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Twitter Tests Doubling Character Limit For Tweets To 280 (theverge.com) 132

Twitter announced today that it has started testing 280-character tweets for select users. The new limit doubles the current 140-character limit, and is said to help users be more expressive. The Verge reports: "Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English," the company said in a blog post. "When people don't have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting -- which is awesome!"

About 9 percent of all tweets today are exactly 140 characters, Twitter says. It's tough to do that on accident, suggesting that users frequently have to edit their initial thoughts to get them under the limit. (It's certainly true for me.) Now Twitter hopes to ease that burden by doubling the character limit in what it calls "languages impacted by cramming," which includes every language except for Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.
The report goes on to note that the "140-character limit was originally established to reflect the length of SMS messages, which was how tweets were distributed prior to the development of mobile apps. SMS messages are limited to 160 characters; Twitter reserved the remaining 20 for the username," reports The Verge.
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Twitter Tests Doubling Character Limit For Tweets To 280

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    240 characters is more than anybody needs brag about their kids, pets, vacations, food, and/or political views.
    Did I miss anything that people actually post about?

  • If this is an attempt to reverse the decline in Mankind's attention span, then it's too late.
    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      ...and nothing of value was added.
      • But something of value was taken away.
        • I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.
        • Simple can be harder than complex.
        • Elevator speech.
        • Less is more.
        • Haiku.
        • "Despite the constant negative press covefefe"

          While simple can be harder than complex, it's usually just simplistic and stupid.

          • "Despite the constant negative press covefefe"

            The misspelled word in that Tweet was obviously intended to be "coverage". But phones with a built-in physical keyboard have long since been discontinued in favor of phones with a flat sheet of glass as the only text input mechanism, and many apps don't autocorrect the last typed word in a message.

            While simple can be harder than complex, it's usually just simplistic and stupid.

            Exactly. The removal of physical keyboards has simplified the phone mechanically but increased a certain category of stupid data entry mistakes.

        • I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.

          Citing your source is good form. Here, let me help you:

          Je n'ai fait [cette lettre] plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte. -- Blaise Pascal

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @04:22AM (#55266123) Homepage Journal

      you know whats actually amazing?
      they created a system, with a limit of 140 characters, got huge numbers of users but running their system was still more expensive than what they could profit from the users - this despite the complexity of the system being simple as can get compared to contemporary facebook.

      oh and if you're outside of usa and are wondering why the 140 character limit in the first place? well, twitter was originally like a one-liner webpage plugin, which was coded terribly but had a good amount of highly visible seed bloggers to start using it - but the limit came from that you could order tweets to your phone delivered via sms.

      which was possible because USA had/has a system where you pay for received SMS so sending them was free for twitter - in most of the world sender pays for spam and receiving sms messages had always been free. this was in a timeframe where you could actually get instant messaging for few bucks a month already if you were living in europe(through gprs) too.

      I say it was coded like shit because otherwise they would have been in profit from year 2 from all the webtraffic(and ads made possible by said webtraffic). also them spending money on useless marketing people and useless executives has had an effect on their poor profits vs. spent money. now the reason why it's all so ridiculous is that they had a fixed size limit on messages which was tiny - the server costs should have been miniscule but they weren't.

      • by taiwanjohn ( 103839 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @05:35AM (#55266243)

        That's funny. When Twitter was first launched, I read that the 140 character limit was defined by SMS Text messages for mobile phones. [adweek.com]

        Whatever the reason, I've never been able to figure out the attraction of Twitter. I opened an account, followed some people, and every time I check, it just looks like a random mess of information. I can't remember the last time I actually found something useful on Twitter. What am I doing wrong? How do others make Twitter useful?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          As already indicated, the 140 character limit was likely tied to the attention span of the typical twitter user. With Don Don the orange orangutan (POTUS why does they look like a swear word) as the star twitter user, it seems they should likely cut back from 140, rather than double it, with Don Don as the star twitter user, it's a wonder people have not yet realised they should be ashamed to use it, look who you twit like.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Twitter is great because it enforced brevity... Or at least it used to.

          Follow a few interesting people and the signal to noise ratio will vastly improve. Mark Hamill is a good place to start. If you are interested in a topic then follow some of the biggest people in that field, and then look to see who they retweet or like to find less well known but interesting accounts.

          The other really useful feature of Twitter is that because corporations have accounts you can do support in public with them. Have a probl

        • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @07:12AM (#55266521)

          I can't remember the last time I actually found something useful on Twitter. What am I doing wrong? How do others make Twitter useful?

          1) You won't find anything useful on Twitter. It's the confetti of the internet.

          2) You're not doing anything wrong.

          3) They don't.

          Dump your account and you won't miss a thing.

          • As just another old guy you forgot to add 4) Get off my lawn.

            But in all seriousness, you don't need Twitter. Anything "important" happens on twitter you can read the tweet on your local news station, or even slashdot summaries.

            You only need an account if you suffer from Tourettes.

          • I can't remember the last time I actually found something useful on Twitter. What am I doing wrong? How do others make Twitter useful?

            1) You won't find anything useful on Twitter. It's the confetti of the internet.

            2) You're not doing anything wrong.

            3) They don't.

            I'll give you an example of how I made Twitter useful:

            Back in 2008, my stepson's team went to the state's wrestling championships. His team was favored to win that year, and a lot of people in our home town were interested in the results, but they weren't going to travel several hours to see it. The matches weren't televised, and the state HS athletic association didn't have a very dynamic website. I share a link to my twitter feed on Facebook, then other people shared that. I tweeted the results of the

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              A popular wrestling website even picked up on the results

              I guess today I learned that there are popular websites for legit wrestling as opposed to scripted WWEstling.

        • by c ( 8461 )

          I opened an account, followed some people, and every time I check, it just looks like a random mess of information.

          I'm kind of hoping that increasing the limit will encourage people to write actual coherent sentences with articles and punctuation and nifty stuff like that, but I'm not holding my breath...

    • by stealth_finger ( 1809752 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @05:32AM (#55266239)

      If this is an attempt to reverse the decline in Mankind's attention span, then it's too late.

      TL:DR

    • Does this mean our political strategy will become twice as complex? With the nuance of the modern world, don't you think 140 characters should be enough to express any opinion on any issue? Many people apparently do.

  • Oh fuck no (Score:5, Funny)

    by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @04:17AM (#55266109)
    Now that idiot will have twice as much to say.
    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      My first thought is now he'll be able to properly explain himself.......
      • My first thought is now he'll be able to properly explain himself.......

        Yes! I've been waiting months for twitter to give him a high enough character count that he can explain what covfefe means to the rest of the world.

        • I figured that one out in seconds: "Despite the negative press covfefe" means "Despite the negative press coverage". Many messaging applications make the last word of a message exempt from autocorrect.

          • I figured that one out in seconds: "Despite the negative press covfefe" means "Despite the negative press coverage". Many messaging applications make the last word of a message exempt from autocorrect.

            Did he fall asleep while writing his tweet? And why didn't he just admit it was a typo instead of trying to claim it had some super secret meaning?

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        My first thought is now he'll be able to properly explain himself...

        Twitter will invent flying cars and Mr. Fusion before that happens.

      • My first thought is now he'll be able to properly explain himself.......

        What is it that makes you think that giving him more words will let him properly explain anything? It cannot be the past.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @04:20AM (#55266117)

    Millennials have regressed to the level of cavemen, and have abandoned language in favour of pictures. If they want to communicate they'll send a picture via Snap Chat. If they want to express how offended they are they'll post an animated gif which illustrates their self-righteous outrage.

    The knock on effect is that software user interfaces have been reduced to pictograms to communicate the functionality. Nasty menus with words that describe the functionality have been all but stripped away, leaving things like the ribbon UI with lots of big pretty pictures to communicate to the millennial. The previous branching Start menu has been replaced by tiles with more big pretty pictures.

    Twitter, your additional character allowance is not welcome here. It's non-inclusive, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic and will be used by Trump supporting white-supremacists. This extra character allowance has caused me great offence and I must now retreat to my safe space.

    • by d0rp ( 888607 )

      The knock on effect is that software user interfaces have been reduced to pictograms to communicate the functionality.

      And soon (if not already) most of those pictograms don't mean anything to a lot of people, they're just used to seeing them. For example, typically the icon for a "save" function is a floppy disk. When was the last time you actually saw a floppy disk in real life?

  • Like, wow, man, totally radical!

    Take an arbitrary limit, and change it to a different, arbitrary limit. But only for "select" users. Wow.

    The point of the limit, and Twitter's only USP, is that messages have to be short. The original limit was based on text-messaging (SMS), of course, but that hasn't been relevant for a long time. They could drop the limit entirely - and just become a rather strange blogging platform.

    Twitter has other problems. In particular, their tendency to political censorship has alread

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      tendency to political censorship has already pissed off everyone who doesn't subscribe to the progressive world view

      Am I missing something? Last time I checked Trump, David Duke and Infowars are still there. I remember one BBC Business daily episode which discussed Twitter growth issues (in the latest quarter number of new users was basically nil IIRC). One possible explanation mentioned was lousy community standards enforcement, or as you people call it, censorship. Somehow I gravitate to believing posh experts on radio than some random slashdot user.

    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      > Twitter has other problems. In particular, their tendency to political censorship has already pissed off everyone
      > who doesn't subscribe to the progressive world view.

      Eh? The largest group now are gamergate kidults and other retards who post death and rape threats to normal people, plus a handful of eternally optimistic people posting replies to celebrities in the hope that they'll read one of them.

    • They could drop the limit entirely - and just become a rather strange blogging platform.

      It already is that way. A properly formatted over-long Tweet contains a headline up to 115 characters and a link to the body on a pastebin service such as Twitlonger or on your traditional blog.

  • I bet they just want to save money by not forcing people to say something in ten tweets when it can fit into five. Because they would write them anyway but their systems will now only handle half the messages.
  • Yay, now I can have twice the detail in my death threats and witch hunts.

    To the pitch forks!

  • Is this a slow news day or something?
  • @Slashdot The char(140) limit was the big appeal of #twitter to me. It made people express their thought in a short ...
  • I ain't got time to read long winded tweets.

  • by ToTheStars ( 4807725 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @06:56AM (#55266465)
    Oh wait, twice zero is still zero.
  • by wardrich86 ( 4092007 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @07:05AM (#55266487)
    It's been a long time since I've used twitter, but last I remember, usernames go against your character count. Want to tell @pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis something important? Well, now you're down to 95 characters. Want to retweet something and tag them? You're probably SOL.

    Furthermore, they should stop counting the letters in hashtags and instead just limit how many you can use. There are a lot of really inefficient things that Twitter does that they could clean up...
    • The first issue is somewhat addressed. As for the second one... why would you want to do that?
      • Hashtags are meant to be a method for indexing tweets to find them later. Realistically, you shouldn't need more than maybe 5 on a post. If you don't limit the number of hashtags, you could write out an entire novel by just starting each word with a "#"
    • by d0rp ( 888607 )
      From what I remember (it's now been a couple of years since I've worked with the twitter API), a lot of that is already in place, and things like URLs and retweets (as long as you use the actual RT feature and not just quote it) aren't counted against your 140 character limit, and neither are multi-byte characters.
  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @07:08AM (#55266497)

    "Twitter- now with twice the self-serving, narcissistic drivel!"

  • I tried to come up with an analogy for how profoundly this change affects me, but even the year-to-year butterfly counts in Botswanna are more significant.

  • Before: <input type="text" maxlength="140"> After: <input type="text" maxlength="280">
  • 280 characters?! When does it stop?! 300? 512? 1k!? Why, you could almost express a coherent thought with that much text.

    Twitter as we know it is dead.

  • About 9 percent of all tweets today are exactly 140 characters, Twitter says. It's tough to do that on accident, suggesting that users frequently have to edit their initial thoughts to get them under the limit.

    Believe me, most people need to edit more not less.

  • Do they want to monetize Twitter, using ads? This may be one reason for 280 character limit. Probably they may try to be a seller platform.
  • I remember an interview with Jack Dorsey talking about how amazing it is imposing a 140 character limit in an age where verbal diarrhoea is a real problem. He said that when people have a limit it causes them to think carefully about what they say and how to get a message across, and that this was one of the defining features of Twitter that separated it from any other blog or platform for people to speak.

    He then justified this as why they won't increase the character limit. I think he said that in 2010. ..

  • Take it down to 50 or 60, would get "hollyweird", politicians & so called news media out of the mix, since they can't think in less than 140 characters.
  • The ONLY good thing about Twitter was that it only allows 140 characters. To compose a really good Tweet takes some real thinking skills. That 140 character limit separates the mere twits from the real Tweets.

The flow chart is a most thoroughly oversold piece of program documentation. -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"

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