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Workaround for Twitter @Replies Issue

Page history last edited by Shoq Value 13 years, 2 months ago

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First Appeared: May 14th, 2009


About this Article 

This article was distilled from several tech-articles and tests by several people. It was not meant to explain all the nuances of the issue, but only what most Twitter users need to know to ensure that their public replies are seen by all of their followers when they expect them to be. (discussed more in Updates).   


Note: This site is being slowed moved to my shoqvalue.com site. 

Many of these twitter related tips can be found there .http://bit.ly/ShoqTips






For recent updates on this issue, follow twitter.com/shoq




For reasons known only to Twitter, their handling off @replynames is in transition from something most people understood, to a new and convoluted process that has confused almost everyone.


If you really need to real the whole weird backstory, as written by geeks who will confuse you with pointless jargon and concepts you have no use for, just start here: http://bit.ly/3cVkAAnd then if you have courage, see Twitter's blog post presuming to clear things up (kinda, sorta) here replies-kerfuffle.


If, however, you're a normal person who enjoys simple language, and because all of this will probably change before you've digested this page, then...


as of right now, all you really need to know is this: 


Twitter has changed how @replies are handled.  By default, when you click any kind of "reply" button (on the Twitter web site, in Tweetdeck, and in some other client program), your tweet will only be seen by the person that you @replied to, and only those of your followers who also already follow that person. This really upsets many of us who want—or need—to discover new people by watching who our friends engage by @replying to them *. 


*Note: The issue of what the original reply behavior (and settings) had always been,  and Twitter's explanation of what changed, is discussed more in Updates).  


To Illustrate:   Should  @whitehouse reply to @northkorea with a message like "@northkorea We're invading your weird little country at dawn," the only people who will see that reply are @northkorea and anyone following BOTH that name AND @whitehouse.  Thus, even though you follow @whitehouse, you could miss their reply message if you never knew there was a @northkorea to follow in the first place. 


See the problem? This new and confusing policy removes the wonderful transparency that made Twitter a great place to discover people and ideas, and it's completely contrary to the spirit of most forms of social networking.  Twitter has suggested they will find a way to fix this.


But until they do, here is a very-less-than-ideal...




     If you want your followers to see your reply to someone, even if they don't follow that person:


  • WITHOUT USING ANY REPLY BUTTON:  Simply type any character—a "." period or "!" exclamation point are the most commonly used—followed by their @replyname at the very beginning of your tweet.  

    Example:  .@shoq Thanks for this tip. I always wondered about those periods.

    There are two main downsides to this approach:


    • You can't easily copy the name into the input field using a single click (annoying for heavy tweeters).


    • The conversation is not a true "reply thread," so people who view your tweet: 1) cannot trace back to the tweet you were replying to, and 2) they cannot "View Conversation" using search.twitter.com Since many people do both to follow the context of a tweet, this is major PITA (click link, or just ask your granny what that means). 

      • The workaround I use for that is simply to use clients like Tweetdeck which will thread things together without the formal native reply data, or more universally, just use Twitter search to search for both @names. Once you get used to this, it's rather easy, and often provides comments from the onlookers, too.


  • USING ANY REPLY BUTTON:  Just use Twitter's native Retweet button to copy the name into the text input box. Train yourself to add a period or exclamation point in front of the @reply name. It's really annoying to have to do, and it uses up one more precious character, but after a few times, it becomes a habit.

    Example:  !@shoqsmom Because I placed an exclamation point before your @name, all of my followers will see this tweet, even if they don't follow you.


  • NOTE1:  While this makes it easy to reply, and forces the tweet to all your followers, the tweet will NOT be threaded (as discussed above). 

  • NOTE2: Simply prepending "RT" to front of your tweets has the same effect as an exclamation point.  It will be seen by all of your followers--assuming you actually wanted to retweet (copy).


     If you only want those also following a @name to see your reply to them, simply use any standard Reply button function.





For News and Updates On The Issue



  • Follow Twitter's blog for the latest policy changes and explanations at  http://blog.twitter.com/


  • Follow the #fixreplies hashtag for tweets from all the Twittervillians who just want this problem fixed.


For updates, and occasional support (if you're a nice person), follow twitter.com/shoq 


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