Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

I love Twitter but I have a secret pet peeve

Twitter BirdTwitter has become my favourite social app. I have to admit it’s very hard to explain why. Twitter is one of those things that you say is stupid until you get hooked. There is no explaining why, it’s just one of those things that you either get hooked on or you don’t, there seems to be no in between. I even have Twitterrific on my iPhone, it was the first app I installed. I like Twitter because it’s fast, simple and it forces people to get to the point with only 140 characters per tweet, which also leads me to my biggest pet peeve with Twitter.

A big part of Twitter is sharing cool websites or URLs. Many URLs are very long and thus take up all your characters. Twitter converts these to tiny URLs, but you have to convert them manually if you want room for your own text describing the link you are posting. TinyURL is a website that will convert a big long URL into a really short one. There are several sites that do this, and Twitter users use them all. My question is why does the URL count as part of our character limit? It’s so arbitrary and having to convert every URL I paste is just annoying. I totally get the character limit, but I don’t get the URL being counted as part of it.

How do they fix it?

My suggestion is a Javascript listener that can reset your character count once it see a valid URL in the text box. This could be abused by people starting sentences with http just to get more characters, but if the URLs were converted to tinyURLs like they are now then that would eliminate this possible abuse. Another option would be to have a separate field called share URL or website.

While they are at it they could also do something similar with the reply @ since I don’t really think the persons name you are replying too should count as part of your character limit either. If they have a really long name then you have less characters to work with. Both the URL and the name taking up characters seems really silly to me. I love Twitter and won’t stop using it unless it becomes painfully slow again but these two tweaks, especially the website URL would probably be appreciated by a lot of Twitter users.

3 Comments to “I love Twitter but I have a secret pet peeve”

  • Phil

    Ian it looks like we got hooked on Twitter around the same time. I always thought it was kind of dumb until I gave it an honest try (on as clarkeph).

    I think addressing your concerns would take away some of the beauty of the simplicity. I love being able to post simple updates from my blackberry (TwitterBerry). There is litereally no UI just a box and a send button.

  • Ian

    Someone else mentioned these limitations are due to SMS, but I still think you could break up the messages with URLs into two SMS messages. The ideal solution would be to have Twitter UI not change at all and just recognize it’s a URL. Even if it could auto calculate the size of a tiny URL so I don’t have to go and convert every URL I post. I agree for hand held devices it’s great since I don’t usually post URLs from my iPhone.

  • Phil

    You are lucky to have an iPhone. I am still using older cell phones.

    I’m seeing people uploading images via Twinkle. Do you know anything about this service or how it works? It would be nice if you could just MMS Twitter with a JPG and it shows up as a link but I doubt it is that simple. 🙂