How to do .@ replies on Twitter

How to open up a tweet or conversation thread to your public timeline without quote-tweeting it (which breaks any threading as that creates a new tweet).

Updated – whether or not your mobile phone app can or can’t do the .@ may depend on the version of your software (eg iOS) or whether or not you’ve updated the app.

Mobile phone users
Carry on as you were by clicking the start of the reply to position the cursor there and typing the . as normal (tested on Twitter for iPhone, Echofon for iPhone and Twitter for Android – I’m assuming other apps behave similarly but please let me know if not).

@Flatsquid tells me that he can’t do this on his version of Twitter for iPhone (whereas I can) so this may be a version issue. I don’t have an option to update my version so can’t confirm, though I am using an older iOS.

Tablet users
Twitter for iPad can’t do .@

Twitter on Safari doesn’t work either but it seems that using Dabr on a browser does (thanks @medtek for checking). Open browser app, go to http://dabr.co.uk/ and log in by authorising with Twitter credentials. Click reply and place the . at the front. Possibly Echofon for iPad would work too.

Web users
Twitter dot com and Tweetdeck can’t do .@

1a. On Twitter dot com or Tweetdeck reply within the confines of the new system
1b. Then retweet your own tweet – this makes it available to all your followers and maintains the thread so people can click and see the conversation.

OR

2. Dabr: Go to http://dabr.co.uk/ and log in by authorising with Twitter. Click reply and place the . at the front.


What’s this all about?
Twitter’s latest improvement meddling has removed the capacity to insert a . before the username of the person you’re replying to on the desktop / web browser version of Twitter (eg Twitter.com or Tweetdeck). The simple addition of the . before the @ did two things (a) it converted a reply (which has a more limited distribution to those involved in the conversation and people following both them and you) to a broadcast tweet (visible to anyone following you) so that more could see it while (b) maintaining the threading, letting people click and see the expanded tweet in context. [Note that any tweet sent is visible on your public timeline unless sent as a DM or you’ve locked your account.]

In the new format Twitter has removed the usernames from the text of the tweet (giving us more characters, a potential plus I suppose) but making all replies replies and not easily ‘surfaced’ to more people.

I think this ONLY affects people tweeting from Twitter dot com and Tweetdeck, phone apps appear to be unaffected (may depend on OS version or app version).

I have no idea why Twitter has done this. I’m assuming they want to make desktop Twitter as difficult as possible to use to force everyone onto mobile apps, though that doesn’t make sense since there are so many things you can’t do (in terms of settings) on mobile apps. People have suggested that it reduces the risk of people piling on in response to a more publicised tweet – that would only be true if .@ was also removed from mobile apps or you couldn’t retweet your own tweet (which serves the same purpose, but perhaps doesn’t cue people in the same way that seeing .@ does). Possibly this will change in future.

Removing / adding people in the conversation
The other annoyance with Twitter’s new replies is that it adds an extra hassle barrier in untagging people from the conversation. They have now added a ‘remove everyone other than the person I’m replying to from this conversation’ one-click option.

Clicking ‘reply’ has always meant ‘reply all’ but the previous system made it easy to select the usernames as a chunk of text and delete, now you have to go and look for them. To do this click reply, then click on the line above saying ‘Replying to @name, @name etc’ and choose the options to delete people. You can write the names of new additions within the tweet – so there’s one way to remove people but a different way to add them, which seems confusing.

Threads are now a mess and it’s not clear who’s replying to whom.

Further reading
The New Twitter @-Replies Are Giving Me an Ulcer (30 March 2017) by Sarah Jeong

Twitter search operators, for better search results

seewhatshappeningnow
Screenshot of Twitter’s dedicated search page. It looks like ‘operators’ is a link
to another page but it’s just a pop-up and there’s no real useable link there.

Below are Twitter’s search operators. There doesn’t seem to be an actual page I can link to so instead I pinched them from the pop up window that appears when you click operators on Twitter’s dedicated search page (see picture above). Here’s the link for the Advanced Search where you can do even more. I haven’t tried all of them but the one at the end doesn’t seem to be working now.

Edit: Heh, note that WordPress dot com auto converts text smiley faces like : and ) into 🙂 so in the table below please remember that you’d need to write colons and brackets into your search terms. I’ve no idea if this even works though. I think some of these operators might be out of date.

It’s possible Twitter will make me take this down cos I have totally stolen their content (literally in fact, when the popup appeared I used Ctrl+U on Firefox to bring up the ‘page’ sourcecode and then collected the HTML which I pasted into the draft of this post, above. Beyond me why they don’t make it more shareable. Mind you having seen their latest fiddling with replies…

How to reply to, or RT, tweets from someone who’s blocked you (Dabr, Echofon, Janetter)

tl;dr – use these third party apps – Dabr (desktop) or Echofon or Janetter on iPhone.

This post serves two purposes – mainly to let more people know that if you’ve blocked someone they can still reply to your tweets (and that other people can see and interact with those replies) and to highlight to skeptical or political activists that it’s still possible to correct misinformation tweeted by “the other side” (which of course works both ways!).

Over the years I’ve been blocked by lots of alternative medicine providers and supporters, particularly homeopaths and people flogging live blood analysis. Some of them are pretty harmless but a handful persist in tweeting misleading and occasionally dangerous health information. In those cases I think it’s worth replying to those tweets so that whenever anyone else clicks on them they might see the threaded replies with more correct info.

I think most people now know that if you block someone they can still see your tweets.

Generally this is wrongly believed to involve a bit of effort (in that they’d have to log out and search for your tweets, or log into a different account etc). However if the blockee is using one of the third party apps mentioned below then it involves precisely zero effort – it’s easy to see the tweets and reply to them, particularly if watching a conversation unfold via a hashtag. Most third party apps will now no longer let you view the profile of someone that’s blocked you – but if you’re reading and contributing to a hashtag you’d probably not even notice.

I think fewer people know that blocked people can also reply to your tweets, or retweet them [see note at end], while logged in as themselves rather than some spare account. Remember that if someone’s blocked you the chances are high that they won’t see your reply, but others may well do.

Here’s how they (you / I / we) can do that.

Desktop Twitter

Log into Dabr (http://dabr.co.uk/) by authorising it to interact with your Twitter account, search for a hashtag or the name of someone who’s blocked you – find a tweet, click reply.

Neither twitter.com nor Tweetdeck (now owned by Twitter I believe, so should be considered as an official Twitter app) will let you see tweets from those who’ve blocked you.

iPhone

*Note* I do not automatically update my apps, or my iOS version (it all works fine as it is so no particular pressure to do so). This may mean that my version is working while your updated one doesn’t – obviously I can’t really test this, so be aware of that if it doesn’t work for you.

Echofon and Janetter
Download the app (I think free / ad-supported versions are available), log in, search for hashtags or names and click on a tweet to reply. You won’t be able to view their profile (but can see their tweets fine in hashtag- or name-search results though).

Neither the official Twitter for iPhone app nor Osfoora for iPhone will let you reply to the tweets. You can see them on Osfoora but not Twitter for iPhone. I’ve not tried any other iPhone apps. Mobile Twitter (viewing mobile.twitter.com on Safari on iPhone) blocks the tweets entirely too, no viewing (and obviously no replying).

Google, Android or other phones I don’t know about

At this stage I don’t know. It used to be Fenix for Android which let people see tweets from those who’d blocked them but I believe that’s no longer possible so I’m not sure which apps would do this, if any. I’m hoping that someone reading this might let us know and I’ll update the post.

Supplemental:
probably more than you wanted to read about Retweeting

There are a few ways to retweet someone’s tweet – 1 and 2 won’t be available if you’ve been blocked though, but 3 and 4 are

  1. ‘Native’ RTing – on desktop Twitter you would click on the retweet button, it asks you to confirm and if you say yes the RT button goes green and you add ‘1’ to the tweets RT count
  2. Quote RT – on desktop Twitter this is identical to (1) but this time you add a comment and the green button stays grey and the counter doesn’t increase
  3. Retweet with Comment – on Echofon for iPhone this manually pastes the text into the tweet and lets you edit it and add your own comment
  4. Retweet as Quote – on Echofon for iPhone this manually pastes the tweet’s URL / link into the tweet and lets you add a comment.
  5. I’m sure other variants are available but I’ve not tried it on Janetter or Dabr

Both 3 and 4 work if you’re blocked.

Watch out with 4 though as the tweet would normally show up as an embedded tweet but if you’re blocked it will instead show up as ‘This tweet is unavailable’. On seeing that message many of your followers might reasonably assume that the tweet has been deleted or that the user has blocked them. They might not realise that they’ll be able to see the tweet fine if they click on it, and it’s only you who has been blocked – so be aware that (4) may be a bit confusing and (3) may be better.

How to display Instagram pictures correctly in tweets using IFTTT

If you post to Instagram and it sends a copy to Twitter then only a link appears, Twitter doesn’t display your image in the tweet. The reason is because Instagram does not support ‘Twitter cards’(1) but you can(2) bypass this by using the third party service IFTTT (If This, Then That) to get around it and display images correctly. Once you upload a new image to Instagram it will get tweeted out and display as a picture (note that it won’t work in cases where you write a tweet and include an Instagram link).

Be aware that if you have ‘post to Twitter’ switched on on your Instagram account then you may end up with two copies of the tweet – one directly from Instagram with no image (the wrong one), and the one via IFTTT with the image (the new and improved version). You can safely switch off the Instagram one (see my image below of my settings).

You will need, and to be logged into

  • a Twitter account
  • an Instagram account
  • an IFTTT account

Once logged into IFTTT visit this recipe(3) page Tweet your Instagrams as native photos and follow the instructions to ‘connect’ your Twitter (https://ifttt.com/twitter) and Instagram (https://ifttt.com/instagram) accounts – IFTTT refers to these as ‘channels’.

ifttttwitter

This will allow your Twitter and Instagram accounts can talk to each other independently, through IFTTT.

Once done it should look a bit like this and when you post an image to Instagram and it should turn up on your Twitter timeline with the picture appearing.

0000ifftttwitterinsta

It worked… [if you’re viewing on a mobile it will probably look as if it didn’t, but it did!]

Note that these are my settings on Instagram – it says that I have Twitter-sharing switched off, which is true, but the IFTTT recipe is now overriding this.

photo.PNG

(1)Twitter cards are basically a display-format that websites can sign up to so that pictures embed and display on Twitter as an image rather than as a link that you have to click on. The IFTTT system uploads the image to Twitter as a (usually hidden, but may show on mobile apps as a pic.twitter link and also provides a link back to the original Instagram (that link will show as iff.tt).

(2)However you might prefer that people click on the link so that your Instagram account gets the relevant metrics and you might also prefer that Twitter isn’t further overrun with images 🙂

(3)There are other examples of recipes that will also perform this function, have a search of the options and see what’s on there.

Downloading your old Twitter faves, setting up IFTTT to capture new ones

Table of Contents

  1. Capturing old favourites
  2. Capturing new favourites ‘going forwards’
  3. Useful background info

1. Capturing old favourites
To download your already-liked favourites do the following

  1. Log into Twitter
  2. Go to tweetbook.in and authorise it to access your account
  3. Select a time range, choose Favorites and create your PDF e-book of your favourited tweets

If you have as many favourites as I have (3,502 over 7 years, oops) you probably won’t be able to get them all in one go (2012 alone yielded a 134 page PDF!) but you have the option of trying to grab them all at once.

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-13-53-41

Fig 1. Authorise Tweetbook.in with Twitter

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-13-55-31

Fig 2. Pick a date range… or leave blank to pick all (it may fail if you have lots)

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-14-08-59

Fig 3. Once your tweetbook is ready the green ‘Download’ button will appear

The output
Each page of the PDF has only a handful of tweets on it (it’s not very efficient) but the timestamp is hyperlinked so you can search for a tweet (Ctrl+F or Command+F to search within any document) and then find the original on Twitter.

Caution: I don’t know if it will display only public tweets that you’ve followed or, because you’ve logged in, if it can pick up any tweets from locked (private) accounts that you follow. Be aware that if you publishly share the contents you might be sharing tweets that people want kept private.

2. Capturing new favourites ‘going forwards’
You can use an IFTTT recipe so that every time you click favourite / like on a tweet it will be saved in some way of your choosing – for example you might use a Google spreadsheet to capture the tweet, or email it to yourself.

To do this… do this

  1. Log in to Twitter and Google Drive / Gmail*
  2. Visit IFTTT and create an account.
  3. This is an example of a recipe you can use:
    Twitter Likes (Favorites) to Google Spreadsheet (other recipe options available*)
  4. You’ll be taken through the steps of connecting your Google Drive as one ‘channel’ and your Twitter  account as another channel – this allows your Twitter account to save your favourites to a Google Drive spreadsheet directly (you don’t need to set that up, it happens automatically).
  5. Favourite a tweet then go and visit your Google Drive and you’ll find a new spreadsheet created with your favourite in. After 1,000 tweets the system will create a fresh spreadsheet (same name with ‘1’ appended, and so on).

*or Evernote, or some other capturing system, examples here and here

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-16-54-01

3. Useful background info
Favouriting a tweet does not trap it permanently – if the original is deleted then you do not have a copy of it so ‘post-favouriting-processing’ would be necessary to capture it.

Other ways to capture a tweet include

  • taking a screenshot (it can be helpful to include its address / URL)
  • embedding it in a blog or Storify (in both cases subsequent deletion of the original won’t matter as your copy will remain)
  • use Freezepage to capture a copy of the ‘page’ on which the tweet appears (you need to use the tweet’s own address – you can find this in its timestamp – and remove the S from the httpS bit of the address

I’ve written a short post on ‘forensic’ use of Twitter (where you’re collecting someone’s tweets for legal reasons) but note that I’m not a lawyer so bear that in mind.

Further reading
Capturing web pages (remember a tweet IS a web page as it has its own address!) – Nightingale Collaboration

 

Why do I block accounts on Twitter? What’s the point?

by @JoBrodie, originally posted on my main ‘Stuff that occurs to me‘ blog

I spent about 18 months periodically answering questions on Twitter from people asking if people you’d blocked can still see your tweets. The answer is always ‘yes’ and that hasn’t changed. These questions were posed around the time when Twitter made quite a few changes to the way the block appeared to work, but the actual effect was very dependent on the app that you use to view Twitter.

If you try and view the tweets of someone that’s blocked you from an official Twitter app (eg Twitter for iPhone) you won’t manage it and it looks like the block is much stronger. But if you view on a third party app (Echofon for iPhone, Fenix for Android, Dabr for desktop) then you can see and reply to their tweets. And they can do the same to yours. So the block is app-dependent and doesn’t stop anyone from being able to see anyone else’s tweets. Plus everyone can log out and view them anyway.

So why block?

Keeping your follower list tidy / minimising pointless Notifications
This is the number one reason I block people (often reporting as spam before blocking them). Since I began using Twitter in 2008 I have regularly pruned the list of people that are following me or that interact with my tweets.

Everyone experiences phases when bots or fake accounts start interacting with your account. Sometimes they’ll follow, but more commonly they’ll favourite a tweet. This gets your attention in a fairly low-key way but it’s annoying (notifications!) and I think it’s important to report as spam and block so that Twitter can remove them. I know this can work because often (not always) when I check back later the account’s been suspended.

Sometimes these accounts look extremely convincing at first glance but if you begin to see a lot of them you soon recognise their characteristics.

 

 

Incidentally I reported both those particular accounts for spam and blocked them but they’re still there so Twitter disagrees with me (they are spam accounts but easily pass under the radar. One’s not tweeted since April, the other not since July).

Once I posted something fairly innocuous about Afrezza (an inhaled insulin for people with diabetes) and began to notice unusual behaviour on the tweet and replies. They were being favourited and retweeted far more frequently than was warranted so I ended up blocking everyone involved just for some peace and quiet. It seemed to be some weird targetted thing where these accounts tried to boost anything Afrezza related.

Note ‘egg-avi’ means having an egg for the account’s avatar / picture – while it’s not a guarantee that an account is spam it’s certainly a marker for it.

I’ve blocked (often pre-emptively) all of the Right Relevance accounts (there are hundreds of them). They favourite or RT your tweets if you mention a particular word that the bot is monitoring so you can end up with lots of tedious notifications (only on Twitter, I switched off the email thing years ago!). I consider them to be spam but they do provide a service of sorts, boosting tweets about a particular topic, which you may find useful.

Some accounts retweet genuine tweets, though never post anything of their own. I have developed various

Here are accounts that I block and / or report for spam pretty much automatically

  • Egg avatar plus a name with a random string of alphanumerics
  • Accounts that only retweet tweets, never post their own content
  • Accounts that follow 100 celebrities and me, or follow hundreds of people all called Jo
  • Businesses who sell ‘widgets’ who follow me after I’ve posted an unrelated tweet mentioning widgets

Herd immunity
Although blocking someone doesn’t stop them from viewing your tweets it does make it much harder for them to see who you’re following and who’s following you, so blocking a spammer in this way stops them following others in your lists.

Blocking someone means you don’t have to see their tweets if you don’t want to
They won’t be delivered to your timeline or mentions (in some cases you might see them if someone you follow retweets them). Muting actually does the same thing (if you don’t follow them) and it has the added bonus of them not realising as they can still see your tweets. I think people use muting as a sort of fun passive-aggressive block.

Blocking someone stops them seeing your tweets
No, it doesn’t – they can log out, use a spare account or a third party app. This is a bad reason.

Setting up a ‘tweet this post’ link on websites

A “tweet this post” link on your blog posts lets people click a link which will bring up a new ‘Share a link with your followers’ window (example below). It contains an editable ready-to-send tweet and the link to your post, and in my example it takes people to THIS post.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 23.16.03.png

Obviously you’d need to adapt the underlying text (instructions below) to make it relevant for your blog posts. This is just one way for people to share your content of course – another obvious option is the ‘share buttons’ which let people create their own tweet or Facebook post etc from scratch.

If you’re on a WordPress dot com website (not tried it on a dot org page) you should be able to just add /?share=twitter to the end of the address of the page you’re on to bring up the ‘tweet this post’ dialog box.

How it’s done
I’m sure there are many ways of generating a ‘tweet this post’ tweet but here’s one method that works fine.

The underlying link needs three things

  • a link to ‘twitter dot com / intent/tweet’ which triggers the opening of a new tweet box – https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text= by itself it just opens an empty box
  • text that someone might post as the text of the tweet (but of course they can edit it and write their own). To make it work properly it’s helpful to include %20 between each word – Setting%20up%20a%20%27tweet%20this%20post%27%20link%20on%20websites  – see Note on the %20 encoding below
  • the target link that you want to include in the tweet, ie the link to the blog post you want people to share – &url=https://howtodotechystuff.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/setting-up-a-tweet-this-post-link-on-websites/

The underlying code for the link above is (picture shown for clarity) –

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 22.55.37
and as actual copy-pastable-editable text (the first part will probably have gone blue as most browsers will read it as an active link) –

https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Setting%20up%20a%20%27tweet%20this%20post%27%20link%20on%20websites&url=https://howtodotechystuff.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/setting-up-a-tweet-this-post-link-on-websites/

Keep the first green bit the same, use something similar to the title of your post as the text (in purple) and add* the %20 between each word and add your post’s link at the end (second green bit) with &url= before.

Note on the %20 encoding
* you don’t have to do this manually. Write the text as normal with the ‘intent’ bit before it and the target URL at the end, as shown in coloured text above. Copy this text into a new browser window and press enter. You’ll see a ‘new tweet’ window open. Re-copy the address in the browser bar and when you paste it into your post you’ll probably see that it’s automatically had the %20s added in for you.

%20 is the code for a space, %27 is the code for a single apostrophe ‘, a full list of these codes can be found here (look for ASCII Encoding Reference on the page).

Troubleshooting
Note that it may be easier to set this up if you’ve already published your blog post as you can easily find what its web address (URL) is from the address bar. If you’re creating a new post you might not know what its address will be, depending on your system, but on WordPress dot com which I use for this blog, you get a ‘slug’ option which is the bit that’s stuck at the end of your main homepage address, so I know in advance what the URL will be for this post, it’s below.

Main address: https://howtodotechystuff.wordpress.com <- this is constant
Post address: /setting-up-a-tweet-this-post-link-on-websites/

There’ll be some daft advert below over which I’ve no control because I’ve not paid WordPress to use this blog so it sticks adverts on stuff. The adverts I’ve seen have been pretty awful to be honest but I’ve no idea what they’ve added to this post. Hope it’s not too dodgy 🙂