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.