Shallow Thoughts

because deep thoughts smack of effort

Mind your RTs (retweets)

Posted in Personal Declarations,Web Stuff by Bridget on February 1st, 2009

If you are using Twitter as a means to communicate with other people, super. You’re not the only one. There are tons and tons of us out here using Twitter and as a means to make Twitter a useful service, I only see the tweets from those I follow. At least, that’s the theory.

Crossing the Line

Sadly, there are people who don’t get that there is an invisible barrier to me and the rest of the Twitterverse. I like that barrier. I need that barrier!

If I want to know what is being said by people I don’t follow, I have two options that I am quite satisfied with:

  1. Hunt those individuals down and opt to follow them.
  2. Use the “Everyone” tab and watch the whole world post at random from the public time line.

Yet, there are other users of the Twitter service who force me to read tweets from those whom I have not chosen to follow. They do so with the current twitter fad called the retweet (RT). They use their own time line to post, verbatim, what was tweeted by another individual – thus invading my personal twitter-space and crossing the (albeit invisible) line.

What’s the Big Deal?

You may ask what the dog vitamin k
big deal is. You may wonder why I find this irritating. As with all fads, retweeting has taken off like gangbusters and it's infecting the twitter-stream. There are people who will retweet nearly every tweet they see from their twitter pals.

Ok, so maybe that's a gross exaggeration - but it doesn't feel like it.

I'm not describing multiple people retweeting one item once in awhile. I'm referring to multiple people retweeting multiple things throughout the day - every day. What's worse is when it's from the same people who all follow each other to begin with.

So, not only do I read the tweet from the original poster, I read the tweet retweeted by several (sometimes many) of the people I follow, too. Essentially, I'm seeing the exact same thing, word for freaking word, posted over and over and over. It's like experiencing what Bill Murray went through in Groundhog Day on a smaller scale.

Is Retweeting Ever Allowed?

In my opinion, the occasional retweet is acceptable. Every once in awhile someone might say something that you realize a large number of your followers might appreciate. But that should be the first qualifier to even consider retweeting something: a large number of followers would be interested.

After considering the above, the second - and equally important qualifier - is the likelihood that those who follow you don't also follow the person whose comment you intend to retweet. If you and a significant number of your followers tend to run in the same "Twitter circle," then it is highly likely they heard it the first time - right from the horse's mouth. Don't retweet it for the scant few who missed out. You are annoying the rest of us.

If, after considering both points above, you still feel it is vitally important that the few who missed it but will be interested must be able to view this pearl of wisdom, do us all a favor and enhance the experience by adding something fresh to the conversation while hyperlinking to the original tweet. Don't take the lazy way out by retweeting. Add an original thought!

Lest you think I'm the only person who feels this way, I'm not. And that's only two that I've seen so far. There are bound to be a great deal more of us.

Here are the key take-aways from my rant:

  1. Consider your twitter followers/audience
  2. Retweet in moderation
  3. If you must retweet, rework the material

For the love of all things holy, won't you please think of the children?

4 Responses to 'Mind your RTs (retweets)'

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  1. Josh Walsh said,

    on February 1st, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I agree, for the most part, although I think there are exceptions. An account which is heavily branded into an industry may benefit by retweeting articles relevant to their followers interests.

    Twitter’s social community is different from facebook/linkedin/etc, in that people with similar interests and hobbies tend to form tighter networks where sharing links is more acceptable.

    The problem is that doing so in a moderate volume is not possible, so even the most relevant of retweets gets lumped in with spam.

  2. Josh Walsh said,

    on February 1st, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Oh, and I had to say “you guys” one more time… It’s an OCD thing.

  3. Nate Klaiber said,

    on February 1st, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    I just like the irony that your “I’m not” links really point to the same source – effectively RT in your blog the same entry. hehe.

    In all seriousness, I agree with this. I recently purged people from my list that constantly re-tweet things. It’s mostly annoying because then they make jokes about re-tweeting. It just gets old. It’s not funny. It’s annoying. As Josh said, there are different timelines that serve different purposes – it simply means choosing which ones you want to follow, and which ones you want to filter out.

  4. Joe Fiorini said,

    on February 2nd, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    What about people who have followers from different communities? I have a lot of friends who are designers and html/css people (ie. you) and, being a developer, a lot of friends who are developers. If one of my designer friends writes a post on design for developers, I’m going to RT it for my developer followers to read. An unfortunate side effect is that you’re going to see it twice. Any suggestions for improving that?

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