fix this now!

Archive View

I would like for the Twitter website to add a new dimension where you can view all of the tweets in your entire archive in an elegant presentation. One example of this today is Tweet Nest, a solution to archive your tweets on your own web server and display them on a page. The resulting page looks clean and has a wealth of information. Twitter doesn’t have to copy this model, but it is an example of what I’d like to see them create for its users. Users could access this theoretical new archive display by adding the world “archive” to their URL. For example: twitter.com/username/archive. I think this is a fantastic idea, and long overdue.

Longer Tweets

I still insist that tweets could be a little longer to make use for longer links and retweets. As I’ve said in a previous post, I’d like to see the current 140-character limit raised to 160 (thereby matching the traditional phone text message limit), or even all the way to 200. I’ve already mentioned this in detail in the past, so I won’t go on about that again here.

Tweet Counts

In my experience, Twitter’s total tweet count for me is fluid and seldom completely accurate. This is especially noticeable with the count in the Favorites feature. I can log in on the site and have 25 favorite tweets that I’ve previously starred. After I’m finished reading some of them and unstar a few, it takes a very long time (hours) for my Favorites count to show lower than the original count of 25. It’s annoying, and I wish something could be done about it.

Having said the above, the count numbers get even whackier when using the Twitter iPhone app, where it sometimes takes days to reflect a profile picture change or update my total tweet count. Why this this? Surely Twitter itself must be deliberately limiting calls for this data in its API structure. Can’t this policy be changed to allow more accurate information?

In Closing…

This is just a few of the ideas and suggestions I’ve sent to Twitter. The tweet count issue is complex and really not a big deal, but account exporting and a complete archive view are both essential. I’m growing tired of relying on countless third party solutions to compensate for Twitter’s built-in limitations. I hope they heed my words and make my suggestions a reality.

Author: Craig Tisinger

Snarf!

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