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Questions About @Twitter's Related Headlines Feature

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I learned from Ryan Sarver that Twitter launched a new feature for showing headlines and linking to stories that embed tweets

Some questions immediately came to mind:

Is this like showing pingbacks and mentions?

Many blogs for quite some time (notably, WordPress blogs) have shown pingbacks of links from other blogs, with a title of the referencing blog post and (an often awkwardly) abbreviated post summary.

Similarly, some existing blogs have "Referencing Articles" or "Mentions" among other things in the footer section of posts.

Most recently, newer indieweb blogs are showing mentions received via the webmention protocol - which is essentially everything you wanted in pingback, and less (no XML-RPC baggage, just HTTP).

Thus are "Related headlines" of a tweet the equivalent of pingbacks or mentions sections in blog posts?

Do related headlines require domain whitelisting?

Twitter's Twitter Cards feature requires that your website be "approved" (AKA whitelisted) before information from your site shows up in summaries underneath tweets.

Do all articles (blog posts) that embed a tweet (like this post that embeds the @Twitter tweet above) show up in the "Related headlines" section of a tweet?

Or do only posts from Twitter-whitelisted domains show up in "Related headlines"?

And if so is there a separate "Related headlines whitelist"?

Or does Twitter simply have a single master whitelist they use for Twitter Cards and Related headlines?

Whatever the answers, such "whitelisting" has long been a source of confusion and doubt with odd things happening like:

Each of these begs additional questions (on the linked pages).

How does Twitter discover articles that embed tweets?

When an article embeds the HTML markup of a tweet, there's no explicit mechanism to notify Twitter that that the article has done so.

So how is Twitter notified of the embedding?

Does it require someone to view the article that embeds the tweet and thus execute Twitter's widgets.js script?

Do related articles have to use Twitter Cards?

Must an article use Twitter Cards meta markup in its <head> element to show up in a tweet's "Related headlines" section?

screenshot of a tweet highlighting the Related headlines section

On the example tweet, only 2 out of the first 3 "Related headlines" had explicit Twitter Card meta tag markup, though the third did have Facebook Open Graph Protocol (OGP) meta markup.

Yet all three of those "Related headlines" show a Twitter account name and @-name underneath the display. So how does the article from foxsports.com (without Twitter Card meta markup) get "FOX Sports" and "@FOXSports" displayed underneath?

Absent Twitter Card meta markup, does Twitter infer which Twitter account to show from the presence of a data-via attribute on a "Tweet" (AKA Twitter Share) button? (which the foxsports.com article does have)

Absent proprietary Twitter Card or Facebook OGP meta markup, does a "Related headlines" entry show information from standards-based markup instead? E.g.:

name of article
from the <title> element of the page
URL of the article
from the widgets.js referrer or a rel=canonical link on the page
associated Twitter account
from rel=author to a Twitter profile
or from rel=author to an author page on the same domain as the article (e.g. home page), which then has a rel=me link to a Twitter profile

In short, is there a purely open standards markup way to have an article included in the "Related headlines" on a tweet, or does Twitter require you to add (some form of) proprietary meta markup?

If an article embeds a reply-tweet (either an @-reply or a mention-reply), will that reply-tweet show a "Related headlines" section listing that article?

Or do only "top level" tweets get a "Related headlines" section?

E.g. Aaron Parecki posted a test article that embedded a mention-reply tweet of mine. So far, no "Related headlines" section on my tweet. But that could be for any number of reasons (see above).

He also posted a second test article that embedded a top level tweet of mine - and nothing has shown up there yet either. Which brings me to my next question…

Once an article embeds a tweet, and publishes it, how long does it take for the tweet's "Related headlines" section to display the article?

Or, how long after you view the article online, does Twitter notice that the article is embedding the tweet? (related to notification above)

Is there a "views" threshold? I.e. must the article get some number of views (retrievals of the widgets.js script) for Twitter to consider showing the article in the "Related headlines" section?

One data point: a Techcrunch article "took 5 hours to show up".

Is there some maximum amount of time after which you can be sure your article is not going to show up (for whatever reason)?

In other words, how long do you have to wait to see if embedding the tweet "worked" to have your post show up as a related headline, or wonder if there is something wrong with your article?

Which brings me to…

How do you figure out why an article fails to show up?

Once you:

  1. publish an article with an embedded tweet
  2. view it on the web
  3. verify that the embedded tweet displays properly in the article
  4. wait (some indeterminate amount of time)
  5. and note the article is not listed in the tweet's "Related headlines" section

How do you figure out why and what troubleshooting steps should you take?

How do you opt-out of related headlines on your tweets?

Dan Gillmor tweeted:

Clearly he's not happy about Twitter adding "relevant" links to his tweets.

Which brings me back to the question: how does a Twitter user turn off the display of "Related headlines" section on their tweets?

Why would a Twitter user want to do that? E.g. what if you don't want Twitter linking from your tweets to your competitors' articles?

This perhaps begs the larger question of, just how much presentational control (or lack thereof) can users of a free content hosting service like Twitter expect?


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