Why I never read threads on Twitter or Mastodon

Since the sale of Twitter to a guy with too much money, my Mastodon account is way more active than before. But even there, the content is plagued by these so called “threads”. I already wrote rant about them in french, but I think it would be of interest to have my arguments against that practice in english too.

Issues

  • Chronology: When one chooses to write a novel on a medium which wasn’t designed for it, you get the posts in the wrong order. Moreover, if ever someone you follow send a message while a thread is written, the thread is cut in the timeline. And if someone retweet/boost one message part of a thread, you need to click it, scroll up to the beginning, then start to read. So much operations, so anti-ergonomic.

  • Formatting: You can’t do much in so few characters, you can’t waste them to leave an empty line, so you get a very dense block of letters to read. It is tiring to read. And you can’t even put anything in italic or bold to emphasis something.

  • Aggressivity: Suddenly facing a whole screen full of messages from the same person feels rude. The whole space occupied by the same avatar gives an impression of being crammed by the author with its writing. Remember, not so long ago, such practice on forums was called “post bombing” and could led to bans.

  • Edition: On Twitter as I write this, there’s no way to correct the posted tweet. Some tools offers to remove the tweet and re-draft it but it will loose its place in the thread, leading to even more mess. This is the only point that doesn’t apply to Mastodon as there’s an edit function there.

  • Comments: While the author is publishing his/her thread, comments can occurs anywhere in the thread, maybe asking for things that are being answered in the follow-up messages in the thread. Some comments can also target one message and take it out of context making it so easy to create a flame war.

Solutions

Nevertheless, it is super simple to publish a long, constructed message that doesn’t fit in a tweet:

  • WordPress: Do I need to present the most famous blogging software? You can choose to host your blog on their server or install it on your own to be fully in control and avoid ads.

  • Medium: Fairly new in the blogging game, this platform had a lightning fast progression and seems to gather an active community. A lot of companies have their activity blog on it which can be explained by the modern UX compared to the ageing WordPress.

  • Ghost: This CMS (Content Management System) is also a modern blog platform. It is a paid subscription if you use their hosting service called “Ghost Pro” or you can choose to host it yourself as it is Free Software. It can be seen as a modern take on WordPress.

  • Telegra.ph: This is hosted by the team behind the messaging app Telegram. It is remarkable in the fact that you can post article anonymously as no account is needed to publish something. Quite handy to replace a thread!

  • TwitLonger: Last but not least, already used quite often on Twitter, the well named TwitLonger that allows you to… tweet longer.

Perks

Writing on another medium and share the link on Twitter with a short description, so the audience can judge if the post is worth their time, solves the issues mentioned above but also comes with other perks:

  • Read Proofing: Having the time to read proofing before unleashing your message on the web allows to make sure that the post carries the intended meaning when you started to write and that you don’t have any typos.
  • Copy-Pasting: Without a specialized setup, having the same thread in multiple Social Network can be a chore. Sharing a summary with a link to the main message is simpler, you get rid of yet another account to use a bot, and every reader get the same layout.

  • Customisation: If you choose a blog, you can customise its theme, showcasing your personality through the choice of colours, layout, font and more.

  • Archive: If you use Ghost or WordPress, you can archive your posts and move them to another server and keep your layout intact.

  • Indexing: Did you notice that searching on Google, DuckDuckGo or Brave Search, tweets are not really showing up? With a blog, your content is indexed by the different search engine and become more easily findable. I’ve never stumble on a thread talking about a subject I searched.

  • Accessibility: We don’t think about it but we really, really, should: visually impaired people also browse the web and use screen reader software to listen to the content. Reading a thread, the text will be interrupted by the author’s nickname, at. every. single. tweet. Try to imagine how irritable it can be…

Closing Notes

As you can see, there’s no reason apart from laziness to keep writing so called thread when so many options are available. It improves the reading experience, allow better accessibility, searchability and let you in control of what happen to your writings in the future. So go start your own blog!