Of the Retweet

If you use Twitter you are bound to have seen some form or other of the “Retweet” in which someone thinks a tweet is particularly interesting/funny/true/important and re-tweets it. Now all kinds of preferences exist and, of course, you can do whatever the hell you like but I think there are a few common sense things you should keep in mind.

I know 140 characters is short but please try to add your own spin to the link/tweet, not simply to copy and paste. Some more “public service” kind of tweets or important local and urgent news deserve it, links and opinions are better if you bring something. Look at your closest Twitter contacts, the ones you interact with the most and then look at their own followed and followers, there is often massive overlap, what use is it to anyone if you all re-tweet each other with no added value from one to the other?

“Via” is for giving credit, not to say who wrote what you just copied. Because a growing Twitter population doesn’t like the RT, some people have started using “via” at the end of the tweet, just like on blogs. The problem if you do that and copy paste is that first, you are doing the exact same thing, just making a cosmetic change, you’re missing the point. It’s also that if you simply copy the tweet and don’t have the “RT” first, then we read the whole thing without knowing it’s not yours. If you are going to use “via”, then write something of your own and then give credit about where you found it. Using “via” for credit is good, for copy pasting it’s bad.

On the flip side, if you translate or change the original text, or if you tweak it or completely change the text and then just use the same link, don’t use “RT” at the beginning! Write a normal tweet and then use “via” to say where you got the link or idea.

So

  1. Favor original tweets and give credit if you are getting it from someone else
  2. Use “via” when giving credit and put the “via” at the end
  3. Use “RT” only if copy pasting the exact tweet (or put it in quotes and add your own text at the end) and put the “RT” at the beginning

Note that I’m not making up my own rules, they are widely used best practices that some don’t seem to grasp quite correctly.

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