Defining a microblog post

I’m working on a new project around timelines and microblogs. It consumes RSS feeds, so I’ve been wondering how strict to be when accepting posts. What does microblog mean, anyway?

Wikipedia defines it this way:

“Microblogging is a broadcast medium that exists in the form of blogging. A microblog differs from a traditional blog in that its content is typically smaller in both actual and aggregated file size.”

But that’s not quite specific enough. From my perspective, a microblog post has these qualities:

  • Must have an RSS feed.
  • Does not have an RSS item title.
  • Contains short post text, 280 characters or less.

Not having an RSS item title might take some getting used to for mainstream blogging clients and readers. Most RSS apps assume that all posts have a title, even though titles are technically optional in the spec. But I think this is an important distinction because if you think about Twitter-like posting, it should be fast and convenient; making up a title first interrupts the flow of posting.

I picked 280 characters instead of App.net’s 256 characters because it’s slightly less nerdy, and feels right at exactly double Twitter’s 140. This should be thought of as more of a guideline than a rule, though — just something to shoot for.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your feedback. Post to your own blog and then send me an email.