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Posts Tagged ‘Direct Messages’

You’ve Got Twittermail

The direct message system on Twitter is a mess. The more people you follow, especially in any kind of automated fashion, the more spam, mass marketing messages, irrelevant junk and good, old-fashioned weirdness you attract to your inbox. And while it’s admirable to follow others on Twitter so they can contact you via this method, the work involved in managing all that noise to find any signal of worth verges on a full-time job.

For some, especially those who follow thousands of users, the alternative is to simply ignore everything that is sent to them via DM. That’s not a positive outcome for anybody.

Ideally, Twitter would scrap the direct message feature and start over, building something that worked a lot more like email. Facebook’s private messaging system isn’t world-class, but it’s significantly better than what we have on Twitter. Being able to group more than one person into private Twitter conversations would be worth the price of admission alone. It would also be nice if we weren’t limited to 160 characters.

Alternatively, this is a fantastic opportunity for a really creative app coder. I’d love to see somebody port all that direct message API over to a standalone Twittermail website that worked a bit like Gmail, and gave us labels, starring, threading and – vitally – a spam filter, then I think they’d be sitting on a product that was valuable enough to warrant a (modest) price tag.

An intelligent spam filter (that came with its own folder) would be huge. Like Gmail (or Akismet), the filter would have built-in knowledge, and learn from the Twitter collective about repeat offenders, bots and trolls. You’d also be able to tailor the filter to your own liking. You’d switch off your DM notifications from Twitter, and manage everything at your new favourite website.

Hey, maybe this could even be ported into Gmail, and we’d let that do all the work.

We need Twittermail. You need it. Competent and manageable private messaging is a must for any network. Legitimate connections have immense value, but if you have to work too hard to find them many people will simply give up trying altogether.

Six Ways Twitter’s Direct Message System Could Be Radically Improved

Twitter’s direct message (DM) system is, quite frankly, rubbish. An inbuilt messenger is a handy and convenient feature on any social network, but what we have on Twitter is so basic and limiting to be almost useless. Here are six ways in which it could easily be improved.

1. Direct Messages MUST Be Two-Way

As it stands, the direct message system on Twitter isn’t really fair – if I follow somebody this affords them the right to send me a direct message, which many do, certainly if they want to keep something private. However, unless they follow me back, I do not have the same luxury. I cannot reply to their DM. This is ridiculous for two reasons: one, it gives them an immediate advantage, and two, the only way for me to respond to their ‘private’ message is to make it public with an @reply.

I say: you should only be able to send a direct message to another user if you’re both following each other. Otherwise, you have to send a reply. This would encourage mutual following and cut down on unnecessary and one-way direct messaging. No mutual follow, no direct message. You’ll have to send me a reply instead.

2. Mass Marking/Deletion Of Direct Messages

Twitter needs to add a series of checkboxes next to each delete message so that you can quickly mark and delete any you want to remove and/or move somewhere else en masse (see ‘Folders’, below). There also needs to be a one-click ‘select/unselect all’ – as it is, I can remove all my direct messages using a service like DM Whacker, but that should be a basic feature on Twitter, surely?

3. Search

If you’re on Twitter long enough, pretty soon you’ll build up a lot of direct messages. Some of these will contain useful links and information – I stress the word some, as relatively it’s going to be very few. Right now, the only way to find that data is to scroll back through page after page of direct message, and hoping that CTRL+F and the right keyword will find what you want. A search feature built in to the DM system would make this a very simple process.

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"I Wanted To Send You A Direct Message, But You're Not Following Me…"

Sound familiar? I get approaches like this all the time. I’m sure you get your share, too. Indeed, it seems a fairly common occurrence on the network.

Sometimes, the sender will put a spin on this, and ask you to send them a direct message. Either way produces a follow from you to them, which in many cases is neither desirable nor necessary.

The catch is, direct messages on Twitter are only two-way if both parties are following each other. If I follow you, but you don’t follow me, then I can’t direct message you – but you can direct message me. It’s a bit of an alien system but it was established to prevent spam, bombing and abuse. Imagine if it was the other way around, and worked like email – you’d get gazillions of invasive DMs each and every day.

That said, like a lot of people, I’m not a big fan of the direct message (DM) system on Twitter – it’s clunky and limiting, and the administration of direct messages is an awkward process. Moreover, a lot of people on Twitter abuse the DM feature, and use it to send spam and other messages where they’re trying to pitch some useless product in your direction.

So what to do when you get a message like this?

First, don’t just automatically follow the person – remember, you’re under no obligation to follow anybody, and certainly shouldn’t feel you have to follow somebody just because they want to send something privately to you. As I keep saying, it’s very important to keep your network both relevant and optimised.

Moreover, because @replies on the Twitter network are open – you can @ people you aren’t following, and vice versa – communication and engagements can be (and often are) made between people who aren’t following each other at all. Certainly, a one-way follow is not the end of the world – I follow over 50 people who don’t follow me back. Why? Because I find them interesting.

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HOWTO: Deal With Spammers, Trolls & Automated Direct Messages On Twitter

As your follower count grows on Twitter you will exponentially be hit with more and more follows and targeted direct messages and replies from spammers, trolls and other unsavoury folk. This article will provide you with steps on how to tackle these nuisances.

HOWTO: Deal With Spammers, Trolls & Automated Direct Messages On Twitter


1. Follow @Spam

@Spam is Twitter’s anti-spam account. Spammers can be reported to @spam via direct message using the following code:

D spam @nameofspammer

You can also send multiple submissions, like this:

D spam @nameofspammer1 @nameofspammer2 @nameofspammer3

Note that this account is only for reporting spam accounts, not for trolls or people you don’t like.

2. Block Them

One of the best ways to deal with spammer accounts on Twitter is by simply blocking them. Accounts that are blocked by many users raise a red flag which will lead to an investigation and probably removal by Twitter. If you just unfollow a spammer, this does not happen. Block them. To do this, visit their profile and click on the ‘block’ link.

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HOWTO: Delete All (Or Lots) Of Your Direct Messages On Twitter… Including The Ones You've Sent

I’ve observed a few times on here about how one of the most lacking features on Twitter, Seesmic Desktop, TweetDeck – or anywhere else, for that matter – is the ability to mass-delete direct messages.

Once you’ve been on Twitter for a reasonable period of time, thanks to auto-messaging and genuine DMs from your friends and followers you’ll very quickly build up a large list. This is fine until you decide you want to delete some or all of them. Twitter only allows you to do this on a per message basis. If you have a lot of them, this will take forever, and the most likely result is that you won’t bother.

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