App.net And Twitter #Winning – How To Post From One T’Other
So we all know about the recent Twitter authorogimptardery issues. You Will Conform Or Else You Will Be Randomly Banned – and the screeching, and the blocking, and so on. I won’t go into all that here, you can just read this.
Anyway, I for one had enough of all that guff, and wandered off Twitter onto to app.net. Others did too. As I see it, App.net is basically the same as Twitter, but without having (yet) encountered all the problems of Twitter :
- You follow / are followed, you post stuff, there are DMs, hashtags, news feeds, cat videos and so on.
- There is no automated “Report Abuse”; there is no “auto-suspend”; there is mute, and block, and a human support team. That’s it.
- There is no central interface or “product” as with Twitter. The idea is, the API is deliberately open; devs are encouraged to write apps for it, rather than in Twitter where they’re actively crippled (e.g. by the barely-operable API refresh rate).
- So there’s a default web page interface, but you’ll want to play with some apps also. There are loads; I won’t list here, there’s a big section on the app.net front page (top-right when you’re logged in). I use the web interface in Windows, because I’m odd like that, and “Dash” in Android. “Robin” is good also, but a bit crashy.
- If you want to follow more than 40 people, you (currently) have to pay $36/year. I paid; personally I think that a paying customer is an entirely different proposition from blue-tick-following Twitter cattle supporting ad revenue. And the response/tone of app.net to their customers would seem to support that view. Remember to use an anonymous credit card though (that’s another story…).
- There are some neat additional functions like “DM rooms” that can have more than 2 people.
- You can’t ‘protect your account’.
- Posts can be 256 characters. Soon, for the equivalent of DMs, it will be 2048 char.
- You can, astonishingly, contribute collaboratively to the actual site terms and conditions. Obviously you can’t just edit them, but it appears to be an entirely rational peer-and-lawyer-reviewed process.
- etc. Try it, for free.
So there we are. I’m there now, and separately Twitter continues to screech itself into the ground.
But that’s a shame, innit. I kept a dummy Twitter a/c open to read news feeds not (yet) on app.net; and there’s no reason, I guess, not to want to spout my foul reprehensible bile onto Twitter also until I get perma-banned *tin-foil hat face*. I just don’t want the screeching there in my face; I want a separate and calm independent uncensored forum to look at. Like Twitter used to be.
Consequently, I figured out how to post from app.net to Twitter in some sort of automated fashion. (BTW you can’t do that backwards; you used to be able to, but Twitter explicitly killed that. I do this by hand.)
Here’s how. This is not the only way, I expect, but it appears to work.
1) Use IFTTT. “If This Then That”. This is a free cross-platform message-post function; which essentially just joins up an “If This” being something like “If I Post On App.Net”, to a “Then That” e.g. “Copy The Post That I Made Onto Twitter Also”. It does all sorts of other crap too that I myself don’t care about, e.g. Facebook and LinkedIn.
It really is that simple; you click a big button with the word “If” on it and then the big “App.net” button, etc.. And there are lots of example “recipes”.
This, then, can do things like IF I make an app.net post with hashtag #ifttt THEN post it on my Twitter but without the #ifttt tag.
However – there are some limitations.
i) The syntax of cross-posts is a bit limited. You can’t do “@”s, e.g. replies or user IDs; that character just gets stripped out, and so the Twitter post in that case is a bit odd.
ii) If your app.net post is more that 140 char, which it may well be, it just gets truncated.
iii) Unless you crank the handle manually, the cross-posts are flushed every 15 minutes (so it’s a bit hard to hold a one-on-one conversation).
All of these, I assume, are due to IFTTT having some formal agreement with Twitter whereby Twitter don’t randomly dick up the posting (see below…) in exchange for IFTTT derogating some of the obvious post functionality.
2) Use http://twapp.phuu.net/. This is an “app” in the basic app.net sense; and it is one whose function simply posts onto Twitter. You have to select things like do you cross-post replies, what to do with 140+ posts, and so on, but the options are quite simple.
It’s a one-off $5 payment; then you get taken through a simple series of one or two pages to link up your Twitter and to select your choices.
There are a number of plus points to the nominal service this provides, compared to IFTTT.
i) The cross-posting, is straightaway.
ii) There are no syntax limitations (e.g. @ replies).
iii) Long posts are handled.
However – the reliability is a bit hit-and-miss. About 1/3 of posts just randomly don’t cross over. This is somewhat improved if you don’t post “often” – exact statistics tbd. My guess is that this is due to Twitter deliberately hobbling 3rd-party functions like this; Twapp is just a random 3rd-party flinging randon guff at Twitter, whereas I estimate that IFTTT isn’t.
So what do I actually do? I use both of these concurrently. Because the combination of both, works nicely. So far. Subject to any better apps turning up. (BTW there was a really nice one called Ost https://www.useost.com that would display app.net and Twitter at the same time in a browser, but it’s not maintained any more and the core posting function is borked.)
I have set them up; they simply exist, silently, doing their thang.
- I have an IFTTT function like this. .
Basically, IF app.net post with “#i” in it THEN put it on Twitter. I use this for most cross-posting; and if I can be arsed I refresh it live, but mostly I can’t be arsed so the posts just go off en-masse every 10-15 min or so. I also remember not to use this for posts with “@” and/or ones that are especially long.
- I also have a Twapp going like this.
Any post with “#tw” in it (note, different tag from the IFTTT one), goes straight to Twitter; long, and/or @’d, or otherwise. I don’t use this so often, because this appears to help the random-fail-rate, but I do use it for certain cross-posts that require the particular syntax to be complete.
I sit in app.net because it doesn’t drive me mental; I post across quite often to Twitter; sometimes I look in to Twitter to read some news feeds.
You can see what happens in practice by comparing my Twitter feed – all of these posts are from this cross-post method – and by getting into my feed on app.net (actually it’s an RSS of my feed, you need to register (for free) to see it in the regular app.net interface).
.. that’s it.
Try it, see what you think. Any better ideas, let me (or the hive-mind in general) know.
UPDATE (thanks @TabithaBrowne) : Key thing is automated. From any client, feed, OS etc., seamlessly. You can, in some iPhone app.net clients (presumably other iOS ones also), post/RT manually from app.net into Twitter. Don’t know about any limitations on syntax, or reliability. TweetLanes in Android permits app.net and Twitter accounts at the same time.