Twitter Jail
Thanks Krishna Sadasivam from pcweenies for drawing this awesome comic!

Lately this term is becoming increasing used within the Twitterverse (at least in my circles). Twitter Jail means you maxed out your status updates for a period of time/a day (I think these are two separate things, though not 100% sure), OR you maxed out your number of Direct Messages (DMs) for the day.

(Edit: as far as I discovered, Twitter Jail occurs when you update your status more than 100 times per hour or 1000 times per day and can last any time between 30 minutes and several hours. For me it’s usually 2 hours).

Once this happens – usually in the midst of a conversation – you find out that you can’t talk anymore. Can happen both using standards tweets or DMs.

I imagine this was created to deal with spammers who would send 15,000 tweets in 10 minutes. I doubt it was meant to limit very talkative users – since what’s to stop someone from just unfollowing them? I see no reason to limit that.

Lately because of my increasing number of friends I find myself almost daily in ‘Twitter Jail’ for a period of time. This is very frustrating, because here I am, chatting to multiple friends, and suddenly I can’t reply – to anyone. From their perspective, I simply vanished. Usually I send them all DMs, but it’s becoming a really annoying daily situation. Sometimes it happens when I’m not even talking that much. I guess Christmas, with all the ‘Merry Xmas’ messages made this temporary worse (for me) and triggered writing this post.

As an ex profsesional software developer and architect I cannot but speculate, again, that this was done mainly to prevent spamming. However, wouldn’t it be best to limit the number of links that are sent, rather than the tweets? Since spammers mainly send URLs, by limiting only the number of tweets that include them it would really just target spammers. Then they can talk as much as they want but won’t get any sales… though I’d still have a limit, just make it much greater (say, 5 times as high).

Furthermore, if it were my system, I would set the limits according to the age of users: clearly a spammer is more likely to be a new user since sooner or later he’d be suspended. Unlike, for example, a user that has been a Twitter user for 2 years who would be far less likely to be a spammer. There’s no reason for the two to be treated the same.

Finally, I also think the limits should be set according to the number of people who follow a user: if someone has a million followers and wanted to respond to each, he’d be thrown very quickly to Twitter jail. Ridiculous in my opinion. If you have more people to talk to, you should be able to converse more. Isn’t that the whole point of Twitter – interaction?

These are just my 2 cents on the subject. If this ever gets to someone in the Twitter team, hopefully they will find it constructive criticism, which is my intent.

edit: I am amazed how searched this topic is. A large percentage of visitors to my blog look for information about Twitter Jail. As a result, I wrote a sequel post which deals with visitors who are interested in Twitter Jail.

edit 2: since writing these two posts I actually discovered yet a third type of Twitter Jail: Twitter Jail: Yet Another Type…. They never stop coming with ideas, do they..


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