Update below. No, I’m not talking about using Twitter to cheat in a relationship. (Answer: No, if for no other reason than nothing is ever as secure as you think it is.) I’m talking about whether you should cheat Twitter’s 140 character limit and use extended tweets.
Ever since Twitter started, the 140 character limit has been derided by those unfamiliar with the format. “How could anything worthwhile be said in 140 characters? Twitter must be superficial garbage.”
By the way, that opinion was expressed with 94 characters, demonstrating how much you can say within 140. Typically, once people get the hang of Twitter, they realize the 140 character limit isn’t that limiting.
Want to say a paragraph-worth about something? Use more than one tweet. Want to say several paragraphs? Write a blog post and tweet the link. Most importantly to writers, Twitter is good practice for writing tight prose, training us to get rid of filler words like: that, just, only, actually, very, etc.
Some people still chafed at the limit, so add-on applications starting offering the ability to type more than 140 characters. The normal-length tweet ended with a link that people clicked to take them to another website to read the rest.
I ignore these links unless they’re in a tweet addressed to me. After all, I’m a known Firefox tab junky (240 tabs open at a time is not unusual for me), and I don’t want to add to that count just so I can read another word or two. It takes time for that tab to load, and if I didn’t read it right away, it’d soon be buried under other tabs.
Does Anyone Pay Attention to Links for Extended Tweets?
I did a quick survey of my Twitter followers: How often did they click on those “continued” links? The answers correlated with my own experience.
- @Jessica_Anne_CA: Never. To me the point is 140 characters. Write a blog post if you want to say more.
- @DocHousel: Only once, actually. But I’m one who appreciates the brevity [of] Twitter.
- @jeffekennedy: only if I get tricked!
- @KristenLambTX: No. Learn brevity. I’m lazy.
Repeat the “never” response a dozen or so more times and you get the idea. (Thanks to all my followers who responded!)
The only people who didn’t have a negative impression of extended tweets were those who use an application that displays longer tweets, such as the Plume app for Android (recommended by @authorcesmith), or those who are very picky about who they follow, and thus give the benefit of the doubt that the information must be worth clicking on (such as @CMStewartWrite).
Does the TweetDeck Upgrade Change the Rules?
The latest version of TweetDeck, one of the most popular applications to use with Twitter, changed the game. Now, TweetDeck includes longer tweets from other TweetDeck users right in the main application (for Desktop, Chrome, and Android versions).
This sounds great—longer tweets without having to click somewhere else—but it works only for other TweetDeck users. Someone using HootSuite or the Twitter webpage must still click the link to read the rest. In fact, TweetDeck now makes it too easy to cheat.
The rules haven’t changed. Anyone who isn’t on TweetDeck still sees only the link, which we’ve just established is rather worthless. And after my first day on the new TweetDeck, I’m already annoyed by seeing the longer tweets in my stream. I hope TweetDeck will allow me to turn off that function and go back to the links so I can ignore them.
(Edited to add: Yay! TweetDeck listened. Go to TweetDeck and download the newest version (just posted in last couple hours). Run the update and open TweetDeck. Click on the little wrench icon to enter Settings and unclick the check box for “Use Deck.ly for sending long updates.” This will revert TweetDeck back to the bright red cut-off for long tweets and will show only the “read more” links in your columns. No long tweets messing up my stream. And as a bonus, if you click on a “read more” link from another TweetDeck user, the extended tweet will show up in TweetDeck itself rather than a browser.)
Why is the update such a problem? The new TweetDeck setting allows for unlimited characters. That’s right. Someone could post their whole blog post into TweetDeck and fill up my column. (Yes, I checked and this post would be around 4500 characters.) I’m going to say this once:
If you post long tweets, people will unfollow you.
Consider This a Twitter Public Service Announcement
Do you see those quotes above? People like the brevity of Twitter. Cheating the limit doesn’t work. At best, those extended links are ignored. At worst, you’ll annoy the users of TweetDeck and get yourself unfollowed.
I would much rather see 2 or 3 (or even 4 or 5) tweets from someone than have to deal with links or a messed up tweet stream. And if someone has more to say than that, I’m more than happy to click on a blog link, as my tab count confirms. But please, do not abuse the whole point of Twitter.
Do you like the longer tweets? Or do you hate them? Do you ever click on the links to read more? Would you rather see an extended tweet or a thought spread over a couple tweets?Pin It