A More Robust @reply Structure for Twitter

As a frequent Twitterer I've come to use it for keeping tabs on people who interest me. Some I've met in person, and some I haven't. There are two main tenets of Twitter which pretty much define most of the interaction: replies (or @replies) and the 140-character limit.

With the replies feature, all you have to do is begin a message with "@" followed by the person's Twitter name; like so: @jschoenwald. This allows you to reply specifically to someone's earlier message (tweet). A problem arises however when you want to comment on a tweet, but you don't want to reply to that person. For instance, if someone posts an interesting link that I want to send out to the people who follow me as well as give credit to that person for the link, I have to include the link as well as that person's username. This is fine, except for the other main tenet of Twitter: the 140 character limit.

Instead, Twitter should implement a feature whereby usernames can be used as links back to specific tweets. Currently there is no link framework within Twitter. URLs are turned into links post hoc (hence the necessity of url-shortening services), but there's no way to hide a url behind a text link. Twitter may have some good reasons for this, but it would be nice if they would at least allow such links for the purpose of linking user names to tweets, which reduces clutter and saves those precious, precious characters.

For instance, this:

Just won some TiVo schwag for guessing 2 of the 3 most TiVo-reviewed #Oscar moments. Thanks, @TiVo!
[119 chars.]


Just won some TiVo schwag for guessing 2 of the 3 most TiVo-reviewed #Oscar moments. Thanks, @TiVo!
[99 chars.]

Doing this wouldn't even require use of a tiny url, taking out one step in the process. A possible syntax might include:

  • Append an additional "@" to the person's username, which Twitter would interpret as a link (@jschoenwald becomes @@jschoenwald). Anywhere that syntax is used within a tweet automatically becomes a link to the last thing that user said.

  • For replying to specific tweets which aren't necessarily a user's most recent, just follow the current reply procedure (on the web you can click the reply arrow from a tweet's permalink), which automatically prefaces a tweet-in-progress with "@username". Move the username to somewhere else within the tweet and add a second "@" to create the link back to the original. You could leave the username at the beginning of the tweet as in a normal reply, but doing that already creates a link to the tweet in question, so in that way this new syntax would be redundant.

  • Twitter would have to escape the extra "@" symbol against the total character count, and Twitter clients would have to acknowledge this change as well.

And if there's no good reason that Twitter currently disallows embedded links, this same principle could be used to link to anything. For instance, preface a link with "@", leave a space, type the text you want to become the link, and end with "@@".

So, typing this:

The best burrito you'll ever eat: @ The Quesadilla Especial@@.


The best burrito you'll ever eat: The Quesadilla Especial.
Page 1 ... 11 12 13 14 15