Relatively recently, Twitter changed how a single Tweet is displayed on Twitter. Previously, when you looked at a single tweet, all you would see is indeed that one single tweet, as well as any replies to that tweet. The background would simply be whatever the user who tweeted the tweet set their background to (in most cases, the default picture of blue clouds. It looked a bit like this:
(Apologies for using someone else’s image; I tried to find one I screenshotted myself but after much digging I was unable to locate one. Additionally, this one is cropped; the tweet would be displayed in the center of the webpage. This was the only image I could find after an hour of searching which also displayed the URL.)
Nowadays, when you click on a Tweet on the timeline, the tweet is opened as an overlay over the timeline. Not that the URL is that of the tweet, yet somehow Twitter knows to display it over the webpage (that of the timeline). I don’t know how that works.
But I don’t need to know how it works to say this isn’t great.
If you’re browsing the timeline and want to observe the replies to a tweet, then yes, this is much more seamless, a one step process. Previously, to get to the single-tweet-on-a-webpage thing as shown in the first image, one would have to (1) click the tweet on the timeline to expand it (which would itself show some, but not all replies), (2) click the “…”, (3) click “get tweet URL”, and finally (4) copy and paste the URL to the URL bar.
So what’s the issue?
For a start, Twitter sometimes stuffs promoted content on the overlay, under the tweet that has been clicked on. Keeping in mind the timeline it is overlayed over /already/ has promoted content? That’s just flat-out gross. Not to mention covers up the timeline it is overlayed over.
In this example, the promoted tweet, which promotes promoted tweets, is bigger than the tweet I actually clicked on.
Because opening such an overlay relies on a single click, it is very easy for a user to accidentally click a tweet on their timeline, perhaps while missing the favorite (excuse me, like) button, and be served an advertisement as a reward for their misclicking.
It doesn’t show the client the tweet was sent from
There is no reason for it not to show this information, especially considering this information is in the Twitter API and unofficial clients can display it. If I recall correctly, this information was previously available on Web Twitter, but even if I’m wrong, why would that information be hidden? It could be useful in having users detecting a particular client that is hijacking accounts to post spam.
While this doesn’t happen as much as when this was first implemented, there is undoubtedly a sense of awkwardness when opening and closing the overlay. My internet is relatively fast and I am using a modern computer with a modern browser. Spare a thought for those who aren’t so lucky.
Occasionally causes the timeline/profile to jump upward if you’ve scrolled a long way down
Granted, clicking “…” to copy the tweets URL from before this was implemented would sometimes have the same effect.
It’s horrible at handling multiple replies
I think this picture sums it up.
The link for this twitter post is here.
In this particular RP, one user chains their replies, and the other does not. For simplicity, for now, let’s just look at the first two parts: The one-tweet starter, by Chainer, and the multi-tweet reply to that starter by Not-Chainer.
On one hand, this seems to be easy to solve. All I have to do to view the tweets Not-Chainer says in reply to Chainer’s starter is to click on the starter, right? Surely, because Not-Chainer’s tweets are in reply to Chainer’s starter, if I just click on Chainer’s starter, all of Not-Chainer’s tweet will show in chronological order under Chainer’s starter?
(To be clear, I’m not trying to say “oh this person didn’t chain their replies how dare they.” Twitter implemented the feature without really telling anybody about it or making it easy for people to find out about it. It’s difficult to use on Web Twitter and can be a pain on mobile too. The best way to chain your tweets is twittrp.com in my personal opinion. I’ve got nothing but respect for y’all, this was just a good example completely screwed up replies due to Twitter’s apparent inability to think about UI design.)
Oh, how naïve thou art. Clicking on Chained’s starter yields this:
So where is the rest of Not-Chained’s reply to the starter? We have to go searching. Really searching!
There it is, right at the very bottom of the overlay, is the remainder of Not-Chained’s replies to the starter. This might be excusable if the first tweet had a “Show more replies” function, or hid the stuff in response to Not-Chained’s last tweet in reply to the starter under “Show more replies” so that the stuff at the bottom could actually be found without a bunch of scrolling or zooming out, or if the tweets you spent so long looking for were actually in order.
That’s right, for no reason whatsoever, Not-Chained’s reply will be shown out of chronological order. Have a closer look. Keep in mind that these were sent in order, as confirmed by the timestamps on the tweets (which aren’t in this screenshot, but I confirmed for myself when I first encountered this glitch, and you can yourself with the above link to Chainer’s starter).
Through careful reading and some mucking about, it is possible to piece together the correct order of tweets, which is, as far as I can tell, completely random.
So where does that leave us? Well, there are two things you can do:
To help yourself: Don’t use Twitter for Web when possible. Granted, in some circumstances (such as aforementioned fiasco involving Chained and Not-Chained), it might be the only client that shows all the replies, albeit in a completely arbitrary order.
To help others: Chain your multi-tweet replies either manually (which is hard to do on Twitter for Web, yet another reason why Twitter for Web sucks) or by using twittrp. Alternatively, post long replies on twitlonger or a similar website.
Of course, neither will help you if you have a rare glitch where your entire reply chain breaks for no reason…but that’s a blog post for another day.