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Ask HN: How do you manage your Twitter timeline?
21 points by dudeofjude on July 19, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 34 comments
I was just curious how people managed the tweets in their timeline. I struggle at them, and written below is why:


1. You follow around 100 people.

2. 50% of them tweet 5 times a day.

3. 20% of them tweet once.

4. 10% of them tweet once in a week.

5. 10% of them tweet 10 times a day.

This is a rough estimate for the people I follow.

If you calculate there is a total of 250 + 20 + 100 = 370 tweets per day.

Ignoring 50% of tweets as junk.

You have aproxly 200 tweets.

How I use twitter?

I like going to twitter.com and reading all the tweets.

But skimming 200 tweets is again a pain, so much of trouble. Besides few of the tweets might call for action. There would be some links that you would want to read later, there would be some friends who would be going out for coffee, and you might want to join them, etc. etc.

One idea would be to unfollow people, few of them might get offended and then your relations might ruin or something like that.

Another would be to create a fake profile and then follow only the ones you want to and are interested in.

Third would be to have some desktop plugin that would notify with the tweets, but that would be a distraction if you are working and are in the middle of something.

Fourth way is via lists, I do not like going to twitter.com/<my_user_name>/lists/xyz // the url does not look good.

So here is the question:

1. How do people on HN manage their timeline? (Like there are things like Zero Inbox http://inboxzero.com/ rule for managing email)

Is there something for tweets as well, or collectively can we brainstorm over here and come up with something?

2. What other functionalities do you wish tweeter had, like categorizing a tweet in your timeline, saving it for further action etc. etc.

I've been using it since 2006 and I now follow 1500ish people. I dip in and out. It's like a river.

I don't visit Hacker News or Reddit every 2 hours to ensure I don't miss a single story. Similarly, I don't want to read every tweet, RSS item, or whatever. E-mail is the only thing I do that for and even then half of it is filtered.

I'm considering creating a Twitter list for people for who I wish to see every tweet (e.g. my dad who just joined) but it hasn't been important enough to do yet.

I started using twitter as it comes, then when it became unmanageable I started using TweetDeck, but notifications were annoying and the client was way too heavy for my machine. The tab kept freezing all the time. That was a long time ago, I haven't checked it out for a while.

After all this, I switched back to plain Twitter and built my interest lists (smalltalk, music, friends, etc), but having to visit all these lists all the time became tedious too.

It's been around half a year I haven't read my Twitter timeline at all.

I know it sounds stupid for the way Twitter is meant to be, but until there is a functionality allowing you to silence people you follow, I just can't use it.

I know, why would you follow people if you were not interested in what they tweet? I guess I'm stupid.

"why would you follow people if you were not interested in what they tweet?"

Well, yeah. Who are these people that you want to silence but don't want to unfollow? What would unfollowing do, which you don't want, which silencing would not do?

There are basically three kinds of people I follow: people from the Smalltalk world (or closely related tech guys), people from my musical background, and friends and acquaintances from my town.

From the Smalltalk world, I'm pretty much interested in every single tweet. Besides, people in this group don't tweet that much.

As for musicians and bands, we usually follow each other in order to stay aware of gigs, recordings, etc. But following is also an act of befriending, so there are bands and individuals who tweet way too much but to whom I still want to show interest, so I can't unfollow them.

Friends and acquaintances from my town, however, you've got to follow them... and some of them are really annoying. I don't want to unfollow them because, as OP said, «few of them might get offended and then your relations might ruin or something like that». If you live in a small enough town, you'll know what I mean :)

Thanks, that's interesting, and makes me realise how much my Twitter use is conditioned by being pseudonymous and, as a result, almost entirely freely-chosen relationships. I only really follow people because I'm interested in what they have to say, not because I have some other connection to them; but if people who I know in some other context could find me on Twitter, I guess I might find myself in the same position as you.

IMO people get slightly offended/feel bad if you unfollow them.

But as a gesture of politeness, you might want to follow someone who has followed you and is close to you, but at the same time you would not want to listen to all his tweets, in that case, silence might work, and not unfollowing.

Make a private list "My real timeline", with the people you really want to read.

The Echofon client lets you mute people you follow, or just mute their retweets, and it also lets you mute clients, e.g. Instagram or Runkeeper.

That functionality has become indispensable to me, and I hate reading my timeline in other clients.

> Fourth way is via lists, I do not like going to twitter.com/<my_user_name>/lists/xyz // the url does not look good.

This seems like a ridiculous reason to me, but to each their own.

I like to just follow people whose tweets I actually want to read to begin with. Before following anyone I check their last few days worth of tweeting to make sure they don't post junk and that I will be interested in what they have to say. Twitter is not meant to be a friendship or connection manager like Facebook or LinkedIn so much as it is a way to get concise info delivered quickly. Obviously it can be a great networking tool, but by getting others to follow you by sharing good content, not by following junk tweeters in the hope that they'll follow you back. If you're too afraid to unfollow those whose tweets are junk you're not using Twitter correctly.

Edit: That being said, I feel like a client that would let people sift through tweets more efficiently could be great for those who don't agree with me and end up following 10k+ people, and that approach definitely isn't uncommon.

I just do not manage it; I read it from times to times (and different times show different people because of timezones, too), since I believe useful stuff will be retweeted anyway.

Sometimes I think I may start using a list of "close relationships accounts" to make sure I don't miss anything personal, but I've yet to start doing this.

1. I use Hootsuite website (and Falcon Pro on my phone). Hootsuite allows you to have 6 lists (and more, with horizontal scrolling) in the same page. Falcon brings me to the beginning of my timeline's unread part, so it's easier to know what I have to read.

2. All that I want is provided by others apps (Pocket for "read later", Hootsuite & Falcon for conversation history)

Twitter website is really useless for power users, it's a shame they try to kill every others clients with their API restrictions.

1. I used Tweetdeck with lists to manage my timeline in the past, but I just end up reading the main feed anyway. Now I simply follow/unfollow based on what content I want.

2. These days, after streamie stopped working, I have my own streaming twitter client. Easier to get exactly what you want when you are your own customer.

I find that getting a near-real time flow of messages is more engaging than twitter.com telling me I can now press a button to get tweets from 1-5 minutes ago, but maybe thats just me.

I use the old "dip-in-dip-out" technique.

If I miss a load of tweets then I just have to accept that I missed it. It isn't the end of the world.

I like to use Twitter to get in touch with the world without being overwhelmed too much stuff.

I try to keep my following list < 50. It's usually a mix of real life friends, interesting people on Internet and services I rely on. A couple of those should not be there but my current client (Tweetbot) allows you to mute them.

I only read Twitter on my iPad. If I have some time, mostly with a fresh cup of coffee, I open the app, load all new tweets and just read them. I follow ~80 people so this works okayish.

Some people are in a separate list. They basically tweet everything they can find or sometimes cry about stuff I'm not interested in for days. I just skim, over this list to see the interesting tweets.

Works for me, would likely fail horribly if I would follow more people.

I don't really need more features. Send 140 characters, read what others say, get a notification for mentions / DMs. The only thing I would find useful would be a synchronization between all clients. So my iPhone knows where I stopped reading on my iPad e.x.

I like the Android app called Fynch.

The official description says "Fynch enhances your Twitter experience by automatically analyzing your timeline for interesting patterns of activity. It is intended to be a tool that decomposes your timeline into smaller sets of tweets that are easier to consume. Fynch is great for identifying extremely high rates of activity, trending topic mentions, and the tweets of less active users in your following list."


I used to have a Twitter clients with tabs, and one tab for the people I always wanted to read (~40), and another for the rest. Since I don't have that client anymore, my Twitter usage has declined dramatically.

I follow about 80 people, and I tend to read my timeline in its entirety. I look at most links that people post, and any articles that seem interesting I mail to myself to read properly later, or favourite the tweet so I can take a closer look at it at some stage in the future.

I make extensive use of lists, divided into about ten categories, each with over 150 members. I add people to lists without compunction, whereas users I follow are subject to much more stringent examination.

The alternative, which I've been thinking about doing, is just following everybody and treating the timeline as a river.

Tweetbot for Mac is for me the best client by far. I follow 200 people but I have a list called "Light Timeline" that I first created to catch up my Twitter feed when I was off from it for too long. But now I only use this list, since Tweetbot deals with your lists as if it was your Timeline, you see absolutely no difference, except I now only follow 20~30 people, and I am much less distracted. (idem on my iPhone) Why not forget about Twitter web and give desktop apps a try ?

I have tried a lot of different solutions to manage my twitter feed. All from Desktop apps (Tweetdeck, Metrotwit) to commandline apps (TTytter + more). In the end i settled for Tweetbot[1] for iOS (Mainly iPad) so i have limited myself to only check Twitter when i'm on my iPad, which fits me quite nicely, so i dont get distracted when working on my PC.

[1] http://tapbots.com/software/tweetbot/

"Skimming 200 tweets" in one go might be a bit of a pain, but all 200 tweets don't arrive at once. If you briefly check Twitter during short pauses of work throughout the day, your 200 tweets would probably come in blocks of 10 or 20, and that number of tweets is easy to skim. And if you find there are more tweets than that, just don't read them all - anything really important will surely be tweeted again, or (more likely) arrive via other channels.

I follow just a little under 100 people. A lot of those tweets are just some comments about current affairs, tech or random funny tweets. While I use no particular client to filter my tweets, but when I skim through my timeline I usually look for links.

If the tweet doesn't have a link, it is basically 140 characters of someone commenting on something and can be ignored. If it has a link, maybe it could be a tweet pointing to something interesting.

1. I am a Twitter junkie, and have been since '08. It's rare that you'll find a time when I don't have Twitter open in a tab; I'm checking 24/7.

2. I just think the DM feature could be improved. It's too hidden in the current UI on desktop and mobile.

What I've found over time is that, somewhat unsurprisingly, following people I know always results in more interest and engagement when I'm scanning.

so how many people do you follow? and do you read all the tweets in the timeline? have you never got irritated by the crap that people come up with? for me its like, i get irritated and my fuse shorts :) and then hit back with a biting tweet, which is actually a result of getting irritated on the BS tweets which I find in the TL.

due to these reactive tweets I have lost couple of followers over time ;)

having read your thoughts, do you think, there can be something like zero inbox for twitter??

I think it all depends on what you're using Twitter for...

If it's just your personal account, just check the most recent Tweets, and ignore the rest when you get bored of scrolling down. Weed out any people you follow that do not post interesting things.

If this is for business, the more followers the better. It's best to break followers into lists so that you can see the conversations you want to participate in.

Before Twitter made them kill it, I used IFTTT to append all the tweets to a text file. Then I could massively filter it in vim - I gave it it's own filetype so I send macros and bindings to do this.

Now I use a Twitter vim plugin to do the same. https://github.com/vim-scripts/TwitVim

I used to use it quite a lot, but since using iOS7 on my iPhone and losing the quick tweet button in the notification center, my tweets have dropped. http://twitter.com/jbrooksuk

I wish Twitter had an App.net-type system where you can continue reading from where you left off.

Like other people, I use the 'dipping in the stream' approach. Still, vocal people drown some of the other people. I am experimenting a bit with machine learning methods to rank tweets based on how interesting I find them. Does anyone know of similar solutions?

I don't always check all the tweets (I follow 108 people). What I mostly check and is excited to is the Twitter Interactions. Mentions, replies, follower notifications go there. And those are relevant for me.

Much like email, Twitter becomes noisier than it is useful if if it has too great a presence in your life. The root of the problem is the volume of people that you're following, so I'd start there.

I filter out most of the noise with a Greasemonkey app I wrote a while ago: https://github.com/cakebaker/lessnoise

Some of the appeal of Twitter is that, unlike Facebook, there is no algorithm showing you just what it think is important.

Can we all collectively come up with something like zero inbox in the context of tweets?

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