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Forget Twitter Threads; Write a Blog Post Instead (kevq.uk)
341 points by cyb_ 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 139 comments



Posted this before (and it is a bad analogy I am sure) but I find moaning that something is in twitter is akin to moaning that someone told a story in a pub.

Pubs are noisy, and busy, and distracting, and I don't like them, and they aren't great for kids at night...

But it doesn't matter - the person was there, their friends were there, they had a story they wanted to tell and they told it in a way they enjoyed.

End of. Great if someone videoed it so others who don't like pubs could see it too, but mainly that doesn't happen. Just accept that some people like different things than you, and if it bothers you - take their content and blog about it, critique it and share it. But don't tell the story teller to change - especially if you want them to head somewhere where their friends are not... The point of a good story is to entertain an audience, wherever they may be.


Except twitter is a choice made explicitly. It's like you are planning to make a lecture to your friends about an important subject, and of all possible venues you choose the noisiest, most packed pub, so your friends have to go there even though otherwise they wouldn't.


If you swear that pub has the best fish and chips, your friends might just begrudgingly accept your offer.


But it doesn't. The fish is rotten and the chips are cold and mushy. And the staff is abusive and rude, and you risk getting a beer bottle broken over your head any minute. The only reason why they come there is you. And that noisy pub makes billions of dollars - because people keep coming to it for no reason other than "my friends are there" - not noticing that their friends are there only because they wanted to find you, and if you found a better place, they'd follow you gladly. As Substack, for example, proved nicely.


(Writer of the post here)

I really like this analogy as it gives a different perspective. Thanks for that.

In fairness to me though, I never told anyone to change - I simply gave my opinion then questioned why people find it useful and get value from it.


> In fairness to me though, I never told anyone to change - I simply gave my opinion then questioned why people find it useful and get value from it.

Though, in fairness to ljf, your tl;dr at the top says "Please stop; write a blog post instead."


Cheers for the reply, I can't lie that in many ways I can agree with you, but at the same time twitter is where (across 2 or three different accounts) my contacts are. I've tried blogging in the past and felt like shouting in an empty room. At least on twitter I'll get some feedback.

I'd love to move all my contacts to a new service, but if I went off and blogged they are unlikely to follow me and as I can tell from my tweets, are unlikely to click on the links I post already.

All locations and services have their downsides, but I try to turn to the one where I'll have the most reach and personally get value from replies. In truth that means I do most of my 'story telling' face to face or on WhatsApp to closed groups or individuals ;)


Threads hack the algorithm by driving up interaction, though. It’d be like if you were in a pub with millions of other people and instead of being able to talk to anyone the owner started recommending people to talk to based on little submissions by enterprising CEO of Mes.

Hi welcome to Jack’s. Drinks? What? No, but see that group of people over there… that dude (he/him) has quite the story to tell about the pitfalls of using css transforms when rendering responsive content on a certain older version of webkit. And see that group over to the left… that person (they/them) is real angry about something I have no idea what but other people are listening so you better head over. Oh and please walk through the queue… mind my little sign spinners if their wares interest you do entertain their incredible offers. Off you go!

I think Discord (and possibly still IRC) is the digital pub.


I really don’t think any normal person is posting threads on Twitter because it’s algorithmically advantageous to them.


Most actively-posting accounts on Twitter are not "normal people", but rather either corporate PR brand ambassadors, or the same sorts of social climbers who write blog posts on LinkedIn. Of course they do what's algorithmically advantageous. That's why they're bothering to post to Twitter in the first place, instead of/in addition to the six other social networks they maintain a presence on.


I'm not sure mostnormal people are posting on Twitter, by that definition. It's a social network with global visibility of everything - you become an "influencer" the moment your account experiences even a modicum of success.


I wonder how many normal people are on twitter in the first place. I typically wait for news aggregators to share the thread with me. I don't need to drink from a firehose when a cup of water is all I need.


I would say I’m pretty normal and I frequent Twitter since it has a lot of content and instant news and instant discussions surrounding such news.

What is the metric for normal? Are we normal ? What’s the ratio between the general population and those who program? And to go even deeper, those who care about Programming, Cyber security, and tech news to frequent Hacker News in the first place? I would say Twitter population, lurkers and all , are a more accurate representation of the general population than HN is. You guys aren’t just quantifying the content not being shared by lurkers.


I like being able to respond to specific bits of what people have to say. While it has the distraction and noisy downside of a conversation occurring linearly in time, to me, that ability makes it better than a linear conversation in that way. Discord is now getting that with threads, though.


> is akin to moaning that someone told a story in a pub.

There is a huge difference though. A person telling a story in a pub is basically trying mainly to have a good time with friends that are immediately there. There are no “pub influencers”. For the most part, news articles don’t go around quoting pub conversations. With Twitter, there is a more performative aspect. The use of Twitter is not just about sharing a good story with friends, but rather a desire to be known more broadly as a good story teller.

It is this aspect that turns a lot of people off to Twitter.


I don't think you've been to many bars


Thank you for this. I love many blogs, but as you know many blogs out there are trees falling in the forest with no one around to hear them. Great coherent (and interesting) thoughts are just hard to consolidate in the blogging form factor. Getting a following is even harder and in todays world linking to blog posts is less likely to get readership. That said, I have no qualms with twitter threads as a medium for disseminating knowledge. It works in the public square for better or worse.


I think this is a good analogy. But isn't it possible that some people really do not know that they should go on youtube and record their stories? It seems like the argument is trying to a priori settle the question of whether you should apply "Voice or exit" [1]

1 https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Exit,_Voice,_and_Loyalty


I don't think your personal reading comfort is the focus of whoever is writing threads on Twitter. Blogs are long form content, with structure and chapters and long sentences. Twitter threads are a collection of short, abbreviated thoughts that center around a subject.

These two rarely compete. I don't think I've ever seen a Twitter thread that would be better if it were a blog, and I don't think I've seen blogs that I'd rather see as a twitter thread.

If you're a blogger or website designer then you have entirely different goals than the people writing threads on Twitter. People here moan all the time about things being a Twitter thread instead of a blog but nobody cares about what you prefer. Twitter threads are the result of someone on social media deciding to talk for a bit more than one post, not some predetermined article someone wants to write. There's no long draft being queued one by one, posts are told separately.

Expecting people to set up a blog and link to it is like asking a friend who's telling you a story to stop and write the whole thing down because all of the unnecessary side details are distracting you. It's unnecessary, rude and if they went along it'd detract from the story being told. If you dislike the way content is brought out on Twitter, don't go to Twitter. You can block it in your Pihole, Adblocker, hosts file, you name it. Don't tell others how to tell their stories, that's not your call to make.

I'd prefer more people I follow to be on open alternatives such as Mastodon, but I'm not going to write blogs about advicing people why Twitter is bad and Mastodon is better.


> Blogs are long form content, with structure and chapters and long sentences.

They don't have to be. I read blog posts all the time that are three-to-ten paragraphs. Just someone reeling off about some particular thing that's on their mind, taking up exactly as much space as it takes, with no extra space for puffery. That's what the average text post on Facebook (not Facebook Pages) looks like. That's what the average text post on Tumblr looks like. Etc.

The long articles that get posted to Medium et al and shared on HN are the exception, not the rule. They're often not even "blog posts" per se, in any conventional sense; they're editorials or works of journalism, pieces by professional writers. Or they're single-page dives into a subject that go so deep that they could have been whole book. If it takes you multiple days to write, it's not a blog post.

> Twitter threads are the result of someone on social media deciding to talk for a bit more than one post, not some predetermined article someone wants to write.

I don't know about you, but personally, most of my own blog posts are the result of me starting to write an HN comment; realizing it's become too long; and then cutting the text out of the HN comment field and pasting it into my blog's post field, writing the rest of it, and hitting Post.

In other words, for me at least, blog posts are overgrown comments, where they start to seem to hold value out-of-context (though I do usually link the thing I'm replying to, because that's lazier than rewording the post to make it context-free.)

And usually, once I post the post to my blog, I paste the link to the post back into the comment field I was originally typing in. It still serves as a reply to the parent comment. You just have to click through to look at it.

Isn't this the original concept of Twitter? Microblogging, where Twitter acts as the index/"spine" of your blog, and external sites act as the meat on the bones?

> Don't tell others how to tell their stories, that's not your call to make.

Speech is communication. People talk/write/etc. because they want other people to listen to them, and take in what they're saying.

As such, telling someone that their chosen medium sucks for communication, isn't a slight against them; it's feedback about how well their stories are doing at their goal of achieving effective communication.

If a great band sets up an outdoor concert next to an open construction site with tons of workers using jackhammers, I imagine you'd have feedback about that choice for them, wouldn't you? It's certainly their choice... but if their goal is for people to be able to hear the music, then there might be a few things they're not realizing.


>Isn't this the original concept of Twitter? Microblogging,

Fyi based on books about Twitter history... Jack Dorsey's original concept of Twitter was inspired by AOL AIM status messages and not blogging.

>Microblogging, where Twitter acts as the index/"spine" of your blog, and external sites act as the meat on the bones?

Arguably, another Twitter founder Ev Williams (who started Bloggr, Medium) was more into "thoughtful texts" and wanted Twitter to support that. However, when Twitter was a big hit at the 2007 Austin SWSX, it was the "silly" status messages that made Twitter viral.


> Isn't this the original concept of Twitter?

I don't think it is. I believe the original concept of Twitter was basically group texts.


That’s interesting because it just so happens that the example I gave in the post is actually a blog post and I think it works far better that way.

Link if anyone is interested - https://pluralistic.net/2021/10/16/sociopathic-monsters/


I agree that Twitter is a poor medium for writing. But Twitter gives you an audience (and retweets).

A recent discussion on Hacker News on Medium had a number of posters say that without a presence on Medium they would not have found exposure for their writing [1].

If the platform gives you an audience, you can't underestimate that appeal for authors of any topic.

I started writing a blog on a niche topic in 2007 and continued writing fairly regularly until 2013. Why did I stop? Simply because hardly anyone was reading the blog!

At first, I convinced myself I was writing for myself and an audience was not important. But over time, I came to realise that, although the size of the audience was not important to me, the interest and engagement of readers did matter (especially for a blog with a very niche topic). Hardly any readers commented on my blog posts (which was important to me).

Today, there are lots of blogs - mostly corporate blogs writing about their products, or single author bloggers trying to establish their "personal brand". The writing style is often inflated, formal, corporate-sounding: in short, simply bland. What's gone is the more personal voice of an author - more common when personal blogging was more prevalent. I think the heyday of personal blogging is mostly over. And that's a shame.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28493431


> But Twitter gives you an audience (and retweets).

It only gives you an audience and retweets if you already have an audience and they retweet you. If I posted a Twitter thread, it would be nothing but crickets. It's extremely difficult to build up a Twitter following of 10,000 that are willing to interact with you and retweet your stuff in 2021 unless lots of people know you outside of Twitter. For the most part, the days of Twitter interaction are over. These days, it's mostly about self-promotion and existing brands.


How much harder is it to build an audience for a blog?

All it takes is one retweet to give you a massive engagement boost, so you don’t even need an audience to have an impact on Twitter.


I'm not saying anything about building an audience for a blog, only that Twitter is useless for nearly everyone. The massive engagement boost from one retweet is meaningless in terms of building an audience or having an impact outside of that tweet. A blog can get indexed by Google and bring in folks ten years from now. Tweets, in contrast, have a lifetime of a few hours and then they disappear into the ether. I'd much rather have a post hit the front page of HN than get 50 retweets (which would be in the extreme right tail of all tweets).


This is untrue, tweets are also index into Google (just not as rapidly) and tweets often resurface via images. Many Twitter moments are reminiscent by users via retweets or screenshot posts.

Authors often retweet their own post and even pin them to increase their longevity, giving a tweet a much longer shell life for engagement than a hyperlink.

That’s not to mentioned when the tweet is shared on other platforms like HN and more noticeably Reddit.


I agree with your comments, In blogging its your own like you own the content plus its for the long term.


both platforms have many writers that are successfully building an audience


> I agree that Twitter is a poor medium for writing. But Twitter gives you an audience (and retweets).

Does it though? I have a blog and occasionally tweet. My blog gets about 30 hits on an average day, mainly through search engines.

If I tweet, I get maybe 20 impressions. And those impressions are all that I get, nobody goes back and reads 6 month old tweets and there is no way to search for them.


How is there no way to search for tweets ? Twitter has advanced keyword searching for tweets even on its mobile app.


I also hesitated to write on medium or not. On the upside you get so much exposure but on the downside the platform itself is pretty crappy and it's not really "your own place". For now I continue on my personal blog but I recognise the advantage of Medium.


> I think the heyday of personal blogging is mostly over.

Couldn’t agree more, and I also agree that it’s a real shame.


I hate Twitter as a company and a social institution, but

1. "People will share a random Tweet from a thread" <- this is a feature. You can't easily address bits of a blog post unless the blog uses headers with easily accessible links that one can copy. Also, getting the broader context from a Tweet in a thread is pretty easy.

2. Blogging is hard. Not just creating a blog, but actually framing the content. Tweeting in a thread feels easier. There are rails. I can respond articulately here or on Twitter, but for whatever reason I always feel like my every attempt at blogging is miserable. I'm envious that the author of TFA finds it so natural, because it's something I'd really like to be able to do well. In the meanwhile, I have Twitter threads and HN comments.


1. How this is a feature? You share one bit out of 200 tweets and expect the audience to understand what it is about and comprehend the proper context? That isn't happening. The only thing that happens is taking quotes out of context and misinterpreting them.

Blogging takes the same effort as twitter-threading, except it saves you annoying "1/"s and clicking "post" each time. Just do like a twitter thread, but instead of clicking "post" (or whatever it's called) press "enter". Once you're done, you've got a blog post. So easy.


It’s not about whether the audience will understand the context right then right there but that they have a very accessible means to do so. By linking a tweet for a thread , the entire thread can be viewed from beginning to end. Far more contexts than a quote for a blog without a hyperlink.

Anyone can take anything out of context for anything , even if the context is right there in front of everyone faces. The best approach is to have the best accessible means of finding the context and Twitter does that far better than any blog.


"Can be" - yes, technically it can. "Will be" - in most cases it won't, because it's not what the interface is built for and it requires significant additional effort. It's not that it just could be taken out of context, it's that the whole system is optimized for short messages, so taking out of context is the default and preferred mode of operation. It's like owning a gun that by default is always aimed at your foot.

And, no, it's not better, than any blog - having encountered both for years, I can say it's not only "better", it's hugely worse. Tweets are quoted out of context in almost 100% of cases, and in many cases Twitter site actively hinders acquiring context - e.g. by demanding to use an app or log in or such. Even when it doesn't happen, the interface requires effort to acquire context - you need to click around to find the start of the thread and to browse around and to filter unrelated chatter. Blogs never do that. With a blog, you get the post in one place, comments in different place, and it is optimized for seeing the whole post, not a disjoint bag of random short messages that Twitter is optimized for.


> You can't easily address bits of a blog post unless the blog uses headers

you can by just quoting the part you want to address


Yeah, but if someone reading your quote wants to verify that it's an accurate quote and not taking it out of context, they have to dig up the source article and find the text you're quoting. The blog post is also mutable, which means its contents may change after being quoted. Tweets are immutable and always have a reliable link, with built-in quoting functionality.

The one caveat is that a tweet or account can be deleted, but that's true for blogs as well so I don't view that as a mark against Twitter here.


Hah. I didn’t think about how this might be interpreted. By “address”, I meant “link to”. Hopefully that’s clearer.


I regularly use my browser plugin 'Display Anchors' to get the URL to direct people to the exact part of a page I'm referencing.


(1) is now solved with link to text fragments.


Yeah, I haven’t used this in vain, but I’m a little skeptical. If I change the wording in my blog post it might break these links as I understand them to work.


I am one of those loonie cave dwellers who want nothing to do with Twitter.

I find it to be a horrible UX in almost all ways.

The limit of how many characters you can type in a message nearly guarantees clickbait, sensationalism, and idiocy.

Getting around this most fundamental part of Twitter, with "threads", is a painful experience for the reader. (In my opinion).

If Twitter included proper support for it, it would be better. Each post on a thread would appear directly after each other and stripped of unnecessary repeated parts. Except now you have basically changed the main idea of Twitter and allow longer posts.

I like posting things on my blog. I know I have only 3 readers, one of whom I pay but you get a chance to build content in your own silo and can be as long winded as you feel like.

I would have no interest in HN if it was not for the thoughtful and high-quality long form discourse it has.

If a story is a link to Twitter I just click right onto the discussion.

I guess my blog is a barren wasteland and I might pull in 1 reader from Twitter

It is a horrible UX that makes it close to impossible to convey a story. (Unless its "This is my headline" click here


"Forget First Drafts; Write Perfect the First Time Instead" or "Forget The Way That Happens To Work For You; Write The Way You Failed To Do For Years Instead".

Blog posts are probably more readable than Twitter threads; I won't argue that. But if using Twitter is the thing that gets you to get ideas out of your head and into the written word, it's a hell of a lot better than just thinking about that awesome blog post and then never writing it—and, as siblings have noted, the "dump into Twitter, revise into a blog post" flow is both common and totally reasonable.


“it's a hell of a lot better”

Better for whom? On the whole, it’s worse. Worse for me. Worse for everyone.

“than just thinking about that awesome blog post and then never writing it”

No. Please think about it and never write it. That’s the best outcome I can think of. Am I asking too much?


Thinking by writing is a concept that PG talks about in his most recent essay, posted literally today.

It's absolutely a thing, and to shun it is to shun an entire creative process.


Honestly? Yes, you are. The behavior of other folks that aren't on your payroll & aren't hurting you by isn't your domain; your option is simply to not read it. Or, more colloquially: they're not your b****.


Yes, you are asking too much.

If it's such a pain to you, then stop following. You weren't forced to start, and nobody is holding you hostage. You can leave at any time. Your supposed damage is your own fault.


You certainly are.


Really really few bits of content deserve a blog post. Most written content is ephemeral and uninteresting two weeks from now. It's perfect to be buried in Twitter never to be seen again. There is certainly content that deserves better layout, better archiving and so on. But most written content on twitter isn't like that (at least in my feed). Also, having to leave Twitter and click a browser link is usually to disruptive for me when scrolling twitter. Information that doesn't come on the spoon loses my attention to the information in the next tweet.


Strongly agree - a blog post usually gets padded with tons of filler for SEO; and is prepended with 3 paragraphs of some "backstory" from the author's life as to why XYZ is now relevant or useful.

Twitter forces succinct and disposable thoughts.

Similarly, I would sooner read Twitter the rest of my life than ever touch another business book which are all glued together compilations of blog posts and/or the author's re-hash of research of 100+ academic papers. I mean, it's sort of understandable things have went this way; any original business thought of substantial merit has already been written about probably pre-1995. Twitter is good for catching the few little new age nuggets without re-reading 300 page books of the same drivel.


I winced as I consumed this reading content.


Funny how my experience is the complete opposite. I perceive twitter threads as a superior format of consuming reading content.

- it's chunked, which forces the writer to formulate more structured thought nuggets and keep the reader engaged

- it allows you to share specific portion of the content that you like instead of sharing a blog that people ignore because they never read past the intro

- instead of bashing publishing on twitter threads, I think we should focus on developing tools that allow to convert and reshare your (I don't mean your but you get the idea) long read blog that nobody reads into twitter threads

I have never skipped a thread on twitter. The longer the better and more engaging.

I strongly believe that format is superior to most other reading formats and it aligns really well with our biological focus rhythms


> "never read past the intro"

This. Wadsworth constant applies to prose and Twitter makes long preambles too awkward to use and so they don't.


Actually, I prefer to write a twitter thread first and then blog it. My 2c on this,

- Yes the ux sucks but people are used to reading threads.

- There are tools like thread reader app that unroll threads and store for future reference.

- tools like Dewey help manage threads.

- tools like chirr.app and typefully help create threads with nice heuristics that split your post into threads.

- You get distribution and get to grow an audience.

- specific tweets can be thought of as “highlights” that are retweeted vs liked

- it’s easier to link other peoples tweets and threads, as well as your own to build a knowledge graph of sorts

- it forces you to think in small increments and build up your arguments in sequence. I’ve found it quite helpful in articulating thoughts.

- lastly, by publishing it on twitter and inviting debate, your audience could get you to rethink povs and also add more of them to your thinking. when you finally write a post, not only are they more likely to retweet and get you seen wider — they’ll feel an aspect of contribution to it which helps cement your relationship with them.


Many of these “fixes” suggests that your reader have a Twitter account.

People who use Twitter frequently assumes that most people use the platform, which isn’t really true.

Still, I can’t fault people for posting longer Twitter threads. Even if setting up a blog is pretty easy, they already have a platform, however flawed it might be. Also few people want to set up a blog for a single story, especially when the target audience was originally other Twitter user.


Yeah i think in the spirit of “write every day” and “ship often”, twitter allows you to go from single tweets to threads in an instant, vs a blog where you might agonize over whether it’s ready to publish or not.


> As someone who has only really started using Twitter in the last few months

Seems like a little bit of a self-report right off the bad. The OP is not very familiar with Twitter and the ecosystem and user behaviors of the platform, and is coming with (admittedly biased) perspective as a blogger.

For example:

> someone that I follow re-tweeted Tweet number 47 in this ridiculously long thread.

This is actually highlighting one of the benefits of Twitter threads as a text - chunkable content. Blog posts are great for a long narrative that requires full context of the intro/supporting/conclusion, but Twitter threads excel in areas where the content is more a series statements/points that can stand alone. Think more like "bullet points" of a topic rather than a longer-form narrative.

But then, the OP transitions into the quick assumption that the problem is the difficulty in setting up a blog, which is a big assumption that I think misses the actual benefits of this format vs. traditional blogging.


(OP here)I’m very familiar with Twitter, as I’ve been using it for quite a long time, I just came back to it a few months ago.

Probably should have been more accurate in the post, sorry about that.


I'm not going to try to debate the merits of Twitter threads vs blog posts, but I will note that I, like many others, have an abandoned blog [1] but manage to post plenty of Twitter threads. The activation energy needed is just way lower on Twitter, and (as an academic) if I need to write something much more serious it'll usually be a paper.

If you want people to blog more and tweet less, you probably have to find a way to make it easier than firing off a tweet thread.

Edit: Also, I have to say – if blogs are such an inherently superior readability experience, why is engagement so much higher for Twitter? Perhaps it's shallow engagement, but it seems like the height of nerd-think to say that a platform actively used by hundreds of millions is "unusable".

[1] https://moyix.blogspot.com/


Threads are definitely a worse experience. However, I think you're overestimating the ability of one's audience to transfer to another platform. It's hard enough to get someone to read something on Twitter, let alone get them to click through to another site.

Threads capitalize on the momentum of writing a good tweet, without losing a reader by making them go to another site.


That's why Twitter should've bought Medium and integrate it with Twitter. And then Twitter could've offered you to convert and transfer Twitter threads to Medium blog posts. Think of it as Facebook/Instagram interoperability.

As usual Twitter was slow and without vision and then Substack emerged.


Twitter did buy Vine and Periscope. I don't think their problem is just "not buying other companies".


Twitter is mismanaged and lacks vision. Vine, Periscope and Medium if further developed and integrated good could've made Twitter 10 times larger just like Instagram and YouTube made Facebook and Google worth at least $100bn more.


To quote Mark Zuckerberg (allegedly), on Twitter: "They're like a clown car that fell into a goldmine".


Do you really need a reader that is too lazy to click on your article? And from the reader point of view, I assume that whatever is written in twitter threads is not really that important, since the authors could not be bothered with writing in a proper and discoverable form.


Is this your personal view, or is it one that you're confident a lot of people share? I know plenty of writers on Twitter that have blogs and still write threads; this indicates that there's at least some benefit to capturing readers in that way.

I love blog posts and prefer them to threads. However, it being a thread won't prevent me from reading content from intelligent people on the internet.

You're missing out on some great insight by not reading something based purely on formatting. If I read someone's blog, I don't immediately assume that their Twitter threads are useless. Maybe their blog is for long-form content and the topic they want to discuss is shorter.


is it laziness or just unwillingness to suffer the pain that comes from loading a modern day website monstrosity (cookie popup, newsletter popup, autoplay video, moving content, accidentally ad clicks)


I'm surprised that no one mentioned that twitter at least qualifies as bad hypertext whereas the web (and thus blogs) don't.

In particular twitter has (primitive) transclusions: by manually breaking up your writing into awkward ≤ 280 char chunks you basically allow other people to quote and comment or reply to them, recursively. Although tweets can and frequently do get deleted, that is the only form these transclusions break; they don't silently and unverifiably change content.

The web has absolutely no facility for quotation and commenting or even for pointing at some particular content in a way that ensures any continuity of content between the time of link creation and perusual. It is thus an abysmally bad medium for any form of discussion.


> In particular twitter has (primitive) transclusions: by manually breaking up your writing into awkward ≤ 280 char chunks you basically allow other people to quote and comment or reply to them, recursively. Although tweets can and frequently do get deleted, that is the only form these transclusions break; they don't silently and unverifiably change content.

Is what I'm doing right now not some kind of transclusion? It's even more primitive than Twitter. Plus you can delete or edit your comment but my reply retains context. Twitter would present it better, maybe structure it more semantically, but that's hardly a killer feature over traditional web text in my opinion. Maybe if you're a social researcher, sure, Twitter knocks your socks off. But otherwise, I think we can have a perfectly productive discussion in this manner no?

I argue it's even better because the person who replies (i.e., me in this instance) can break up the original text to reply to a specific point, include as much context as possible. Sure I can misquote you to benefit my argument but it's easy to call bad faith.

(As for verifiability especially of who typed what, I wouldn't argue on that front. Online it's basically a huge game of he said, she said. You can add barriers to make falsification difficult but that won't stop a determined and well-resourced fascist regime or two. Again, just my 2c.)


This. Twitter markup is so heavy I avoid clicking it for fear of my browser locking up.

If I really really really want to read an interesting-sound thread, I open it with Nitter.

Otherwise, I take a "medium is the message" approach to Twitter, and just assume I'm not missing much, just like with Medium or Reddit: If someone chooses Twitter as the medium, their message probably isn't worth my time either.


Why not both?

Write a blog-post, and have a brief summary + link on Twitter?

------

The main benefits to the blog-post is that you get writings in exactly the format you want. Sure, Twitter does images and videos now, but there's still MathML, DotViz / Javascript graphs / etc. etc. that I can run on a blog that will never be allowed on Twitter. All possible with static-sites or low-dynamic sites (ex: low-CPU usage PHP).

Lets say you're a Chess blogger. Would you really want to be making .png files (images) of chess positions and talking about them? Or would you rather have a FEN/PGN-interpreter in Javascript on a blog-post? (First one on my search engine: https://mliebelt.github.io/PgnViewerJS/examples.html#1102)

No. You load up your favorite PGN-editor. You document the positions you think were interesting. You download the best PGN-interpreter you can find on Github onto your blog and let it rip.

The main benefit of Twitter is that the audience is there. Have your toxic comments spew out over Twitter, but your content remains on your site specifically.

------------

The reason why the HTML format is so powerful is because the writers can invent new formats specific to their communities (thanks to the magic of Javascript). Chess players have invented PGN to describe games. Tetris players have invented Fumen (a Javascript play-by-play of Tetris strategies). The Math community has LaTeX / MathML / MathJAX. Etc. etc.


From the stuff that gets pumped into my feed the purpose of most “threads” isn’t so much about sharing information as building an audience and gaining followers. Heck a lot of them just rehash blog posts written by someone else.

Anyway if gaining twitter followers is your real goal then taking them off platform isn’t the way to do it.


The post explicitly suggests that you can share it on twitter. It definitely isn't saying that you should just post to the blog.


But I think its ignoring the main benefit of blogging platforms: which is machine-assistance of converting custom-text formats (ex: Chess PGNs) into well-presented documents of text + images.

https://www.chess.com/article/view/the-weirdest-chess-openin...

Twitter doesn't have Chess PGN viewers available. And even if Twitter did add ChessPGN viewers, they won't have the equivalent for your small, niche community.


I find creating a Twitter thread has a lower barrier of entry in comparison to writing a blog post. Sometimes I have contents which I'd like to get out, but then I can't motivate myself to write a full post (where I'd also want to explore the topic in more depth to achieve a certain level of quality). Doing a quick thread is a nice way out then.

For instance, in this case [1] I felt it's not worth spending the energy and time on a post, but it was still an interesting bit to share. Plus, tweet threads allow for their own kind of fun experiments like this one [2], which you couldn't reproduce with a blog post. I.e. both have their place in my opinion.

[1] https://twitter.com/gunnarmorling/status/1271745125920759808 [2] https://twitter.com/nipafx/status/1438022721066123266


Threads are similar to slideshows - you can put a few bullet points that sound reasonably correct, but lacking in detail and context and you mostly forget about it after you read it, it's disposable.

A long-form narrative that is convincing and made to last and read repeatedly is much harder to write.


the explosion of threads is because of twitter's algo...

to view a thread, you have to interact with a tweet. this interaction drives metrics that results in the tweet showing up more frequently in the algo-feed. the multi-post nature of a thread means there are more opportunities to "like/retweet" - which also drive the algo-feed.

all this increases follower count... and an audience (that's soon to be easily monetisable on twitter) is far more valuable than a blog... unfortunately


Indeed. The twitter algo seems so basic. Not a single week goes by without a cringey "html is a programming language" or "which is your favorite language, javascript or python" pushed to the top of my feed, with thousands of likes.


I'll take Twitter threads over YouTube every single time.. I don't want to spend 10+ minutes listening to some guy explain something that should take less than two minutes, but they have to prolong it to get that ad revenue


Yes, thank you for writing this. Twitter threads are really annoying. A good well thought long form article is so much better from all points of view.


The main reason to do a Twitter thread (which the author alludes to but doesn’t look at enough) is audience. Good thoughts can go viral quickly on social media. The same cannot be said for blog posts (even when shared). This could be speaking to a larger issue but still the case.

As an example, I published this blog post [1] in November of 2019. It was probably read by hundreds to low thousands in about a year.

I then made a twitter thread out of the same content a year or so later [2], it was seen by over half a million people.

This is not to say audience is the only consideration but a combination of a blog post turned thread might be the best way to get audience and an archive.

[1] https://www.mynameisjehad.com/making-the-case-to-decision-ma...

[2] https://twitter.com/jaffoneh/status/1376945166771056641?s=21


>Honestly, I don’t get why people do it. For the likes? For the shares?

I suspect the author already knows the answer but dances around it because any low-effort search engine query[1] would point to several articles explaining why:

- text that's directly on Twitter often has higher engagement than making people click external links[2]

- most people don't want to set up a blog -- especially if it's counterproductive to the 1st bullet point above

Yes, if they write on a true blog website, the improved readability will score points with some folks such as the author of this essay. Since variations of his argument have been repeated with no noticeable decline in Twitter threads, I think it shows that "blog readers" are a non-priority to influential Twitter users.

tldr: author lists the "true" reasons blogs are superior but completely misses the motivations for Twitter users to avoid blogs

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=why+do+people+post+twitter+t...

[2] https://buffer.com/resources/twitter-thread-experiment#the-p...


I understand both sides, if you have an audience on Twitter and want to quickly throw out a thread, it works for quick feedback, but at the expense of readability. If the thread is just a few Tweets long it isn't too bad, but beyond that it's hard to read.

Shameless plug: I launched Glue this year which succinctly put is like Twitter and Medium had a baby [1]. Glue has your standard microblogging features, but you can "expand" into a full blog post if you want [2]. I specifically wanted to tackle the melding of a microblogging timeline, long form writing (blogs) and the ability to use your own domain if you wish.

[1] https://glue.im/noah

[2] https://glue.im/noah/the-story-of-twitpic


Neat! Signed up.


> Using the example above, I became aware of it because someone that I follow re-tweeted Tweet number 47 in this ridiculously long thread. Because it was a random Tweet in a very long thread, I (and I imagine most other people reading the tweet) had absolutely no context as to what the whole saga was about.

How is that different from taking a screenshot or posting an extract of a blog post, with a link to it?

> I’ve some really interesting threads on Twitter that are full of useful information, but as a consumer of that content, it’s a nightmare to follow. Content creators should make content as simple to consume as possible.

If you're already on twitter, reading a thread is easier than going to a blog and reading it.


Many of the responses here are missing the real reason that Twitter is preferred: time. The amount of reading to do is vast, the number of minutes in the day are few.

We can bemoan the extinction of blogs, long form journalism, etc. all day long but there is an information density problem that is going nowhere.

Along the same lines, a lot of written material is a lot longer than it needs to be. Those insisting on prose might ponder the old maxim, "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."

Maybe there is a comfortable medium somewhere between Twitter and prose. I enjoy long form writing sometimes, but I much more often don't have the time to read it.


I think this is a critical problem of the digital world. We tried to evolve everything to get time for reading (i.e. to be productive) but instead we are scared by the vast amount of information and consume shorter and shorter one. Minutes of reading articles are now reduced to half a minute, even seconds. The same thing is happening to video (looking at you Youtube Shorts, TikTok). I don't say I don't like it but they are on the way of super fast rising that we spend most of our time on them and complain we don't have time to read long quality content.


This seems to be a tech generational issue. Blogs are the .plan files of today. Just as John Carmack now tweets and has abandoned his .plan, Twitter is the medium for thought sharing, increasingly if they are very long.


<Why not both? meme>

There is something to be said for threads that provide a few "bullet points" of the article.

I would agree with the author when the threads get crazy long, or if the tweets don't encapsulate a single point.


> <Why not both? meme>

> There is something to be said for threads that provide a few "bullet points" of the article.

You're right, but those sentences are two fairly different animals. Tweeting the main points and linking to a blog post is great. Putting a blog post into a Twitter thread is awful.


Twitter gives you engagement, interaction and feedback in a way blog posts don't. I still dream of someday figuring out how to get such engagement. I feel like I'm suffocating and it's hurting my writing. I need engagement to know what to write about and I'm not really getting the kind of engagement I need.

If you are socially plugged in at work or something and somehow magically know what the pulse of some segment of society is, good for you. Different strokes for different folks.

For some people, Twitter is how they take that pulse. Why rain on their parade?


I am gonna go ahead and make a claim that Twitter will outlive 95% of the personal websites that Hacker News readers will set up and host.

Most of us developers don't have a good habit of blogging and we aren't good writers either. Twitter gives you a long-lasting platform to briefly express opinions without much boilerplate and structure, and still get the message across.


The thing is people write threads to write a twitter thread. It's to increase their following. A good twitter thread will get a twitter account a few hundred new followers. This is literally just them working to increase their audience. And most of the time they're increasing their audience to sell stuff.


That really depends on the author. In my experience most IT-related people don't care about selling anything, they're just sharing knowledge. Even on the extreme, patio11 who would very much want to sell you stuff, posts threads every day, but not for that reason.


I have a love/hate relationship with both Twitter as my primary (for last while) writing outlet and threads specifically.

I love writing and love talking with smart people. Twitter enables both things. The activation energy for me to write a Twitter thread is much closer to "water cooler conversation with the world" rather than "write an essay that I hope to be read for 10+ years and will with more than 50% probability spawn an HN comments thread whose tenor will largely determine how happy I am that day."

The whole experience of writing on Twitter, both the perceived-even-if-I-know-it-isn't-real ephemerality of it and the lightness of tapping out on my phone or PC when between tasks, does something for me that essay writing cannot.

That's why I write threads almost every day. Strategically speaking, I hate it; a million words on Twitter would be far better as a million words of essays, or even any substantial fraction of that.


No format can get me to shut the window and move on faster than a Twitter "thread".

Just put it in a Twitlonger and tweet that post. It's literally that simple.

I honestly cannot fathom why anyone thought it was a good idea to tie several tweets into a sequence as a format.

My reaction to Part 2s on Tiktok is almost, but not quite, as visceral.


Finally somebody wrote a post about something that I was cursing under my breath about for years now. How comes an otherwise sane, intelligent, eloquent person, usually with supreme technical skills in one or many fields of knowledge, sometimes very relevant technical knowledge, doesn't find any better way to write a long, detailed, very deep treatise of some topic - than using a service which forces you into tiny squawks of text and explicitly isn't means for publishing long, detailed, deep explorations of anything? To me, it's an analogue of giving your friend $500 for their birthday - in pennies. From one side, it's awesome to get $500, from another - really, did you have to make it this annoying?

Yes, I know thread unrollers exist - I used them many times. Still this is a very annoying habit.


One of the worst things about twitter is the flood of “unroll” bots in the replies for every single thread that gets any amount of attention. Personally, I don’t find threads hard to navigate or consume, but clearly plenty of users would rather just read a blog post. I can’t blame them, I miss blogging.


And bloggers miss the readers...


And if you're going to write a blog post please publish it somewhere where I'm not forced to open it in a private tab/disable JavaScript/manipulate my user agent or whatever else is now necessary in order to not give my info to a reader hostile platform.


Two places to set up simple/minimal blogs

- https://bearblog.dev/

- https://smol.pub/ (shameless plug)


A lot of twitter users don’t follow links, that might be part of it too.


At least on my corner of twitter, threads gained huge popularity after a spontaneous event ran by @vgr (of ribbonfarm, premium mediocre, and gervais principle fame) at the end of 2019 called threadapalooza. It's now being turned into a yearly affair. The history is relayed in this thread:

https://twitter.com/threadapalooza/status/130981614713549209...


Isn't the whole point of doing this over twitter for the distribution, not the medium? How many people have blogs with 20k subscribers with the built in virality?


Exactly. Social media forces people to read your stuff (or at least see it), which is why it's so much more appealing than a personal blog post.

Content creators don't necessarily want to be rewarded with money, but they do want to be rewarded somehow. Social media gives that to them.


Does anyone know how OPs blog is hosted? It looks nice.


Not sure if this is a serious question or not, but OP tells us in the /about page. To quote:

  This site is built upon WordPress. I use a custom child theme that calls the excellent GeneratePress Pro theme. I have a lifetime subscription to GeneratePress, and it’s worth every penny.

  The font I use on this site is Fira Sans Condensed, which is (in my opinion) a beautiful sans-serif font, created by Mozilla.`


Woops, I missed that! Thanks for pointing it out. I notice that his site is part of the 512kb club. I'm surprised such a nice site is so slim!


OP here. I actually founded the 512kb club.

Thanks for the kind words about the site - there’s still more I want to do to optimise further, like get rid of bloody Jquery for a start!

Having said that, half a MB is a lot of data. You can do a lot with it.


I saw this here and was annoyed enough to [blog about it]. There's probably a joke there...

[blog about it]: https://maya.land/responses/2021/10/21/twitter-threads-chest...


Did another @foone thread make the first page?


Gotta disagree with the title.. A twitter thread forces the author to condense key points thoroughly and present it in a way where fluff talk has no place due to character limitations. Even if it just consists of links, I prefer consuming good threads rather than poorly structured & fluff-stuffed blog posts.


When a Twitter thread is 50 tweets long, there’s just as much “fluff” as a regular blog post. Plus, the example I use in the post is actually a blog post, so just reposted to a mahoosive Twitter thread.


"I’ve tried posting a couple of Twitter threads myself, but both times I did it I found it awkward and confusing. Honestly, I don’t get why people do it. For the likes? For the shares?"

This seems quite disingenuous, you clearly 'get why people do it' you just iterated the reasons you tried it yourself ;p


From a UX standpoint, for the writer, threads a great way to spin off thoughts without caring about the long-format.

Maybe there's an opportunity for existing blogging platforms to pick up this cue. Provide an app or experience that makes punching in a bunch of thoughts quick and easy then publish it as one post.


There's a Twitter bot for that:

https://twitter.com/threadreaderapp?lang=en

From any tweet in the thread, mention us with a keyword "unroll"

@threadreaderapp unroll

And it converts the entire thread into a blog post on their site.


Please can you provide (and direct people to) some mechanism other than mentioning you in a reply to tweets? I’m now at the point where I’ve muted the term “unroll” because any thread with some traction is swamped by people requesting the unrolled option.

Ideally, get bought by Twitter and added as a button in the UI.


OT, but I always found the `unroll` command weird in this context. I'd expect a blog post to be unrolled into a series of tweets, and a series of tweets to be rolled up until a blog post.


Get back to me when your blog post has the same engagement level as my Twitter thread.


Or what about using a newsletter like Revue instead of a blog? Some benefits from Twitter, like getting exposure and subscribers a bit easier, easy to setup, and good for some longer form content?


The problem is that you can get more page views on Twitter for something that takes a day to write than you'd be able to get in an entire year of blogging full time.


The ability to retweet, react, and respond to individual tweets within a thread is a feature, not a bug. It also forces the writer to value brevity and getting to the point, and valuing brevity means valuing the reader's time. You need to be able to fit a thought into 240 characters in any platform for simple readability, Twitter has just enforced that.

Obviously it's the responsibility of the retweeter to choose tweets to retweet that make sense in isolation, or provider context as a quote-tweet.

But the fact that Twitter allows people to interact with each component of a story or argument in isolation is a good thing. For example it makes a Gish Gallop visibly awkward.

Also, in general the web usability has gotten so bad that clicking strange links is ... a bit risky. Paywalls, autoplay videos, chumboxes... I'll stay here, thanks.


Except that my blog doesn't have followers and stuf...


i love tweets because they're short. most writers write too much. for example, op's post could have fit in a single tweet.

"i dislike twitter threads because they're hard to follow. it's hard to find a tweet's context in a long thread like <link>. unfortunately, people use threads because they get followers from threads. they should host a blog instead."


This is good advice given that Twitter should be violently shut down. It will make things significantly easier to archive.


There must be an automated tool for transforming twitter threads into blog posts and posting them.


Blogs will be reborn, I'm sure.


Maybe this person should subscribe to Cory Doctorow's blog then.

Cory Doctorow published a blog post https://pluralistic.net/2021/10/16/sociopathic-monsters/#all... with the same content of the thread cited in the article.

A case of "get off my lawn" ?


Since this is the Nth+1 blog-not-thread post I've seen...

I'm gonna call it:

The "blog" is dead.


> For example, this thread is 50 Tweets long. Fifty. Tweets. Long!

You should check out the blog post instead, then.

https://pluralistic.net/2021/10/16/sociopathic-monsters/

It's weird to use Doctorow as an example for someone who should blog instead of use Twitter.


Is it though? Posting the entire thing to a blog, then reposting the entire thing to Twitter over a sprawl of 50 tweets seems even more ridiculous to me.


How do you know it hasn't happened the other way around?


There are 2 points:

1- a big percentage of threads are just mediocre blog posts

2- what is good about twitter threads? they are written for humans. as opposed to articles and blog posts that are written for search engines.


The problem with twitter threads isn't that they're broken up into chunks, it's still relatively easy to read. The problem is what a cancerous, user hostile, and bloated website twitter is that won't even let you open the pictures without logging in. Nitter or threader fix this but at the point you're switching to a different website, why not just make it a blog.


Disagree as an end users blogs are an inconsistent dump. I know what to expect from a twitter thread every single time. Its the same experience, no matter what.


>Forget Twitter Threads; Write a Blog Post Instead

Exactly my thinking too.




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