I’ve been bug-detecting on Twitter today. It started when I saw this cool method of opening a bottle of wine with string and decided to tweet the link because using string to open a bottle of wine is a cool party trick.
My followers noticed the broken link before I did, so I deleted the tweet, removed the period at the end of the link, and tweeted it again. This time the link shortened properly, and I got to work finding the bug. Most of the work is at @instantcarmen‘s account, an account I set up for a Script Frenzy 2010 character. Since she works in the tech sphere, bug-detecting is very much in character for her, and I kept the commentary as in character as possible. (For the four or so humans who follow Carmen, I’m sorry that a fictional character took over your feed.)
* t.co doesn’t like when you have a period at the end of a URL. That’s why the Instructables URL didn’t work.
* t.co can’t stand multiple consecutive periods. Want to link to the Wikipedia article on “…Baby One More Time” (song or album) or the band …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead? You’re out of luck if you rely on the t.co shortener.
You can get around this bug by shortening with another URL shortener and then using t.co, but that’s an extra step, and Twitter is trying to make its product as easy to use as possible for those who don’t want to or don’t know how to use all these extra services. Using a URL shortener on top of t.co also means an extra redirect, which adds another second or so to the loading time of your desired page.
Since this behavior is obviously a bug, I tried to report it. Twitter has a support area, but the area for broken things addresses only common issues, or at least not bugs like the one I just came across. This turned out to be a problem. There’s a page for your existing support tickets in the support area, but there’s no easy to find place to file a new one. After a bit of clicking, I finally found the forms page linked from one of the question pages. Way to go, Twitter. I wrote a bug report for them. We’ll see what happens.