It's all spinning wheels and self-doubt until the first pot of coffee.

Sticky Tags for Twitter?

I should elaborate on what I mean by tags in Twitter, since I got a few head-scratching responses.

No, fitting tags into the 140 characters for a message won't work. And, no, tagging every tweet as you go is a horrible approach - no one will do it. What I've thought might work, though, are sticky tags.

Sticky tags would persist from update to update. From the web UI, you could drop "work" or "gnomedex" or "l:95051 beer concert somerandomband" into an additional tags field and all tweets from then on will gain those tags until you empty the tag field.

There could be shortcut commands to change or clear tags - ala "d someone" for direct messaging. This would be especially useful while out and about and mobile. Say you text "t bus commute" to Twitter when you get on the bus for home, then anything you might emit from then on, until you change the tags, gets tagged with "bus" and "commute".

Then, you and others could follow this particular thread of tweets via http://twitter.com/yourname/commute - or even with tag intersections ala delicious: http://twitter.com/yourname/commute+bus.

Going to be at SxSW for awhile? Drop "sxsw" into your sticky tags. Maybe someday everyone who doesn't want to hear it can filter out tweets with that tag rather than stop following you altogether.

Having some sticky tags can allow a bit of metadata and filtering hooks to follow you for awhile without requiring you to do or remember much. Keeping them as free-form text strings allows some cow-pathing as people invent conventions.

Think of these tags as kind of long-running meta-status.

Archived Comments

  • Dave Troy's location nanoformat does this already as you've shown above. There's potential for some third party to do exactly the same thing. Invent a format like T:mycurrenttag And then provide some UI to do something with the aggregated tags. The problem with this, as with Twittervision, is the need to take a backup of the whole twitter stream to work on.

  • The problem with tag-as-nanoformat is that there's already enough message trying to get crammed into the 140 characters, adding more metacrap there just squishes that even further and doesn't get the stickiness to boot.

    I could address the second in my browser with a GreaseMonkey script, and maybe build a proxy to which I can text from my phone to manage tag stickiness there... But, it's not just the ability to express the tags - it's also being able to filter updates incoming in the present and retrieve them later by way of tags.

  • simpler, make every words a tag. The fact that some words will become more used will be natural.

  • With all due respect ... PLEASE NO. Keep it simple. That's the beauty of Twitter. No comments. No titles. No extended entries. No metadata other than username and datetime.

  • Les, you know what I'm gonna say: WikiWordAsTag


  • I do agree that simplicity is the beauty of Twitter. I don't want titles, comments, or extended entries - that's what a blog is for. I don't want features added just for coolness sake or whatever.

    But, I can see a set of problems with the Twitter experience that might be helped with something that adds a bit more context - and something like tags seems like a lightweight and somewhat simple way to do it. Making them sticky helps make them less cumbersome to use.

    I'd really like to be able to pick and choose the sorts of updates I receive from people I follow, across different means of receiving them. For example, I might not want to get all of someone's random ponderings on my phone, but I'd like to get pinged when they start talking about when they're leaving for the party tonight. If they switch to a new set of tags I'm watching for, this can happen.

    Or, maybe after a Hack Day London, I'd like to go back and see what the chatter was about - ie. I can see what went on via the hackdaylondon tag on Flickr, and I'd like something like that for Twitter.

  • I have to agree that having tags would make it nice to filter the wheat from the chafe. Let's face it. Not everything someone microblogs about is important to me.

    Take this post from Robert Scoble who does occasionally have something intelligent to say, but not in this case: "I'm done filling up Twitter and peeing in the pool for tonight. Good night!"

    I don't really need this zipping in to my cell phone when I am looking for that golden nugget of information. By tagging I could have filtered this out.

  • This idea for sticky tags seems like it may be useful for rare mass gatherings like SXSW but I can't see this to be anything more than a headache other times. Most of the time messages I post and I see others post to Twitter are random and inconsistent. In these normal circumstances having to send TWO messages to set the tags then send the tweet would be absurd.

    I like the idea but, for sticky tags, I can't see anything more than a conference tag to be actually useful AND easy to manage.

    Tagging IN the message might be useful but seems like a lot of overhead when we're already limited to 140 characters and not something I could see people actually starting to use. I don't ever wish I could filter out my friends posts. I never know what I'm interested in until I hear it -- that's the beauty of Twitter!

  • Because no one ever got confused by sticky tags in CVS! :)

    Though really this is the only possible version of tagging on twitter which could work, statuses tagged with inherited context.

    That said I think that features which need new syntax are going to appear very very slowly cf. groups.

    Thinking a capital A at the beginning of the line should clear all sticky tags.

  • Adding to my previous comments, I really like what karl said about making every word a tag. Why not? This would allow almost infinite flexibility with how the user would like to add tags to their content.

  • I concur and obviously this can't be a user created convention by something in the post. The 140 character limit would require the developers to add a field to the db if regular tagging was used, which given the past db issues at twitter might be unlikely. This might be more workable with the sticky tags method.

  • Do you know nanoformats? I'm working in this for a time. For example we are using some nanoformats to construct events and then transform to microformats (http://www.txioka.net/ekitaldiak.php is an example). Tag nanoformat exist an is used to give people the oportunnity to filter information.

  • @stoweboyd has been experimenting with the leading octothorpe as a tag indicator, used thusly: #tag

    I find that it looks kind of goofy, since I associate that character with a name of an IRC channel. That does suggest though the use of a # namespace where you could reasonably tag something with a tag like #a2b3 and then have a way to tune into everyone who used that tag recently (a la what you can do if you are a user and someone tags a post with @username).

  • I know this is quite an old post now, but at risk of sounding like comment spam, I wanted to mention a new Twitter app that we've recently launched which may be of interest to you - tweetertags.com lets you tag your Twitter profile, not individual tweets. The intention is to help you find, and be found by, people with similar interest on Twitter. Please check us out and we'd welcome any feedback to @tweetertags on Twitter.