A Wishlist For Identica

[This blog post was written in April 2011. Since then twitter and identica have drastically changed the look and functionalities of their services. The following text is more or less outdated.]


In the last post I compared design features of identica and twitter. But there are features missing that I would be glad to see in identica. In what follows I don’t enter into technicalities and all the wishes for exactness that go with them. Rather, I concentrate on features a non-geekish user might like in his daily handling of identica. (Twitter might benefit from one or the other suggestion as well.)

1. Favorites :  I’d like to see in real time what the people I’ve subscribed to favour. Instead of clicking on their avatars and then enter their Favorites-list, I’d like to have it near by my Personal Timeline, either in form of an embracing list or as a switch-on/switch off-denting into the Personal Timeline (cf. # 6).

2. Tags :  Subscribing to tags seems more convenient then placing them into a RSS-feed, external to the service. Having them “inside” would make them accessible to the medium’s features and functions.

3. Search :  A proper search function would be very nice. One should be able to search one’s own posts as well as those of others. Add to that standard search options with Boolean functions and wildcards. (This is not possible on twitter either.)

4. Proper backup :  On twitter there are at least some external tools for a partial backup of one’s tweets. On Identica it’s a mess. There is a backup-tool in experimental stage, but it is shaky and doesn’t deliver reliably. Important would be the advice to every new member in identica to use a RSS-feed for one’s dents in order to back them up. A decent help-page explaining the differences between RSS and ATOM, showing how to make them readable in a RSS-Reader and how to save them into a file that is readable with what kind of editor would be appreciated.

5. Groups & Lists :  There should be lists beside groups. In the best case those lists would be read-write-sensitive, creating more than one timeline for the writing. All those writeable lists could still be summarized in the Profile- and Personal Timeline.

6. Switch off-functions :  Twitter allows to switch off the RTs a person to whom one has subscribed to sends. This nice feature would be very helpful for identica as well. But at times I had the opposite desire: Sometimes I liked a person’s RDs (ReDent=ReTweet) but couldn’t stand his/her voice, rants, or present topics. Then I would have liked a switch-off-button to silence the person but to allow the RDs to come through. [1]

Incorporating one or the other suggestion may help to make identica more useful and more usable. Even as identica may be designed with an eye on “discovering” communities [2], it is not that well suited to foster and curate them. Means and features are needed on the side of the user to manage the constant stream of dents (=tweets) at his/her will and predilections.


[1]  This really would be a nice feature, as one criterion for subscribing, at least for me, is the person’s Favorites and his/her RTs. (Tone of voice is another.) Choosing a person for his/her RTs may help in not having to subscribe to everybody.
[2]  Cf. the conversation involving @support of identica at http://ur1.ca/3pe7r .

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