Dear Twitter: Please Make Three Minor Changes

Posted on 19/11/08

Don't get me wrong: I like Twitter. I'm not a slobbering obsessive who wants to marry Twitter and give birth to a bunch of little matt-inman-tweetlet-bird-babies, but generally speaking I like it. I've used a few Twitter clients for both the iPhone and desktop, but most of the time my interaction with the community occurs on the website. These are 3 minor fixes that I believe would make the website substantially less painful to use.

1. If I receive a new reply or direct message, show it in the sidebar - don't require me to click through and refresh that entire page. This wastes my time and requires another hefty page load from your server. Also, showing the total number of direct messages in the sidebar is useless, instead show the number of new messages.

2. Highlight replies to me in the list of tweets.

3. Autocomplete twitter usernames when I'm replying. Sometimes when I want to tweet @someone I can't recall their exact twitter username. I either have to google them or scroll through all my followers to figure it out. You should add an auto-completing search box similar to facebook.

plz fix kthx!
Click to zoom

Simple, right? I'm not asking for a massive overhaul of the site, just a few minor tweaks. Rails is agile, and I know you guys at twitter are super clever, so get to it!

I'm not one to ask for free work, however, so in exchange for these fixes I'm offering you something priceless: a new mascot. The little bird isn't cutting it anymore, so I've taken the liberty of drawing you a new character to represent your website. What better animal to embody the spirit of Twitter than a pterodactyl with chainsaws for feet?

A pterodactyl with chainsaws for feet - for Twitter
Click for high-res

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  • paisley writes on 19/11/08
    great suggestions
  • Brandon writes on 19/11/08
    Sweet, holy Hammond that is a terrifying creature. Now, if only he was swooping from above on the precipice of attacking the Fail Whale.. I hear the whale's one vulnerability is chainsaw feet.
  • slimfender writes on 19/11/08
  • Mokona writes on 19/11/08
    Brilliant suggestions. I'm on board with all of the above.
    I think a Chainsaw Pterodactyl mascot would give Twitter the street cred it so desperately needs. Fail Whale will all but be forgotten.
  • Dean writes on 19/11/08
    whats terrifying are those killer teeth, kind of like an aligator gar's.. you should do one of those next..
  • J-dizzle writes on 19/11/08
    brilliant! love the suggestions... AND the mascot!
  • Maddie Grant writes on 19/11/08
    Totally agree. I would add "Put the search box somewhere massively obvious." I use it so much I've bookmarked the search page. In fact it's the only way to find those pesky twitter handles you can't quite remember.
  • Jim Spencer writes on 19/11/08
    Great suggestions.
    One more about DMs. They are hiding. Why not also present DMs in the main stream as they arrive, like many other clients do. Keep the current tab.
  • Travis writes on 19/11/08
    add local area searches link - ie: tweeps near you
  • Jimbo writes on 20/11/08
    hahah lolcano
  • Thunderpig writes on 20/11/08
  • Tim writes on 20/11/08
    Most desktop twitter clients actually include this functionality, and as a bonus you dont need to do any page refreshing....
    look into tweetdeck or tweetr
  • junkstore writes on 20/11/08
    There's a Greasemonkey script for autocompleting usernames. Works great.
  • Martin Leblanc writes on 20/11/08
    Love the new Twitter-logo LOL
  • RizzoTees writes on 20/11/08
    Holy cow those three fixes would be awesome. Shall we tweeeeeeet about it? Great ideas...
  • Mark Nutter writes on 20/11/08
    These are good suggestions but most of the are taken care of by the vast majority of Twitter clients out there. I honestly wonder why anyone would even use the actual Twitter website with so many handy options out there.
    I think Twitter's strength is still in its simplicity. It's failings are taken care of by the plethora of 3rd party apps out there thanks to it's rather liberal API. Apps like take care of a lot of missing features.
  • Zach Mitchell writes on 20/11/08
    1. Good idea.
    2. Uh - have you tried /replies?
    3. On the web UI, when you hover over a tweet, a "reply" arrow appears in the lower-right of that tweet. Click it and @username shows up in the tweet box.
  • Liam writes on 20/11/08
    I absolutely agree 100% - I've always thought the auto complete would be great, and your other suggestions are sensible ones too.
  • Jimmy Jones writes on 20/11/08
    Tiwtter is Da Bomb, leave them alone already!
  • Stefan writes on 20/11/08
    hope Twitter will listen...
  • Kabren Levinson writes on 20/11/08
    Great suggestions. I've emailed them about #2 a few times now...frustrating.
  • Winston Lawrence writes on 20/11/08
    Only used twitter for about 2 weeks now but your comments are on the money. Ive got three direct messages that I still havent figured out how to drop/keep from showing up on the web client. Like the mascot but the chainsaw for feet is just weird/creepy how about regular talons grabbing a pair of running chainsaws - now that woul be badass.
  • Zuno writes on 20/11/08
    Great suggestions, and you're right, they aren't to much to ask. Have you gotten any response/feedback from Twitter?
  • Nindya writes on 20/11/08
    Oh. Okay. Pterodactyl :D Now I know the meaning of your tweet before :D
  • Blah writes on 20/11/08
  • RobOusbey writes on 20/11/08
    Number 1 - would be good for users, but by not doing this it increases their page views, which is good for them when they start taking ads.
    Also (and I know that you probably expected this to descend into further suggestions):
    When you click the 'reply' button to a tweet that is *not* someone's most recent tweet, it should record exactly which Tweet you are replying to and make the 'in reply to' link point to the correct place.
  • Ezequiel writes on 20/11/08
    everything you just wrote is useless
    except for the mascot
  • rob writes on 20/11/08
    i agree, we should definitely implement the pterodactyl with chainsaw feet.
  • @christackett writes on 20/11/08
    great suggestions. and i agree w/ a commenter above, i would like to see that beast of terror attacking the fail whale!
  • Dave writes on 20/11/08
    Great suggestions. I would say the auto-completion of Twitter usernames would be the most important. I always mistype usernames and it's too clunky to look them up.
  • Mark Bockenstedt writes on 20/11/08
    The only problem I see with the new count is that it's tough to determine if you've read them or not. I really like the idea of highlighting replies and auto-completing usernames though. You might try adding those to Twitter's GetSatisfaction page to see if anyone backs you up on them.
  • hann writes on 20/11/08
  • andy writes on 20/11/08
    Hey is it just me, or is that pterodactyl violating some major laws. of perspective.
    Sorry I hate to be this guy:
    But it immediately threw me off.
    Regardless, sweet mascot. maybe just make a new website for the mascot, I mean all great websites start with a sweet logo right? hah
  • Brian Carter writes on 20/11/08
    Dude you are freakin hilarious
  • Dom Parker writes on 20/11/08
    Very fair improvements for Twitter IMO
  • kate writes on 20/11/08
    nice one!
    Anyways, i found this interesting site.
    Why don't you check on it.
    a href="">Becky, Revenge is sweet
  • Susan @pinkolivefamily writes on 20/11/08
    This is great! thx for these suggestions.. I hope @ev will be reading it :)
  • Melissa writes on 21/11/08
    I agree with the highlighting the @replies that you receive, it's a feature on Twinkle for iPhone but I'd love to see it on the actual Twitter website.
  • Chris Duell writes on 21/11/08
    Like I replied to you on twitter... love it, and completely agree.
    Mind if we use that logo you made? I love it!!
  • cK ! writes on 21/11/08
    I suggest adding some sort of ability to use anchor text or even just a characer like ">" to insert links, instead of having URLs take away from the 140 character limit.
  • Jazzy writes on 23/11/08
    that first one is genius. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give us a sidebar!
  • ROB writes on 4/12/08
    Would you say twitter FAIL?
  • Matthew Inman writes on 4/12/08
    No Rob, I certainly would not :)
  • Lisa writes on 4/12/08
    I like Twitterfox because its functionality gives me 2 of those. Autocomplete would be great ;)
    And a whole domain for fail hate? Too funny!
  • Mike writes on 11/12/08
    4. Add a feed only for people on toilets and call it Shitter.
  • postcard printing writes on 9/1/09
    I like the idea, I basically agree and hope this would reach them, for them to make some changes...
  • MaXsiM writes on 8/2/09
    I agree! Especially the DM System freaks me out.
    And the new "bird" is great! I love it.
  • krissy knox writes on 8/2/09
    I'm kind of scared of Pterodactyl, LOL. Can we keep the Twitter birdie please? He's both polite and powerful (not), LOL. I just don't want Pterodactyl!
    follow me on Twitter:
  • Megan writes on 8/2/09
    I would like to add: please develop a way for us to sort our follower list. It takes me a long time to find a particular follower because they're in no particular order. It would also be nice to sort them by location, keyword, etc.
  • Ardil writes on 8/2/09
    The mascot is drawn faultily; the left wing of the pterodactyl should not be hiding the left foot (chainsaw); please correct this if you want twitter to really take you seriously -- otherwise you seem to be someone who only wants to make a point, not a gift!
  • Matthew Inman writes on 8/2/09
    Ardel - It was neat seeing this joke fly over your head at supersonic speeds.
  • Freddy writes on 8/2/09
    For item #3, try tw-auto complete. It's a Firefox add-on
    Good stuff!
  • Mark Chambers writes on 30/8/09
    Your mascot is hilarious. =D
  • IHATEBECKY writes on 26/9/09 (NO VIRUSES!)
  • Dating writes on 18/10/09
    Twitter "Pterodactyl" - very funny :):):)
  • Lily writes on 2/1/10
    If this happened. twitter would be perfect.
  • lloydinspace writes on 2/1/10
    Another thing that would be useful is to be able to search through your own tweets by keyword or date. I've alway wondered what my first tweet was but over 2500 tweets later, I may never know.

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