March 21, 2010

Twittiquette: Don't Look Like A Noob

Twitter is an ever-growing, increasingly popular social networking site that enables users of various standings to communicate with each other in an often brief manner. Still, if you're new to Twitter, you might find out that the Twitterverse isn't as easy to decipher and get into as you'd think, and this guide is here to help you not look like a noob because you asked about something that's common knowledge among Twitter users.

Question #1: What's an RT? A via? A backslash?
Before Twitter officially rolled out a "Retweet" button, some person asked the question, "In what manner can I copy and paste a tweet I really LOL'd to, without resolving to plagiarism?" and thus RT was born, meaning "Retweet".

The original format goes like this: "RT @person: Person's tweet". This means that you're retweeting (RT) another user's (@person) message. The syntax had been unofficially standardized until recently last year, but people who opposed Twitter's official method still continue to use this format, especially since they're able to comment on the person's tweet if the character limit allows them. How do you "comment" on a retweet? Well, you can add the comment before the words "RT" or you can add it after the message.

Other people have adopted another type of Retweet syntax, which is the "(via @person)":

Basically, one can retweet a message by typing "via", then the person who tweeted it (@person) after the message, all enclosed in parentheses. The addition of "RT" in the beginning is entirely optional. One could say that this is like "quoting" someone.

Possessing almost the same format is the "\via @person". It's still placed at the end of a message or tweet, but instead of being enclosed in parentheses, you save one character by adding only one backslash. In some Twitter applications, the format is applied through "Quote Tweet".

While you're able to comment on the message you retweeted using these methods, you'll be forced to paraphrase a tweet if the message exceeds 140 characters after applying the Retweet syntax. This is where Twitter's official "Retweet" button comes in.

Basically, you can hover over a tweet you really like and press the "Retweet" button. You'll be asked if you are sure that you want to share a funny or serious or whatever tweet to your followers, and you can press "Yes".

When your friends see the message you retweeted, they won't see your profile picture. Instead, they'll see the user name of the person who originally tweeted the message you retweeted, but there'll be a rectangular symbol with two arrows to signify that the message was shared by someone else other than the original tweeter.

So that also means, if you find a person who you're not following on your timeline, don't fret about Twitter going bonkers, look for the "Retweet" symbol first. Below the message you'll be able to see the person who shared the message to you.

Question #2: How do I know which tweet a person replied from?
From the get-go, Twitter was never really meant as a conversation tool, but the fact that the service has a "Reply" button pretty much dictates otherwise. You'll be able to conveniently know which tweet someone else replied to if you press "in reply to 'person'" which is located below the message.

When replying to people's tweets, you must definitely press the "Reply" button, unless you never want the person to reply to you ever again. Sometimes a person's timeline can be pretty busy, especially in the case for celebrities, and properly pressing the "Reply" button makes their lives so much easier because they know the tweet you replied to.

To properly "Reply", just hover over the tweet you wish to reply to, and press the "Reply" button.

This will automatically supply the username of the person you're replying to in the text box, so you can type whatever message you want in an instant.

If you fail to follow this basic principle, it may be a bit of a sign of disrespect to others; a ploy to confuse a user and to waste his time.

Also, another rule of thumb: if you wish to call out a person, or several persons, it'll be much more noticeable if you supply their user names by typing in "@" then their user name inside the tweet. Think Facebook tagging minus the convenience of an "autofill" feature.

If these people use Twitter applications (more on that in another post), they will instantly be notified about you calling them out. Unlike if you just call them out plainly by name, calling them out by their @username will more likely garner their attention.

Question #3: What the hell is the "#" for?
Twitter has a feature called Trending Topics wherein the system digs up the terms most used during that moment in time. In plain language, Trending Topics is a compilation of tweets that contain a certain buzzword, like "Justin Freaking Bieber".

Now if you'll notice, there are a few Trends that have the pound (#) sign on it. What are they for?

Well, in the past, someone devised a system in which tweets could be grouped in a way so they can be searched in an efficient manner using Twitter's search engine. So that means, if I said "FALLOUT ROCKS HARD", I could add in "#greatgames" or "#fallout" to categorize the tweet. These categorizations are called hashtags and this form of syntax follows several rules:

1) You definitely have to use the pound sign! If you don't use it, your tweet won't be categorized, and the hashtag won't be "clickable". You can click the hashtag so you can search for people who tweet within the same category (barring fake accounts that endorse pornography and spam).

2) You cannot put spaces nor punctuation in between words. The hashtag can only work if the words are grouped together without spaces nor any form of punctuation like apostrophes and periods and the like, which is why there are trends that read, "#imthekindofperson" instead of "#i'm the kind of person". You'll be able to make the hashtag more legible by smartly using capital letters, if you want. This means that you can use "#ImTheKindOfPerson" and have it included in the category regardless.

Well, that covers quite a few of the basics of the Twitterverse. Hope this clears up any of the alien language I myself encountered when first using the service. Understanding these concepts will help you focus on being Twit-Addicted instead of lost and confused. Happy Tweeting!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Elegant de BlogMundi