Won't somebody think of the Twitterless? February 11, 2020 4:17 AM   Subscribe

It's a request. I have never been on Twitter, and don't plan to be. So when there's a comment on the blue that consists only of a link to a tweet, I can't read it. I just see a picture of a bird. This is frustrating, especially when I don't bother to over-hover the link to identify it as a tweet. My understanding is that tweets are limited to a small number of characters. If there isn't some Twitter mechanism blocking the copying of content, could you please paste that content into the comment? TIA
posted by Kirth Gerson to Etiquette/Policy at 4:17 AM (64 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I'll be interested what people have to say about Twitter access without an account ... I do have a Twitter account, but when I open that address in an incognito window in Chrome, I can view the tweet. (It's a video, so in this particular case, not something that could be copied into a comment, but the question / request remains valid).
posted by taz (staff) at 4:22 AM on February 11


You should be able to view all of Twitter without an account. Whatever is stopping you (...flipping you the bird?...) is likely related to your browser.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:30 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


You should be able to view all of Twitter without an account. Whatever is stopping you (...flipping you the bird?...) is likely related to your browser.

Happens to me on every device - including ones that aren't even mine - in several different brands of browser, in two different operating systems. No content unless signed in.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:46 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Didn't use to be that way, but has been for the past year or so.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:48 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I don't have a Twitter account. Typically don't have problems getting links to go places, on desktop or mobile. Occasionally I have to refresh the page to get it to load; they're not doing the big pop-over "you should sign in" thing any more, at least not that I've noticed.

I "follow" Twitter by bookmarking user feeds that I like and viewing them in the mobile browser.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:55 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Happens to me on every device - including ones that aren't even mine - in several different brands of browser, in two different operating systems

Are you running an ad blocker or similar that might be causing the issue?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:04 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I am. Another thing I don't want to do differently. And like Underpants Monster, this behavior is new to me.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:25 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Hmm… Checking in incognito/private browsing windows in desktop Safari or Chrome I see the tweet with a signup button in a sidebar. In incognito/private browsing tabs in mobile Safari, Firefox, and Chrome on iOS, I get a slightly greyed out result until I click "Not now" in the popup at the bottom urging me to sign up, but it works once I've done so. I'm using adblockers in both mobile and desktop Safari, and in desktop Chrome.
posted by JiBB at 5:42 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


No Twitter account.

Chrome for Android, no adblockers: I get to the tweet, although (as is common), I first get a "something went wrong" message and have to refresh. (Which works better by refreshing the browser page, not using the "refresh" button on the Twitter landing page.)

Safari for iPad, using AdBlock Plus: I get to the tweet after a "get the most out of Twitter" popup, which gives me a "not now" button option.

Safari for Mac desktop, using Ghostery Lite: No problem getting the tweet.

This is consistent whether I open in a new non-incognito tab, in a new incognito tab, or stay in the same tab, and IIRC I've gotten the same behavior since at least the 2018 politics megathreads, if not before.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:12 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I would absolutely LOVE a pony that automatically added a following link to twitter links on MeFi that generated a thread-roller version or an image grab version. I signed up for a twitter account that I don't actually use just so I could view the links people keep sending me.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:25 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I have never had a Twitter account and that link works fine for me in Firefox on a Mac. In the past the links have worked fine on my phone as well, though sometimes you have to click away a pop up suggesting their app.

I dislike FPPs that are based entirely on Twitter links, but that is because they are usually very thin (as a consequence of the character limits, etc.), not because of access problems.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:31 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


I have a Twitter account but haven't logged in in ages, running uBlock Origin on Firefox and was able to load the link. Sometimes I have to close out a pop over window but I'm generally able to see the content.
posted by brilliantine at 6:54 AM on February 11


I am rarely logged into Twitter and can see roughly 90 percent of tweets. I use Firefox with ad blockers or Chrome without them. I think an indicator of an actual twitter.com link would be good and also a site convention that linking to unrolled versions of long threads is much preferred.
posted by soelo at 7:31 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I believe that Twitter shows the bird before some javascript on that page actually fetches the content for the page. If anything goes wrong with executing that javascript, the bird remains and no page for you. This is not related to being logged in; I have some devices that are logged-in by default and some that are never logged in, and all have experienced normal page loads and bird-only failures.
posted by Jpfed at 7:35 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


If there isn't some Twitter mechanism blocking the copying of content, could you please paste that content into the comment?
In this case, the tweet is gif, so that is why they didn't paste it into the thread. At the same time, we can probably find a better source for that gif - it is the sign falling off the lectern that the Iowa Dem spokesman is using.

I had to refresh that page to see it, since the initial link gave me an error.
posted by soelo at 7:35 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Are you running an ad blocker or similar that might be causing the issue?

Entirely possible. It would have to be something really common and something that's set by default on multiple devices without being deliberately turned on.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:04 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Have no ad blockers, using Firefox on mobile, always have issues. Hate seeing Twitter links. Usually can pull it up on incognito mode but then wonder why I bothered when its a gif or a one line joke that could have been put into the thread without a link.
posted by tiny frying pan at 8:43 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


I have twitter on my phone but I'd appreciate putting the content of the tweet instead of just linking to it. When I come to Metafilter it's to get away from twitter.
posted by bleep at 9:40 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I don't have a twitter account and can see the links. Sometimes I get the "hmm something went wrong thing and then if I reload it will usually show up". That being said I always prefer those threadreader links if there will be multiple tweets in the thread I'm supposed to read.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:45 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]



Are you running an ad blocker or similar that might be causing the issue?


first time I tried the link (with ad blocker), it wouldn't load -- just saw the "picture of a bird"

so I paused the ad blocker, refreshed the page and then I could see the link (brief video of Iowa placard falling to floor). Then I put the ad blocker back on, refreshed the page ... and I can still see it.

I do have a twitter account, but it's been years since I bothered to sign in.
posted by philip-random at 12:27 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Like soelo, I see the tweets about 90% of the time. On a Windows machine using FF/IE/Chrome and no adblockers. On a Linux with FF and ghostery, Chromium no ad blocker. I've probably been succesful on a Samsung Tablet, too, but not 100% sure on that. No twitter account.

I'm going with "Twitter is buggy as hell."
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 12:45 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I also don't have a Twitter account and links to tweets seem to randomly not work most of the time on my phone.
posted by value of information at 12:58 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


personally i find the anti twitter hysteria on here to be a little Weird and i would like to throw a voice in discouraging codifying those aspects of the community. twitter is a bad website run by bad people, but that is also true of many sites linked to on metafilter.

the way people freak out about twitter threads and always link to threadreader (a site that literally does nothing but list the tweets in a thread sequentially, something twitter does natively already), usually with some snarky comment about how awful twitter threads are despite the fact that they're reading and discussing the content of a twitter thread, is Weird. the idea that we should not link to twitter but instead repost the content here, something we would never suggest for any other site, is Weird.

and i'm not saying "just sign up for it, engage with twitter despite your reservations." i don't pay for the new york times but i also understand there's content there people want to talk about, i don't go to see movies in theaters anymore but obviously there are people who do and want to discuss them, etc. not sure if those analogies really work, because clearly there's some technical thing keeping some people from reading tweets, and that is weird and sucks, i just really don't think anything needs to be done about that from a moderation perspective.
posted by JimBennett at 2:46 PM on February 11 [30 favorites]


"Hysteria" and "freaking out" seem a bit hyperbolic.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:17 PM on February 11 [20 favorites]


I like how Fark does it.
random fark twitter thread
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:26 PM on February 11


We got a whole lot of browser, mobile, ad-blocker, etc. back and forth here. Which is all pretty irrelevant because Twitter can and will change its behavior seemingly at random. And maybe differently in different places.

Kirth Gerson's request seems pretty reasonable. Put the twitter link there if you want to; copy and paste the text if it is text as a start. If an image or video tweet is really that important find a stable way to share it. That will also help if tweets deleted, bitrot, etc. It is an extra few seconds or minute for one commenter but makes the discussion have less friction for all of the readers/participants.
posted by Gotanda at 5:29 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


always link to threadreader (a site that literally does nothing but list the tweets in a thread sequentially, something twitter does natively already),
Twitter does this badly enough that there is an entire website dedicated to doing less badly.

instead repost the content here, something we would never suggest for any other site, is Weird.
If people regularly linked to other short content, we would suggest it.
posted by soelo at 6:04 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


yea, whether or not twitter works, it can be kinda annoying to click on the link and have to wait for it to load only to get to a short tweet that could so easily have been pasted into the thread. By all means link to the tweet so that the writer gets credit, but I'd also love it if I could just read the comment and get on with my metafiltering.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:43 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I dislike FPPs that are based entirely on Twitter link

Me too, and I wish they were marked here with the little bird icon so I'd know I needn't click them.
posted by Rash at 9:49 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


and we wonder why it’s so difficult to attract and retain members
posted by um at 2:49 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]


We do? It is?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:13 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


We do. It is.
posted by donnagirl at 5:53 AM on February 12 [7 favorites]


Whatever is stopping you (...flipping you the bird?...) is likely related to your browser.

I most consistently fail to load tweets using Firefox Focus, which inherently disables a wide variety of third-party tracking techniques. On most less-hardened browsers (even ones that run uBlock Origin, for instance), I can usually get through.

Basically, just like every other godforsaken website these days, Twitter wants to be able to build a profile on you, whether or not you have an account.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:40 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I "follow" Twitter by bookmarking user feeds that I like and viewing them in the mobile browser.

I do this too and run through their posts more or less daily. I use an adblocker. No problems. Every once in a while my phone has an issue ("there's a problem, retry") that blocks me for ten minutes or so.

For a comment int a thread, copying the text as well as including a link seems like a good practice, not because I object to going to twitter but clicking to see a short post's worth of text is pointless. Reads better embedded here. Also, I've noticed a decent number of quality twitterati have started deleting old tweets en masse.
posted by mark k at 7:51 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Just in case this is relevant to anyone, I do have a Twitter account (that I don't currently actively use) and for ages I kept getting the blue bird when someone shared a link to Twitter from other sites or platforms.

The root cause seems to be something screwy about Twitter's URL handling; if I open up a link, get the blue bird, then type www. in front of the URL (usually a https://twitter.com link) then magically the tweet appears rather than the "woah, sorry, we clearly can't load our own content" error message on the blue bird page. It seems dumb that Twitter can't parse its own URLs without a www. in there, but this trick has worked for me every time since I found out about it.
posted by terretu at 9:26 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


We do. It is.

Not seeing it at that link, which is about funding, not about retaining members or wondering about that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:44 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


There's discussion of it further down in that very, very big thread. Bringing in new members and thinking about how our old site fits into the new web is definitely a thing that merits thinking about. (And in thinking about that, ideally we could maintain a spirit of working together for a common goal of keeping the site going because we all like it and want to be here.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:49 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I've noticed that news outlets often post the content of tweets in addition to the link, so in my own comments, which often include quotes from news sources, I am usually including the content, and I think it would be great to mimic the practices of news outlets by including the content here, with a link to the tweet.

Including the content here also helps avoid exposure to what can be a firehose of trolls posting after certain tweets, e.g. statements from anyone standing up to Trump.
posted by katra at 11:12 AM on February 12 [7 favorites]


Also, on another note, the MeTa about Hand pain and links seems good to consider in this discussion, as a general call to think about what we can do to reduce the amount of clicking required to access information.
posted by katra at 11:45 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


I would be surprised to discover that any of the top reasons an otherwise interested party would balk at joining MetaFilter was "Some people wanted to discuss their difficulties with Twitter links."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:36 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


I also have this problem-not-problem. I use adblockers (and will continue to). I won’t be creating an account on Twitter. At worst it is a mild inconvenience but it does feel nice to know that it’s not just me being internet unsavy in some more generic sense of things.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:48 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I'm using Firefox on Windows 10, and I don't have a Twitter account. I've never had a problem viewing tweets linked to here or on other sites. (I do get the pop-up asking me to join which I click through and ignore.) I use uBlock Origin as an ad-blocker. It's off for MetaFilter but on by default elsewhere unless it's a site I've specifically whitelisted.

One thing I'd like ask: I recently made an FPP where a Twitter link was an import part of the post. A Twitter user had translated a poem I wanted to include in the post in a series of tweets, one tweet per stanza, and provided some background and commentary. Would it have been preferable and OK to reproduce the series of tweets for the benefit people who can't access them? The whole series of tweets was pretty long and probably would have worked best as a comment on the post.

Apologies to anyone who saw my post and couldn't access that link.
posted by nangar at 7:04 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Same as nangar above, I've never had a problem reading Tweets or Twitter threads and have often posted them here. Not a signed up Twit, always surf via a desktop, not phone... Windows 10; Firefox; Ublock origin. I had no clue this could be an issue. In short, WTF??!!? (Have never posted any of those thread-reader/unroller thingamajigs because I know some content creators have an issue with them.)
posted by Coaticass at 11:30 AM on February 13


Count me as one of the "twitter links are fairly often broken for me" folks. Video seems to basically never work unless the phase of the moon is right. The mobile site works most of the time. Windows and various Linuxes, Firefox stable and sometimes beta, uBlock Origin and a few settings to make me a little harder to track (basically to look like everyone else).

I basically skip over twitter posts unless there's a heck of a hook in the text. It's just not worth clicking through the posts one by one on the mobile site, etc. I'm okay with that, just putting another data point down here.
posted by introp at 11:45 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Would it have been preferable and OK to reproduce the series of tweets for the benefit people who can't access them?

Personally, I think one of the key issues is ensuring that credit is provided, including with a link. After looking quickly at information about the Thread Reader App, it looks like a limited fix, at best, but their Help section does offer additional information that might be helpful in answering this question:
Are we stealing other people's content?

The simple answer is NO.

When all of us sign up on Twitter, we are authorizing Twitter to make our content available to not just Twitter, but to the entire Twitter network.

From Twitter’s Terms of Service: “This license authorizes Twitter to make your Content available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same.”

You can read the complete Twitter's Terms of Use here

This means our content is available not just on the Twitter website, or the Twitter mobile App, but also embedded tweets on many news websites, blogs, etc.
TINLA. From an accessibilty standpoint, I am in favor of reproducing the content here, for all of the reasons noted in the comments above.
posted by katra at 11:46 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


Thanks, katra.
posted by nangar at 1:06 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


ThreadReader may not technically be stealing content, but they are taking other people's content, repackaging it, and republishing it with advertisements that ThreadReader gets paid for. The original creator gets nothing.

This is why many people on Twitter have blocked Threadreader (to do so, tweet "@threadreaderapp BLOCK ME", being sure that "BLOCK ME" is in all caps).
posted by Lexica at 2:06 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


I confess to perhaps being naive. Do Twitter posters get paid for popular tweets? I assumed they got paid in the classic "exposure" and the only one making money was Twitter itself.
posted by mark k at 3:42 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


No, Twitter users don't get shit. Anybody blocking Threadreader should be blocking literally every media outlet under the sun, since they all profit from reproducing tweets in the exact same way.

Or, you know, if they care about owning their content, maybe they should start a fucking blog so they can actually own the copyright to their content, which they don't if they're putting it on fucking Twitter.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:28 PM on February 13 [8 favorites]


I don’t think so, mark k, but Threadreader monetizes popular tweets and it frustrates people that they don’t get the engagement on their Twitter account for popular tweets repackaged on that service, and that kind of engagement does have a value for folks. I’m not super active on Twitter like I am here, but I know I’d feel robbed if I wrote something very smart or funny on Metafilter and a Threadreader type service got to make money off it and deprived me of those sweet sweet favorites (my stupid dopamine hungry brain’s fave currency).
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 4:29 PM on February 13 [7 favorites]


Not that people dislike Threadreader just because they want the likes, I know it can be a valuable platform for people who don’t otherwise have much of a voice and someone else making money off that is pretty crappy.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 4:31 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


So cool if people who write things on twitter only want engagement on twitter but I'd seriously question how universal that is.

Admittedly I mostly read (and hence would quote) writers or artists who do have other output and are clearly using Twitter to spread their work, ideas and/or personal brand but not specifically their Twitter persona. For them it seems backward to make a decision on their behalf to limit their audience when I assume they want to maximize it. (FWIW if I ever make a comment on MeFi so insightful that people want to approvingly quote it in tweets, blogs, Facebook posts, newspaper articles, etc., they should go for it.)

I'm not saying this is everyone--it's obviously not you!--but doesn't seem a case where a single general rule applies.
posted by mark k at 10:54 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I have a Twitter account, though I rarely use it and remain logged-out. Just recently, I've had occasional issues with following a Twitter link and landing on a "Sign-In or Sign-Up" page with no way to bypass it and get to the damned Tweet. It's hit and miss, though. I think this might be something Twitter has recently pushed-out.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:50 AM on February 14


Wouldn't something like the youtube modal work for tweets? Embedded tweets (with oembed) include the text even with javascript disabled and are probably never going to get blocked to logged out users since it'd defeat the entire purpose of them existing. Much easier than asking users to copy and paste the tweet, especially considering the linked tweet in the OP is a video, no way to copy and paste that.
posted by simmering octagon at 6:15 AM on February 14 [4 favorites]


Not that people dislike Threadreader just because they want the likes, I know it can be a valuable platform for people who don’t otherwise have much of a voice and someone else making money off that is pretty crappy.

Isn't that what twitter does, though? Like, it's just a question of which faceless megacorp is monetising your content, not a question of if it gets monetised?
posted by Dysk at 8:49 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Yes, Dysk, I agree, I do have a “but...” to add there if further discussion wasn’t a derail so I’ll leave it there!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:20 AM on February 14


I can view twitter links but for some damn reason in the past two weeks it refuses to serve me anything but the mobile pages even on desktop.

This happens on Firefox, it happens on Chrome, it happens on Edge, it happens in Incognito mode, it happens if I clear my cookies. Literally nothing will get me the desktop site.

Except using the legacy version of IE that you can still find in Windows. IE will show the desktop site. But... IE.
posted by Justinian at 1:28 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Yes, Dysk, I agree, I do have a “but...” to add there if further discussion wasn’t a derail so I’ll leave it there!

Oh yeah, I'm not suggesting that people can't have reasons to dislike Threadreader or anything - Twitter at least gives you a communications platform in return for the monetising.
posted by Dysk at 5:24 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Twitter links are often broken for me, but a reliable fix is to logout of Twitter. I don't really care about it enough to investigate further.
posted by Lanark at 2:35 PM on February 15


terretu, you have solved a giant mystery for me and created a new puzzle. adding www fixes the error message in twitter but why?!
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:51 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


See, I can't see any of the images in the recent post to the blue, even after disabling adblock plus and ublock:

https://www.metafilter.com/185663/Embroidery-tattoos-needle-work-of-needlework

Maybe I'll dig in deeper and try to figure out why.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:18 AM on February 18


I have an account, and can never open links on my iPhone/iPad, logged in to the mobile website or not. I wish links could open in the app, which I have installed.
posted by lhauser at 8:51 PM on February 19


There's a new SLT today. Despite all the advice in this thread, I can't see any content. Refresh, add WWW, nothing helps. Maybe it's because I won't let Twitter run scripts or add a tracker. Not going to, either. Oh, and there was no advisory in the FPP that it was a tweet.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:31 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


Roland of Eid, the social media links in the Embroidery Tattoos post are all on Instagram (not Twitter), which also tends to be gatekeep-y and prevent you from accessing more than a sample before asking you to log in or join to see more.

I think an inclusive linking policy going forward is going to have to take into account how much content is buried in walled gardens in 2020, and that it's worth stating explicitly before someone has to click through to find out. It makes a big difference on mobile, in particular. Needing to click to see where a link is going makes it more frustrating to slam right into a login/join gate, which is a common occurrence with links to the NYT, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc.

Could we compile a list of popular known walled gardens and either: 1. Encourage MeFites to spell out where each of these links goes in their post and comment texts explicitly when linking into one of these walled gardens? or 2. Automatically append explicit text whenever any post or comment links to one of these walled gardens that explains where each walled garden link is going?

not_the_water did go the extra step and manually indicate where each of their links came from ("My Modern Met," "Revelist," "Unless specified all links are to the artist's Instagram."), but especially for cases like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, New York Times, etc, would find it useful to have it explicit in the text post and in close proximity to each link.

So the post Kirth Gerson originally wrote in about, with this feature added, would then look like:
Last night:
Me: Got any homework?
Anna: Nah.
Me: Whatcha gonna do?
Anna: Have a map I’m working on.
Just found this on her desk.
[Twitter]
Likewise, the post Roland_of_Eid refers to would end up looking like:
"... Embroidery tattoos [Instagram] feature two predominant methods that are inspired [Instagram] by the ancient practice: cross stitch [Instagram] and crewel [Instagram]. The cross stitch [Instagram] tattoo, first made popular by Eva Karabudak [Instagram], has designs formed by tiny "X" marks [Instagram], while the crewel [Instagram] approach mimics [Instagram] the satin stitch on the skin." Brazil's Duda Lozano is the the master of the patch tattoo [Instagram]."
(All links replaced there with Instagram front page, this is solely for demonstration purposes, don't follow any of them!)

Possible variant: any post that consists solely of a single link to a walled garden with no text outside the link could even have that indicated in the title, a la the manual courtesy already culturally done here with [SLYT], [SLNYT], etc.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 2:07 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


« Older Status update: Consulting; ongoing mod work;...   |   Sharing copyright infringing material on... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments