All I Want for Christmas is a Mute Button

…for Twitter.

Look, it’s not you. I like reading your updates, I always open your links, and I care about your coffee habits and your drive in this morning (I really do). But sometimes I just wish I could turn down the volume of messages that are flooding my stream, you know? Not all of them — I’m not saying I need a button to keep me away from Twitter — I just need some way to selectively parse out the noise.

How Things are Now

Suppose there’s a high-profile basketball game on, and I don’t really care for basketball. What do I do when a quarter of the tweets coming down the pipe are from passionate basketball fans? Well, I have three lame options:

  1. I can do nothing, and put up with the fact that one in four tweets I read will be nothing but a nuisance.
  2. I can unfollow everyone that talks about basketball, then follow them back later, and hope I don’t forget anyone.
  3. I can turn off Twitter.

Which of those solutions is best? Well, they all kind of suck. Doing nothing is the most annoying of the bunch. How useful is Twitter when the noise-to-signal is that high? Not very. I don’t want to have to work to see those tweets.

Number two would solve my problem somewhat elegantly, if I could script it and if those that tweeted about basketball were consistent. But of course they rarely are: sometimes their tweets will be about basketball, and sometimes they’ll be about incredible statistics. Ideally, I want to keep the awesome videos and lose the stuff about point-guards.

Our third option requires the least effort. Which do you think I choose most often?

How Things Could Be

I want mute options. Lots of them. I want to be able to mute people I follow, I want to be able to mute by hashtag, and even by keyword. I want to be able to toggle mutes as I please, mute for specific amounts of time, and save my common mutes in a mute-friendly screen. For muture mutings.

Let’s get back to our basketball example. If I know some blogger I adore is a Cavs fan, I want to be able to mute him for a couple of hours when the Heat roll into town. Furthermore, I want to mute a few keywords, so that I don’t get hassled by anything containing the words “Lebron James”. And maybe also a few tags; #miamiheat, #basketball, that sort of thing. Basically, I want to define a few basic conditions to filter my stream so that it has more meaning to me.

How We can Get There

While it would be great to see Twitter implement this functionality, who knows what their priorities are like. The good news is that third-party clients can handle this themselves. And how hard can it really be? Before displaying a tweet, check it against a few simple conditions. I could probably hack that together myself. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there’s already a client out there that allows me this privilege (is there?).

(And if not, maybe there will be soon? Please?)

Leave a comment

  1. I actually had a very similar issue recently with Facebook. I have a friend who was constantly posting about one thing that I didn’t really care about. I thought if I clicked the “x” in the corner of one of these posts I would have the option to “block similar posts” or something. But no such luck. I had to block out all posts by that person, including ones about me. Slightly frustrating.