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Page history last edited by Chris Messina 2 years, 9 months ago

This page is to gather some collective wisdom about Groups/Lists/Circles or whatever makes the most sense for using Twitter en masse. None of what is posting on this page is binding; instead, we should be collecting real-world use cases and not simply pie-in-the-sky scenarios.

If you have a lot to say, please blog your thoughts, tag it with 'twittergroups' add your post here.


Use cases

Invite-Only Groups

I work with nonprofit advocacy groups -- I think an invite-only groups deal ("only sending updates to friends," or some such) would be a really powerful tool for nonprofits -- it'd give their most passionate supporters the means to experience that famed Twitter "presence," to feel connected in real-time with each other and with the cause they support. I'd really love to see this happen; if there's anything I can do...

Buddy Lists of Friend Sets

  • It'd be great if I could send messages to a specific number of my friends, but not all of them. (Chris Messina)
    • Region/topical filtering of presence announcement: "I'm going to be at location X, anyone can join me" type messages. Specific example - "g PhillyFreelancers I'm working from cafe at 5th and south today come join me" in order to flash-mob a coworking/jelly event (Alex Hillman)
  • these would be scoped to individual users, like Pownce "Friend Sets". These are effectively personal mailing lists.
  • Sending Tweets to Tagged Groups of Followers
    • I'd like to send tweets to only a subset of my followers, based on a user-specified grouping.
    • One possible implementation for this:
      • Allow me to tag my followers, where each follower can have zero or more tags. Examples of tags: family, work, school, local, clients, partners
      • Allow me to send tweets only to followers who have been tagged a certain way, using a pre-defined messaging standard. For example: "g family Dinner tonight at our fave resto. 7.30pm sharp" (where g = group, as opposed to d = direct message)
      • Use my group tweet to automatically create direct messages that are sent to all followers who have been tagged accordingly.

Twitter for the workplace

Groups make it effective to use twitter for distributed groups in the workplace. We've been faking this with private mutually befriended twitter accounts, but a group would be nice so we wouldn't have to maintain separate twitter accounts for work. Take a look at my post.

Twitter for small groups

Create two kinds of friends: followers and contributors. Followers can do all the things current friends do; contributors can use a new command, say "post," to actually send out a tweet to all of *your* Twitter followers.

Public Groups or Channels

  • Idea: A public group would be accessible like Flickr groups and could be open or invite only. Posting to a group without privilege would send the message into a moderation queue, which would allow the group owner(s) to choose whether the message gets posted, similar to Google Group's moderation queue. Messages would be posted to groups in the same way that direct messages are sent, however, using the 'g' command instead of the 'd' command. Groups posts would show up in timelines of people who had subscribed to the group, but not to people who had merely subscribed to the person.
  • Idea: All groups are public, but merely provide a context for chatter, and a way to filter out tweets that you're not interested in, for example, from a specific event or conference. In that sense, they act more like tags or shared context.
    • for example, instead of messaging the BarCampBlock member with an @reply, people at the event could have added #barcampblock to their message to indicate the context or "channel" they were posting to. This would allow other people to filter out posts with #barcampblock from their timelines, minimizing chatter that they may not be interested in.
    • this idea allows groups to be formed on the fly and without any additional work. If #channel doesn't exist, merely creating a message with #channel in it will add it to the list of available channels and create a timeline/feed for posts that do have that channel in it.
    • this idea is actually a kind of ad-hoc tagging of content... except that the tag scope is global, rather than personal. Nonetheless, a message could be "sent to" or "tagged with" multiple channels: i.e. "The grid is open #barcamp #barcampblock."
    • piping tweets into an IRC channels using the hash convention (see below) would be an interesting use of this idea (credit to @bear) 

Filter Incoming Tweets

I don't so much want groups to tweet to. I want to group the feeds I'm following. For example, some people (scobelizer :-) tweet a lot. I want to make a "scobelizer" channel so that I can read all of Robert's stuff without having it intermingled with other people (and without losing all of the other people under scobelizer!)

Similarly, I really like following news feeds (Lifehacker, NY Time Science, Techmeme, ...) in Twitter. I never really got into RSS. But, again, the News feeds overwhelm what actual people are saying. I want to filter "News" in one group, "active people" in another, etc., etc.


  • If Twitter had groups, it'd be really important to be able to infer context from a message... i.e. is someone replying to what someone in a group said? Without shared context, Tweets will potentially make a lot less sense.
  • What would a message coming through/from a group look like when you receive it?

(well, since the 'group' is personal, I don't think it would change for anyone but for your own view)

i.e. I send: g sffriends Come down to Citizen Space tonight for IgniteSF!

and only people in my sffriends list get: "Come down to Citizen Space tonight for IgniteSF!"


  • Chris Messina proposed the use of hash (#) as a way to preface group names, similar to how @ is used to direct messages to twitter users. This convention comes from IRC notation and channel identification, as in #twitter or irc.freenode.net/#twitter. There was subsequently a great deal of support for this idea:
    • vanderwal @factoryjoe it works for me
    • atmasphere @factoryjoe works here... That's how Jaiku distinguishes channels
    • redmonk @factoryjoe: like irc - #channel - i like it
    • kastner @factoryjoe Awesome idea
    • bear @factoryjoe if that becomes the standard tag/group symbol I can then do a im filter bot
    • danrubin @factoryjoe seems logical. let's do it.
    • therealadam @factoryjoe Sounds sensible and familiar.
    • ddfreyne @factoryjoe #? Yum. IRC style! Awsum.
    • bru @factoryjoe: seems a good idea
    • luxuryluke @factoryjoe instead of #, can't we use ¶ or § or even ?
    • simplebits @factoryjoe Disco.
    • alexdc @factoryjoe using # for groups on Twitter, like on IRC? Brilliant!
    • CalebJenkins @factoryjoe : Twitter should let you mark a twitter account as a group. Then relay any d msg back out. Like they did for appleone.
    • stephtara @factoryjoe using # for a group makes sense to me (but are we talking of flickr-groups or buddy-groups)?
    • kosso @factoryjoe - when I tried doing other characters and letters for groups like @gnomenet, twitter barfed on them, oddly.
    • ajturner @factoryjoe #group it goes well with the established IRC channel concept, which are usually built around groups
    • lmorchard @factoryjoe: Using # for groups seems like a not-bad idea. I'd still like to see more tag-like contexts too
    • strimble @factoryjoe: I like the idea of using # for groups. It reminds me of IRC.
    • dweezel @factoryjoe I think that the '@' works fine. For twitter, can a w/friends feed be considered a group? You get all user msgs + replies
    • cervus @factoryjoe #groups would be grand, and /c/ or /chan/ or /channel/ for URLs. irc-like lingo, i like. plus similar to jaiku, which i adore ;)
    • raines @factoryjoe I like pound as a "channel" designation for groups. I assume we're talking Twitter as context here?
    • alabut @factoryjoe what an AWESOME idea for forming Twitter groups. That could be a much-needed feature that takes off grassroots style like replie
    • jauderho @factoryjoe # is fine. See the thread on Satisfaction. http://urltea.com/191i
    • Vicki But, now we're using # for hashtags. That's not groups.


  • Twapper Groups - twapper allows you to create and direct message your own groups by simply stringing together twitter usernames with the plus sign. twapper?u=user_a+user_b+user_c
  • Tweetworks - Tweetworks makes tweeting more useful by tuning out the noise and letting you participate in the conversations that interest you most. With free flowing topical groups (both public and private) and threaded conversations Tweetworks has moved the focus from the artificial follower/followee relationships and placed in back on what matters. The Conversation.
  • Tweetboard - A twitter-powered microforum. Tweetboard reformats tweets into threaded conversations with unlimited nesting, making it significantly easier to follow actual discussions that are occurring on Twitter. Tweetboard is not a destination website, but an application that loads on your website.
  • Twitter Groups - This site uses the Twitter API to allow users to create groups for the purpose of sending a group message. This is done by sending a direct message to each person in the group. It was created to try to address this "need" and see how many people would actually want to use such a mechanism.
  • Twinester - Twinester lets you create or join groups and communities for Twitter.

    These groups are called Nests.

  • iReachable CAMP  - This site uses Twitter API to show updates by members of a community. For beta version - hand full of citiy/metro based CAMPs are available. Expect more choices and more automated way of adding your CAMPs/circles/communities as implementation makes progress. Though the site says 'SFO Bay area', it is open to all to view twitter updates of each listed CAMP. The site also show cases a mini chatter box for those on the site wishing to have regular Web based chat with others on the site. Works for IE. Needs some html/css fixup for FireFox presentation. Any comments/feedback are most welcome.
  • twitTangle Networks

Comments (1)

Pallian said

at 8:16 pm on Mar 15, 2009

Take a look at Tweetizen: http://www.tweetizen.com/ - Twitter grouping made real simple!

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