A Rant. About Twitter. Why Not?

I unfollowed a few of my friends today (temporarily). I’m in a bad mood, and some of their tweeting habits can be annoying at the best of times. Today I just really didn’t want to know about it.

I try not to be too much of a grammar hammer. I can’t spell (thank Optimus for spell checkers, yo), and I have a propentsity for more flowery language that I can never seem to fit into Twitter’s character limit because I love saying things as eloquently as possible. But, I can’t deny that I have terrible OCD when it comes to certain things; and @mentions and RTs are some of my pet peeves.

So, after temporarily unfollowing some of my friends for what I refer to flagrant abuse of the @mention feature, I poked about on the net to see what other people say about twittiquette (I thought I’d come up with a cool portmanteau [which dictionary.com suggests is a kind of luggage, but I’ve been hearing it used in the sense “portmanteau word” forever now, without that modifier on the end], but unsurprisingly I was beaten to the punch on that one, probably by several years).

The first thing that surprised me was how old the articles I was reading were. I suppose they’ve had the longest time to be linked to and work their way up the google sorting algorithim, maybe there are more recent works buried a few pages back. I suppose we’ll never know, because I’m too lazy to find out. But many of the guides refer to features that have been removed (such as turning off the ability to see @mentions directed at people you follow – which was discontinued altogether because apparently it was far too confusing for people), or drastically changed (such as they RT system; which, btw, I still disagree with and would like to see a system like what Echofon offers – the choice to “retweet” or “retweet with comment”).

But the most surprising thing was how different MY priorities are in comparison to the general consensus of twittiquette writers about the web. About the only thing that I could agree on as I read these articles was “Twitter is not your personal chat room”.

For me, twittiquette comes down to three things:

1. Twitter is not your personal chat room.
2. Are you pinging me for a reason?
3. My OCD is telling me to kill you.

* * *

Twitter is not your personal chat room

Do I really need to explain this? If you find yourself having a conversation with someone via Twitter, stop. Don’t just keep hitting reply. Everytime you do that, everyone of your followers with the misfortune of also following that person sees everything you say. Do you have some compelling reason as to why everyone you know needs to see this conversation?

Now, I’m not going to tell you you tweet to much (guilty); I’m not going to tell you you can’t be as boring as watching grass grow (guilty); I’m not going to tell you that you share way too much (guilty); I’m not even going to tell you “swearing on Twitter is like swearing in a public place” (guilty, bitch). But I am going to ask you, nicely, to please stop spamming up my timeline with conversation that has nothing to do with me. This isn’t a crowded room, I can’t just wander off elsewhere till you’re done.

In this technologically advanced day and age, we have these amazing inventions called: email, instant messaging, SMS/text messaging, and even phones! These all let you continue your conversation, in private, and most of them don’t even have a character limit! World shattering, I know.

* * *

Are you pinging me for a reason?

Flagrant abuse of the @mention feature involves part of this, and part of my OCD is telling me to kill you, depending on how it is that you’re abusing the @mention feature. This one refers to the people who “tag” other users in their tweets for reasons that I can’t fathom.

The idea of “are you pinging me?” comes from the fact that Echofon on my iPhone does exactly that when someone puts @theGhostWolfe in their tweet: it literally goes PING! This can be a very handy feature: if I’m not near a computer it can tell me that someone wants my attention and prompts me to check my twitter feed. But sometimes I can’t fathom the tweeter’s intent in trying to get the attention of the people they are mentioning.

The cc/ thing really baffles me [users putting (cc/ @user) in their tweets]. Why are you copying me in on a tweet? I don’t understand this. It’s kinda like poking me, to make sure I heard what you just said. Unless your tweet started with @someone_I_don’t_follow, it’s going to appear in my timeline. I will see it, is there something special about this tweet I need to know?

I’m not saying don’t “tag” people in your tweets, I’m just saying that, because my OCD is telling me to kill you (see below), do you really need to tag five followers in the comment you’re about to make? For that matter, does what you’re saying need to be an @reply at all (remember, only followers of @that_person can see anything that starts with their name, maybe you have other followers who are missing out on the funny)? And I’m not discounting the possibility that maybe you do need to draw someone’s attention to a tweet, but shouldn’t you have a good reason before you start poking me?

* * *

My OCD is telling me to kill you.

This is it. This is the one that gives me the most twitter-related headaches. Which means it’s also the one that is the most patently ridiculous and likely to make you ask what bug crawled up my arse and died. But I’ve vented my spleen thus far, I might as well get this one out of my system while I’m here. So here goes: tweets should be easy to read.

Simple, eh?

#Usingreallylonghastagswithoutanykindofcapitalisationtoassistthehalplessreaderisprettyfunny #asajoke #dontdoitallthetime

@Tagging @more_than @twopeople in a @single_tweet seems like a real waste of @140characters. #maybeitsjustme

But the one that really gets me! RT @When you can’t quite make sense of a retweet (or it becomes really difficult to retweet again) @because the layout is a complete mess, or you can’t quite tell (via @who_said_what)!

The most common culprit of this one is the recursive retweet: retweeting a retweet (and therefore giving credit to the person who brought it to your attention as you bring it to other people’s attentions). I used to be very fond of the old (via @Credit) method, which was already an endangered species before the new RT system came along trying to kill of the RT @Tweeter method.

* * *

Mmmm. Having vented, I feel a bit better now. If you’ll pardon me, I have some friends to re-follow, and a blog post to make some shameless self-promoting tweets about!

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~ by ghostwolfe on July 27, 2010.

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