Mar 23, 2008

10 Things I Hate About Twitter

So I’ve kind of gotten addicted to Twitter over the past few weeks. At its best, it’s like an ongoing coffee break that you can pop in and out of over the course of a day and find out all sorts of interesting gossip, not to mention articles worth reading and other time sucks.

That said, there are a number of things I find frustrating about it and given that Twitter is still in its nascent stage, I thought I’d put them into the ever popular list form. (Hat tip to Brian Morrissey for his input on this.)

1. I WISH I had the ability to temporarily turn certain people off. Especially people who feel the need to live-tweet an especially boring commute to the office or conference or concert or something else I am not interesting in learning about in 5 minute intervals. (That said, I wish I had the ability to produce cogent, lucid, amusing grammatically correct live tweets the way some people do. I completely lack the ability to be completely in the moment and participating in the event while simultaneously outside of it and commenting on it.)

2. I WISH I didn’t have to hit “Refresh” on the web page every time I wanted to see an update. Not a tech genius here but can’t imagine an auto-refresh feature would be that difficult.

3. I WISH there was a good Mac-compatible app for Twitter. I’ve been using Snitter and testing Twitterific, but they both have their faults. I don’t mind Snitter’s functionality, but it has the (fairly major) flaw of sometimes talking hour-long breaks from providing updates, no matter how many times you hit “Refresh.” And Twitterific loses me with those god-awful bird noises. (UPDATE, November 2008: I have been a big fan of Twhirl for the past several months. It's exactly what I was asking for.)

4. I WISH I was able to IM with people on Twitter. Sometimes someone brings up something you want to discuss with them in private and the back and forth Direct Messaging is just way too slow. Even a built-in link to an external IM app would help.

5. I WISH making my Twitter-stream private didn’t result in the odd-yet-annoying technical glitch of forcing me to follow every single person who elects to follow me.

6. I WISH the logical next step of the aforementioned problem—to remove all my new-but-unknown followers from my “People I’m Following” list—didn’t automatically result in their simultaneous removal from my “People Following Me” list. (Note: If this has happened to you, I swear it was not my intention to remove you, so please feel free to re-follow me- I’ve made my feed public again.)

7. I WISH people would stop welcoming new followers: this isn’t AM radio.

8. I WISH people would realize how odd it sounds to twitter about how you are currently playing with your children. Children are sentient beings who get that Mommy or Daddy can’t simultaneously be playing with them and typing about it on Twitter. Not to mention that (to paraphrase Chris Rock’s famous routine) you’re a parent: You’re supposed to be playing with your children. This is also true of people who twitter about how they are currently at dinner with various friends and relatives. All I can think of is 7 other people sitting there aghast as you blithely type new Twitter updates throughout the meal. (SEE ALSO: Wolk, A.: Social Media Is Only Social If You’re Alone.)

9. I WISH people would not feel the need to tell me what they are eating for lunch every day. Unless maybe it’s something really gross or unusually delicious. I mean I’m just as guilty of the occasional mundane tweet as the next guy, but some people's need to go into detail about the minutiae of life is indeed baffling.

10. I WISH I had the willpower to turn off the Twitter feed during the day. It wastes so much time. Yet it’s always so much more interesting than whatever else I’m doing.


Anonymous said...

Hi Toad,
about the client: give twhirl a try. It's on the Adobe AIR runtime so cross platform. I do like it.

Can follow most of your other remarks. Twitter is great, but needs some improvement.

Anonymous said...

Great comments. Read them while playing Legos with my kids and enjoying broccoli casserole with 7 dinner guests, after commuting 47 minutes from a boring conference session...oh, and my left shoe feels tight.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a No. 11: a way to filter the incessant "bum rush" messages. I'll buy the book already, ok?

Anonymous said...

i have never used twitter for a lot of reasons. but the strongest reason is that i think there has to be a line you cross over where you're more committed to the not-really-real internet than real life.

and i think twitter crosses it. whether it's "useful" or not.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what made me laugh more... your #8 or Steve's response to it. I'm with you on that one....

Plus, I've yet to see "having sex with my husband" (wife, boyfriend, whatever).. but I'm certain it's been tweeted.

And I agree on the high frustration factor. But I can't help it, either.... I dig Twitter!

Anonymous said...


It's almost as bad as alcohol, isn't it?

What's intriguing is how twittering has become a default status indicator for Facebook. Yet other social networks (i.e. LinkedIn) are deliberately avoiding following suit.

Maybe it's my ADD, but I don't mind the noise. I only hate it when I miss a great link or insight...but then, I don't know I've missed it!

How many of us will be tweeting at BS08? How sad will that be? ;)


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Anonymous said...

worst thing about twitter?
people go on and on about it being a great way to communicate while having so many flaws and not communicating with the people in their present time/space continuum, see toads "10 reasons i hate twitter".

Alan Wolk said...

Hey- thanks for all the comments.

@steven: Tried Whirl- Snitter's interface feels better, can't tell you why. But haven't given up on Whirl. (Snitter is also Air-based, I believe)

@woodruff - very funny. you're on a roll these days.

@morrissey - I've been spared the bum rush ones - and the Sox fans. But I will also add "Not every article you encounter in the course of the day is worth Twittering. Please show restraint" (Not aimed at you, if that wasn't obvious. You and Greg Verdino make me laugh several times a day on Twitter.)

@Ann: I suspect there's an alternate Twitterverse where people link to articles on Britney and Lindsay and tweet about their nails, hair and sex lives.

@Tim: It is addicting. I've learned to turn it off when I need to get things done. I've also learned to let it go- it's like the year I had a subscription to the New Yorker and every week there'd be an article I wanted to read but didn't have time for. Eventually I had 40 some odd issues piled up next to my bed, stressing me out daily. So now I just read the most recent Twitters and let the rest go.

I've thought about BS08 and I hope no one Twitters from there. It's supposed to be social- not a series of seminars a la SXSW. And as I've said before "Social Media Is Only Social If You're Alone."

@LD and Anonymous: I suspect people go through phases with Twitter of being on it all the time to just listening-- it can become an addiction if you let it, but like a lot of things, I think the thrill eventually wears off.

We're all "early adopters" here though - I wonder where it will go if and when it's adopted by say sports fans or gossipistas and so on.

@you rock radio: Given that there's some sort of secret code you need to type to post here, I admire your gumption. Just don't make a habit of it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Toad,

Definitely identify with some of your points although overall I love Twitter. I've used Snitter, Spaz and Twhirl and as Steven said, Twhirl is worth a try.

Lewis Green said...

All relevant to my Twitter experience. I take about two Twitter breaks a day for about 15 minutes each. It's about all I can handle.

As for my other points, what "the lower depths" said.

Anonymous said...

Regarding automatic reloads: Technically no problem at all, but I bet they save lots of unneccessary traffic and database load from people leaving their browser with Twitter open over night or a Twitter tab in the background.

Automated reload would be a nice feature, but if Twitter is faster and more stable because of reduced server load, I guess it's ok to go without that.

Evert-Jan ( said...

I WISH I could make groups from the twitterers I follow and read only conversation from those people. It's like making your groups of friends.

Scott said...

I agree with all..except a partial disagreement on #1. Remember, that is what Twitter was originally set up for: letting friends know where you are and what you are doing. It has evolved into something akin to a pressrelease/digg machine now, but those little quips from people stuck on the city bus and sitting beside a guy dressed like a girl was really the intended use.

Anonymous said...

> Snitter...has the (fairly major)
> flaw of sometimes talking hour-
> long breaks from providing
> updates, no matter how many
> times you hit “Refresh.”

That's because Twitter only allows 70 requests per hour.

Therefore, no matter how many times you hit refresh after that, Twitter is going to preserve bandwidth until your next hour's quota.

It's not a Snitter limit.

11,252 days

Anonymous said...

Good points. I, too wished there were some updates. My biggest problem is if you post something, then hit "Home" that post can disappear. Then 5 minutes later it shows back up.

R. Richard Hobbs said...

I second Twhirl

Anonymous said...

Why not just turn of Twitterific's sounds? I personally like them. Makes me think "spring."

I do think some tweaking needs to be done to the @ stream to prevent @ spamming.

The Daily City® said...

I don't think you're following the right people. The only people I follow are people I can learn something from. The ones who post links to their blog posts, links to posts and articles on other sites. Steverubel is great. Also scobleizer. These people usually aren't craping around telling you what they ate. They're telling you a new service they've discovered, new meme, etc. Twitter, for me, is a learning tool. Just sharing my two cents. And by the way, it was Steve Rubel who linked to you (via twitter of course) in case you didn't know. Thanks.

Alan Wolk said...

Welcome all you Rubel-ites. Thanks for the comments.

@thomas frütel: thanks for the technical explanation. Now it makes sense.

@everjean: I suspect groups will be one of the next features. I'd like that too.

@tim mcghee: Understood, but there are many times I launch Snitter first thing in the AM and it takes a good 15 minutes to load up. Still digging it though

@scott: quibble was not with bus situation you describe but with say 75 tweets from a basketball game, giving a play-by-play. I could watch the game on TV if I was that interested.

@dave simon: I'd rather have sounds I didn't feel compelled to turn off.

@marc battali: In my next life, I will try and make more useful friends, ones who'll provide me with great links to expand my mind instead of snarky comments on PR agents like that Brian Morrissey guy.

You do raise an interesting point: is the future of Twitter as a device to follow experts and learn from them? Or will it remain a place where we hang out with our actual friends and share our thoughts and some cool links with them?

As for Rubel, I was alerted by several friends-in-common and have thanked him for the link and resulting increase in traffic.

2kosher4u said...

Please check out this Youtube video of my special bond w/Chris Rock!!!

Slorge said...

"I'm having lunch" or "I just woke up....give me coffee" I thought that's what twitter was supposed to be. IMO, if you want news, search for it, or find more appropriate RSS feeds. Twitter is a social interaction "tool". The right tool for the right job, I always say.
I do wish there was an auto refresh though...perhaps in the future

Anonymous said...

Maybe this post should be called "10 Things I Wish Twitter Had" .. You don't really seem to hate it at all!

Ben said...

Hi Toad,

I was disappointed when I arrived at your article. I was looking for legitimate people who truly hate Twitter. Instead you made insightful comments about it...where's the hate? hate like this:

Anonymous said...

i dont use twitter because i dont want people to know who i am but guess what you dont like people that twitter this and that or whatever you dont agree they should be twittering if they wanna be boring than let them be boring stop reading it your top ten fails when it becomes too personal and you think your suggestions are right and everyone else is wrong. man they pay you?

Anonymous said...

hi toad

i think you should ad an 11th thing to your list i cant evan get twitter because they say my name is to long

Anonymous said...

Don't need Twitter, don't need Facebook. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Twitter is shit!

Join the revolution at

Be a shit not a twit!!

Christopher Furlin said...

Twitter is nothing more than mental masturbation for attention whores. 'Nuf said.