Inert Detritus The Internet's dust bunnies

7 May 2009 @ 9am

Filtering Twitter, Pt 1

Twitter needs filters.

  • “Show me all posts from @cbarrett, except when he replies to @zacwhite.”
  • “Drop all posts where @commanda says ‘RT’ “.
  • “Ugh, South By. Don’t show me anything that contains ‘SxSW’ or #sxsw.”
  • “Drop everything from @patr1ck, but make it look like I’m still following him.”

(ok, maybe not that last one).

It started with @replies. Instead of changing them across the board, I want to change them for each user I follow. You know the setting: “Show me @replies to the people I’m following” versus “Show me all @replies”.

The first setting is akin to standing next to both people at a party: you know both of them, and you get to listen in. The latter is like sitting next to someone on the phone: it might be an interesting conversation, but sometimes it’s just noise.

Most users don’t reply or tweet much; they’re people you have things in common with, but they’re not hyper-active on Twitter. Whey they do reply to someone, it’s probably going to be something you find interesting (and, if in_reply_to_id is set for each tweet, you can view the whole conversation)

For the high-volume or high-follower-count users (@gruber, @clint), their replies are less relevant: they have many more followers, and most have little to nothing in common with you. Replies from them are more phone conversation, less party conversation.

Once you’ve allowed per-user reply settings, filters based on tweet text is a great extension. I want to blacklist RTs, certain hashtags, and other dumb memes. More on that tomorrow.

Part Two: Why is this Twitter’s problem to solve? I’ll have that draft finished tomorrow. Here, have an RSS.

1 Comment

Posted by
Scott Jon Siegel
7 May 2009 @ 10am

Good post. I’d definitely love to have finer-grain control over my feed. Maybe giving users a special code field box in Settings, and a pseudo-semantic language for setting filter parameters? Think AppleScript for Twitter, I guess.