One Flew The Twitter Nest

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Not an exhaustive list of complaints, but these are a few of the reasons I decided to change the way I use social media, by changing my base from Twitter to WordPress.

  • My blog is indexed by search engines. My tweets are not. In fact, on some external applications that require a Twitter name to run a search via the Twitter API, my user name returns “User does not exist”.
  • I can export an entire archive of my blog posts, attachments & comments. I can’t export my tweets, even thought we were told in April 2010 that they would be in the US National Archive (what happened there?), and who knows what level of access the CIA has?
  • I can’t access the entire history of my “Twitter pics” on photobucket, despite being a registered user. The terms of service (TOS) say that they can be removed at any time – and I have seen images “disappear”. Meanwhile, under TwitPic‘s TOS I surrender all my rights to my images to TwitPic (not to the public domain). On WordPress my images are mine and they stay mine.
  • Direct Messages (DMs) are not guaranteed to remain private, since it has come to light that Twitter will hand them over to 3rd parties under court order; and not reliable for important communication because there is no mechanism apart from email alerts to inform you about new private messages. DMs often fail to update, fail to load, and the number of Direct Messages visible online is limited. Also, sent messages are not available to save or download within Twitter, unlike received messages which can be received via email (but without guarantees you’ll get them all). So you end up with one half of a conversation, or searching around for a third party application to extract your own DMs, but in doing that you have to grant access to your private messages to a 3rd party! Email or secure chat are far superior tools for conversations.
  • Replies on Twitter are a freaking mess. There is minimal threading restricted to just a few posts. Comment threads on a blog or threaded emails are a much better alternative.
  • Twitter is not well suited to people who want to post frequent updates, and this is especially true when they follow other users with similar update volumes. The timeline for users like myself is an unmanageable cacophony of over 1000 tweets an hour, and the restrictions on the number of posts that can be viewed, combined with the ongoing and unpredictable issue where some updates fail to load, makes it impossible to rely on being able to see all your friend’s updates, or of your own updates being seen.
  • WordPress does not enforce random censorship of your posts without any warning. Twitter users have been complaining of apparent but usually unprovable censorship on their posts, usually linked to certain key words or hashtags, for over two years.
  • WordPress allows long posts without having to resort to a different application to create them, and supports almost unlimited tags as well as categories. Twitter will limit the number of links allowed on a tweet, and will consider you in violation of TOS if you frequently use “too many” tags or mention people “too often” if they don’t follow you.
  • WordPress lets you choose if people can subscribe to your blog, tells you when that happens, and those subscribers can choose to reveal their identity to you or not. They can unsubscribe any time they like. No one on WordPress makes a fuss about gaining or losing subscribers. WordPress granular Comments options deal with new commenters or potential spam with sensitivity and common sense. Compare that to the follow-follow back-unfollow-block-report options and the insecure-and-creepy moral blackmail tone of “who unfollowed me”, the endless waves of Twitter spam, and the nauseating #TeamFollowBack nonsense.
  • Twitter does not approve of multiple accounts for one user. WordPress offers you almost unlimited blogs. With the free template I am using here, P2, I can allow any WordPress user to post updates to my blog if I wish and we can all be logged in to WordPress at the same time.
  • The P2 template I’m using here offers the option of creating a short status update or a regular post. Clearly, the demise of TweetDeck’s deck.ly longer post management has been a golden opportunity for WordPress.
  • Finally (for now) Twitter is unresponsive to complaints or criticisms and has abandoned the quality of interaction that was there at the very start. The millions of users, excluding the vast majority that are spam accounts, do not feel like part of a community where their opinions or feedback are solicited, welcomed and responded to. There is no consultative process for Twitter development. Each change comes as a complete surprise. The inevitable bugs and service failures that accompany each change now fails to surprise anyone. WordPress commitment to community engagement is the polar opposite of Twitter.

There you go. Those are my main reasons for moving to WordPress.

What does that mean for anyone who follows me on Twitter?
If I am following you back, you might not get a reply to your DM. You should email me: mail.lissnup[at]gmail[dot]com instead.
Whether I am following you or not, you will get a response to comments on the blog here far faster than to a reply or mention on Twitter.
Everything I post here will be sent to my Twitter account, so you’ll still see my posts on Twitter and can read them in their entirety here. Forever. Almost: eventually they’ll need to be archived for the sake of everyone’s  sanity.
I will be doing far fewer manual re-tweets or Twitter button re-tweets.
I will still read some of the updates you post to Twitter, using a search result page that I have created specifically for that purpose.

More discussion and input about this here and the thinking behind the WordPress team themselves using this concept since 2009, here

Questions or comments? Use the comments section here!

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24 thoughts on “One Flew The Twitter Nest

  1. djirdjirak

    How about your posterous site ? It seems to me that you experienced nearly every possible format or app on earth (well, in the web), so you’re conclusion is that WordPress is the best possible platform ?

  2. I’ve been having a few problems recently, since Posterous made some changes to the site:

    • Can’t post to FaceBook
    • posts to WordPress sometimes send only the title
    • patchy performance posting to Blogger

      • the log in changed so that you are forced to go to a general page, you can’t go straight to the dashboard any more.
      • When viewing individual posts, the mini menu for editing or adding tags or autoposting is gone, you only see it when viewing the main blog. So if you want to use that menu on an old post you have to use the clunky javascript menu to load more … more… more
    • #unity means I still follow Tweeps even though I tweet from WordPress. Now following @myryiah61 @elshaamy @OccupyLondon @alaa @drgoddess (along with old pal @blogdiva ) – all members of the global uprising Twitter posse. I’ll add them to my Twitter list, which I can read using the search interface, with up to 200 results at a time. To be honest I am so busy refining my new routine I haven’t been checking search as often as I was expecting. Once I have an established routine I’ll be reading more tweets using search.

      Another thing about my move to WordPress is I am still having to go back to Twitter on a regular basis to look for DMs or replies, now so much more noticably outnumbered by spam because I am no longer deleting them as soon as they appear. I knew spam was a growing issue, but I feel as though I hadn’t truly realized the proportions until I stopped visiting Twitter for long periods.

      I’m looking for a way to auto-respond to DMs to advise people to email me instead. And I’m looking for a way to see mentions without having to visit Twitter, and to reply from WordPress, which I think might work with a “Twitter Convo” category and a threaded status type post. To encourage people to reply via WordPress, so that the conversation moves here with them, I might have to get a little bit canny, and send a “You have a reply” tweet with a link.

  3. djirdjirak

    Why do you use these different types of blogs ? Do you think it’s necessary to be everywhere ? Sorry, I’m just curious, I know there are much more important things you need to do than answering my novice questions…
    Thank you for putting all that energy into your work and thanks a lot for sharing your experiences ! Just also a little gratitude to twitter, because that’s where we first met…

  4. It was mainly the Iranian regime blocking different sites that forced people like me to find new blogging platforms, as well as other less public communication channels. In 2011 we had the same issues with Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and Kyrgyzstan, where either internet was cut completely, or filtered so that some sites were not accessible, or electrical power cuts limited people’s access to the web. But to be able to share and spread news from Iran and later from all those other countries, it seemed like a good idea to post to as many platforms as possible.
    Over time, we’ve seen the platforms themselves have availability issues, and some (Twitter, Facebook, Blogger and WordPress for example) have been hacked. In return, some are less secure for us, and our own accounts are at risk of being hacked; FaceBook being perhaps the riskiest.
    Additionally, there are concerns about the platform service providers themselves, from two directions: as the sector evolves they might get bought out (eg Google with YouTube, Twitter with TweetDeck and Whisper Systems, RIM with JayCut); or the developers might decide to make significant changes (eg FaceBook, Posterous, Twitter, Status). Either of these events can find you suddenly left in the lurch with features you relied on suddenly unavailable or even the entire application being retired and all your content with it.
    Finally, there is the realization that what seemed like a one-off, random event after the Iran election in June 2009, which everyone thought would be very short-term, perhaps a month at the most, turned out to be the starting point for a much longer term and more widespread phenomenon. We also learned that there were other areas of unrest prior to Iran which most of us were unaware of at the time, and it felt like we’d opened the lid of a Pandora’s box of repression and human rights abuse around the world. While sharing news or showing support, we are also witnessing and documenting historic events, whether in 140 or 14000 characters at a time. The need to get these historic details into the public domain, visible to a wide audience, and to remain visible, forced me to look for ways to publish to multiple sources.
    The MENA uprisings were a real wake-up call on just how bad we’d been at archiving our efforts in an accessible way. Very few resources were readily available or well-documented enough to offer to the new army of activists, most of whom seem to have missed the June 2009 events in Iran, just as we had missed Moldova in April. So the new challenge is to find ways to combine our experiences and resources as a practical as well as an historic reference.
    I should imagine Twitter & FaceBook are still the major meeting points at the moment. It used to be MySpace, and in time – months, years – it will be some other platform we haven’t thought of, perhaps it hasn’t been created yet. :)

  5. Hey, just FYI, there is an awesome WordPress plugin called HL Twitter that will archive all of your tweets (at least several thousand of them) for you and save them to your WP blog archives. That’s how I make sure our stuff from @YemenPeaceNews is archived.

    • Thanks for the excellent tip, Will. Being a plug-in it’s restricted to self-hosted WordPress users only. Alas I was forced to leave that category recently. Once I am back on my feet and have my own hosted WP install again I’ll definitely give that a try.

  6. But I haven’t left Twitter. “@TheZako: @lissnup you could have written: I am leaving twitter :)” To my way of thinking, when people leave Twitter, it means they no longer post status updates to Twitter. That is not what I have done.

  7. Just read about @sourcefabric and I’m getting ideas again…
    Perhaps 2012 is the year for us to get our citizen journalism act together, finally.
    The SourceFabric open source publishing tools could be a way to evolve beyond the “linear” trajectory that @EAdvocate Kendra mentions in our conversation here.

  8. kamaldesigns

    Ah, I see jumping off Twitter is your new year’s resolution? :) Fair enough. I’ll be looking to blog at some point as well, and will also go with WordPress, though I think I prefer self-hosting. Understood that it’s some more admin effort, but it is on my server then. Or what is in theory my server at a hosting company… Eh, I’ll have to think more about the benefits of self-hosting WP vs. they-host WP (they-host referring to a free account on wordpress.com). Aside from more upkeep on the admin side, can you think of other benefits of they-host WP?

    On a completely unrelated topic, what are your thoughts on hosting encrypted passwords in the cloud? Some use KeePass and store the file on dropbox. Others use LastPass. Both of which in theory only store already-encrypted data on a 3rd party company’s server. Would you feel comfortable doing either? I’m wondering if there’s any benefit if I decide to only use KeePass to store passwords on my local computer and flash drive.

  9. @kamaldesigns ~ hi, yes I made the leap and so far, it’s working out pretty well. I think storing already-encrypted files containing passwords in the cloud is OK, but might be best if the account used for storage is not associated with any accounts the passwords belong to. Most people I know prefer to use a thumb drive.

    The thing about passwords, as we’ve learned to our horror in the past year or so, is that it is the security of the service or website that is paramount. All our best efforts to protect our passwords won’t help as long as hackers are able to access insecure data storage on sites we use and then sharing user names, emails, passwords, and credit card details. Clearly, we need to be insisting on all service providers that store our credentials to demonstrate a mature and professional approach to security of our data.

  10. April looks an ideal time to quit FaceBook:

    Facebook is reportedly preparing to make its stockmarket debut in May, during which the social networking giant could raise $10-billion in the world’s biggest technology company float.

    The timetable would mean Facebook would need to file documents for review by America’s Securities and Exchange Commission within the next month for its fundraising, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    Facebook is expected to offer a 10% stake, suggesting a $100-billion valuation.

    British financial public relations specialist Brunwick Group is understood to have been appointed to manage the listing, reportedly scheduled for the third week of May.

    Brunswick represented online deals site Groupon during its initial public offering last year, and is understood to have worked on Facebook’s private placing with Goldman Sachs and its clients.

    Both Brunswick and Facebook declined to comment.

    — © Guardian News and Media 2012

  11. @jlbtwee it’s working out far better for me using my blog as a base. I find I am still able to read & reply to tweets, but at a more manageable pace. Those times when I do check Twitter, I feel revolted by the volume of spam replies and bot followers. However I am mindful that there will be occasions when Twitter might be the most convenient tool, sending out urgent calls for support to multiple people when most of them are still confined to Twitter, for example. tw:

  12. #Twitter #censorship – Ray’s 2.0: More insanity: Twitter’s blocking tweets as “unsolicited mentions” tw: http://snup.us/rzT

    “Unsolicited Mentions” mean even trying to acknowledge or pay a compliment to someone is being censored.

    Twitter is only “social” according to its own rather unique definition of “social”.

    Where it is heading by making the environment increasingly challenging and hostile, is to increasingly isolate large sections of the user community.

    How they, how we, choose to react to that is a matter of choice.

    I migrated to using my blog as my social media platform and now use Twitter as a tool as when it suits me. That fits my user profile fairly well for now, but it won’t work for everyone, and is not a solid long-term social media strategy.

    There is a glimmer of hope:
    WikiLieaks are building a new, open, social network.
    Diaspora* are trying but have yet to make it work fully as intended or needed. Though they have made progress, they are also operating under constraints, especially with the recent death of one of the founders.

    We need to figure out some alternative long-term solutions, and I doubt any of them would see Twitter dominating a repertoire of effective social media tools, though it would have a place.

    Waiting for the next twist in a “black-box” development path that is not concerned with the experience or satisfaction of a diverse user population, just a pre-selected “ideal” user, and which does not solicit or respond to feedback, is a tedious waste of our time. But the punishment of having to revise and rethink after each revision – and of taking on the burden of discovering those changes and their impact – is a form of self-inflicted torture, if we simply resign ourselves to each unwelcome, uncomfortable change.

  13. As well as using free backup services, I now send all my tweets to a Google calendar, and display in a sidebar widget here. The calendar is public, and you can read all my tweets from around the start of 2012, when I created the calendar and used a recipe on ifttt.com to post tweets to it. I have older tweets archived, but I don’t have any plans at the moment to upload them to the calendar.

    Archiving to a calendar is convenient but not foolproof. The algorithms are a little too helpful at times, misinterpreting some numbers or phrases (eg “all week”) as instructions, so I should really check my tweets every couple of days and edit any that have been accidentally mis-filed or made into recurring appointments, for example.
    tw: 19 Feb.

  14. Also discovered I don’t need the P2 theme, as I prefer to tweet by making regular posts or comments, so I can switch to a more stylish theme with a wider sidebar. tw: 19 Feb

  15. I struggle to archive tweets, and Twitter sells 2 years of EVERYONE’s tweets (inc GPS!) to an online marketer! tw: http://snup.us/sYL and apparently, there’s a queue forming of other buyers! Where’s our cut?

    After doing a deal with Twitter, Datasift has become the first company to offer its business partners the chance to rifle through 24 months of people’s Tweets from the site.

    More than 1,000 companies have joined a waiting list to use the marketing goldmine, compiled from around 250 million Tweets a day.

    Seriously, that 2 year’s worth of tweets is almost certain to include include GPS coordinates that people later removed for privacy and security, this is no a joke for activists and dissidents, it is a life or death issue for people living in repressive regimes. We need assurances that data – our data – is going to be used safely and responsibly. Whether it was posted in the public domain or not, the data was originally ours. It should be a user’s right to approve or deny use of their tweets for any other purpose, at any time.

    On Thursday, September 10th, 2009 Twitter co-founder Biz Stone posted news on an update on changes to Twitter’s Terms of Service, “leaving the door open” for advertising opportunities, clearing the air on ownership of Tweets.

    Here’s what Biz wrote in the post tw: ( http://snup.us/sYU)

    Advertising—In the Terms, we leave the door open for advertising. We’d like to keep our options open as we’ve said before.

    Ownership—Twitter is allowed to “use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute” your tweets because that’s what we do. However, they are your tweets and they belong to you.

    Twitter TOS now also says:

    You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.

    Such additional uses by Twitter, or other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter, may be made with no compensation paid to you

    So my only question on this new development is: if I now delete an old tweet (and believe me, I can find them and I can delete them) – will Twitter make sure that any other organisation or service that has that specific tweet also deletes their copy?

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