In a recent tweet, Eric Stoller shared a wonderful resource: Twitter’s missing user manual.
Twitter’s missing user manual [***share this with everyone!***] https://t.co/glwMrxdvfh
— Eric Stoller (@EricStoller) March 7, 2016
The ‘manual’ (it’s really an extended blog post) aims to clarify and highlight all those additional bits of functionality or clever tricks that aren’t immediately obvious when using Twitter.
Indeed, the manual aims to shine a light into the little known corners Twitter, taking you beyond a surface-level knowledge of the service.
As the manual itself states:
A sufficiently mature, popular, and interesting product thus tends to accumulate a small pile of hidden features, sometimes not documented or even officially acknowledged.
The manual aims to document that accretion of functionality that has built up over Twitter’s (relatively short) lifetime.
Here, then, is a list of all the non-obvious things about Twitter that I know. Consider it both a reference for people who aren’t up to their eyeballs in Twitter, and an example of how these hidden features can pile up. I’m also throwing in a couple notes on etiquette, because I think that’s strongly informed by the shape of the platform.
Below are a few of my favourite items from the manual:
- Tweets are limited to 140 Unicode characters, meaning that even astral plane characters (such as emoji) only count as one.
- A tweet that begins with a mention won’t appear on the timelines of anyone who follows you, unless they also follow the first person you mention. That is, if you tweet
@foo @bar heya, it’ll only appear on the timelines of people who follow both you and
- If you put some other character before the first
@, the previous rule no longer applies, and your tweet will appear to all your followers. So
.@foo @bar heyawill be visible to everyone (and show on your Web profile). This is called “dot-replying”. The dot isn’t actually special; it’s just an easy-to-type and unobtrusive character. I like to use
\. Some people prefer to put the mentions at the end instead, producing
heya @foo @bar.
- Twitter supports “cashtags”, which are prefixed with a
$instead and are generally stock symbols. I only even know this because it makes shell and Perl code look goofy.
- Almost all of Twitter’s advanced search options are exposed on the advanced search page. All of them are shorthand for using a prefix in your search query; for example, “from these accounts” just becomes something like
The manual has been developed by ‘Eevee’ on their personal blog, so, if you use Twitter you should definitely check out the manual, available here.