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How and Why I Added Daily “Microposts from Twitter” Posts

I’ve had a dilemma for a long time. it started when i began using Twitter a lot, which has been over a year now. For anyone who doesn’t know, Twitter is a service that lets you post 140 character updates on “what you’re doing”, which are read only by people who “follow” you, and you see only “tweets” (updates) from people that you follow. Sort of like a chat room where you get to decide who you hear.

Twitter is awesome, and I use it heavily. I’ve carefully cultivated a list of about 325 people that I follow. I know who all of them are, and I care about what they say. Most of the time.;-) (BTW, if you want me to follow you, just follow me, and introduce yourself – I’m friendly!) And there are almost 1000 people who follow me, which I find amazing. How can that many people be interested in what I say?

Anyway. Many people have noticed and pointed out the fact that I haven’t been posting here on my blog as much since I started using Twitter. This is true. This is what happened:

I quickly came to think of the stuff I wrote on Twitter as “microposts” – short little notes about what I was doing, or something I found interesting, or asking a question. The kind of stuff I would normally post here on my blog, until I had a better place for it. Whenever I had a “bigger” idea that I wanted to share, or something with a lot of pictures, or that otherwise didn’t work well within the 140 character micropost way of doing things, it became a blog post here.

Twitter became a kind of low-pass noise filter for my writing.

Lots of people who read this blog also follow me on Twitter. You’re my network. My friends. My connections. And since you were using Twitter too, there wasn’t a problem.

But I know there are lots of you who read my blog, but don’t know about or don’t want to use Twitter. I’ve tried to bring attention to my frequent microposts by putting them over in the sidebar, but I wasn’t really satisfied with that. I mean, who looks at the sidebar? Most people just probably tune it out. I know I do.

I know lots of people that use services like LoudTwitter, or tools like Alex King’s TwitterTools plugin for WordPress to do a “daily digest” post on their blog – to round up everything they tweeted that day, and put it into an automatic blog post.

The problem with this comes for people who subscribe to both the blog feed, and follow that person on Twitter. They’re getting the same stuff twice. It’s redundant and annoying, and I really didn’t want to make myself any more redundant and annoying and redundant than I already am.:-)

So, after kicking the idea around a bit (on Twitter, of course), i think I’ve found an elegant solution. Using TwitterTools, I’ve set up that “daily digest” post. But, using some cleverness built into WordPress (the software that powers this blog), I’ve excluded those Twitter digest posts from the blog’s feed. They show up on the site, so people who visit the site regularly to see what I’ve been writing will see my latest microposts, along with the regular big old blog posts. But the microposts won’t show up in my feed. That way, no overlap for people who subscribe to my feed AND follow me on Twitter.

If you subscribe to my blog feed, and you WANT to get my microposts, I heartily recommend you set yourself up an account on Twitter (it’s free and easy), and follow me there. I’m jabancroft. And don’t worry. Everyone thinks Twitter is stupid at first. And then they fall in love. So give it a chance, and don’t blame me for your future Twitter addiction.;-)

If you don’t want to use Twitter, but still want “the full Josh” firehose, let me direct you to my life stream site, www.joshbancroft.com. On that site, and its accompanying feed, you’ll get my blog posts, my Twitter microposts, my photos from Flickr, any videos i post on the web, and pretty much everything I write or create.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out my “linkblog” at linkblog.joshbancroft.com (and it’s accompanying feed), which is stuff I share from the hundreds of things I read every day in Google Reader and elsewhere on the web. Think of me as a news filter, your personal clipping service. I sift through all the posts, and pluck out the ones that I think are interesting. No more than a few per day. You can also add me as a friend/contact in Google Talk and Google Reader and get the same thing, if you know what that means. If you don’t, just use linkblog.joshbancroft.com. I try really hard to make it interesting and useful.

Does that work for everyone? Drop me a comment below if you like it. Or hate it. Or know of a better way to do it. Or think it’s the best idea ever, and want to do the same thing on your blog. I’m always happy to share!:-)

Update: A few weeks ago, I switched my theme (K2) to three column mode, and moved my “Microposts from Twitter” posts into one of the sidebars, using the “Asides” functionality of K2. It’s a LOT less cluttered, and doesn’t bury my “regular” posts under the piles of Twitter posts that I generate. :-)

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15 thoughts on “How and Why I Added Daily “Microposts from Twitter” Posts

  1. Pingback: Patrick Ruffini

  2. I like your set-up. I started using TwitterTools a while back and liked the summary feature, but I have people that subscribe via email and I hate hitting them with a daily email of tweets. Once a week would be fine, but daily is a pain.

    This a great way to solve the problem. It is funny when I saw your tweet about excluding categories I immediately thought of TT and then a few minutes later you mentioned TT in a tweet. :)

  3. I’ve got another little layer of magic added on top that I didn’t write about, and that’s how nice it is to use Feedburner for my feeds. I was able to completely change the feed URL that I want people to get (to the one that excludes the microposts category) by simply changing the “source” feed in FeedBurner. No having to tell people to update their subscriptions, or having people subscribed to the wrong feed, etc.

    And since the few people that do subscribe via email (since I don’t promote that feature very much – I need to change that!) subscribe via Feedburner’s mail service, they don’t see the micropost clutter, either.

    I love it when a plan web tools come together! 😉

  4. Hey Josh,

    Thanks for being such a gentleman and exclude your Twitter daily digest from this feed. I like :-)

    It is a problem when I follow people and subscribe to their feed. Hmmm… I’ve always wanted Google Reader to have some kind of exclude-filter so I can exclude posts with “Tweets for Today” subject :-)

  5. Josh, I used to use summary posts, too. I even documented a cool way to format the bullets with the Twitter logo. I stopped using the summaries for a couple of reasons:

    1. Twitter Tools bases the daily update on GMT, not local time. Very frustrating.
    2. I also didn’t want to be redundant, too. Didn’t think of excluding the summaries from the feed. Good idea.

    Might just have to restart them. Thanks!

  6. @ThomasHan you’re very welcome! :-)

    @Brent I remember your cool little Twitter logo bullets. I might just do that. :-)

    And the GMT thing is bugging me, but there’s got to be a way to change/hack that in the source. I’ll have a poke around (and yes, it would be better to get a fix or a workaround that doesn’t involve hacking the source file).

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  9. A good solution, Josh!

    Unfortunately, as a Livejournal subscriber, I’m considered to be too low-tech to put together anything like what you have implemented. Even using Google Analytics is considered too risky – depends on embedded JavaScript which is disallowed.

    One of the things that Twitter has provided me is a clearer indication of who cares about what I write, which is missing from my blog.

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  13. Hey interesting reading! I have just been toying with this whole issue for my blog. What I would like is a weekly digest which I can edit before publishing (to make it just the fun/interesting/funny tweets and not the dross!) and this way I can decide against posting if I think its not appropriate.

    I think there is some value in sharing tweets but I also gather that these posts can be irritating to some. My recent blog post goes into it a bit.

    Any advice or suggestions for a wordpress.com user would be much apreciated!

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