Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmx DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Friday, 25 October 2013

How to send and receive web addresses via Twitter DM - break the URL - an imperfect fix

Simpler solution - use goo.gl as the URL shortener. Twitter seems to let these through no problem.

More at
How to skirt Twitter's restriction on links in DMs  
Tired of being told you can't send a link via direct message on Twitter? Me too!
by Jason Cipriani
@MrCippy
7 August 2014 10:24 pm BST

------- OLD INFORMATION, kept for historic interest ;) -------

1. Short version
2. More explanation
3. Glossary / terms used

1. Short version
Break the URL et http://www.google DOT co.uk and the other person can reconstruct the URL at the other end by replacing the DOT with a "." and joining the ends together. It's exactly the same as the good old days of writing REMOVE when publishing your email address on the web, eg jo.brodieREMOVE@fake-email-address.com to stop automated address scraping.

You need to position the DOTs and various bits in the address strategically so that what you send does not show up as a linked URL (ie it changes colour, usually to blue, as you type it and Twitter spots that it's an address). If it's gone blue Twitter has recognised that it's a link and won't send it in a DM. The game is to type the text of a link in such a way that it doesn't become hyperlinked.

Long broken URLs that no longer get the 'protection' of being considered as a nominal 18 characters can't be sent in this way, instead convert the URL into a short version (eg use TinyURL or is.gd to do so) and send that, but in a broken form.

Smartphone users will have to copy the text (either the broken URL or the entire tweet depending on the app they use) and wrangle the address either in Safari (for iPhone users) or in whatever notepad type of app is available (recommended).

2. More explanation
Can't send links via DM
Twitter appears to have disabled the option of letting people send DMs that contain web addresses. It's not clear if this is a glitch or a new policy to reduce those phishing spam messages which encourage people to click on a link, that then takes them to a (fake) Twitter login page.

Previously received links are treated with suspicion
Clicking on links in previously sent DMs takes you to a holding page with a message suggsting that the link might be dodgy (even on known-safe links) so it seems that the threshold for wariness is a bit high. Possibly this has arisen because Twitter is rolling out an option for people to opt in if they wish to let anyone send them DMs regardless of whether they are following those people (probably ideal for letting people DM utility companies without following them I think).

Fool Twitter into thinking your link is not a link
Whenever you begin to type a web address into Twitter it soon recognises it as an URL and automatically hyperlinks it, making it appear blue (colours may vary depending on your own colour scheme settings). In a test just now it kicked in as soon as I'd typed the last 'o' in http://www.google.co - Twitter will not send a real URL in a DM so you need to break the address in such a way that it doesn't try to turn it into a clickable link.

Typing http://www.google DOT co.uk didn't cause the URL to be hyperlinked (because it's a broken URL) but let me send that address to someone who could then 'splice' the two correct bits of the URL together and remove the DOT bit. For geneticists I imagine this is like exons and introns, for sound editors it's possibly a bit like de-umming a tape loop ;)

Handling longer addresses that make the tweet too long to send
Note that any URL sent via Twitter is given a standard 18 characters (no matter how long the actual web address is). When a longer URL is broken in this way Twitter can't 'autoshorten' it for you so really long addresses can't be sent. The only way round this that I can think of is to use one of the URL shortening services (see above) and then break that link to send, eg http://tinyurl DOT AbCd12

Smartphone users
It's a right fiddle and no mistake to wrangle an unclickable link on a smartphone. I use Echofon on iPhone and if there's no (apparent) link in a DM the only option available to me is to copy the entire tweet. To do this click on the tweet, let go, and the word Copy appears. Click 'Copy' and then you can either open up Safari, paste it into the address bar and delete out the irrelevant bits or open up the Notes app, paste it in there and edit with more ease. I can't think of a better way of doing this but if you know do please let everyone know in the comments.

Ironically I wrote this only last week about my irritation with Echofon's habit of truncating longer tweets with the TMI.me shortening service, sending people to a TMI page and wrecking any URLs sent in the tweets. Fortunately it's easy to switch off.

3. Glossary / terms used
Web address / URL (uniform resource locator) / link all refer to something like http://www.google.com

DM - direct message, often believed to be the same as a PM (private message) but one can never be entirely certain...

Hyperlinked means a clickable address.
http://www.google.com is unhyperlinked, but http://www.google.com is, as is this - Google.




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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).