Quora answers archive

All my answers to questions on Quora. Some of them might comment on someone else’s answer too (eg #1 does) – admittedly this doesn’t make much sense when taken out of context but I’m afraid I’ve moved my content from Quora and deleted the original.

Jo Brodie
995.3k answer views
36.1k this month (August 2018)


1. Are the direct messages you sent on Twitter deleted from the other person’s inbox if you deactivate your account?
Answered Jul 25, 2018

I don’t know, I’d classify this as status: unknown 🙂

Since ~19 July 2014 deleting a DM means it’s removed only from your account but still remains in the recipient’s mailbox. Before that copies on both sides were deleted. However I don’t know what happens to the DMs in the recipient’s mailbox if you deactivate your account. Sidney’s answer seems very logical here! But I don’t know for sure.

If I could remember when I chatted with people who’ve definitely deactivated their account then I might be able to scroll back through DMs and either find, or not find, their messages. Alas I can’t remember the timings!

There’s no info about deactivated accounts on Twitter’s info About Direct Messages and no (relevant) message about DMs on their info on How to deactivate your account

Edit: later that same day. I pinged this answer to Twitter and a friend got in touch to confirm that yes, Sidney is correct and the messages are indeed wiped if the account is deactivated. I had wondered if the message remained but Twitter showed it as coming from ‘Generic User’ or something like that (as happens on Facebook).

2. Searching Twitter: For a research project, I would like search Twitter going back 10-12 months. Is there a way to do it? Is there a commercial website that has the data?
Answered Jun 7, 2018

I don’t know of a commercial site that has the data, other than Twitter itself. You can use Twitter’s advanced search options to restrict your search terms (or searching particular accounts) to any year since 2006 when Twitter began.

Admittedly this is probably going to be quite time-consuming as you are doing the search by hand, so I hope for your sake that there is a commercial site. Be aware that some tweets may have since been deleted, also that with older tweets there was no threading as we have it now*, which would otherwise help you uncover additional replies and other context about your searched-for tweets.

If you work at a university that has a Computer Science department go and ask them if they have anything in place to download large volumes of tweets and run queries on them. There might also be people there who know how to work with Twitter’s API and can create some custom-search on tweets collected offline.

Twitter Advanced Search

Searching by date

Screenshot 2018-08-17 10.34.12

Above shows what the Dates field looks like at the bottom of the advanced search options. It’s the worst interface humanity has yet produced. I advise you to stick literally any old dates in there (whatever you put will probably keep changing when you click to the next box anyway, it’s absolutely maddening) and run your search. Then you’ll get a page of results with an URL at the top of the page in the address bar and a dialogue box (shown below) with text in it. Fiddle with the date there and re-run the search.

Above: see the bit to the right of the blue Twitter bird, in the oval shaped grey box next to a search icon – that’s where you tweak the dates, thus…

Here’s the text to adapt to run your own search

cute kittens since:2012-01-01 until:2013-12-31

Yours might be

your keywords since:2017-01-01 until:2018-06-05
from:user since:2017-01-01 until:2018-06-05
– from 1 Jan 2017 to 5 June 2018

since” is your start date, “until” is the end date, it uses US date format.

And here are the kittens in that search result: cute kittens since:2013-31-12 until:2012-01-01

*”I remember when all this was fields” 😉

3. Is it possible to vandalize a Tweet?
Answered Jun 7, 2018

No. It’s impossible* to edit your own tweet let alone anyone else’s so if you’re asking about amending a tweet that someone’s posted this is completely impossible.

If they’ve not blocked you then you can reply to the tweet and other people will see your reply if they click on the original tweet. That’s about the closest you could get to vandalising a tweet in any meaningful sense – assuming you respond with disagreement. Hopefully it’s polite!

The other alternative is to take a screenshot of the original tweet and overlay a text commentary on it and post that. You’ve not changed the original tweet but drawing on someone else’s is a form of self-expression I suppose.

*’currently’, but I also assume ‘forever’.

4. How to send an automated “reply” tweet after receiving a specific hashtag on Twitter?
Answered Jun 3, 2018

I realise there will be a range of views on the acceptability of an automated reply to someone, but to me it is pretty much never acceptable and is likely to result in me reporting the user (particularly if I see other similar tweets in their timeline) and blocking them. And then grumbling about it 😉

Of course it depends on how you’re using Twitter, how people are interacting with your tweets and what sort of response they might expect.

Twitter has some helpful dos and don’ts in its help page, on Automation rules – see in particular the references to people opting in or out of receiving your messages and note also that “… sending automated replies to Tweets based on keyword searches alone is not permitted.”

Twitter generally requires third party services to have an opt-out option for anyone to say they don’t want to receive such messages. For example I’ve opted out of things like communit and Sumall so no-one that uses those services would be able to send me any automated reply thanking me for being a top engaged follower or something equally pointless.

Andy’s right, you can use IFTTT for this sort of thing but (in general) I would say… “don’t” 🙂

5. How to get a Twitter user’s join date?
Answered Jun 3, 2018

For any given user just visit their profile page and it appears on the page, here’s mine.

If you’re asking how to do this on a much larger scale (ie scrape it from 100s or 1000s of users) then I’m afraid I don’t know but the two links below may help. First is the general ‘dev Twitter’ page, second is the community page where you can ask questions.

Twitter Developer Platform


6. I can’t find an existing question on Quora in the exact words of the question, even with the filter. Quora just shows questions with similar words, structures, and ideas. How can I find the question that I’m looking for?
Answered Jun 2 2018

The question may have been merged with another similarly worded question. I have merged two or more similar questions before and what happens is that you are given the option to choose which question wording becomes the official one.

1. How far is the Moon from the Earth?
2. What distance is the Earth from the Moon?

Generally the advice is to pick the more popular one (as people are already looking at it) but where two Qs are similar in popularity you might pick one that’s phrased more clearly (in the examples above I’d probably go for ‘1’). As far as I’m aware the answers for both are then placed on one page.

People on Quora can also edit question titles, even without merging, to clarify them. In the example above a better edit might be “What is the distance between the Earth and the Moon?” if you think people might be more likely to search Quora for distance Earth Moon rather than searching for far.

So your question may still exist but is now going under a different ‘name’ so don’t discount the ones that seem similar but not the one you were originally looking for.

Another alternative is to use Google. Search for your keywords site:www.quora.com to restrict the search to this website for whatever your keywords are. It may be that the question isn’t showing up on Quora, for some reason, but is still findable through Google.

7. Given a tweet, is there any way to see all the tweets that quote it?
Answered Jun 2, 2018

Plug the tweet’s URL (address) into Twitter search (I think desktop / browser is the most easy to navigate though it probably would work on mobile too) and you should see the quote tweets.

You can find any tweet’s URL either by clicking on it to open it up (and the address bar will now point to it) or get it from the tweet’s timestamp.

8. What is your favorite tweet?
Answered May 28, 2018

Such a difficult question! There are so many lovely people on Twitter whose tweets entertain and enrich my day, some have become real-life friends too. I think I probably have too many favourites to pick just one but this one sprung to mind as I remember reading it at the time and thinking how incredibly sweet and innocent, but also quite silly and practical, it was.

I also enjoy the tweets of DavidGArnold and MooseAllain too 🙂

9.  Twitter has locked my account for being underage, despite the fact that I am over age. What can I do to get Twitter to unlock my account?
Answered May 28, 2018
1 Upvote

10.   I got locked out of my new Twitter account, I currently don’t have a phone number to verify who I am. What should I do?
Answered May 28

I suspect all that’s needed is a phone number which you currently have access to – this could be a friend’s, borrowed temporarily, or a landline (it’ll ring and an automated voice will speak the 6 digit code). If this works then afterwards you can delete the phone number from your settings so it shouldn’t cause any problems for your friend.

If it doesn’t work then all the available information about how to get into an account that you’re struggling with can be found in Twitter’s help files – Help with logging in. Good luck 🙂

11.   What is the best Twitter web client?
Answered May 28, 2018

I don’t really know of many Twitter web clients other than Twitter itself and TweetDeck (which is owned by Twitter) and Dabr, so I may not be the best person to A2A unfortunately 😉

Mostly I use the first one, web-based Twitter. I do pretty much all of my tweeting from that as I like using a keyboard to compose, plus if I’m adding links and stuff it’s easy to have tabs open. You can also paste in screenshots without uploading images (though you can do that too). It’s my ‘go to’ for Tweeting.

Tweetdeck I use more for work so that I can be logged in to multiple accounts at once and reply or retweet from any of them, as suits. It also lets you keep an eye on multiple hashtags at once and you can have several columns of timelines (replies, hashtags, users etc) open at once.

Dabr is a very straightforward ad-free version of basic web Twitter. I use it mostly to see what platform / app someone’s used to send a tweet. I often answer questions on the #TwitterHelp hashtag and sometimes people are asking how they can do something – my answer is going to be more relevant if I know what they’re using to tweet. To a certain extent this feature could also be useful in a forensic sense if you want to find out if a tweet was sent by someone directly or if they set it up in advance (eg used Buffer or similar tweet-delayer enabling app or platform), or sent by another automated system (or sent from a mobile device versus a computer).


12.   Someone posted an unflattering photo of me that makes fun of me on Twitter. How can I report it to Twitter to have them take it down if the user blocked me?
Answered May 28, 2018

Unless the photo shows something illegal I’d be surprised if you get much joy with Twitter on this, but I haven’t seen the photo and obviously don’t know the circumstances so “Just ignore it” might not be good advice, so…

Being blocked shouldn’t be an obstacle to reporting the user / tweet. I recommend using the desktop (web browser) of Twitter as I’m not sure you can do this as easily on a mobile.

Go to the profile of the person who’s blocked you. Admittedly you won’t see much but look for the 3 vertical dots on their page which will give you some options. The options are Mute, Block and Report and it’s that last one which will be useful.

Once you’ve clicked on Report you’ll see this menu –

Probably the best one is “Their tweets are abusive or hateful” because clicking that (then Next) brings up the option to point out an unauthorised image.

However do note that you may not have a strong case legally if you didn’t take the photo. Whoever took the photo owns the copyright and it’s unlikely that an unflattering image would necessarily constitute an ‘unauthorised photo’.

It may be worth looking at some of the other options, for example targeted harrassment – I think that option makes the person’s tweets visible to you so that you can add them to your report.

You may also find that ignoring the person is a workable strategy. Drawing attention to it may just make things worse.

If Twitter doesn’t take it down and you are able to communicate with the person through a different route you could send then (by email or post) a cease and desist letter. In the UK at least I don’t think this letter has legal standing by itself, however it clearly communicates your intent to take things further and if you take legal action then it’s evidence that you tried with reasonable effort to get the photo removed – and that this was ignored.

I’d also recommend reading up on the Streisand Effect as there’s always the possibility of making things much worse than they were to start with. Proceed with caution.

1 Upvote

13.  Twitter is asking for my URL. I don’t have a computer. What should I put?
Answered May 27, 2008

I’m assuming you’re filling in your bio for Twitter? If so you don’t have to put anything for the URL field and can just leave it blank. It’s only there so that if you had a website, blog or Instagram etc you could add its link there. If you don’t have that, you don’t have to write anything 🙂

If you’re not filling in your Twitter bio then I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re asking.

14.  If I’m following 1000 people on Twitter and they post 10 messages per day, does that mean I’ll see 10,000 tweets in my timeline?I know Twitter optimizes but does it limit the number of “following” tweets on my timeline?
Answered May 25, 2018

I don’t know the answer to either of your questions I’m afraid. I suspect the first is a possibility and were you to scroll endlessly from midnight to midnight you might well clear 10,000 tweets per day. I think most people dip in and out though and just see what they see when they’re looking at that particular moment.

It used to be the case that you could only scroll back to 3,200 tweets so it may be that you wouldn’t be able to see all 10k if you log on later in the day.

You can switch off some of Twitter’s optimisation in Settings. I’ve switched off the ‘show me the best tweets’ option, so I do see all/most tweets chronologically. I don’t know if it limits the available tweets though, whether you amend the settings or not.


15.  Can I tag just a single tweet as a sensitive content before posting? Is there a better way to hide a spoiler material on Twitter?
Answered May 25, 2018

I don’t believe so. You could change your global settings to be sensitive which would affect ALL your future tweets (I think, not tested this) and then after a suitable time interval change it back again. However people reading who’ve set their own Twitter experience to be ‘show me the sensitive stuff too’ will see your spoiler material anyway.

A better way might be to write a tweet over at Twitlonger (you can authorise it with your Twitter account) and add the spoilers there. When you publish the tweet from Twitlonger only the first sentence or so will appear on Twitter itself, then there’s a link to the full post which people must click to read, at Twitlonger.

So you could spend the first sentence telling them about the spoiler and add a bit of extra spoiler-free text to make sure nothing of the actual spoiler makes it on to Twitter.

Or if you set up a free blog on WordPress you can post to your heart’s content and then create a page or post that is password protected. That will stop your spoiler from being picked up by search engines and only those who want to see it will. You can then share the link to the post and its password on Twitter.

Good luck with sharing your secrets reasonably secretly 🙂

1 Upvote

16. Can I use my new Twitter account that was made on my laptop on my current phone that was banned from using Twitter?
Answered May 11, 2018

I’ve been asked to answer but I am a bit puzzled. Isn’t it quicker to open the Twitter app on your phone and try and log in (which I assume would answer the question immediately) rather than ask for (what would likely be speculative) answers on Quora?

It seems the original question-asker is in the best position to find this out and then tell the rest of us 🙂

The (wildly speculative) answer below assumes that attempts to override the ban won’t alert the authorities or land you in jail or anything like that. I’m also hoping that the ban was due to a glitch and not some awful thing being done on Twitter which makes life less fun for others. Please don’t do that.

I didn’t know that devices could be banned from Twitter – no idea how that might work. I can see that a phone number might be excluded (presumably you could get around that with a different SIM card). Perhaps IP address is affected but I don’t know how dynamic these things might be, maybe a different network (or a different SIM again). It seems more likely that an account is blocked / suspended and a new account would solve that but perhaps your phone really is blocked (!).

If the app doesn’t let you in for whatever reason, try opening the app for the browser and either use the desktop version or the mobile browsing version. And before assuming the worst of whatever Twitter app you’ve got (if it doesn’t let you in) I’d try downloading a different Twitter app and test that before investigating making changes to the phone, SIM, network or some other technical thing that I don’t know about.

Also check if the ban is actually a total ban or a temporary lock of an account. Reflecting on life-choices may also be prudent, as appropriate 🙂

17. How do I link Twitter to Instagram?
Answered Apr 16, 2018

I’ve assumed you’re asking “How do I make my newly uploaded Instagram images show up on Twitter?” which I’ve answered below. If you’re asking “How do I make my tweets show up on Instagram?” then I’m afraid I don’t know (and can’t see how that would work, but anyway…)

There are two ways to do this.

  1. Authorise Instagram so that newly posted pics will also go to your Twitter feed How do I share from Instagram to other social networks? [ see also troubleshooting] – this is not the method I’d choose though
  2. Separately authorise IFTTT (If This, Then That) to access your Twitter and Instagram so that your newly posted pics will actually show up on Twitter. Here are some fairly detailed instructions I wrote after doing this myself and it seems to work fine – though I don’t post to Insta that often How to display Instagram pictures correctly in tweets using IFTTT

Here’s a screenshot from my post with pictures of the two channels (Twitter and Instagram) that you use IFTTT to connect together.

If you go down the IFTTT route I’d recommend not authorising Twitter through option (1) (or deauthorising it if you’ve already done it) otherwise you may end up sending two copies of the same image – one from Insta to Twitter, with just a link to your image on Instagram, and then a second time, from Insta to IFTTT then to Twitter with the image AND a link to the original on Instagram.

The reason images sent via Insta to Twitter don’t appear as embedded images in the tweet is because there is / was some problem to do with ‘cards’ which is the way Twitter wants images to be displayed, it didn’t work with Insta. Instagram doesn’t support Twitter cards (or didn’t when I wrote that post).

1 Upvote
18. How can I send a direct message to famous people on Twitter?
Answered Apr 16, 2018

Famous people may not want lots of poeple sending them direct messages of course… One thing you could do is ask for the contact details of their PA (personal assistant) or agent or “who should I contact to get a message to you?” – depending on their level of fame that may be better received than asking them to follow you. You might also be able to find this information in their bio, or on their website / Facebook page (if they have one).

I also wanted to add that anyone can change their settings on Twitter so that anyone else can DM them, though this is not usually done by celebrity-famous people (you can imagine how they might be swamped), but it’s often used by journalists (some of those can be quite famous I suppose!) and much used by companies.

19.  On Twitter, how can someone tweet a private account without permission?
Answered Apr 16, 2018

No permission is needed to send a public tweet to an account on Twitter. If you know their handle (their ‘at-name’) you can just include it in a tweet. However, depending on their notification settings they may not actually receive your tweet.

Some people, particularly those who might otherwise receive a lot more tweets than they can engage with (or who regularly receive abuse), change their settings so that only those from accounts they follow are shown to them. Others selectively mute people (not obvious), or block them (much more obvious) to cut down on unwanted communications.

Also note that if their account is private / locked (and you don’t follow them) you’d not be able to see any reply they sent to you.



x. How can I find a tweet that someone has deleted?
Answered Mar 19, 2016

If the tweet was recently deleted and the account is public then search on Google and look in the cached version of their profile (click the small green arrow next to the address in the search results). I’m afraid this is rather pot luck. The tweet may have been sent too recently to have been indexed by Google, or too distantly in the past and Google’s later indexing will have overwritten it. But I have found several deleted tweets in this way, which allows a subsequent screenshot to be taken. Bing also indexes tweets so worth searching there too.

A tweet, while it was still ‘live’. may have been captured in Storify or other tools so it may be worth having a look there too – here’s an example of one of my own tweets that I storified years ago then deleted and it’s still there! What happens when a tweet used in Storify is deleted?

If it was a controversial tweet then search for tweets sent in reply to the person who sent it, or for words that were in the tweet. The chances are that someone else will have saved a copy or manually retweeted it (making the text searchable) or taken a screenshot and mentioned it to them.

If you want to pre-emptively capture the tweets of someone who has a tendency to delete them later then you could use something like IFTTT to send you an email each time they tweet. Your copy will remain even if they subsequently delete the original.


y. How do you search your own Twitter history for keywords?
Answered Jun 22, 2015

Go to the desktop version of Twitter (visit http://twitter.com in a browser) and type from:yourname keyword (the @ isn’t needed) into the search bar, hit enter, then select ‘Live’ from the options to see all the times you’ve mentioned that word. If you don’t have access to a desktop computer thing I recommend seeing if you can download the Chrome app onto your device and follow the instructions here (http://www.darrenwashere.com/twe…) for accessing the desktop version.

There’s a search box on every page on desktop Twitter but you can also use the basic search page https://twitter.com/search-home or the advanced search page https://twitter.com/search-advanced, eg if you wanted to restrict your search to tweets you’d sent to a particular person or within a particular timeframe.

Desktop search on Twitter is very good (they keep mucking about with it and it’s slightly less good than it was a few months ago, but still fine). To be absolutely certain that you have everything download your own archive of tweets (option in settings https://twitter.com/settings/acc…) and search them, but probably no need and all your tweets will show up on the search results.

You don’t have to be logged in to do the basic search but the interface is easier if you are.