Twitter and the 140 Character Limit

https://twitter.com/timmmmyboy/status/145230367719305216 Twitter has been around for several years now and iterated constantly during that time. In some cases they have made changes to core features that folks have used for a long time. For example when they saw that people were "forwarding" tweets or agreeing with them by "retweeting" them with the style "RT: ...." they decided to build in a mechanism for retweeting that wouldn't require any typing, just a single click and it's pushed to others streams verbatim with credit. But one glaring issue that has been present since inception is the 140 character limit. Don't get me wrong, many say that the 140 character limit is partial to Twitter's success. It was born of the idea that most people would use Twitter via SMS on their phones, which has a 160 character limit. They dropped it to 140 in order to accommodate for the user's name in the tweet. And a lot of people are big fans of this limitation and I can understand why. If you're going to write a post, write it on your blog. Twitter was meant for quick status updates. At one point the site even prompted you when you composed a new tweet "What are you doing?". But there are a few things that could at least help make this limitation less frustrating.

Conversations

https://twitter.com/beckyfisher73/status/143743453770166273 I use Twitter a lot for interacting with other folks. Many times it's not only one person but several. The more people I include on a conversation, the less I can actually say! This causes me to constantly revise my messages, curating both what I say and who I say it to because of this limitation which exists because of the artificial and incorrect reality that I might be using it via SMS. Twitter needs to build in a way for us to add multiple people in on a tweet without it affecting the character count. ### URLs

There are a proliferation of URL shorteners on the web, and many exist primarily because of the popularity of Twitter as a service for sharing information with the necessity of brevity. This summer Twitter rolled out their own URL shortener (t.co) that is used automatically on any link added to Twitter. This causes several issues: 1. By wrapping any and every link with a shortener not only is Twitter putting a potential point of failure between a tweet and the story it mentions, but in many cases the links we share on Twitter are already shortened (with perhaps a shorter URL) and Twitter continues to insist on wrapping it again in their URL shortener. 2. By using a URL shortener I lose all context for the link I'm about to click. Twitter says this is so they can check all URLs and protect us from harmful activity. Thanks but no thanks. I'd rather know exactly where I'm headed when I click a link, and that goes for all URL shorteners.

Links take up quite a bit of space too. The t.co domain is up to 13 characters now and grows rapidly as the userbase of Twitter grows everyday. The solution to this issue is to stop counting URLs against the character count. It's a simple solution, albeit one that again flies in the face of people that love the restriction that 140 characters provides. Please let me add a URL to my tweet without limiting my message by at least another 13 precious characters. ### Hashtags

I want to believe there's some way that I can include my message in a separate stream of related tweets without having to tag that message with even more characters. Hashtags are yet another relic of a system of tagging that users developed early on. Twitter built in the ability to search against them and filter but wouldn't it be even better if I could just tag my tweet without it yet again limiting what I can type? By reducing the character count when adding hashtags I'm less likely to submit my tweet into multiple streams of conversation. Again, the more I want my voice heard, the less I get to actually say. Restrict the 140 character count to actual message body text while opening up tweets to include URLS, images, other Twitter users, and be tagged essentially "for free". The only people this hurts are those that rely on SMS for Twitter. I'm ok with giving them a dumbed down experience. We're literally talking about users who don't have a smartphone. What's the likelihood they're going to be able to access any of that non-textual data on a dumbphone anyway?