Using the @johndoe method to communicate over Twitter is a really stupid way to use the medium. Aren”t people aware that all their followers receive those tweets just as if they were normal ones? And aren’t they aware that many of their followers will thus receive only half of a usually pretty pointless chat conversation? It’s as if the newsreader on TV left his mike on and broadcast his lines in a water-cooler conversation about sports.

I think this behaviour is amazingly stupid. If I subscribe to a Twitter feed and discover that it’s full of banal lines from one-on-one conversations, I just unsubscribe. Discuss!

Update immediately afterwards: Aha! The amazingly stupid one turns out to be me! If you look at somebody’s Twitter home page, you see everything they tweet, including @ replies. But if you add them to your feed, those tweets are suppressed. So in order to find out if somebody’s feed is worthwhile despite all their chatter, you have to subscribe for a while. Thanks to Dayna for setting me straight.

Update same evening: Still, if you have a Twitter conversation with someone, the entire exchange will show up in the feed of everybody who follows both of you guys. So the rule is nevertheless, make sure every tweet you send is intelligible and worthwhile as a piece of standalone text, even if it’s a reply to somebody else’s tweet.

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Comments

  1. #1 Dayna
    June 22, 2010

    Actually, followers don’t receive @ replies anymore. That’s why you will sometimes see the @ preceded by a period. That forces the @ reply to show up in your followers’ stream. The only time you see @ replies as is, is if you also follow the person being replied to.

  2. #2 Dayna
    June 22, 2010

    And you’re not stupid, not even amazingly stupid. Once upon a time, Twitter *did* push all replies the way you first described.

  3. #3 Ulf
    June 22, 2010

    I think you’re right Martin. Twitter conversations are not the most efficient means of communication. It’s more like talking out loudly on the bus about what you do and all the fancy people you know. If you’re lucky, someone will hear you and be impressed…

    Discussions would be alot easier to follow if these reply tweets where threaded.

  4. #4 ArchAsa
    June 22, 2010

    Sometimes it’s difficult to keep it informative as you only have 140 signs. However, after a while I relaised that if you hold the arrow beneath a tweet that is part of a discussion you can see a direct link to the tweet it is a reply to. Still, it would be nice if Twitter could thread these replies if they are several.

    After having used Twitter for about 6 months now I hardly notice the replies unless they seem part of an interesting discussion. It’s like at the beginning when I could hardly read a tweet, but now they seem totally readable to me.

    What I would like to see is a better search function, especially for people. If one could tick boxes of interest and/or place of work, or school it would be easier to find interesting people to follow.

  5. #5 Carl H
    June 22, 2010

    Probably one of the most reasonable things I’ve heard all day! The @-conversations is the reasons why twitter sucks! Thanx!

  6. #6 Raymond Ho
    June 23, 2010

    Yup those conversations can be a tad annoying but you can click “In reply to …” to see what they are talking about. Also, sometimes, you have conversations with people that are not following you back therefore making sending “Direct Message” impossible (you can’t direct message someone that is not following you) :(

  7. #7 Paul Murray
    June 24, 2010

    Meh, so it’s a UI issue. Twitter needs a “follow this person, but ignore @messages not addressed to me”. Problem solved. Why not put in a change request?