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    Stop writing Twitter threads rant pierre.equoy.fr
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    This seems to miss the big issue of: some of those threads would not exist somewhere else. It’s one thing to complain about the interface which is a twitter problem. But “stop writing twitter threads” effectively means “I don’t like this so much, others shouldn’t have the chance to experience it at all”.

    There are people like foone and swiftonsecurity who could possibly write somewhere else but won’t change for $reasons and the medium works for them so you can only choose to not engage.

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      This is a good point. However, I would point there are a lot of blogging platforms that offer free accounts; and creating your own blog is not that complicated. I wish Internet Service Providers still had the same mentality as back in the days, when (at least in France) they would offer an FTP with some disk space where you could host your (static or dynamic) website. This is how the whole blogging thing took off in the late 90s/early 2000s.

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        It’s not about the availability of blogging platforms, but the way the medium works in the moment for some. For example see https://nitter.net/Foone/status/1066547670477488128

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          Foone’s threads are delightful and I find them very easy to read. ❤️

          I wish Twitter had a couple of extra features like a button to jump to the top of the current thread and an easy way to see all the replies to an individual tweet inside a thread.

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            Interesting challenge for the fediverse: make a server where people like foone can jot out tiny posts in a thread, but readers can view it as an unadorned stream-of-consciousness post (no replies, no ads).

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              Interesting idea, but I’d be sceptical that it works. A stream of consciousness, written bite-sized and then glued together, reads like a rough draft. Some form of visual separation needs to be applied to make the readers aware that they are not reading a polished product.

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                I hear you, but I recall being forced to read “The Old Man and the Sea” at school, and many automatically-reconstituted tw––r threads have been at least as coherent and interesting as that. :)

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              I sure hope Foone doesn’t find out about this thread, they have a very low opinion on people bashing their tweets as it is.

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                Right - it closely models just talking about it in something like IRC, without the friction.

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                Even if those blogging platforms were magically even easier to use than Twitter, it would still be close to meaningless because Twitter has the eyeballs.

                (To be clear, I share your preferences but it’s a pointless battle to fight unless you can solve the real forces that drive why things are the way they are.)

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                  My periodic reminder to any uninitiated readers that there is a name for this phenomenon: a network effect.

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                some of those threads would not exist somewhere else

                What is your thesis here? That free Twitter accounts are easier to create than free Wordpress, Substack, or $your_favorite_blogging_platform accounts?

                Or is it that content authored as Twitter threads would not otherwise exist because authors are already logged into Twitter, rendering it the easiest place to author one’s thoughts?

                I can see some ways in which your argument is correct, and many in which it can be dismissed.


                Good ideas deserve a better reading experience than twitter threads. In addition to a better reading experience, alternative platforms – e.g. writing text/markdown in a Gist – are a significantly better authoring experience. URLs to better reading experiences can be cross-posted to Twitter to gain access to the “eyeballs” on Twitter.

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                  Swiftonsecurity used to post on a blog and it was great! I really miss those days.

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                    People write to be read. For better or worse, there are a lot more readers on Twitter than other, better platforms. Ergo, threads.

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                      I made abundantly clear in my comment that I understand the concept of optimizing for one’s readers. Ergo, give readers a better reading experience, not threads.

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                        I do not like the threads, but people seem to like “lots of readers - threads” more than “a well designed reading experience - readers”.

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                      The second one (see the explanation I linked for example) + twitter is its own kind of medium. Where else can you effortlessly link to / embed other bits of content the same way, continue a post from years ago while bringing only the new part into focus, post both a one line comment and a multi-page story without either looking out of place. I think SwiftOnSecurity basically mastered the medium - if that content existed somewhere else, it would change. The form of Twitter threads shapes the content itself.

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                        Foone, for one, has said that the twitter format is what enables them to post. That flow of think, then type in a very short burst, then hit “post” works especially well for their brain, and if they needed to write a blog in order to post they would not do it and would feel bad about all the unfinished blog posts in their backlog.

                        Looking at the number of unfinished blog posts in my own backlog, I understand a little bit where they’re coming from.

                        So when I see a twitter thread, even though I very much don’t enjoy reading it in that format, I just use one of the alternative twitter frontends to roll it together and read it that way. Because I suspect that Foone is not alone, and some stuff only exists because it can go out with very low friction like it can on twitter. And it’s interesting enough that I’d rather see it published in a format I don’t like than see it sit unpublished in someone’s backlog and never learn about it.

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                          I think it’s self evident that if writers aren’t able to write with certain tools, then they can and should use the tools that work for them. If Twitter threads allow them to write most effectively – great; they should use Twitter threads.

                          In my opinion, this discussion began not about those people, but about the readers who have to endure the reading experience that twitter threads mandate. I think it’s important to finish that conversation before having one about author UX.

                          Obviously the clickbatey title lacks nuance, but if one were inclined to rewrite it, it might read “Please stop writing Twitter threads if you can help it”.

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                            I would actually push a small step further: we should start with the assumption that authors have considered alternatives, and found them lacking for some reason.

                            It obviously never hurts to ask nicely, but the assumption that people don’t know twitter sucks to read and if we just tell them about it, they’ll instantly see the wisdom of maintaining their own site or otherwise altering their workflow, can seem more than a bit condescending.

                            The discussion began about the readers, to be sure. But you mentioned the authoring experience and that made me think of Foone’s comments. The reading experience would be worse if authors stopped publishing.

                            (With that said, I hope everyone who can stand to moves right off twitter. I don’t enjoy reading there, especially since the attempts to make me log in just to read have gotten more and more aggressive lately.)

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                      I’m going to stand up for Twitter threads here. I think they’re genuinely one of the most interesting things about Twitter as a writing medium, and it’s worth talking about what makes them so useful.

                      I write a lot of Twitter threads. I kept adding to my longest one for just over a year! https://twitter.com/simonw/status/1077737871602110466

                      That thread is a particularly interesting example, I think. It’s about the move “Into the Spider-Verse”. It turns out many of the artists who worked on that movie use Twitter, and were sharing little snippets of behind-the-scenes reference material and storyboards and suchlike - so I ran a thread that tied those things together.

                      As the critical and fan reception to that movie increased (and the Oscar campaign got underway) more and more interesting material surfaced. I got to document that in a thread, for an investment of probably less than 10 minutes a day over several months.

                      I don’t know of any other publishing medium that would support that ROI in terms of effort to value of content produced.

                      I did the same thing for the Mitchells vs the Machines (many of the same artists) and the director of the movie interacted positively with the thread a few times, which made me very happy! https://twitter.com/simonw/status/1487673496977113088

                      Beyond multi-month collation threads though, I really like the writing style that threads encourage. They make people break their writing up into 280 character chunks, which I think makes most people better writers. They make it easy to embed images, and link to other tweets. I think the result is often a much more consumable piece than a regular blog post.

                      It’s a powerful engagement hack too: Tweet once and there’s a good chance many of your followers might miss it. Run a thread over the course of a day and each time you add to it there’s another chance for people to see it.

                      I HATE that Twitter make people log in to view them though. That’s the one thing that most discourages me from using them (I write a lot on my own blog too).

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                        Thanks for this feedback!

                        I write a lot of Twitter threads. I kept adding to my longest one for just over a year! https://twitter.com/simonw/status/1077737871602110466

                        This is a very interesting example indeed. You’re basically using Twitter as a pinterest board :) The examples I pointed to, though, are using threads because users want to write big chunks of text but are limited by the 280 characters limit. My point was that if you’re going to write a long post, it’s probably better to write it somewhere where it’s allowed, and maybe link to it in a tweet so that people who don’t use RSS can still know you’ve posted it.

                        I don’t know of any other publishing medium that would support that ROI in terms of effort to value of content produced.

                        That’s because all of the content you linked is on Twitter. If you had to take screenshots or select the text you wanted to share from other platforms, then add a link to the original article for reference, etc. it would take you much longer than this. (I assume. I don’t have a Twitter account and am not familiar with the intricacies of this platform)

                        I HATE that Twitter make people log in to view them though. That’s the one thing that most discourages me from using them

                        I’m afraid it’s the trend these days. The worst being by far Instagram. Without an account, you cannot access anything. I’m honestly surprised YouTube is not requiring a Google Account to read the videos at this point, but maybe their business model of injecting ads inside videos proved good enough not to do that?

                        (I write a lot on my own blog too).

                        And we all are grateful for that! Your blog is fantastic!

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                          I’m honestly surprised YouTube is not requiring a Google Account to read the videos at this point, but maybe their business model of injecting ads inside videos proved good enough not to do that?

                          Thought: If a user doesn’t interact, YouTube still has their primary content. Where as for Twitter the interactions are the content

                          You’re basically using Twitter as a pinterest board

                          I use a personal Discord server for that. I couldn’t possibly relate /s

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                          They make people break their writing up into 280 character chunks, which I think makes most people better writers.

                          I feel that the older 140 character limit was better at teaching people to write concisely and clearly, but also so painfully austere that it was not a net win for communication.

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                            I seem to remember seeing a graph they did when they were first rolling out 280 that showed that people would very regularly hit 140 or close to it, but hitting 280 was much rarer.

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                              I remember staying within the 140 for a long time after they rolled out the 280. No idea why other than perhaps just “I will not use 280!”

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                            I HATE that Twitter make people log in to view them though. That’s the one thing that most discourages me from >using them (I write a lot on my own blog too).

                            There’s always Thread Reader though, right? https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1077737871602110466.html

                            Which helpfully is !thread on DuckDuckGo too.

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                            The Twitter UI is abysmal and uses some completely inane internally-developed Twitter framework which passes around huge blobs of JSON describing what it’s going to do next to other API endpoints in such a weird way - just to play a bunch of unnecessary flows and animations that do nothing but add complexity.

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                              • TWEETS WERE NOT DESIGNED TO BE LONG
                              • YEARS OF POSTING yet NO REAL-WORLD USE FOUND for writing more than 280 characters
                              • Wanted to write more for a laugh? We had a tool for that: It was called “BLOGS”
                              • “Yes, please unroll these tweets. Please browse Twitter using a different website.” – statements dreamed up by the UTTERLY DERANGED

                              Look at what Twitter users have been demanding your respect for all this time, with all the UIs and apps we built for them…

                              (these are REAL tweets, written by REAL users):

                              • “🧵” ??
                              • “1/X” ????
                              • “10/??” ??????

                              “Hello I would like See More Replies please”

                              They have played us for absolute fools

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                                Y’all seem to be following people that suck at writing twitter threads. Which is surprising, because the whole art of twitter threads is putting the next tweet after the last one. But considering some people consistently fail at organizing piss up contests at breweries, maybe it isn’t (surprising, I mean).

                                Also, as off-topic goes, Jesus Christ in a bicycle, this is the off-topiciest off-topic I’ve seen been off-topiced here in quite a while.

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                                  Please don’t ask your readers to workaround Twitter’s crappy design!

                                  Except that my readers are the ones who voluntarily joined Twitter and voluntarily followed me on Twitter.

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                                    You can’t even read threads on twitter unless you log in, which you can’t do if you’re part of it. But people will not stop posting their stupid threads on twitter if blogs and articles don’t stop embedding them from there.

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                                      I don’t have a Twitter account, so I noticed this, indeed. A friend pointed to me that, for the time being at least, you can pretend to log in, then click on the X at the top right of the modal window, and the whole thing will disappear, letting you read the content under it. I don’t know how long this is going to last, though. (I actually started writing about this, then realized it would be better left for another rant post ;))

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                                        Alternatively replace twitter.com with nitter.net and get no login prompts at all.

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                                          Nitter also provides a better interface to reading threads than bare Twitter, anyway.

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                                            I think nitter-redirect is worth mentioning, haven’t checked the code out but it feels very transparent||intuitive||convenient for me.

                                            (p.s. grr, preview shows still no profile picture, I don’t wanna sign up for gravatar)

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                                      A significant percentage of blogs I visit end up intentionally making the reading process even worse than Twitter, you seemingly can’t view a website anymore without a popup begging for your email address. The long-form reading experience on the web is in the toilet.

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                                        I like how a post about twitter threads got “ratioed” on lobsters.

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                                          Counter: Twitter threads are fine.

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                                            Please don’t ask your readers to workaround Twitter’s crappy design!

                                            I’m not a fan of Twitter thread based writing either, but I know there are reasons folks do it. Nor am I an apologist for Twitter, but I’m going to say here that (while there are some design issues) the fact that Twitter makes for a poor UI for writers and readers of longer form content, it’s perhaps more because it is not what Twitter was designed for. Yes, we can get into the debate about how usage evolves, but this is not crappy design - I’d suggest it is merely the use of an inappropriate tool.

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                                              It took me a while to understand Twitter. It’s great. Please don’t change it. There’s a ton of interesting people there, I can aggressively filter my feed and pull it whenever I want to. Yes threads are clunky but it’s part of the charm. The flexibility it allows for communication is amazing.

                                              Forcing thoughts into short pieces is not necessarily a bad thing. Easily linking and embedding images between posts is just good enough.

                                              If the experience was more polished or there were more dedicated ways to do longer form writing, it really wouldn’t be the same. It would appeal to different people who write and consume different style of content. There are blogs for that, please stay there. No need to turn Twitter into a blogging platform.

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                                                From the writer’s perspective, sometimes it’s easier to write a Twitter thread than a blog post. With a blog post, there are many ways to arrange the text, length, choice of tone and words. Once a Twitter thread has been started, there is no way back; each paragraph is locked in, and you must keep going. This might be one reason some people use it, especially if they are eternal procrastinators.

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                                                  It doesn’t make sense for everyone to run their own web server so I wish there were more widely known and accessible sites for long form, since Substack and Medium both suck.

                                                  Especially ones easily integrated with the social media site where these people like to hang out (even if it happens to be Twittter, which I don’t use). Ideally, we’d want the ease of publishing / stream of thoughtness / informality that’s a reason for them to publish these essays on Twitter in the first place, but in a format that’s easier to read.

                                                  The more I think about it, I’m pretty grateful for these threads to exist since it seems like the best essay writing these days are for YouTube scripts, to the point that I at one point used a subtitle scraper to read them (it broke somehow, I need to fix it). With these Twitter threads, we’re seeing world-readable (as in, no account/log-in required) essays from people who care about what they’re writing.

                                                  That said, if anyone who reads this does have stuff published on Medium or Twitter, do not block services like scribe.rip (for Medium) or thread unroller apps, and consider linking to them yourself, even.

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                                                    It doesn’t make sense for everyone to run their own web server so I wish there were more widely known and accessible sites for long form, since Substack and Medium both suck.

                                                    That’s a false dichotomy. There are a lot of middle grounds between posting on Twitter and running your own server. There are a lot of hosted blogging services. Some are free. For geeky folks, GitHub is one of the best (edit in your favourite text editor, push to GitHub, rendered automatically. Alternatively, edit Markdown directly in the web UI) but there are a lot of others aimed at more normal humans. These all allow you to write longer articles and then post a tweet with a teaser and a link if you want to attract a twitter-facing audience.

                                                    And, unlike Twitter, because most of these are not generated with huge piles of dynamic JavaScript, they’re amenable to archiving and so will continue to be available on archive.org long after the provider has gone out of business.

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                                                      I feel a li’l bit misread here.

                                                      That’s a false dichotomy. There are a lot of middle grounds

                                                      Yes, and these kinds of middle grounds are exactly what I was wishing for (and have tried to host in the past). Things that are as accessible, as stream-of-consciousness, that feel more like chatting than having to get up on stage and unravel an edited masterpiece, but don’t render as a messy and JavaScripted hellscape.

                                                      GitHub

                                                      I meant ones that don’t suck!

                                                      For geeky folks […] Markdown

                                                      I mean for non-geeks.

                                                      I’m lucky that I’ve managed to make an Emacs thing that can turn my IRC rants to formatted blog posts but something for everyone that let you chat and it becomes a blog post might be a good idea. I have fond memories of that z-machine interpreter for Android that looks like you’re texting to someone, it worked really well. And, from that perspective, maybe sites like threadreaderapp is a good starting point. Something that let you take your own threads that you would write anyway, optionally polish/edit the result, and publish and organize it on a blog or garden type site, and link to it on your own social media. We could maybe make it for Fediverse too or instead.

                                                      Nitter and co are a godsend but we can’t rely on them forever, Twitter is making it harder and harder.

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                                                        I’m lucky that I’ve managed to make an Emacs thing that can turn my IRC rants to formatted blog posts

                                                        I wondered how you were able to publish such nice, frequent, informal but well thought out articles on Gemini. Now I know your secret!

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                                                          Thank you ♥♥

                                                          Also, gemini://idiomdrottning.org/the-secrets-to-writing-so-damned-much

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                                                        unlike Twitter, because most of these are not generated with huge piles of dynamic JavaScript, they’re amenable to archiving and so will continue to be available on archive.org long after the provider has gone out of business

                                                        Archive.org does not seem to have any trouble archiving twitter posts.

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                                                      didn’t twitter add something called notes? is it generally available yet?

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                                                        A cursory Google tells me they’re still not in general release.

                                                        Also, those, and the entire reason for this rant, may be moot in a few weeks when the New Management takes over Twitter and starts to figure out how to make it pay $1.2B yearly in interest to the financing institutions.