If a DM falls in a forest . . .

On Twitter, when you try to send a direct message to someone using the web interface, by entering “d nobody My message” (where “nobody” is a username), and the person you are trying to reach doesn’t follow you, you get a nice error message:

Twitter Error

The same is true when you use SMS or IM to interact with Twitter.

However, if you use a Twitter client, what happens?

On Twitterific, nothing. The message appears to be sent, nothing shows up your timeline, no error occurs.

Is this a limitation of the API, or of the application’s handling of it?


@Twhirl tells me (via Twitter) that:

twhirl should display an error message informing you about it.

Maybe time to change? I sent the twitterific developers a note letting them know of the bug.

What does your twitter client do? Tell me in the comments, please.


  1. Hi John,

    I observe the same behavior on Twitbin as you do on Twitterific. No signs of it on my timeline and no error message. I’d wager the issue is with how these twitter clients handle API error messages.


  2. Twhirl is my app of choice after trying out all of the ones I can find. Snitter used to be my client of choice – but Twhirl had all the features I want in an uncluttered UI I like (both PC and Mac).
    I think Snitter and Spaz may also just toss those DMs to the ether because I never saw an error when DMing “non-follow” people until I tried it with Twhirl.

  3. There is definitely an odd piling on of multiple negatives – if no one is not following you and your client does not tell you, how can you not get confused?

  4. I’m the author of Twitterrific, and you’re right the app currently is silent in it’s failure.

    I’d like to take a more proactive approach to the problem — not allow you to start a DM to someone who doesn’t follow you. Twhirl’s indication that the message didn’t go through doesn’t prevent you from wasting time composing the message in the first place.

    In order to do it right, I need to do user management (keeping a list of who’s following.) That’s planned for the next major release.


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