February 23, 2013
OH NOES! Twitter Steals 22 Characters From Its Users
Twitter, made famous by its 140-character limit, has now begun to limit these characters to 118 in some cases. This move greatly upsets the current value of a single character in the Twitter-verse and top micro-economists are worried about possible over-inflation.
Users sharing a link with their followers are now given 22 fewer characters to explain why they shared this link or why others should be bothered to visit. The news is even worse for those wanting to share a secured, https link: These users will now be forced to make their point in 117 characters. Twitter first made this announcement in December, saying that changes to their “t.co link wrapper” will now necessitate a longer URL.
Though any pinching of characters in a Tweet will undoubtedly be felt, Twitter has pointed out that this change only takes away an additional 2 characters from Tweeted URLs.
Part of the glory of Twitter is the hard and definite limit on each post. Twitterers are forced to make their point with fewer words, thereby creating new and fresh ways to deliver the perfect punchline.
This limit has also sent some users to begin bastardizing the English language, using abbreviations such as “v” for “very” and “nd” for “and.”
Particularly picky Twitter bugs have often lamented after crafting a nearly perfect tweet, but are then left to strike an apostrophe, comma or some other punctuation to squeeze in under the 140 character limit.
Only time will tell if this new character limit will send the value of every character spinning out of control and create an even larger demand for new abbreviations and simple-minded, intentional misspellings.
There are other ways around this new 122-character limit, of course.
The easiest and most obvious solution is to never again tweet a link. Those verbose Twitter fans may need to find another way to point users to links, but I suspect that it can be done.
Twitterers can also take a page from @AltonBrown’s book as a way to get around those tyrannical 140-character limits.
Famous television chef Brown often uses his Twitter account to reply to fans using yellow Post-It notes. These replies are often accompanied by hand-drawn pictures by Mr. Brown himself. Some notable scribblings include a Lion eating a cookie, Barney the purple dinosaur being cooked on Alton’s grill, and many many Dr. Who references.
No matter your chosen method to work underneath Twitter’s heavy thumb of 140-characters, be sure to do so with intelligence and some courtesy for those who follow you. If you can’t make your point in one Tweet without succumbing to terrible grammar and inappropriate abbreviations, perhaps reconsider if it needs to be Tweeted at all.
Additionally, just because you have 140-characters doesn’t mean you need to use all 140 (or 122) characters. For instance, if you find yourself with an extra 40 characters, no need to begin hash banging your way into the hit lists of all your followers.
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