In 2014, as I was starting work on Micro.blog, I blogged about the properties of a microblog post, including the character length:
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.
After that, Twitter also doubled their character limit to 280 characters. Mastodon launched at 500 characters. In the years since, it has felt less symbolic for Micro.blog to stick to 280 characters. Thinking about a post-Twitter world, 280 actually now feels kind of wrong.
Micro.blog is based on real blogs, so you can have full-length blog posts with a title, categories, photos, inline links, podcasts, and anything else you’d expect blogs to have. Those full posts don’t have a limit. It’s the Micro.blog timeline that encourages the 280-character limit to make the timeline as readable as possible, not cluttered with long posts or “read more” links.
Today we’re making the next big change to how the timeline works: we’re “rounding up” the character limit to 300, and for short posts that contain a block quote, we’re doubling it to 600.
Unlike some social networks, Micro.blog’s character counter is for the text you will see in the final post. It strips out any Markdown or HTML tags when calculating the length, so there’s no extra cost to italic text or links. And with the 600 limit for quotes, it’s more consistent to use Micro.blog’s “Embed” link to paste in someone else’s post from the timeline and know it won’t be truncated.
This gives posts a little more room to breathe. The posts are still short enough that it’s not a significant change to the reading experience in the way that bumping it all the way to 500 would be. It feels right for Micro.blog.
Micro.blog on the web, the Mac app, Android app, and beta of Micro.blog 3.0 for iOS on TestFlight have all been updated with this new limit.
There’s still more to do. We plan to adopt this change for Micro.blog replies as well, which have always been treated differently than regular posts. Because that’s a more disruptive change, we’ll roll it out separately in the coming months. We have some ideas for improving the UI for long replies to tie replies back to your blog. That will take longer to get right.
Enjoy the extra 20 characters! Happy blogging.
✴️ Also on Micro.blog