My sad little irritation with Twitter

June 1, 2010

I have a confession: every so often, Twitter irritates me. To be honest, there's a bunch of sources of this specific irritation besides Twitter, but Twitter is the most frequent one.

The irritation is that Twitter effectively hides information on who is linking to WanderingThoughts entries. In most linking and re-blogging environments, some amount of this information shows up in the Referer headers of incoming HTTP requests. Even if the Referer URL doesn't give you the exact entry where someone linked to you, it will usually tell you who the person was so you can go read their blog or whatever and pick it out yourself.

Not with Twitter. With Twitter, the Referer is generally just a generic ''. I assume that this is because Twitter does the Web 2.0 thing of making their front page into your main page if you're logged in, so you stay on it when you read the stream of your friend's tweets and then follow interesting looking links.

(Facebook does this too, but they have the good excuse that the update that's linking to you isn't publicly visible. In most cases, the Twitter tweet will be publicly visible; you could see it if you just knew where it was or who had made it. And while Google Reader also does this, they're more towards the private than the public side of things.)

On the global scale of things, this is a sad little irritation, especially since keeping track of links to ones blog entries is close to egosurfing. But there it is.

(I suspect that this link-source-hiding is only going to get more common in the future, especially as people are starting to wake up to how much information can leak out in the Referer header.)

Comments on this page:

From at 2010-06-02 03:21:58:

I doubt they’ll be waking up to anything. Talk about the information that the Referer header reveals has been around for at least 15 years, and it hasn’t really influenced much in that time.

Aristotle Pagaltzis

From at 2010-06-02 04:42:47:

There's a wordpress plugin that add tweets of a post as comments, so the information is available somehow.


Written on 01 June 2010.
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Last modified: Tue Jun 1 23:43:54 2010
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