One of the tweets by Notch (MineCraft creator) was as follows:

I love recursion, as seen here: https://twitter.com/#!/notch/status/103165179721814016

I am using the long url format instead of the shortened link but the link redirects to the one mentioned above

How was this accomplished? It is made via the web interface, so I assumed it is just a simple trick with Tinyurl custom links.

  • Can you do ninja edits on Twitter? Aug 15, 2011 at 20:11
  • @Eight, I don't think there is any way to edit a tweet.
    – jjnguy
    Aug 15, 2011 at 20:44
  • @Eig I have heard there is a 5 second window for edits but never really saw it in action
    – phwd
    Aug 15, 2011 at 20:45

3 Answers 3


I would imagine that there was a slight delay between the Tweet being posted and the TinyURL being created.

TinyURL lets you choose a custom alias so I would think the steps would be:

  • Go to the TinyURL website.
  • Choose a custom alias using letters and numbers. In my case I picked http://tinyurl.com/r3cur510n. It can be anything really, you just need get lucky and make sure the URL has not been used before.

Make TinyURL form

  • Post the tweet on Twitter with the TinyURL link you have thought off.
  • Once the tweet has posted then grab the full URL. Quickly paste this in to the Long URL box and click Make TinyURL

The trick is to not let Twitter auto generate the short URL. I have followed these steps to create a copy of the "recursive" tweet here.


This is even more impressive: http://twitter.com/#!/selfrefer/status/3128391843 – A self-referential tweet that does not use a URL shortener.

It was in response to a challenge I tweeted about two years ago. There's an explanation of how it was done here: http://www.spinellis.gr/blog/20090805/

This gist of Diomidis's approach was to estimate how much tweet IDs increase in a fixed interval of time. He estimated that between two tweets sent in rapid succession (using a curl script) there were around 120 other tweets. So if the first tweet had ID 1,000,000, he could expect the ID of the next to be around 1,000,120.

Once he figured this out, he wrote a simple script that posted tweets of the form

Self referential tweet http://twitter.com/SelfRefer/status/N+120

where N was the ID assigned to the previous tweet.

If the most recently posted tweet's ID wasn't N+120 it was deleted. Once the script posted one that was self-referential, it stopped.

  • 1
    Can you give us a gist of what's done? That would make for a better, "more" answer than a link to some blog Sep 1, 2011 at 1:37
  • I've edited the post explaining the method. Is that better?
    – Mark Reid
    Sep 1, 2011 at 5:58

One way would be to set up a URL alias and then edit where it directs to after you make the Twitter post.

  1. Set up URL alias. Personally I have my own shortening service (thanks to Google) like l.mydomain.com, so this would be http://l.mydomain.com/recursion
  2. Post Twitter post "I love recursion - see here http://l.mydomain.com/recursion"
  3. Copy URL of Twitter post
  4. Edit URL alias to point to Twitter post

Should only take a few seconds... but you need to find a shortener that will allow you to edit the URL after you set it up...

  • 1
    Does TinyUrl allow you to edit a url location?
    – jjnguy
    Aug 16, 2011 at 3:13
  • See Barry's answer for a more elegant approach that doesn't require it to be editable...
    – x3ja
    Aug 23, 2011 at 13:57

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