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Twitter Threading- What & How

The Twitter Timeline

When using Twitter, what you see is the public timeline which is arranged according to time, not according to relevance meaning person A says something and person B responds 12 minutes later, but there is no visual association between the two because the arrangement is by timestamp. This can make it difficult to visualize conversations and for people interacting with hundreds of others simultaneously can cause extreme attention deficit. There are multiple ways to visualize threading and you may be surprised at which one I think is best.

Quotably is a service that proclaims to “bring order to Twitter” but I’ve held of for DAYS in publishing this article in hopes that it wouldn’t look like this:

Before all the geeks riot and say “you’re an idiot!” just relax- I’m now well aware that Quotably has been replaced by Summize. “Lani, you’re still an idiot!” the geeks say- again, relax… I’m also aware that Summize has been replaced by Twitter search which is built into Twitter, I’m getting there. So Quotably is no longer around, but according to several sources (who recommended I check it out despite it’s non-existence, thanks guys) it was among the most slick threading options around.

Tweet Scan

TweetScan is awesome for searching for terms that have been used in the public timeline but despite what some people think, it’s not a threading tool, it’s just a search tool (but is awesome because you can set up alerts for when someone mentions you).


Tweader is the newest toy on the market and shows tweets in the public timeline as they relate to each other. The good is that Tweader offers options on viewing- you can see them as bubbly, plain or otherwise so visualization is customizable. The bad is that it seems quite inaccurate. I think Tweader is pretty but there is a better option. The conversation below implies that these topics pertained to each other, but there are tweets missing, out of order and down right non-topical:

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The Winner Is:

I know it’s crazy to look to the original source for the best options, but Twitter has built in threading now in their search (formerly that seem to be the most accurate (although not 100%, it’s not psychic) and easy to read, just compare the image below with the image above and you’ll see how the conversation REALLY went (Christoph got spit on by a stranger in Vegas, in case the conversation makes no sense):

The bottom line is that there are many options out there to visualize your conversations which is useful for mental organization and reputation management, but for the best option, I like the original source! This is a great way for agents AND consumers alike to learn more about a neighborhood, community event or news topic! What real estate uses do YOU see for threading?

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. The Mudflap

    September 25, 2008 at 8:38 am

    I was just trying to figure this out yesterday. It looks like is DOA. I didn’t know about Twitter actually threading tweets. Thanks for the info!!!

  2. Nick Bastian

    September 25, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Serious? Chris got spit on? How the heck did I miss THAT? Guess I need to learn how to follow along more closely. Thanks for the info! 🙂

  3. Todd

    September 25, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Here’s me bring controversy to this post ( sans accusations of idiotcy leveled at anyone ):

    “Twitter is not am Instant Messaging service!”

    By publicly conducting long back-and-forth conversations using the @ reply, are we polluting the utility Twitter provides, causing our followers to page through “conversations” that should have happened in IM or via Direct Messages?

    Many think that the new “groups” feature inside the secret version of Twitter being beta tested right now will address this supposed “pollution problem”, but for the moment should we limit ourselves to just one @ reply per day? Two? Are long @ reply conversations inside Twitter really “pollution”?

  4. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    September 25, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Scott- it’s amazing how many people on Twitter suggested privately that Quotably was the best threading service. It’s been out for months (you’d think they’d have it redirected).

    Nick- It’s hard to follow along while at conferences, there’s too much!

    Todd- Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s controversial what you’ve said nor is it a new argument. There are many schools of thought regarding Twitter (none of which were discussed in the article, this was simply an article to point out tools for others) but I will address for you anyhow (keeping in mind that there is no set formula for Twitter use and the community is already existing which makes behavior change difficult):

    School of Thought #1: Twitter IS an instant messaging service. Some people don’t like it being used as such and the amazingly wonderful feature of Twitter is the “unfollow” button. Many people follow along only while they are physically at their computer dedicated to Twitter and carry on many conversations while there and cross-pollenating groups of “friends.” In this theory, users are connectors and introduce each other to their other friends and grow their networks by being a resource. Some consider that “pollution.”

    School of Thought #2: Twitter is ONLY for updating what someone is doing at that moment and should be limited to hourly updates. It is not for discussions (or “instant messaging”) rather so others can be voyeurs in one anothers’ lives. Then, if there is a connection made and person A can get person B to follow them so they can direct message, a conversation is held in private.

    I personally subscribe to the first school of thought and do a great deal of business on Twitter. I have as many direct messages as I do public updates, I handle much of what I do in private but continue to speak publicly. In private, a real estate blogger asked me the other day, “who the hell are all these random people you’re talking to, they’re not even important in real estate!” My response was “many of them are in Austin, I’m here to communicate with people in AND out of real estate, but most importantly people IN OUR MARKET.” There was no response.

    Regardless of anyone’s school of thought and the belief that a threading tool or a grouping mechanism will change others’ behaviors, it doesn’t matter- Twitter is voluntary and when someone’s too loud or they bash your candidate, there’s an awesome little “unfollow” button- don’t you wish there was one of those in real life!?!?

  5. Kim Wood

    September 25, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Thanks, Lani. I have tried many different applications, but didn’t even hear of Quotably or Tweader! The hardest part is when you are trying to pick up in the middle or when you had to leave and return – *if* you follow too many people.

    Todd…. do people really just want to know what you are doing? Engaging others in conversation…. If everyone always just spouted off what they were doing it would be all talking at once. Now, if your key to your comment is “long back and forth conversations” one on one, ok – take it to SKYPE, DM or somewhere else. However, many times it is a group of people @engaging in conversation together. (you knew someone had to go here, lol 🙂

  6. Renae Bolton

    September 25, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Lani, does this thread feature only work if you’re using the search capability in Twitter?

    Todd – I’m new to Twitter (as in 1 week ago yesterday I opened my account) so maybe I’m misguided in my views. The Twitter users seem to have picked up on the potential and changed Twitter from the “what are you doing right now” application that it started out as into more of a “what can I do to connect you to someone” application. The only way that can happen is through genuine conversation. We talked about engagement vs. visibility yesterday and I met some people that I probably otherwise would not have met, had it not been for that conversation.

    Conversation is what connects people – not one or two daily updates. Daily updates don’t intrigue me. The fact that a grown man likes Cap’n Crunch Boo Berries does.


  7. Paula Henry

    September 25, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Lani – I guess I just don’t get the whole Twitter thing. I do like the idea Benn had about using it to for neighborhoods, but haven’t quite figured it out. I’ll go check in again and see if I can make more sense of the conversations now that they are threaded.

    It’s great knowing I can come here and you, the Twitter Queen, will update me on everything new 🙂

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