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Posts Tagged ‘tweetbot

Tweetbot on iPhone 6

Tech blogs seemed to go ga-ga over the latest iteration of Tweetbot, a well-established alternative to Twitter’s default mobile app.

I was less impressed given how it seems targetted at the power user and is a paid app (SGD6 for a limited period). But I concede that it does what few other Twitter apps do.


  1. No group private DMs: Tweetbot supports direct messages from individuals but not groups. I cannot form private groups or receive group DMs. I have to rely on the Twitter mobile app or TweetDeck on a desktop.
  2. No scheduling of posts:I cannot prepare tweets in advance for posting on a schedule. I need to use Hootsuite on mobile or TweetDeck on a desktop.
  3. No blocking, only muting: I cannot seem to find a way to block users in Tweetbot. I get lots of users sending messages to the wrong @ashley and this makes it hard for me to focus on who and what matters. I end up using the Twitter app (tap and hold) and TweetDeck (click the “…” area) to block them.
  4. Mentions and Activity are separate: Twitter and TweetDeck collate all mentions of my user handle under Notifications. Tweetbot separates these messages to a Mentions space and an Activity subspace under the Stats space. Viewing replies or mentions should take one tap or click; it takes several in Tweetbot.

As a result of these shortcomings, I still need to have Twitter and Hootsuite on my mobile devices.


  1. No ads: Promoted (paid) tweets do not seem to appear in my Tweetbot timeline. This makes for more focused reading of my carefully curated follows.
  2. Synced sessions: This might be worth the cost of the app alone. I can start reading my timeline tweets on my iPhone and scroll back to tweets, say, three hours ago. Later I can pick up my iPad and resume from that point instead of trying to remember where I was. I process more relevant tweets that way.
  3. Uses Safari View Controller: This is another feature that makes the app worthwhile. When you click on a link, Tweetbot launches an in-app lite version of Safari that supports content and ad blockers. I get faster, more private, and ad-free reading.

I have made Tweetbot my default Twitter tool for now based on the latter two strengths. I am constantly reminded and irritated by its weak features, but they are not deal breakers.

I wish the app had a try-before-you-buy option. In the absence of this feature, I share some thoughts so that this might help others make decisions on whether to buy the app or not.

A tweetbot could be a person, a collection of algorithms, or a combination of both that might collect information and tweet based on keywords of other tweets.

There are good tweetbots like the ones that send reminders of regular hashtagged conversations in education.

There are also tweetbots or tweetbot-like individuals that represent everything I find reprehensible about such persons or entities on Twitter. These tweetbots are:

  • attention-grabbing
  • an eyesore in timelines
  • incapable of clear dialogue


Robot Attack! by Dan Coulter, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Dan Coulter 

A tweetbot or bot-like individual might try to disguise itself with two distinguishing Twitter traits: Sharing bite-sized information and holding conversations. It will fail at both. Here is how to recognize tweetbots.

Tweetbots or bot-like individuals use multiple hashtags in a vain attempt to reach as many audiences as possible. This is despite research that recommends no more than two hashtags per tweet.

Hashtag-driven communities might establish a norm of only using one or two hashtags they identify with. Hashtag how-to sites [1] [2] also recommend this number. It is a logical attempt to go deep instead of wide.

Tweetbots might fool a few users initially, but the more savvy recognize the pattern and learn to ignore, mute, or block them.

Tweetbots or bot-like individuals are attention grabbers. Their tweets might exhibit #childish #use of #hashtags #knowwhatimsaying #justsaying.

While hashtags can be used humorously, they are also important for the identity of a community and also for search. A tweetbot wants to play the game without actually being part of the team.

Tweetbots or bot-like individuals might also try to get attention by using text symbols >> look at me!!! <<. Such tweets stand out in a Twitter timeline, but that also makes them easy to spot for muting or blocking. They ignore research says meaningfully embedded images or videos draw more views.

The people behind tweetbots struggle with conversation. Their goal might be trackbacks instead of feedback. You will either not get a reply or you will receive a reply that makes little sense. This is because such people do not bother to 1) look back at Twitter conversations or 2) thoroughly process a previously shared resource.

The best ways to deal with tweetbots or bot-like people is to ignore, mute, or block them. Giving them the attention they crave only adds fuel to their fire.

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