Monthly Archives: August 2009

Why I Haven’t Been Twittering Much Lately

You may have noticed, fellow tweeps, that I’ve been kinda quiet on the twitters lately. It’s because I’m still annoyed, at both @twitter and myself, for losing the first 500 posts of my twittering life.

twitter-logoYou see, I knew, albeit in the back of my mind, about Twitter’s arbitrary 3,200 tweet history rule. That’s the rule that says no application that taps into the Twitter API, including the website itself, will let you go back any further than 3,200 posts. I’d heard that that was the limit, but somehow it didn’t really register with me and before I knew it, I was at just over 3,700 tweets.

So what happened to the first 500? Hell if I know. I’ve seen other blog posts that say they exist. Even Twitter’s own documentation supports this:

Clients may request up to 3,200 statuses via the page and count parameters for timeline REST API methods. Requests for more than the limit will result in a reply with a status code of 200 and an empty result in the format requested. Twitter still maintains a database of all the tweets sent by a user. However, to ensure performance of the site, this artificial limit is temporarily in place.

(While writing this blog post, I checked my Twitter page and now it claims I have 3,861 tweets. Except that I know for a fact that it was at 3,708 over the weekend. And I’ve only tweeted a handful of times this week. So what the hell is going on over there?)

Twitter needs to get its act together. Maybe if they hadn’t spurned Facebook, they could afford servers that weren’t held together by chicken wire and duct tape. If being able to request more than 3,200 posts (which, at 140 characters apiece, amounts to LESS THAN 1 whole megabyte) could potentially crash the system, than a DoS attack should be the least of their worries.

So getting back to what I knew and when I knew it…

There was a point in time that I could retrieve all my tweets. I paged backward through the site and got back to tweet #1. But did I do anything about it? Make any attempt to save them? Of course not. I figured they were there in the cloud for whenever I needed them. I didn’t realize that that wasn’t quite true.

And so we’re here today, with Twitter’s self-described “artificial limit” of 3,200 lousy tweets. Hey, I really can live without all the live-tweeting I did of Redskins games. But I’m missing most of last year, the year my daughter was born and all the firsts that go along with that. These are my memories, and I’d really like them back.

Sure, I have the photos, and a few blog posts from here of the things I’ve done with my kids, but I’m really a short-form type of person. I don’t keep journals, diaries or blogs up very well as my friends can attest to. But Twitter has been so convenient for me, always at hand on my iPhone, that I’ve used it to keep a de facto log of my life.

I’m pissed at Twitter for holding those memories hostage, and I’m pissed at myself for not taking action before it was too late to save those first 500 (600?) tweets.

So that’s why I’ve been down on Twitter lately. I’m not going to stop tweeting, but I am going to be a little bitter about all this until it’s rectified. And I’m taking steps to get my intellectual property from this point on onto my own equipment as well and not rely anymore on Twitter’s cloud.