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Twitter announced it would begin distancing itself from the requirement that all tweets could only contain 140 characters by no longer counting some things – like media attachments or @ replies – towards the character count.

I am doing research in that area of social media analysis, and I have submitted a research paper to a conference in which I have mentioned in the introduction a little about the Twitter character count restriction (limited to 140 characters), which has since been updated to let users write more than that.

  • What happens now when the reviewer/referee reads my input in the paper and sees that the regulation has been updated? Will they ask me to update it or simply accept or reject it?
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    Unless your research was specifically about how people balance the value of metadata (number of @mentions) with the amount they can say when working with 140 characters, I don't even see an issue. This doesn't look at all like twitter is interested in increasing it's message length, just that they're trying to let you get more use out of the length you get. – StarWeaver Mar 31 '17 at 17:15
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    @StarWeaver brilliant, my analysis is all about the number of mentions and replay. – Krebto Mar 31 '17 at 17:22
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    Well, gosh dangit all :| – StarWeaver Mar 31 '17 at 17:23
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    Conspiracy theory: Twitter did this just to mess with you and goof up your paper ;-) – Michael Mar 31 '17 at 18:04
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    @Michael Twitter probably has multiple papers they're messing with and are A/B testing the researchers to see how they react. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain... – corsiKa Apr 1 '17 at 1:11
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Technology and technology based applications keep changing all the time, and frequently so.

Research methodology requires that you document these changes as they happen and annotate all references with dates. For example, you may add information that can act as a sort of disclaimer: For example:

N.B: As of March 30, 2017, Twitter discontinued its 140 characters limit for replies. At the time of submission of this paper, the 140 Characters limit was still in force.

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Similar issues arise frequently in fields that change quickly due to political, legal or technological developments. In general, these changes don't affect the veracity of the study; they only affect its scope. So usually reviewers will ask you to address the change in the concluding section, perhaps through an informed speculation on how the change matters in the future. In other cases, where the change does not matter greatly (perhaps this is the case here), they will simply ask you to acknowledge it in a footnote or the like -- if they recognize it at all.

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    these changes don't affect the veracity of the study until the change – they do not even affect it after the change. Your research result is not “Twitter is X” but “Twitter was X” or “as short-news service with a thusly designed character limit is X”. – Wrzlprmft Mar 31 '17 at 16:56
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    @Wrzlprmft true, however the findings might not be applicable afterwards. – henning -- reinstate Monica Mar 31 '17 at 17:02
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    Not applicable to Twitter, maybe, but applicable to a "short-news service with a thusly designed character limit." – Wildcard Mar 31 '17 at 23:24
  • @Wildcard yes, ok. What I mean is: The paper is about twitter. Twitter changes. Now the paper is only about twitter until the change. -> Better address the new scope condition in your paper, but no reason to toss the paper in the wastebasket. – henning -- reinstate Monica Apr 3 '17 at 15:48
  • @Wrzlprmft & Wildcard Thanks. I made an edit that hopefully clarifies the issue. – henning -- reinstate Monica Apr 3 '17 at 15:52
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Does the character count affect the importance or relevance of your findings? You cannot help what the reviewer thinks, but a good reviewer should consider that although the technology has changed, the meaningfulness of your findings should be the same and potentially worthy of presentation at the conference. Also, for many conferences papers are distributed to volunteer reviewers and it is possible that whoever your paper is assigned to may not be all that familiar with Twitter anyway. Good luck!

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