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 gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Monday, 4 November 2013

Three fairly cool things you can do on Twitter (apart from tweet, obviously)

Today I read a post that suggested that clickbait is a good thing. Having always thought it was a bad thing I've had to re-adjust my view of it in light of this ;)

I thought I'd have a go at funnelling you in to read some interesting stuff about Twitter and at the end there are some other useful bits and pieces so hopefully no-one will feel too ill done by if you clicked and then wish you hadn't.

Edit: I've included a bit of music to cheer you on your way, it's got a bit in it that makes me think of that nice feeling you get when you solve a problem (you can buy the original here).

Cool stuff you can do on
- the website version. You can do most of it on third party apps too anyway, but the instructions are written for browsers.

1. Monitor what people are saying about your brand, website or blog
If your website is you can type (don't use the http:// bit) or even just widgets in to Twitter's search and find tweets that have included it - it doesn't even matter if people have shortened the link (or if Twitter's auto-shortened the URL) it will still show up.

For example I can see if anyone links to this blog simply by searching for the word brodiesnotes on Twitter as it brings up any link to or or any other Blogger variant of my blog's address. Doesn't matter which post they link to, because they all contain the word brodiesnotes.

If you want to share a link to an organisation but want to keep it quiet from them use the Do Not Link URL shortener 'wrapper' which sets up a free redirect.

2. Find old conversations, going back several years
If you know who sent a tweet you can use the search term from:jobrodie (if it was from me) - no need to include the @ symbol when it's preceded by the from: operator. If you know who it was sent to you can add in the @name as well, or just search for the @name to find lots of tweets sent to that person.

For example from:jobrodie @chi_med shows all the tweets that I've sent mentioning my work account (make sure you've clicked on 'All' rather than 'Top'). The reverse, from:chi_med @jobrodie would show all the ones mentioning me.

Sometimes people ask a question on Twitter and get lots of great answers - they might retweet a few then say something like 'check my mentions to see other examples'. Although this is pretty easy in third party smartphone apps this search format is the way to do it on

You can also play around with the Advanced Search options (see the suggested search operators you can use) or search off-site at (it's amazing) and, if a tweet's been favourited or RTed a lot, you might find it at Favstar.

2a. Find old tweets that you or pals have sent
A variant of the above. Search for a keyword, then make sure you click on the 'People you follow' option and you can go back several years seeing tweets people you follow have sent containing it.

If it's your own tweets you're after your best bet is to request your full archive from Settings.

3. Remove annoying spam, or people, from conversations including hashtagged threads
Whenever a conversation picks up momentum or a hashtag starts to trend spammers start sending out tweets with the hashtag in them to try and get their websites under your eyeballs. Chances are they'll be using the same website domain - so you can set up a search to remove it.

This involves using the '-' (minus) operator.

#hashtag will search for any tweet containing the hashtag but which doesn't contain the shortened URL (much used by spammers).

• See also Thwarting spammers on hashtag livetweeted events

If someone is sending you unwanted messages it's quickest to block them, but if doing so is likely to escalate things you can simply view your messages by searching for...

@YourTwitterUsername -from:AnnoyingPerson 

...then choose 'All' to see all tweets sent to you that haven't come from the annoying person.

Other useful things on Twitter
1. Send links in DMs 
Break the link, so that Twitter doesn't know it's a link. Twitter has a habit of linkifying anything that starts to look link-like, so as you type in a tweet it's probably already turned it blue. If you type leave a space and type then Twitter doesn't 'see' a link, doesn't hyperlink it, and it will be sendable in a DM. Your recipient will need to knit the URL together again.

Bear in mind that Twitter allows a link of any length to take up a standard 18 characters. If our broken link is a lot longer than that then you may need to use an URL shortener first (eg tinyurl) and then break the resulting short link, eg http://tinyurl    .com/YourURL

• See also How to send and receive web addresses via Twitter DM - break the URL - an imperfect fix
• Further also-ing Useful posts about Twitter - a collection

2. Avoid the new pictures autopreview
Twitter just started doing this last week, easily avoidable in third party apps, so far a bit trickier if you're on Easiest solution is to use Chrome and download a plugin and edit it according to the instructions here. If you use AdBlock you can tweak the settings there too.

Other useful sites that have nothing to do with Twitter
Fairly useful pages on the internet

Includes online timer, file converter, Freezepage (to capture a page as it is now) and, if you're feeling a bit under the weather you might like to bookmark this 'Oral Rehydration Solutions' instructions page for those awkward diarrhoea-y times.


  1. What a great collection of tips - I'd not realised you could do most of them!

    Thanks for sharing :)



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).