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Why I built plaintweet - A minimal Twitter

tl;dr: Twitter is amazing but it has too much clutter. I built a distraction free, minimal twitter app for web - plaintweet.

Twitter is amazing in a lot of ways. While I still hold it as one of the main reasons for personal blogs almost disappearing, it still has many positives. It is probably the only platform where you can talk to anyone and sometimes even get replies from people you look up to.

But there's a problem...

There's way too much distraction. Distraction in the form of ads, irrelevant content and algorithm intervention. And to a small extent, personal bias (more on this later).

Problem 1: Curated home feed

You open Twitter and you usually never the most recent tweets. Even if you change the settings to show recent tweets, it goes back to algorithmic feed. Twitter wants you to see what it thinks is best for you.

Every social media app over time becomes a feed curation platform. Google had Google Reader and later they decided that RSS (and open internet) is not great for ads, so they killed it.

Twitter used to have tweets in reverse chronological order but then decided to move to a curated feed by default.

The best conversations happen when you see the most recent tweets for a few reasons:

  1. The author just posted the tweet and is likely to interact with you if you reply
  2. You are one of the earliest to reply, so your reply gets a bigger reach
  3. Timing is key (ex: when you see tweets about a current event)

Problem 2: Content you did not signup for

You follow people to hear what they say. But you don't see just their tweets, you also see their replies and tweets that they have liked or retweeted. While this is helpful sometimes (find new content, people etc), it doesn't help you to focus and connect with the people you follow because now you have way too many things showing up in your feed.

Problem 3: Clutter

There are ads (Twitter needs to make money). There are trends which don't change frequently and you probably don't need to see them. There is so many things going on which makes the website slow and your whole computer becomes slow.

Problem 4: Bias

When we browse the feed, there are images or profile pictures we subconsciously recognize and pay more attention to while ignoring many other people we follow. We don't do this intentionally. That's just how our brain works. Due to this, we miss some really good tweets from people we follow.

I found that these were few things that kept me from actively consuming and interacting with people.

To solve this, I read a few articles (like Twitter Minimalism) and created a few rules for myself. And I made a super light web app (free) with those rules so you can also get the best out of Twitter.

Here are the rules:

  1. Most recent tweets first
  2. Only original tweets. No retweets, likes or replies.
  3. No images, videos or link previews. Just plain old HTML links.
  4. No user profile image, so you let your subconscious mind filter tweets
  5. No ads

Apart from this, I wanted the app to be very minimal:

  1. Plain text
  2. No JavaScript and no tracking
  3. Light and Dark themes

So the final output turned out like this:

plaintweet: home feed - dark theme
plaintweet: mentions - light theme

You can try the app from here: plaintweet. It is completely free. If you like it, please share the word.