Published: Sun, April 02, 2017
Research | By Elizabeth Houston

More room to reply: Twitter excludes usernames from its 140-character limit

More room to reply: Twitter excludes usernames from its 140-character limit

The current update confirms that usernames won't be counted towards the character count and tweets won't start with usernames too, which will appear above the tweet.

Instead, the usernames will appear above the tweet text rather than within the tweet text itself thereby getting rid of the rather ugly-looking situation where a text chain reply is just full of names. This update is rolling out now on as well as on Twitter for iOS and Android. The company will now let users express in more than 140 characters.

For example, if you hit reply to join an ongoing tweet conversation involving three people, you could only reply to one or two of those people if you wanted, or all three. And after making promises for a year, Twitter is finally easing the character limit and making the users jubilant.

Change is the only constant in life, but we're not sure if the changes Twitter is bringing to the platform are heading in the right direction. The latest software modification at the one-to-many messaging service comes about a year after Twitter set out to relax a 140-character limit set due to mobile phone text messaging constraints in place when Twitter launched in 2006.

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In addition to expanding your available characters, Twitter believes that it will be easier to follow conversations when you are no longer distracted by repetitive usernames. Now the username will not be counted against the 140-character limit. In the last fiscal quarter, the company added just 2 million monthly users to end the year with 319 million, and in the US, the monthly user number was flat. Now, the handle is moved above the reply in a new line that says "replying to [insert handle]". Twitter soon adopted and formalized the convention, and co-founder Ev Williams explained its intricacies in a 2008 blog post. Excluding them from the reply is as easy as unchecking the box next to their username. The problem was, other elements that cluttered a tweet, such as GIFs, links, and other various media, counted to the total word count, leaving very little room for thoughtful input.

Twitter Product Manager Sasank Reddy said that the initial feedback was promising - "people engage more with conversations on Twitter", he said - but that there's work to be done.

Twitter has redesigned its reply system today by eliminating usernames counting against the 140-character count of replies with a new format that may be more confusing.

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