Alternatives to Storify (which is closing): capture old stories, create new ones

by @JoBrodie – who hopes you’ll tell her about other alternatives you know of 🙂

This post is a work in progress as I am currently trying out the different tools available.

Storify is closing its doors on 16 May 2018 and all content will become unavailable. Any time before that point you can download your own (and other people’s stories). To avoid having to keep writing Storify stories I’m just going to call them Stories for now.

Table of contents

  1. Capturing Storify stories (aka Stories)
    1. … your own
    2. … or anyone else’s
    3. Other capturing options
  2. Re-publishing your Stories
  3. Alternative tools for future use
  4. The search continues…

1. Capturing Stories

Storify‘s cheerily named ‘End of Life’ FAQ can be found here: https://storify.com/faq-eol – follow the instructions in the section called “How do I export content from Storify?

1.1 Capturing your own Stories

You can save your Stories as .XML, .HTML or .JSON files. When I tried with the HTML I was expecting a page of code but ended up with something that wasn’t quite that, and which I couldn’t embed into a new post. However you can still use the Save As option to save it as a web page (or as a PDF). You’d need to do this for each of your Stories.

Screenshot 2018-03-19 20.11.34.png

Screenshot 2018-03-19 20.12.20.png

 

You can also save as a web page by sticking .html at the end of any Story URL, then saving the resulting page.

Example
a) Storify original URL:
https://storify.com/jobrodie/what-happens-when-a-tweet-used-in-storify-is-delet2
(this link will stop working after 18 May)
b) Adding HTML to the end:
https://storify.com/jobrodie/what-happens-when-a-tweet-used-in-storify-is-delet2.html (this link will stop working after 18 May)
c) That HTML file saved to my Dropbox…
https://www.dropbox.com/s/efmgvuaq8h4xfld/What%20happens%20when%20a%20tweet%20used%20in%20Storify%20is%20deleted%3F.html?dl=0
(this link should persist after 18 May)

Wakelet, a free tool, will very helpfully let you export all of your published Stories to its platform and it will automatically publish them for you once done. This works very well. I had 43 published Stories and I set it running last night and woke up to all of them being migrated (I think it probably didn’t take the whole of the night to happen!). So far it has the Jo seal of approval*.

To use it you need to sign up (free, I logged in through Google). You’ll be given a bit of text to add to your Storify profile (a sort of handshake) then you can start the process and select the published Stories you want to import.

Screenshot 2018-03-18 22.49.52.png
You need to insert the bit of text in Step ‘1’ into your Storify bio then complete Step ‘2’ and let it get on with it. There’s also an explanatory video.

For unpublished / draft Stories you can either publish them and do the above, or just get the draft on-screen and save it as a web page.

Sutori, also a free tool, that lets you export your Stories to them too. Here’s their blog post responding to the news of Storify closing. Once you’ve registered you can create a new Story and one of the options is to import from Storify.

Screenshot 2018-03-19 20.02.07.png
Click the ‘Create story’ button on the left, then choose ‘Import from Storify’ that pops up.

Comparison
Here’s the same content, imported from Storify, on Wakelet and Sutori. I think Wakelet wins this particular test because it shows the text of a deleted tweet. I created the Storify in 2011, included in it a tweet that I later deleted to see what happened (the tweet persisted) Storify original | Wakelet import | Sutori import

 

1.2 Capturing someone else’s Story

Sticking .html at the end of any Story URL, then saving the resulting page. I don’t think you can use Wakelet to capture other people’s Stories, but you can with Sutori (however if they receive a ‘please remove’ request from the person who originally wrote it they will delete it).

1.3 Other capturing options

With short Stories you could copy the link for each ‘atom’ that makes up your Story (tweets, YouTube video links etc) and insert them individually into a WordPress dot com blog, but this would be ridiculously labour-intensive for larger Stories. Screenshotting / screencapturing is also an option, or using tools like Freezepage etc.

2. Re-publishing your Stories

Wakelet will automatically take care of that, your Stories now have a new web address (which brings its own annoyance but at least they’re published).

For Stories saved as web pages (or as text, then perhaps as a PDF) you could either upload the PDF to your website (eg a free WordPress dot com blog, like this one) or put the file in something like free Dropbox and share the link wherever you like.

3. Alternative tools for future use

  • Wakelet – this seems to be the most similar to Storify so far (I have not tested it for creation of new Wakelets, only for importing old Stories)
  • Sutori – (how to create a Sutori story guide) I have created an example Sutori with four of my tweets. I think it looks nice but seems to be too labour-intensive for collecting larger volumes of tweets. Possibly I need to spend a bit more time with it.
  • Shorthand Social – I’ve not tried this yet but clearly it lets you embed tweets. I don’t know if it lets you add them at the same volume that Storify did though (several hundred at a time). Here’s their ‘guide to Shorthand Social‘ post.
  • Participate – I have not tested this but it a colleague mentioned that it can save old Storify posts.
  • Twitter threading – if you’re just interested in collecting together a bunch of tweets then create a thread, encouraging people to reply to that (you can use the Unroll tool to get all the participating tweets in one collection). Admittedly this doesn’t work as well if you have a bunch of conversations going on based around a hashtag.
  • Twitter Moments – I think this only works for tweets, don’t think you can add in YouTube links (but I haven’t tried so maybe you can).
  • WordPress dot com blogs – many things will embed into WordPress blogs. I use the free .com version so am a bit more restricted than the .org versions (where you have to download software and you’d have your own server) but you can easily add a tweet’s link and it will autoembed as the full tweet (it will remain if deleted too).

 

4. The search continues…

I wanted to find out what people on Twitter were recommending as an alternative and searching there for Storify alternatives brought up Wakelet as the clear winner, in part because they have been very proactive in contacting people tweeting that they’re seeking alternatives – a sensible use of targeted marketing! There are also lots of people recommending it.

To find additional options I ran the same search but added -wakelet to remove tweets mentioning that to let me see the other options more clearly, that highlighted Sutori and Shorthand Social. Chatting on Twitter let me hear about Participate.

*Re: Wakelet importing
Obviously some things are lost in the transfer – eg the view count, the date of publication and any embedded Stories within a Story will eventually be lost. I tried and failed to add a link to the Wakelet version of one of mine. The Wakelet URL for an imported story is alphanumeric rather than following the pattern of Storify which has its domain / the user name / the name of the Story – that would have been helpful but fairly minor compared to losing all the Stories and the effort involved in capturing them!

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When your tweet shows that someone has replied (or you get notifications) but you can’t see the replies

Screenshot 2018-02-13 23.26.31Screenshot 2018-02-13 23.26.40Screenshot 2018-02-13 23.26.50
Above: a series of three ‘bits’ below three different tweets (screenshots from Firefox, desktop browser using Twitter.com) showing a tweet with no replies, a single reply and two replies respectively.

I’ve seen a few people wondering why their tweet says that it has some replies (as in the images above), but no tweeted replies show up. There are several reasons why this might be the case. I don’t know what the answer is, these are just best guesses. If you know more, please let us know!

In all cases it’s probably worth checking by logging out and viewing your tweet to see if the responses show up then.

  1. Twitter doesn’t actually show all tweets all the time anyway
    If you’re not seeing your reply below a Tweet, it may be because of an outstanding technical capacity limitation. When there are an overwhelming volume of replies to a Tweet, our platform is unable to show all of these replies.” [Twitter help pages]
  2. Your tweet has received replies from bots and Twitter’s deleted their account, or the tweet. As far as I know the fact that the tweet had X number of replies remains, I don’t think deleting the tweet reduces the response count (does anyone know?).
  3. The people replying have private / locked accounts and so you cannot see their tweet.
  4. You have muted those replying and so are less likely to see their tweets – you can try viewing them by searching from:yourname and they may show up there (or log out). Blocked people aren’t able to reply to your tweets now.
  5. The sender has deleted the tweet – though I’m not sure what this does to the tweet count.
  6. Your better answer goes here 🙂

Further reading
Help with missing tweets (more Twitter help pages)

 

How to add alt-text descriptions to pictures on Twitter for visually impaired people

I’ve seen a couple of tweets and Twitter threads in the last couple of days that have gone a bit viral, highlighting that everyone can set something up in their Twitter settings to make things easier for visually impaired users. If you switch ON the option to be able to caption your photos then, whenever you upload a pic to Twitter, you can click on the image and add a text description. This description doesn’t show up in your tweet (it doesn’t impinge on your character limit) but is useful for those using voice software.

  1. History
  2. How to set it up
  3. Write good descriptions

1. History: Twitter rolls out the ability to add alt text in 2016, initially just for phone apps I think, then later it rolls out to everything.

2. How to set it up

Full info in How to make images accessible for people but for desktop users (like me) the steps look like this, below.

a) Go to https://twitter.com/settings/account and scroll to the bottom of the panel on the left, click on Accessibility.

Screenshot 2018-01-06 00.12.14

b) Make sure there’s a tick next to ‘Compose image descriptions’

Screenshot 2018-01-06 00.14.00

Example of what it looks like when you upload a picture to desktop

Screenshot 2018-01-06 00.41.22

Click anywhere on the image to Add description and write your text in the box that appears.

Screenshot 2018-01-06 00.41.55

3. Write good descriptions: Lovely thread from RobotHugsComics (h/t ScottKeir) with suggestions of what to actually write in the description window.

 

You can only delete Twitter DMs (Direct Messages) from your own mailbox

The screenshot in the tweet below comes from Twitter’s support pages on Direct Messages, in particular the section on ‘Things to know about Direct Messages‘. The text says “When you delete a Direct Message or conversation (sent or received), it is deleted from your account only. Others in the conversation will still be able to see Direct Messages or conversations that you have deleted. When you delete a group conversation, you will leave that group and will no longer be able to participate.

I spotted this yesterday and a friend helped me check to see if it was the case. It is. It seems to be a new thing but I don’t know when it was implemented, or why. I’m fairly certain that it used to be the case that if you deleted a direct message then it was deleted everywhere, but that is no longer what happens.

In the screenshot within the second embedded tweet (above) my friend has deleted the direct message saying “Let me know when you’ve seen this DM… and I’ll delete it“. After refreshing my page (and also checking on my phone) his DM was still there for me. I also deleted one of his and we tried all the permutations we could think of.

So… if you send a DM and delete it the other person will still have a copy.

Note that if the other party has email notifications switched on it’s possible that the email will contain a copy of the text of the DM*, or just inform them that a DM has been sent (possibly both – I switched off email notifications as soon as I could so no longer know what’s in them).

*the same email notification thing would happen with an at-mention too.

Supplemental
What happens to the DMs of someone blocks you? They’ll still be there.

I’m blocked by several #homeopathy fans though I’ve exchanged a few DM messages with one, who later blocked me again). Those messages are still there – I’ve no idea if the other party deleted them too (I didn’t delete mine, just forgot about them but went and checked). Until this moment I’d assumed that blocking someone wiped the DMs. I’m not sure if it did and Twitter’s restored them to my mailbox (literally not looked at them in two years) or if they were always there.

This also means that all of my Quora answers on the topic have turned out to be wrong 😉

I have been trying to find out when this change (I’m convinced it’s a change and that it hasn’t always been this way) and the earliest tweet(s) I can find about it are below.

This suggests the change happened between 2014 and 2015 – anyone know more?

Got it! July 2014! See point 5 in the list change from 7th to 19th July. There isn’t an archived snapshot of the page between 7-19th July but Lou and Sharon’s tweeted exchange above suggests deleting still affected both parties on 9 July 2014.

7 July 2014 – archived copy of Twitter’s support article from that date, screenshot below

Screenshot 2017-10-06 23.46.53

19 July 2014 – archived copy of Twitter’s support article from that date, screenshot below

Screenshot 2017-10-06 23.49.29.png

This refers to using Twitter on the web, the info also tells you how to delete DMs using a phone but doesn’t specify if they’re deleted for the other person too.

• Twitter’s closed the loophole that let you reply to tweets of people who’ve blocked you

Screenshot 2017-09-08 23.11.07

Up until a few days ago it was possible to reply to the tweets of someone who’d blocked you on Twitter. While the blocker would (presumably) not see those tweets you could still add your reply and others would see your contribution. This has been under some considerable discussion by people wishing to comment on President Trump’s tweets (I have no idea if Twitter’s loophole has been in response to that).

As far as I can tell if you’re blocked you can no longer directly reply to a tweet sent by an account that’s blocked you. However you can send them a new at-message tweet (they probably won’t see it given that they’ve blocked you) and you can still contribute to their conversation thread by replying to an intermediary tweet (ie by sending a reply to someone who has (a) already replied to the tweet and (b) hasn’t blocked you). But do be polite or your account may be suspended 🙂

I’ve tested direct replies to an account thats blocked me using the following apps / platforms and received an error message on each – cannot send a direct reply from any of them. If you know of one that works please let me know.

  • Twitter on desktop and for iPhone
  • Tweetdeck
  • Echofon (iPhone)
  • Dabr.co.uk
  • Janetter (iPhone)

Twitter would do better to stop people from being able to send tweets to the at-name of anyone that’s blocked them, as this current loophole-closure doesn’t stop replies-to-replies or new conversations.

It does make it a bit harder for me to correct the misleading tweets that homeopathy supporters send out – a few of them have blocked me, and other “anti-homeopathy skeptics”, for pointing out that homeopathy is not valid medicine.

Thanks to Pippo for drawing my attention to this.

 

 

 

• Hate seeing other people’s likes on Twitter? Some options to try

Updated April 2018

Let’s get rid of other people’s likes on Twitter!

Options known about so far… the first five involve using website Twitter, the sixth is info sent to me about a phone app. Numbers 2-5 involve workarounds to improve the experience on Twitter.com

  1. Use 3rd party Twitter website eg Tweetdeck or Dabr
  2. AdBlock Plus with Element Hiding Helper (Firefox)
  3. UBlock Origin filter
    1. 3a. Chrome Extension: Make Twitter Great Again
    2. 3b. Chrome Extension: Get rid of trending topics
    3. 3c. Chrome Developer tools: Block all RTs (except manual or quote RTs)
  4. Dismiss every tweet with ‘I don’t like this tweet’
  5. Use a list of people you follow as main timeline
  6. App version (Nexus 6P)

1. Use 3rd party Twitter website eg Tweetdeck or Dabr
Log in to either https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/ or https://dabr.co.uk (or https://dabr.eu/) and enjoy a basic ad-free peaceful tweeting experience. Tweetdeck solution suggested by Alexandre in the comments.

2. AdBlock Plus with Element Hiding Helper (Firefox)
It’s the Element Hiding Helper that does the heavy lifting here, although AdBlock Plus by itself gets rid of the sponsored tweets. Generally I don’t really mind sponsored tweets (I’m happy for Twitter to advertise to me) but I’m not interested in who to follow or trends and the additional bolt-on lets me get rid of that.

When you see a tweet that’s been inserted into your timeline because someone’s liked it call up the Element Hiding Helper. It lets you select an area containing the offending tweet (be careful not to select too much, or too little) and remove it from view. It might take a few attempts to catch all the slightly different variants (oh there are variants!) but I’ve found it to be very successful. You can also wipe out Moments, Trends, Who To Follow panels from around the main timeline and you can eliminate things inside the timeline too.

Here’s what my page looks like. I’ve got rid of Moments and the Analytics panel. On other pages you’d see the lack of Trends and Who to follow…

Screenshot 2017-07-27 00.28.42

Here’s a clip of what I see on my mentions (for privacy I’ve not shown any tweets as some are from locked accounts). There’s a white panel containing tweets in the middle and two lovely clear grey panels on either side, with nothing in them at all 🙂

Screenshot 2017-07-27 00.32.07.png

3. UBlock Origin filter

Thanks to an update from gorhill in the comments below it looks likely that if this tweet doesn’t render correctly on your screen you’ll see mangled instructions. I’ve added a screenshot of the same tweet below the embed (some browsers will show both correctly)

Screenshot of Glytch's tweet explaining how to use UBlock Origin to get rid of other people's liked tweets

3a. Chrome Extension: Make Twitter Great Again
“Hide liked tweets by others in timeline, hide Live Video, promoted tweets and others improvements for Twitter” (link) – apparently Opera can also use the same apps as Chrome.

3b. Chrome Extension: Get rid of trending topics
Andy (@digitonal) also shared a tip for getting rid of trending topics on Chrome using the Stylish extension to run a custom rule for Twitter.

.Trends { 
   display: none; 
}

3c. Chrome Developer tools: Block all RTs (except manual or quote RTs)
Nick Douglas has written a helpful post on Lifehacker with instructions on how to do this for Chrome browser users: How to disable all retweets on Twitter (6 March 2018)

4. Dismiss every liked tweet with ‘I don’t like this tweet’
Every tweet has a small arrow to the top right with options in (highlighted in blue below). For these liked tweets one of the options is ‘I don’t like this tweet’ or ‘show me less of this’ (not seen in the example below because it’s a different type of tweet) – select that and after a few times apparently the annoyance will go away.

I don’t use this method myself in case it causes problems for the person who’s tweet has been liked but it seems to work, though takes longer (and one advantage is that it does actually tell Twitter you don’t like it whereas my preferred method gives no feedback).

Picture below is illustrative. Because it wasn’t promoted to me as a ‘someone liked this’ the “I don’t like this” option isn’t available from the drop-down menu, but that’s where you’d find it if you had one of these tweets in your timeline.

Screenshot 2017-07-27 00.36.02.png

5. Use a list of people you follow as main timeline

George in the comments below suggested this one and it’s got potential! Create a list (give it a nice name so no-one will be annoyed when they find they’ve been added) add the people whose tweets you would like to see and then view that list instead of your main timeline. You’ll see only the tweets of the people you’ve added and you won’t see any additionally inserted tweets that Twitter wants you to know about. Thanks George!

6. App version (Nexus 6P, official Twitter app)

If you know of other methods, let’s have ’em.

Background
I follow over 2,000 people on Twitter so obviously I don’t see every one of their tweets, but I can live with that. If I need to catch up with someone’s tweets I can look at their profile. Twitter went through a phase of showing me ‘things you’ve missed’ while I’d been away, which was annoying. There’s also an option where you can be shown the ‘best’ tweets rather than the straightforward reverse-order chronological timeline. Fiddling about unnecessarily.

More recently Twitter’s started sharing, in your main timeline, tweets that other people have liked. Ironically I don’t think anyone likes this, I hate it. Even though some of the tweets are pretty good it really annoys me. Liking or favouriting on Twitter has usually been a semi-public act, in that you can go and look at someone’s likes if you wish, but otherwise they’re not ‘surfaced’ to your timeline, and now they are. I vaguely remember Twitter having an Activity tab where it showed what your friends were liking but it was short-lived.

No-one’s found an option that lets you switch this off (which is odd given that you can select options for almost everything else that Twitter displays) but here [above] are a few suggestions.

This bit moved to the end for clarity after I spotted this tweet. Good point well made, I am quite chatty. See it’s 4 paragraphs now 😉

 

This post has been referenced in a Lifehacker post (How to block other people’s likes on Twitter) which has brought lots of new visitors so welcome to the new folk and thanks to Lifehacker 🙂