Twitter: A tool for Good or Evil?

I little while ago my friend Slacy aired his problems with Twitter. I am a big twitter fan and I found almost all of his criticisms to be sour grapes. if not sour grapes it falls under, "This tool does not fit my standards, there for it is bad for the internet." I might be hard on Slacy, but I do not agree with a lot of his points.

Character Limit

Mostly arbitrary and irrelevant 140 character limit. This only applies to SMS users, which I believe there are very few off. All hardcore people either use, a regular browser, or a custom client for their (i?) phone. Arbitrary per-character limits are so 1990’s.

I think the character limit is a good thing. If you need to use more that 140 characters, use something else. Twitter is about short messaging. The question of twitter is What Are You Doing? and your change is to answer it quickly and easily.

I think the idea that all the Hardcore users are using twitter is a very limiting idea. Only one fifth of the current mobile market are using smart phone. I use SMS for twitter. I think twitter is best if is getting to more people.


Lack of markup. Again, the 140 character limit makes it impossible to have reasonable (any?) markup and thus, all links are in plaintext, etc. This sucks and is more like the internet from the 1990’s. I’d like to use markup instead of *bold* and /italics/ and _underlines_ please and thank you.

I think this is the case of using the wrong tool for the wrong job. I want everything in plain text. What is the goal of marking up twitter messages?

@foo Syntax

@foo syntax (@ = in reply to) are beginning to appear on other sites, and have little to no meaning in most contexts. I frequently see “@myfriend” style wording in other sites, forums, blog comments, etc. This is unacceptable, as the syntax pretty much blows except for when using, where the “@” links actually become active. When I don’t know who the “@” is actually referring to, it’s doubly pointless. Things like “@barakobama way to go dude!” are also pointless.

I saw the @username syntax in forums and blog comments well before twitter launched. I am not sure they started it.

As for people using @username for things other than accounts, that is users for you. They are bound to do things like this. I know that this is something that is easy to do when using SMS. I think there are problems with this syntax, but it made total sense the first time I saw it. I did not need need a manual to explain it to me.

@ Replies

Passive followers see nothing but a noisy one sided conversation. I really don’t actually want to hear my friends saying “@importantguy Your socks rock in my boots!” Especially when I don’t know “importantguy” and I could care less about your socks. Thanks for trying. Following most people on twitter reminds me of the feeling of listening in to someone’s phone conversation on the bus or train. Pointless.

Check the settings. The user can choose If they want to see All @replies, Only @replies when they are following both sides of the conversations or no @replies at all. I think this kind of user choice is good.

Sidecar sites

The proliferation of “sidecar” twitter sites is staggering. These sites offer “extra features” like links ( pictures ( or external twitter search or news sites (, etc.

I think this is a good business development. Let twitter focus on its core business. Let this other websites do things they thing add value. This will hopefully cause a business ecosystem that will cause people to make good business decisions for their core business.


No one has anything interesting to say anyway.

If this is the case, why do you care at all? Stop using it. If no one is saying anything interesting, don't use it. That solves everything.


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