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Twitter Rolls Out Tweet Capability to 280 Characters

     
9:41 pm on Nov 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Twitter's experiment to extend tweets from 140 characters to 280 characters is now over and it's now rolling out the capability worldwide, with a few exceptions where it's not required.
Twitter says that the experiment proved most people prefer the the shorter format.
After the initial test where many people used the 280 character limit because of the novelty, it returned to the usual brevity.

Historically, 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit. This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning Tweets before sending. With the expanded character count, this problem was massively reduced – that number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit. Since we saw Tweets hit the character limit less often, we believe people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer. This shows that more space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a Tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before. You can see this happening in the graph below.

https://blog.twitter.com/content/dam/blog-twitter/official/en_us/products/2017/280/tweetingmadeeasier/Nov%207%20280%20Launch%20Chart.png.img.fullhd.medium.png

[blog.twitter.com...]
9:58 pm on Nov 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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As those stats show, it likely isn't the amount of characters that is the culprit.

Maybe Twitter has just peaked with its application to the user; maybe that's it. Not everything has a continued growth factor. People just don't know what much else to do with it.
4:38 am on Nov 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Characters or bytes? (I think I've asked this before, but nobody seems to know.)
4:49 am on Nov 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yes we know... Twitter announced they doubled the characters from 140 to 280. Done deal. It 's now in effect.
7:17 am on Nov 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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MSM media headlines will now bloat, too (as most of their stories come from Twitter). Whew!
9:30 am on Nov 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The good thing about Twitter, what set it apart, was its wonderful brevity - you could scroll through everything you followed quickly.

Twitter seem determined to undermine this, and become a second rate Facebook.
4:33 pm on Nov 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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According to the stats, people continued to use 140 characters in the test, but, of course, there's always going to be someone that uses every single opportunity. But, yes, 140 characters was fine, imho.
1:09 pm on Nov 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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That's pretty nice move by twitter to increase the character count to tweet more information.
8:28 pm on Nov 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hello sloshout and welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com]
5:19 pm on Nov 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Characters or bytes? (I think I've asked this before, but nobody seems to know.)


Actually, somebody knows. Short answer. It's always characters. But what does that mean?

As always with character encodings, it's not simple. Counting characters consistently is *very* hard in a low-level language without importing a library for doing so and deciding what basis you're going to use for character normalization.

Twitter uses the example of counting café where the é can be represented internally as either a single two-byte character or a three-byte composed sequence of two characters depending your Twitter client. So depending on how you're counting, you could have:
- 1 character (visually looks like that in all cases),
- 2 characters composed of an "e" plus a diacritical which are separate Unicode characters and which is how many accented characters are represented in some clients and some accented characters are represented in all clients (if they don't have an assigned two-byte encoding).
- finally, if they were counting bytes, which they aren't, it would be 2 or 3 bytes.

So depending on how you handle characters, café could be four characters (normalized character count), five characters (strict count of number of characters, assuming a client that uses composed characters), or 5-6 "characters" (assuming a simple byte count).

Twitter counts the length of a Tweet using the Normalization Form C (NFC) version of the text. This type of normalization favors the use of a fully combined character (0xC3 0xA9 from the café example) over the long-form version (0x65 0xCC 0x81).
[developer.twitter.com...]

So there's your answer: characters are characters within the limits of Normalization Form C.
7:19 pm on Nov 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It's always characters. But what does that mean?

Yes, that was very much what I was asking. So at this point if you're tweeting in Chinese you can just about tweet an entire novel, I guess.

if they were counting bytes, which they aren't, it would be 2 or 3 bytes

Or just one, if using a one-byte encoding such as Windows-Latin-1 or Mac ... or the wild array of other language-specific encodings that allow for no more than 255 characters. (A while back, there was a flurry of robots using one of the Korean encodings.) In the present forum, é is just one byte.
9:01 pm on Nov 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Jesus as if politicians didn't do enough damage in 140 characters. If ever ww3 starts it will be twitters fault
3:17 am on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Or just one, if using a one-byte encoding


Not quite - check out the linked article. Twitter will always store, count and transmit as UTF-8.

All other encodings must be converted to UTF-8 before sending them to Twitter


So if you were to copy and paste from this forum (which is using Windows-1252... Encoding like it's 1999!), it would still be UTF-8 in Twitter and would still be subject to Normalization Form C for counting characters.
3:35 am on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Encoding like it's 1999!
Let's not go there ;)
8:23 am on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I never thought I'd live to see the day.
12:53 pm on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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According to the stats, people continued to use 140 characters in the test,


My worry is that habits will change over time.
1:48 pm on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It is human nature to fill all available space. (Remember when 640k was all the RAM you needed?)
3:55 pm on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It is human nature to fill all available space


It is a fundamental and old rule of mountaineering: "Choose the smallest pack you can, because you'll always fill your pack."

That said, 99% of what I tweet out is a headline with a URL (I use Twitter as a bookmarking service more than a social media). In most cases, that doesn't require editing, but in some cases it does, especially if the title is not obvious. So just because Twitter has gone to 280 characters doesn't mean the New York Times will switch to 250-character titles. So I do think that for some reasons inherent in language, there will be fewer tweets up against the limit. Of course 1/3, 2/3, 3/3 tweet series will undoubtedly still exist
6:27 pm on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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"Choose the smallest pack you can, because you'll always fill your pack."

Parkinson’s law. Work expands to fill the time allotted to it.
7:22 pm on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I've been monitoring this and so far, it's not been too bad. That may change, of course.
7:27 pm on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I hope there's no chance they'll revert back to 140 characters. I use flat files for content and have spend several days expanding all my tweets.
12:43 pm on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I actually don't think it's too bad. People do seem to take a while to fill the "whole" pack. The feeds seems ok and not too cluttered, yet.
7:17 am on Nov 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Give it time. The pipeline will fill!