There’s no shortage of opinions these these days about Twitter. Whether it’s their design decisions, their response (or lack thereof) to harassment and abuse, their on-again-off-again relationship with developers or their handling of the Alex Jones situation that’s resulting in tomorrow’s “D-Day”. Twitter is its own trending topic.
But there’s one treatise about Twitter that caught my eye — “The Case Against Retweets: a modest proposal to improve Twitter”, or as the web-published version puts a little more pointedly, “Retweets are trash”. Alexis Madrigal, a reporter at The Atlantic, shares his experience of using Twitter with retweets disabled.
“Fewer mean screenshots of somebody saying precisely the wrong thing. Less repetition of big, big news. Fewer memes I’d already seen a hundred times. Less breathlessness. And more of what the people I follow were actually thinking about, reading, and doing”.
It’s not a new idea, but the impact from his perspective was a breakthrough.
Disable All Retweets 🚫
It was in pursuit of this quieter, more serene Twitter experience that lead Stripe software engineer, Julia Evans, to create “turn-off-retweets” on Glitch. It’s an app that automates the process of turning off retweets for all your followers. Granted, you can individually disable retweets, but as Julia points out, “doing it manually was a pain — I had to do it one person at a time. So I wrote a tiny Glitch app to do it for me!”
“Twitter gets MUCH MORE QUIET”, comments Angela Ambroz, who used the app to turn off retweets for the folks she follows. And there are many others too:
As you can see, it’s not just Julia and Alexis who have taken active steps to refine their Twitter experience.
Keep Up With Your Followers via RSS 👀
“I love feeds and the people I follow on Twitter,” Luca Hammer says. He made “opml”, a Glitch app that makes it easy to monitor your followers in your favorite RSS reader. It looks for feeds in the URLs of your followers and puts them in an OPML file for easy importing. So if you’re trying to spend less time on Twitter but don’t want to miss out on updates, you’re all set!
Return to Chronological ⏰
Luca also created “follow-management”, an app which adds everyone you follow to a list. That way you can read the list, as tweets in lists are still ordered chronologically.
Sift Through The Tweetstorms 🌩️
If Twitter threads are hard to follow in your main timeline, check out “tweetstorms” by Reyner Crosby. This Glitch app allows you to browse through the threads — or tweetstorms — of any particular Twitter user. This can be extremely useful for prolific tweetstormers like Marc Andreessen and Andrew Chen, for example.
Block The Trolls 🙅
When someone targets and harasses you on Twitter, it can make you feel helpless. Reporting them is an option, but for a more immediate fix, try “poop-blocker”. This Glitch app from Argentina-based indie game developer, Rumpel, enables you to quickly block users that retweet a specific tweet and report them as spam.
While each of these apps is useful in their own right, together they highlight a powerful truth: the web doesn’t have to be a thing that’s done to us. It’s something we can make, not just consume.
With a little time and ingenuity, you can refine even the highly-controlled user experiences of major social networks and tailor them to your needs. You’re not at the mercy of some CEO’s latest idea; you can take things into your own hands.
At Glitch, you’re joining a creative community that’s inventing the cutting-edge of tech to make a more open, inclusive and thoughtful web.
We can’t wait to see what you create! 🎏🌟