Twitter lists are a great way to group people into various categories, filter conversations, keep up with experts within a specific field and track a topic without needing to follow all of the relevant users — and can even be used as an RSS reader replacement. Despite being such a new feature, people are already using lists as a measure of influence.
I’ve spent the last few years working with online communities and collaboration technologies, and have come to expect to be able to collaborate with people when using online social tools. As a result, I wish that Twitter lists were more collaborative. Right now, Twitter lists and accounts have a one-to-one relationship. I create a list, and I’m the only person who can edit it. I started thinking about this limitation when Rael Dornfest created his Portland Food Cart list. I’m a huge fan of the Portland food cart scene, so I decided to follow his list instead of creating yet another one. The downside was that as there were some food carts missing from his list, I needed to send @replies to Rael to get him to add them — I couldn’t just add them myself.
The collaboration features that I propose would allow the owner of each list to open them up to allow collaboration/editing from other people. The list owner could always make tweaks, revert changes and have the final say on changes made by other users.
My wish list for Twitter lists includes:
- Open lists: These lists would be open for anyone to edit, and would be a great way for people to add themselves to, say, a conference attendee list or to collaborate on lists of industry experts. To cut down on spam edits, moderation features would be a nice addition.
- Lists open to the people I follow: Anyone that I follow could contribute to my list. This is probably the option that I would use most often. Since I only follow people that I already know, this would be a great way to collaborate while automatically reducing the amount of spam entries added to a list.
- Specific people can edit a list: In the case of the food cart list, Rael could open it up to a few specific people who are passionate about the Portland food cart culture and have those people help him maintain it.
- Copying/cloning: This would be similar to how Yahoo Pipes lets you clone another user’s pipe as a starting point for something that you’ll repurpose for your needs. If someone has the start of a great list, but with a few things that I don’t like, I’d want to be able to copy it and add or delete people from it as necessary.
I’ve focused my wish list around community and collaboration features. What’s on your wish list for Twitter lists?