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Page history last edited by Steve Ganz 14 years, 10 months ago


Steve Ganz


In 140 characters: 

Publish is microsyntax for publishing specific tweets using a control character like ('>') to other applications like Facebook ('>fb').



The idea behind Publish is that users want to publish only specific tweets to specific third-party applications individually instead of all or nothing.


Existing Implementation: 

One implementation of using a publish mark has been implemented in the Facebook application Selective Twitter. It uses the hashtag of '#fb' to designate specific tweets for publishing to a user's Facebook status.


It's been suggested that applications have used ('@') to direct tweets towards a certain account (need examples) which would, in turn, handle the publishing to the appropriate third-party site.




Since the hashtag ('#') is used to indicate a topic for the content of a specific tweet, and the content of a specific tweet might not necessarily be about the topic, it might be better to use a unique control character for the publish mark.


Using ('@') repurposes the existing standard of addressing a specific Twitter user and requires third-party applications to create an account to act explicitly as a middle man.


Alternative Suggestions:


Choosing a unique control character would eliminate the confusion inherent in using established control characters.


  • ('>')
    • Pros: User friendly, intuitive, easy to parse.
    • Cons: Not semantically correct, currently used to offset RT from comments.
  • ('|') 
    • Pros: Semantically correct.
    • Cons: Not intuitive, nearly impossible to distinguish from I.
  • }
    • Pros: Shows some directional movement towards the intended service; user friendly; easy to parse.
    • Cons: Somewhat ugly. The spacing between this character and other letters can be awkward.
  • ~
    • Pros: Unique. No prior use on Twitter.
    • Cons: ?


Each third-party application would be responsible for picking their own code to follow the control character.




  • LinkedIn
    • First day at the new job! >li
  • Facebook
    • Ack! Freaking out about my 10 year high school reunion this weekend. >fb
  • MySpace
    • Check out my band this Tuesday night at Slim's! >ms




Comments (4)

Stowe Boyd said

at 11:23 am on Jun 18, 2009

A few thoughts.

A number of folks have been using '>' to offset their own comments on RTs and REs, so this may be confused with that.

I think it might be good to have a clearly unambiguous way to indicate that a Tweet should be read by outside applications, but there is also a case to be made that the characterization of the type of information is a better way to go (for example $AAPL as a ticker for Apple make a tweet interesting to any application that wants to know about stock picks, or /JFK as a geo indicator would be interesting to any application concerned with location).

This may be a case where setting in external appliances work better. For example, I might set up an external bookmarking account, telling the application to watch my twitter stream for anything I produce with a URL in it, and to reuse all my hashtags and @username as tags in the bookmark repository. I could always delete unwanted bookmarks there, or possibly require one of a list of specific bookmarks to be present for the publishing to happen.

Steve Ganz said

at 1:31 pm on Jun 19, 2009

Point taken about prior use of ('>'). I will mark that as a con.

To be clear, this proposal describes a user initiated action that explicitly mark an individual tweet for publishing on a specific service regardless of the content of that tweet.

Chris Messina said

at 3:41 pm on Jul 11, 2009

I wonder if you should call this "pipe" or "piping". Of course you could use the pipe character ("|") to achieve this concept but it's not exactly visually suggestive, as you've pointed out.

What about a single bracket? }li }fb etc? It kind of shows direction and doesn't compete with the greater than symbol (">").

Steve Ganz said

at 11:12 am on Sep 15, 2009

Stowe suggests the "~" in his recent post "<a href="http://www.microsyntax.org/post/147620204/hashtags-for-routing">Hashtags for Routing?</a>". That might work too.

We're getting ready to make some recommendations here to developers at LinkedIn. I'd like to keep it to a single character if possible. Any other comments or suggestions?

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