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Twitter Communications Social Networks

How To Fix Twitter 97

An anonymous reader writes: Dustin Curtis succinctly breaks down Twitter's biggest problems, and how they can be fixed. Some of the problems are technological — they way they've decided to handle multimedia objects is arbitrary and annoying, and their inclusion of third-party modules is inconsistent and behind the times. Other problems are more central to what Twitter is about: "[F]or normal users, Twitter feels too much like a one-way broadcast system. ... Twitter responses are difficult to read on the website–with that weird accordion expansion UI that only shows 5 responses and makes it impossible to follow a coherent conversation."

The biggest problem is in Twitter's utility for browsing real-time information, which should be its strength: "When I open Twitter during a major debate in the U.S., or when a bomb has exploded in Bangkok, there should be a huge f@$%&#g banner at the top that says 'follow this breaking event.' It shouldn't just search for a hashtag–it should use intelligent algorithms to show me all of the relevant content about that event.
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How To Fix Twitter

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2015 @08:21AM (#50471209)

    "Twitter feels too much like a one-way broadcast system"

    Well duh, that's the point. Celebrities get to spew their thoughts out, and everyone lsitens, and they don't have to listen to responses unless they actively want to.

    "'follow this breaking event"

    On Twitter? So I can hear what Jow Blow and his friends have to say about something that doens't involve celebrities? "Nuke everyone", eh, Joe Blow? What wonderful insight!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What defines a "breaking event" the OP was looking for? I'd rather get the most from twitter from people close by about a local robber that was captured instead of a standoff in a high school 3 thousand miles away. Save the shock and awe for the major network "news" stations. I don't need or want to see 1000 comments from people physically no where near a major event that have nothing insightful to add. Can CatLover2 in Columbus really had any insight to a standoff in Phoenix?

      • If Twitter had an option to use current phone GPS location (which should be easy to enable and disable) making tweets, it could identify accounts which were known to be physically near a breaking story, and autogenerate a hashtag like #PhoenixStandoffWeAreThere, with tweets only from those accounts. This would make it the 'world police channel' we have all wanted.

    • Sigh...Twitter is about following celebrities

      Works great for keeping up on news headlines as well. It's like a modernized RSS reader.

    • This is related to what I was going to inquire about.
      I do not use 'social media', not since Livejournal, and not since the short stay I had on Facebook (the former became irrelevant, and the latter pissed me off one too many times with it's invasion of my privacy), and I certainly have never used Twitter. I've wondered what percentage of the content there is actual communication, and how much of it is just 'hey, hey look at me, look at me, pay attention to meeeeeeee!' sort of stuff. I think the AC I'm respo
    • So don’t follow celebrities or idiots! Problem solved.

      I follow people I know personally and want to somewhat stay in touch with (I’m somewhat isolated,) some organizations I’m involved with or interested in, and a smattering of humor accounts. None of the shit that people are complaining about affects me -- I don’t even see it.

      Twitter isn't meant for lengthy conversations or breaking news. As long as you don’t try to use the tool for the wrong jobs it works just fine.

  • fix it for who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tqft ( 619476 ) <ianburrows_au@@@yahoo...com> on Monday September 07, 2015 @08:21AM (#50471211) Homepage Journal

    Make a twitter for newbies and a news feed if you want, I like my hand curated news sources as they are.

    It isn't broken for me.

    A bigger fix would be to make twitter a proper platform like it was, not a semi closed app

    • Re: fix it for who? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pauljlucas ( 529435 ) on Monday September 07, 2015 @09:02AM (#50471357) Homepage Journal
      An even better fix would be to decouple Twitter the protocol from Twitter the company. Just like nobody owns e-mail, nobody should own Twitter the protocol. (I realize that it's not in Twitter-the-company's interest to do this.)
      • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )

        I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees it as a potential "protocol". The Twitter API is fairly easy and a lot of libraries exist in a lot of languages. Imaging using Twitter DMs to have your IoT devices communicate directly with each other regardless of where they are (work, car, home, etc.). The 140 character limit shouldn't even be that limiting if you are just sending control commands.

        • by hoggoth ( 414195 )

          There is another protocol that may work as well as Twitter DMs for your IoT devices, and it doesn't have the 140 character limit. It's called "TCP" and works pretty well.

      • Exactly but it's not just Twitter.... All of these social platforms should be open protocols, not for-profit corporations, since they'll always be throttled from their true potential by the need to monetize.

        A completely opposite approach is here. [arthurfontaine.com]
      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        funny thing it probably would be in their interests to move it to something more akin to IRC with others hosting the servers for them.

        twitter as they are can't seem to "scale up" to profits. they're making a loss on everyone and making it up in volume isn't working out.

        further bonuses: censorship becoming not their problem.

  • Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I thought Twitter's biggest problem was vitriol.

    CAPTCHA: alarmed

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been using it for about 10 months and I'm "used" to twitter now, but I've often wondered why they don't have collapsible threads (slashdot style) as following a conversation with multiple participants is a real PITA

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, twitter should take a slashdot beta site implementation.

  • by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <web@pineapple.vg> on Monday September 07, 2015 @08:22AM (#50471219) Homepage
    It would be great to see it gone. Who knows, journalists might resort to doing actual investigation once again instead of simply regurgitating what shows up on their twitter machine
    • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday September 07, 2015 @08:38AM (#50471271)

      It would be great to see it gone. Who knows, journalists might resort to doing actual investigation once again instead of simply regurgitating what shows up on their twitter machine

      You have to admit, it's a very efficient way for people to ruin their lives.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        #ruinedlivesmatter

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You have to admit, it's a very efficient way for SJWs to ruin other people's lives.

        Fixed that for you. Most of the Twitter "incidents" I'm aware of where lives were ruined involve SJWs latching onto a single out-of-context tweet and then starting a campaign to ruin the tweeter's life over that. For example, "donglegate," which ruined the careers of everyone involved.

      • Twitter, Facebook, et al are incredible marvels for people who want to keep in touch with celebrities or a large group of acquaintances, friends and family with minimal effort.

        This contributes to declining Enquirer readership and submarining postal revenue, but those are seemingly consequences most of us can live with.

        On the not so fortuitous side of the scales, it seems too easy for an excitable electronic mob to win the day (and the 24 hr news sweeps) . The level of individual sacrifice required for par

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          The relentless herd mentality and how it bounces from one hyped-up outrage to another in absolute defiance of any measure of rationality or common sense is a real turn off.

          I suppose I should just accept the fact that "the mob" and it's virulent, almost palpable ignorance hasn't really changed since the Roman era, but it is depressing and really pushes my misanthropy button.

        • Twitter, Facebook, et al are incredible marvels for people who want to keep in touch with celebrities or a large group of acquaintances, friends and family with minimal effort.

          This contributes to declining Enquirer readership and submarining postal revenue, but those are seemingly consequences most of us can live with.

          On the not so fortuitous side of the scales, it seems too easy for an excitable electronic mob to win the day (and the 24 hr news sweeps) . The level of individual sacrifice required for participation is smallish: a smart phone, a tablespoon of outrage and a five minute bathroom break.

          That's because as you note, it takes very little effort. Which automatically appeals to assholes.

          I have no need for someone I haven't seen in 40 years to be my friend. I also have a marked tendency to apply a little more nuance than can be expressed in an inane tweet. My friends I keep in direct contact with, email, or Send the kids out of the room folks....... I meet them face to face. Twitter and Facebook is like meeting your friends in the least savory place possible.

          And I have zero interest in cel

      • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Monday September 07, 2015 @09:59AM (#50471681) Journal

        A couple of years ago, I was involved in the recruitment of somebody for a high-profile and politically sensitive job. Twitter was the number-one means by which candidates managed to exclude themselves. Bear in mind we're talking here about late-career professionals with, at the least, six-figure salaries, not about teenagers.

        The nature of the job meant that anybody who had demonstrated poor judgement in public communications could be considered for it (the press would have torn them to shreds). Surprise, surprise, almost everybody who had used twitter had demonstrated (very) poor judgement at some point, usually on multiple occasions and sometimes over a span of several years.

        The rapid-fire nature of twitter and the tight character limit encourage flamebait, knee-jerk responses and escalating incivility. It is the ultimate career-limitation tool and nobody who aspires to be regarded as "serious" should have a personal twitter account.

        A friend's wife works as a recruitment consultant and tells similar stories; countless people whose angry twitter exchanges, viewable by the general public and posted with their real name, have created such an impression of poor judgement that employers don't want to touch them.

        • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday September 07, 2015 @11:03AM (#50471983)

          A friend's wife works as a recruitment consultant and tells similar stories; countless people whose angry twitter exchanges, viewable by the general public and posted with their real name, have created such an impression of poor judgement that employers don't want to touch them.

          And the very first poor judgement was getting a Twitter account in the first place. For all the reasons you noted.

          This is really something that ends up killing a service. It's th tragedy of the commons.

          An example was how usenet was destroyed. As a couple examples, A couple newsgroups I paid attention to were an antenna newsgroup, and an amateur radio policy group.

          The antenna group at one time had a number of world class designers who were happy to share their knowledge with the rest of us. But the kooks moved in, people with miracle antenna and fringy physics, and ill manners to boot.

          Well, on the internet, a world renowned expert is on equal footing with someone who designs dummy load antennas based on physics only a perpetual motion advocate could love, and doesn't hesitate to go nuts if challenged.

          So the usefull people go away, and the crazy dude wins. for aweek or two.

          The policy group was taken over by some kooks from West Virginia whith sever psycho sexual problems. Now no content, and since pissing off people who were there for a valid purpose was part of the fun, the kooks end up leaving.

          Its just how those things evolve.

        • The solution is

          1. half anonymity, and
          2. don't say stupid shit with an account that can be linked back to your real-life (TM) identity.

          That's why I use a different "handle" on /. Reddit, Steam, and YouTube/Google+. Precisely so I can freely speak my mind and people can't link my real identity with my programming & political views because what belongs in one place doesn't belong on the others.

          Until this bullshit witch hunt of the general masses and vigilante justice of Social IN-justice Warriors complete

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2015 @08:24AM (#50471229)

    Getting meaningful signal from Twitter's noise is an effort in futility.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The more productive change to twitter would be to change their terms of service to allow free scraping of data without restriction or shaping, and to allow third party clients to present the data in any form they choose rather than a twitter-like experience as mandated by the terms of service.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Monday September 07, 2015 @08:30AM (#50471251) Homepage

    When I open Twitter during a major debate in the U.S., or when a bomb has exploded in Bangkok, there should be a huge f@$%&#g banner at the top that says 'follow this breaking event.'

    Why should there be a banner? If you go to Twitter to get your breaking news, you're a maroon.

    I thought one of the whole points of Twitter is that it's 99% driven by user content, not by the company deciding what to promote, and that seems to work just, umm... "fine." If you like that sort of thing.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Pretty much every company now breaks their new on twitter, then publishes an actual story -- often just a bunch of commentary about embedded tweet -- on their web site.

    • Why should there be a banner? If you go to Twitter to get your breaking news, you're a maroon.

      Because when the goon squad is making its way through your village you should really wait for the AP release before evacuating your family. Twitter is useful for on the ground, at the moment, eye-witness accounts of shit happening. The first news of the assassination of Osama bin Laden broke on Twitter from people hearing the helicopters outside their homes.

      For everyone else talking shit about Twitter or calling for it to be nuked from orbit, please take your head out of your ass for a moment and realize

      • Why should there be a banner? If you go to Twitter to get your breaking news, you're a maroon.

        Maybe it's just a case of ageism. After thinking he meant stupid people from context clues, I literally had to google "maroon urban dictionary" to verify it (old people call "stupid people" maroons since they learned that on Bugs Bunny cartoons?). After older people ask me how I found "_____" and I tell them Twitter, it's markedly harder to teach older people how to use Twitter in a useful manner for themselves. We usually revert to me just continuing to feed them information I find myself.

        Twitter is useful for on the ground, at the moment, eye-witness accounts of shit happening.

        I wholeheartedly

    • > If you go to Twitter to get your breaking news, you're a maroon.

      See that, America? Now THAT is irony!

  • by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Monday September 07, 2015 @08:41AM (#50471279)
    The biggest problem with Twitter is censorship.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Can you be specific? Twitter removes very little, pretty much only stuff that is illegal under US law or that contains personal data.

      Personally I tend to think it is a good thing if Twitter takes down a post when someone doxxes me.

      • Twitter removes very little, pretty much only stuff that is illegal under US law or that contains personal data.

        Which is what makes Twitter-shaming the only way to get customer service from companies like Comcast.

    • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

      The biggest problem with Twitter is censorship.

      LOL.

      This "censorship" must be really weird. Twitter still contains a cesspool of vicious threats, lies, illegally leaked information, etc. that rivals most other social media combined.

      If you got censored on Twitter, it's because they thought you were a terrorist or you shot some poor anchor woman and posted live videos of it. Everything short of that seems to stick around.

  • by Jesrad ( 716567 ) on Monday September 07, 2015 @08:44AM (#50471299) Journal

    This one's been frustrating me a lot: I apparently cannot search my own TL or my own tweets for that nugget of info / chart / URL that I need again.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Monday September 07, 2015 @08:46AM (#50471311)
  • Two problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jabberw0k ( 62554 ) on Monday September 07, 2015 @08:47AM (#50471317) Homepage Journal
    1.Twitter is a walled garden, and not unlike Facebook or Instagram, don't expect them to yield control of the medium.

    2. #@$@ can't this @#$#$# author @+#~~& speak @#$#@# two @#$@#$ sentences #@$#@ without @#$#$ using #@$@# profanity? Good grief. Spare us the sailor talk, or don't people know how to talk without swearing anymore?

  • But it's kind of hard to get a constructive opinion across in 140 signs...

    • No worries, you can now write an entire essay using nothing but emoticons! Just wait until next year: the new technology will permit only caveman-speak. Ignorance is wisdom, tovarisch!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The twitter cycle:

    1. Celebrity tweets out a brainfart
    2. Mockery from the peanut gallery
    3. Celebrity tweets out butthurt at mockery
    4/ More mockery from the peanut gallery
    5. Celebrity claims harassment and complains to media/twitter
    6. More mockery from the peanut gallery
    7. If celebrity hides or deletes account: wait for new celebrity and goto 1.
    8. Goto 6

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Whoever this writer is, he is trying to make twitter something it is not and was never meant to be. Coherent conversations? Try a forum. News alerts? How about using a, let's think on the edge here, a news site?

    Twitter is for short thoughts and quips. Trying to make it more than that is like trying to express your complete life philosophy via the bumper stickers on your car.

    Don't complain that your spoon isn't sharp enough to cut that steak -- get the right tool for the job, and use a knife. Similarly, s

  • Twitter is a platform for self-righteous indignation and social signaling, and it seems to be very good at that. It's manna for the media, and media personalities and journalists seem to be its primary engine..

    If you want news, discussion, or any other form of useful communication, Twitter is the wrong platform to use, starting with the fact that in 140 characters, you can really have any kind of serious dialog.

  • Winner with the correct answer gets to be the next bungee CEO
    http://www.businessinsider.com... [businessinsider.com]

    About time we had a decent contest around here to liven things up.
  • The biggest problem of Twitter is that it's proprietary. Twitter tells you what you can and cannot do with data from the Twitter stream.
    That is what broke it for me right from the beginning. I wanted to integrate it into my normal data flow, but they disallowed taking tweets and showing them in another context. And I really do not care about using yet another application to get to my news.
    So the idea of Twitter is intriguing; but that fact that you can only get it as a stand alone app/service breaks it.

  • Twitters doesn't need fixed. Its the twits that use it that need fixing. And what you're really getting wrong is trying to change it. Let the twits who use twitter continue to do so and post all their crap there so we don't have to see it everywhere else.

  • "Some of the problems are technological — they way they've decided to handle multimedia objects is arbitrary and annoying,"

    Reminds me of the email newsletters of my youth, same thing as twitter, broadcasted to all participants, you could put yourself on and off the list it contained mostly bull and the multimedia attachments sucked because it had only 7 bits and decoding them needed RTFM.
    But at least there was no character limit.

  • 140 characters is a joke, period, and why I don't use the platform. It exists mainly as a method for sharing links and not for content creation.
  • Twitter only allows you to post short terse messages. To fix twitter one has to increase (double) the size of the allowed message you can post.

    There we fixed it!

    Oops, the internet just doubled in size with twice as much useless information. Moore's law applies to hard drives too, no? Every 18 months, the amount of useless data on a hardrive doubles. The distinction between corrupted data and useful data is murky. Is twitter corrupted?

    Oh, brilliant idea: a P2P twitter. All the data is distributed
  • "When I open Twitter during a major debate in the U.S., or when a bomb has exploded in Bangkok, there should be a huge f@$%&#g banner at the top that says 'follow this breaking event.'

    You mention two things, and then use a singular "this". Which one? There's always something happening somewhere.

    As to geolocation, which someone mentioned elsewhere, nope. The thing nearest to me isn't necessarily the most interesting.

  • Twitter suffers greatly from all the junk posts. I had a Twitter account for a few weeks and followed a few outlets, but I found that I could get than information as quick through RSS feeds and without the excessive amount of junk posts. I also have no clue what to tweet myself. I am still baffled that Twitter got that popular. Worst technological issue is the character limit per Tweet. This only allows for heavily reduced comments that have little to no informational value.

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