Monday, January 31, 2011

Top Twelve Twitter Sins

1) SIN: Post in more than one language. Maybe I'm a lowbrow, but I only know one language, and suddenly finding something in a language I don't speak really disrupts the enjoyable, quick scanning that is possible with a long Twitter read list.
SOLUTION: Why don't you instead set up _es, _en, and _fr separate accounts.

2) SIN: Post more than two items in a row. I note that The Washington Post, CBS News, USA Today, even three local papers in my region, never post more than two in a row. But the paper for my hometown makes ten posts in a row randomly sometime between 6 AM and 7AM. Twitter is like a dinner party or a discussion in a university philosophy or history class. That is: talking much during a class may be tolerated only if you really were that profound; talking uninterruptedly in one stretch would be taken universally as a sign of arrogance.
SOLUTION: Get Hootsuite and set up delayed postings if you have lots of stuff to say right now.

3) SIN: Same exact text, back to back, from an "org" and a "person." Somewhere along the line I must have subscribed not only to a humanitarian or artistic or scientific organization, but also to the one guy or gal who runs it. In three separate situations, I've found the same text in back to back posts, and felt my intelligence insulted.
SOLUTION: Give up delusions of grandeur.

4) SIN: Cursing. In one case, I watched a guy post on a political topic over the course of days and go from a mindset of determination to unfocused sexual cursing. Like dude, were you upset that the world's leaders weren't reading & obeying your Twitter feed? Before you call me a prude, it wasn't just the "f" or "d" words, but described his enemies with references to women's bodies parts. That demeans women and is surely ad hominem. (But if you agree with me on the sexual cursing, maybe I have a point on the f & d words < wink > ). The cursing at the end of the month only gave reason for unfollowing to those who might have shared his conviction at the beginning of the month. I've been known to curse at times, but I am of the opinion that loose use of it shows a lack of critical thinking.
SOLUTION: Get off my lawn!!

5) SIN: Foursquare. I'll subscribe to any interesting artist or scientist around the world, but I'm not interested in where he or she ate pancakes. I have enjoyed tweets from multiple tweeps about how they enjoyed a meal, but 4sq links about their presence at a diner just annoy. I realize that there are a myriad of users will have a myriad of purposes for using Twitter, and some of these will be connecting with friends. But I'm not interested in knowing that my f2f friend became mayor of a train station.

6) SIN: Same post AM & PM. Some days, Twitter has been the first thing I read before retiring and first thing I read upon rising. And I've found the same post from the same guy (new time stamp, of course!) Isn't this an insult to the readers? SOLUTION: Get a life.

7) SIN: "The 'blank' Daily is out!" I respect what is doing, but the announcement in a Tweet that a paper is out is non-information to the reader.
SOLUTION: put it in your profile.

8) SIN: "Retweet for charity". Maybe I'm a Scrooge here, but shouldn't the person giving cash just go and do it? I wonder, if this practice is not overly tacky, that I should set up a few dozen fake Twitter accounts to make retweets from. Isn't that what the person is after?
SOLUTION: give cash directly, and do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.

9) SIN: Links to things that do not give me the promised information on the first click. It's on a site with click-thru ads, buried somewhere deep on a busy page, or to be found on a link from your meta-site.
SOLUTION: Consider the user's time and trust, both of which you just spent unwisely.

10) SIN: Polluting the hash tag stream. In one case, I wanted to learn about a religious denomination. Human Resources employees of the denom's pastors' pension fund were trying to get all the pastors in the denom to do some paperwork. So two of them made a couple of tweets a day urging pastors to to this paperwork, for weeks. Q: Were all pastors following that hashtag (are a tenth of them even on Twitter? )? Was the purpose to annoy all pastors (let alone laypeople) until the last one fills out the paperwork? But that's not the bigger problem. Several well-meaning members of the denomination kept retweeting the announcements every day, I guess as a way of supporting the financial health of the denomination. So, to go to this hashtag, one would find it filled with retweets of the same bureaucratic announcements, reworded each day. The value was lost, I gave up going there, I imagine others would too. And that, my friend, must be a way in which the retweeting harmed the denomination more than its ability to help it (because of filled-out paperwork).

SOLUTION: Think about the aggregate effects of what you are doing!

11) SIN: dumping same content, verbatim, into every social media internet service that exists. For a time, I was following President Obama on both Twitter and Facebook. That is, I would actually read the material that came from both sources. When your brain sees the same exact words twice, you feel gamed, that subscribing to one of the sources is a waste of time. An equally dense version of this is using your Twitter feed to encourage folks to come to your Facebook page. (Will we find invites to go to the Twitter feed there?
SOLUTION: Give different angles-- even stick through a thesaurus machine or something-- if you're going to dump material into multiple media.

12) SIN: Follow Fridays, and thanks for RT.
SOLUTION: Abstain!

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