Thursday, November 9, 2017

Twitter Increases Limit to 280 Characters

Aliza Rosen (Hacker News):

In September, we launched a test that expanded the 140 character limit so every person around the world could express themselves easily in a Tweet. Our goal was to make this possible while ensuring we keep the speed and brevity that makes Twitter, Twitter. Looking at all the data, we’re excited to share we’ve achieved this goal and are rolling the change out to all languages where cramming was an issue.


We – and many of you – were concerned that timelines may fill up with 280 character Tweets, and people with the new limit would always use up the whole space. But that didn’t happen. Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters. As a result, your timeline reading experience should not substantially change, you’ll still see about the same amount of Tweets in your timeline.

Peter N. Lewis:

So I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised the the official Twitter/Mac app can’t do 280 characters.

John Gruber:

Given 280 characters, people are going to use them, even to express thoughts that could have fit in 140. Given unlimited characters, such as in email, people ramble aimlessly.

That’s why email feels like a dreary chore, and Twitter feels like fun. The fewer tweets that fit in a single screen at a time, the less fun Twitter feels. I’m sure Twitter considered this change carefully, but I’m convinced they’ve made a terrible mistake.

Part of the charm of Twitter is the finely crafted short tweets. But I think those have already become less prevalent as people resort to posting screenshots and long tweet threads to get around the limit. My guess is that the increased limit will be fine. I think most tweets will remain short and that 280 characters will provide a better overflow experience than threads. had a limit of 256 characters, and that seemed to work well. If long tweets do become a problem, clients could discourage them when posting or display only the first few lines to keep the timeline compact.

Previously: Fixing Twitter With Reputation Systems, Twitter Won’t Raise 140-Character Limit.

Update (2017-11-13): Twitter:

Starting today, your Twitter display name can be up to 50 characters in length! Go ahead, add that middle name or even a few more emojis.

8 Comments RSS · Twitter

I'm starting to think John Gruber just doesn't like change. Joking....kind of....

Adrian O'Connor

Gruber says "That’s why email feels like a dreary chore and Twitter feels like fun"

Twitter hasn't felt like fun for a few years now. More characters won't change that one way or the other. I keep going back because there's nothing to replace it, but the fun has mostly gone. Maybe it's just me, but that's how it feels.

> Twitter feels like fun

It does? To whom? People who love toxic bs?

At this point, Facebook is more fun than Twitter.

Arguably the limit bludgeons any kind of nuance out of Twitter communications resulting in the kind of polarised & polarising toxicity that the platform has become synonymous with.

@Chris I think that’s probably right, although Twitter can’t really use that as a selling point without admitting that there’s a problem now.

Adrian Bengtson

For those who use Twitter in other languages that are not as dense, compact and efficient as English the previous limit of 140 characters was a bigger problem. In Swedish we tend to have longer words and we don't have as many common abbreviations as English, so even if we craft and try to be creative with tweets it's harder. I think the Finns have it even worse.

I always felt that the limit for SMS (160) was much better and still produced short, good messages. (It was that SMS limit of 160 chars that made Twitter choose 140 chars to begin with, since they had to fit som metadata as well.)

From my point of view the mistake Twitter did was not extending 140, but that they went all the way up to 280. They could have stopped at something like 180 and it would still have been enormously helpful without changing to much of the spirit of tweets.

@Adrian Yeah, I wonder how they picked 280 instead of 200 or so.

[…] Gruber, among others, thinks this change is a bad move from […]

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