Archive for August, 2010

Taming Twitter

When I was setting up our Twitter account last year, I thought it would be good to post an update whenever the weather forecast on an upcoming event changed. It’d give some extra publicity to events in the week when they occurred, and the irregular intervals between messages would make them more interesting.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. What I didn’t realise is just how often the forecasts changed – meaning the feed is swamped with messages that the temperature is one degree higher or lower, or the outlook has changed from sunny with showers to showery with sunny spells.

So it’s all changed! The system now checks the programme every morning, and tweets about any events happening on the following day or in 7 days time. It also checks for the date when advance payments are due and reports them too – so you have a reminder to send Dave your cheques!

Another twittering problem has been with slideshows. It’s supposed to tweet whenever a show is added or when new pictures are added to an existing show. The problem is, now that all the pictures are hosted on Flickr, their search facility is not 100% reliable. Sometimes they give the wrong number of pictures for a particular show – leading to spurious “new picture” notifications.

So, with regret, I’ve changed the system to only report when a whole new show is added. If pictures are added subsequently, I’ll report it with a manually added tweet.

Now that we have a more useful Twitter feed, how can you use it in a way that suits you? Originally, when I was designing this part of the site, I was going to have my own “What’s New?” change notification feature. The reason I chose to route those notifications through Twitter instead is to make use of all the ways a Twitter stream can be read, without needing any extra work. So here are a few ways to keep up-to-date:

Join Twitter yourself (it’s free) and follow our feed. You can do so either through the Twitter website, or via a range of client programs.

If you’d rather get an email sent to you instead, you can sign up with a service like TweetByMail to mail our tweets to you when they happen.

If you use a news reader to keep track of blogs, there’s an RSS version of our Twitter feed that you can subscribe to.

Finally, and most simply, you can keep an eye on the Twitter box on the home page of this site, or click the link at the bottom of each page.