Signing up to web services by following them on Twitter

I’ve been working on a Twitter project that requires immediate action when receiving Direct Messages and Follows. To conserve API hits (and for speed – emails arrive before the api serves the data), I’m monitoring an email account for those alerts. Twitter puts information in the email headers to help with this, which is great. So while doing all this, I had an idea….

Why can’t I just become a member of your site by following your Twitter user?

As an example, say we have a site called cool_images.com which let’s you catalogue and tag images you find interesting. This site also has the Twitter account @coolimg.

Ok, so I want to sign up to cool_images.com. Where I expect to see a signup form, I see a message:

To join this site and upload your photos, just follow @coolimg on Twitter.

That’s a little strange, but I do. A few seconds later, I get a DM.

Thanks for joining us. You can log into the site with your Twitter username and here’s a temp password (you can change later): FluffyBunny05

What’s going on that allows this to happen? The same thing I mentioned in the first paragraph… cool_images.com would monitor their Twitter emails and react accordingly. They could also monitor their DM’s and reply back to the user. For instance, I’m having trouble uploading an image, so I tweet:

@coolimg Help with uploading images

The site watches it’s inbox and routes questions to employee’s that can answer them. A few seconds later @dan_at_coolimg messages me and begins to help me with my problem. This also allows the help information to live in the public timeline, allowing others with similar issues to find correct answers.

Maybe I could also do things like:

d @coolimg import http://bit.ly/….. and tag it “downtown orlando”
d @coolimg send @dascgo a link to my favs
etc…

Combined with something like this user detection idea from Chris Heilmann (which Twitter disabled for security reasons), would have been incredible for turning Twitter into a sign on service. Maybe they could rethink what Chris was doing and provide a compromise for achieving the same functionality, because, quite frankly, I would love to join/unjoin sites by following their Twitter accounts.

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