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Ellipses For Continued Messages

Page history last edited by Stowe Boyd 14 years, 10 months ago


Stowe Boyd


In 140 characters:

Ellipses can be used to indicate a series of Tweets are parts of an extended message.




This is a reuse of the ellipsis in everyday writing. A user may be nearing the end of the 140 character limit, and will then use an ellipsis to indicate that the message will continue on to another message:


"It's odd how often I find that I need just a few more characters when getting to the end of a message. I should write a post about ..." 


which would be followed by a second post (presumably a few seconds later) with a starting ellipsis:


"... how to squeeze a few characters out by reorganizing the grammar"


Tweets in the middle of a series will have an opening and closing ellipsis.


Details and Use Cases:


If the message is being directed to someone explicitly, the opening ellipsis in the second and subsequent messages should follow the user name:


@ev ... and that's all I have to say about that


A closing ellipsis should be the last thing on the line, even if the tweet has hashtags and URLs:


It's odd how often I find that I need just a few more characters when getting to the end of a message. I should write a post #oddities ... 


Comments on Application Integration


One notion is that smarter Twitter clients could shuffle together continued messages, making them appear as if they were longer than 140 characters. And likewise, could allow users to automatically create longer messages and parcel them into continued messages.




I have seen others use 'cont' or 'cont... like @fittorrent


Liana Lehua (fittorrent) on Twitter


but I think this just requires unnecessary characters.


I also have seen '(cont'd)'  '... cont' 'cont.' and a lot of other variants, all of which waste characters, too.


Note" Twitter search doesn't find "..." so it is hard to judge how common its use is.

Comments (11)

Andy Mabbett said

at 2:33 am on Jun 8, 2009

This page uses three full stops ("...") for an ellipsis, but there is also an ellipsis character ("…") which I often use on Twitter.

Amy Unruh said

at 12:32 pm on Jun 9, 2009

I have also seen people use a (n/m) convention to indicate a continuation, e.g. (1/3).
I've also seen ellipses used as just a conversational style, *not* indicating a continuation. (okay, I have been known to do that-- http://twitter.com/amygdala/status/2075580369 -- but I've seen it elsewhere too.)

npdoty said

at 12:35 pm on Jun 9, 2009

+1 on Amy's point that some people use the ellipsis to simply elide or to trail off their tweets, not to sign a continuation.

emsenn said

at 12:59 pm on Jun 9, 2009

I agree with Amy, and more, I think that for something to really succeed as a way to markup something, it can't be mistaken for something else. When you see RT, you know what it means. When you see @<username>, you know what that means. But ...? Are they trailing off, or continuing a post?

Stowe Boyd said

at 1:20 pm on Jun 9, 2009

Amy - The problem with numbering the tweets is that you have to know at the beginning how many tweets in all are involved. If a client is doing it for you, fine, but for a general purpose microsyntax, it has usability problems. I agree that ellipses are used for other purposes, but in the worst case, no great problem is created, because the proposal states that a continued tweet has to start with a leading ellipsis too, which is a convention not currently in use for other purposes.

Stowe Boyd said

at 1:28 pm on Jun 9, 2009

PS The use of ellipses at the end of sentences is deprecated in English style, implying a kind of 'breathiness' but imparting no great meaning, like an exclamation mark or a period. So we aren't colliding with some well established convention in English.

Stowe Boyd said

at 1:28 pm on Jun 9, 2009

I'd like to see someone write up a proposal for the n/m convention.

Stowe Boyd said

at 9:17 pm on Jun 9, 2009

npdoty@ischool.berkeley.edu created an edit in which he appended this:

"I've seen [N] put at the end of a string of N tweets to judge how common its use is. tell readers and clients that they should be combined together. See http://twitter.com/greenberg/status/2025118788. @greenberg has his website automatically do the concatenation when showing his most recent tweet."

I really don't understand what this means, and I am not sure that it is related tot he use of "..." or other possible methods of indicating continuation of messages. I will ask him/her to clarify.

Bill Roberts said

at 11:00 am on Jun 21, 2009

Is there a need for any special syntax here? (On the principle of keeping things as simple as possible). Firstly, the whole point of twitter is that posts should be short. If you can't get your message into 140 characters, you should probably write a blog post and link to it. Secondly, if you do insist on a message that takes more than one tweet, you can simply write consecutive tweets on the same topic. I don't see any added value in having a convention for a continuation.

Stowe Boyd said

at 2:03 pm on Jun 21, 2009

Except these mechanisms keep naturally occurring, so it seems like people perceive a need to indicate continuation.

Jodee Rich said

at 7:14 pm on Jul 12, 2009

The challenge here is how to reassemble the tweets - particulalry 3 or 4 part posts -the n/m works in the following stream and we have been trialing it for 6 months on PeopleBrowsr. As users become more and more focussed on search streams the annoying problem is a search engine will only return a fragment of the multipart tweet. We have thought about solving this problem by treating the 2nd and 3rd.. parts as a reply thread.

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