The direct message system on Twitter is a mess. The more people you follow, especially in any kind of automated fashion, the more spam, mass marketing messages, irrelevant junk and good, old-fashioned weirdness you attract to your inbox. And while it’s admirable to follow others on Twitter so they can contact you via this method, the work involved in managing all that noise to find any signal of worth verges on a full-time job.
For some, especially those who follow thousands of users, the alternative is to simply ignore everything that is sent to them via DM. That’s not a positive outcome for anybody.
Ideally, Twitter would scrap the direct message feature and start over, building something that worked a lot more like email. Facebook’s private messaging system isn’t world-class, but it’s significantly better than what we have on Twitter. Being able to group more than one person into private Twitter conversations would be worth the price of admission alone. It would also be nice if we weren’t limited to 160 characters.
Alternatively, this is a fantastic opportunity for a really creative app coder. I’d love to see somebody port all that direct message API over to a standalone Twittermail website that worked a bit like Gmail, and gave us labels, starring, threading and – vitally – a spam filter, then I think they’d be sitting on a product that was valuable enough to warrant a (modest) price tag.
An intelligent spam filter (that came with its own folder) would be huge. Like Gmail (or Akismet), the filter would have built-in knowledge, and learn from the Twitter collective about repeat offenders, bots and trolls. You’d also be able to tailor the filter to your own liking. You’d switch off your DM notifications from Twitter, and manage everything at your new favourite website.
Hey, maybe this could even be ported into Gmail, and we’d let that do all the work.
We need Twittermail. You need it. Competent and manageable private messaging is a must for any network. Legitimate connections have immense value, but if you have to work too hard to find them many people will simply give up trying altogether.