Twelve ideas for a better Twitter

by Tom Albrighton 4 September 2015 Digital and social

Twitter. The more things they add, the less complete the experience feels somehow. But there’s no going back – so here, inspired by Mic Wright’s recent article, are ideas for twelve more features that might just save the day.

One-tweet polls

This sort of thing is all very well, but sometimes you want to give an opinion without giving the pollster any endorsement – not even the weak-ass endorsement of a fav. And, on more serious topics, you might want to participate anonymously.

Instant one-tweet polls would let you pose the question and offer two or more alternatives, which people could then click on to vote. Results are displayed in the tweet, perhaps graphically. The usual RTs and favs are available, and time limits are optional.

This would be loved by brands and individual users alike – and if it’s implemented, Twitter, I do expect to be paid.

One-tweet appeals

By the same token, what about a way to donate to charities – probably with PayPal – right there on Twitter? It would be a great way to tap into those fast-moving swells of emotion without having to divert people to a different domain.


Yes, we do need them.

Unfollow notifications

Something else we need, if only to restore psychological balance. If I’m going to get off on the fleeting, infinitesimal buzz of being followed, I should also accept the sad when someone looks over my lovingly crafted profile, photo and feed and thinks, ‘You know what, I think I’ve had enough of this prat.’ It’s karma.

Multimedia tweets

We’ve all posted something like this. But 140 characters minus an image link doesn’t leave a lot of room to evoke your delicate mood once you’ve described your location, what you’re drinking, who you’re with… and of course, the soundtrack.

How much better if you could post an image and some music to go with it – ideally, just the audio from a YouTube video. The spirit of This Is My Jam could live on, except on a site that people actually use.

Mute links

I follow a lot of ‘work people’ that I do want to be connected to, but sometimes they just post too many links. Since I’m never really short of things to read – in fact, I don’t even read a tenth of what I should – that clogs up my feed with distractions and lays a subtle guilt trip on me at the same time.

With a ‘mute links’ option, we could get back to Twitter as it was in the old days – a conversational medium. (A refinement could be that you don’t see links in original posts, but if someone replies to you with a link, you can still see it.)

Branching conversations

Talkin’ of conversatin’, don’t you find that ‘View conversation’ never does quite what you expect – particularly if there’s more than two of you chatting? Well, I do. So I suggest showing the different exchanges of the conversation as separate threads, each pair of people replying to each other.

How would it actually look? I don’t know, that’s the designer’s job.

Pay for no ads

I don’t find promoted Tweets that invasive. But on the assumption that we’re going to see more and more sponsored content on Twitter, it would be nice to have a way to opt out of it. Which, inevitably, would be a premium feature.

List your own favourite tweets

Yes, there’s Favstar, and Pinned tweets for one that you like yourself, but how about a Twitter-based gallery of your top ten cruelly neglected gems?

No doubt young hipsters would find achingly creative uses for it, like retelling Mad Men in ten tweets or something. Mine, of course, would simply be a succession of lame #dadpuns.

Opt-in @ messages

I rarely follow a band, or a brand, but when I do, it’s usually because I really care about them. The ‘While you were away’ algorithm seems to privilege the neglected backwaters of my feed and/or recent follows, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but could mean I miss important updates.

So how about giving me the option to opt in to announcements from selected accounts, which are then beamed direct into my notifications? That would put my ‘fun’ content on Twitter, where it belongs, instead of in my inbox, mixed in with work stuff (and spam).


‘This tweet has been deleted.’ But what did they say? And why did it make everyone so angry? With retractions, the authors of twattish tweets could ’fess up to their idiocy while showing everyone they’re big enough to leave those ill-chosen words online. It’s the ultimate humblebrag.

Women can downvote men

This is inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s women-only train carriages, and is also hopelessly impractical, but still.

All the Twitter bullying I’ve seen has come from men, none of it from women. So imagine how great it would be if everyone had to somehow confirm their gender when they registered, following which harassers could be downvoted, leading to them being temporarily muted and, if they don’t stop,  silenced completely.

‘It’s open to abuse,’ you say. Well, then, the men can see what it’s like, can’t they?

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