Thursday, November 19, 2009

Advice: don't use Twitter's so called "retweet"! #TR

My advice to all Twitter users is that you should not use what Twitter calls a "retweet".

Just pass it on by.

The true retweet is something Twitter's customers invented, and which Twitter stupidly never formalized. The true "retweet" is the life blood of Twitter, and what has set it apart from other similar "microblogging" services. [See my blog post awesomeness of retweets : ]

Here's how to do a true retweet it if you're accessing Twitter on the internet:

1. Copy and paste the message and name of person sending it to you.

2. Precede it by "RT @" [i.e. you type "RT", then a space, then a @. It's important that the @ and the name NOT have a space between them].

How true retweets work in Twitter "clients" -- i.e. applications.

If you're using Tweetdeck, Seesmic, or any of the myriad "clients" and applications which support Twitter and other microblogging platforms, they almost all provide "retweet" buttons which simply automate the above 2 steps.

If the makers of these programs are smart -- and they certainly appear to be -- they will preserve the true retweet function, even as they are forced to add Twitter's bastardized version.* Also they will quickly start supporting more and more other social media sites, in addition to Twitter (such as FriendFeed, StatusNet (, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, etc).

What's wrong with the thing Twitter mislabels a "retweet"

I don't have time to list all of the many things wrong with it; every day there are new, excellent articles coming out describing the stupidity of the product, and every day I learn of some new defective aspect of it.

My chief objections are:
(1) you can't insert a comment or start a conversation;
(2) you can't edit;
(3) instead of showing your avatar, it shows the avatar of the original tweeter, which might be someone the recipient doesn't know or have any relationship with;
(4) it prevents you from seeing multiple versions with different comments from different people;
(5) if someone retweets you, you will never know that they did, unless you go to the internet interface of Twitter, go to your home page, go to the Retweets column, and scroll through unsortable page after page of entries;
(6) if you retweet someone, they may never learn that you did, unless they go through the same process on their internet interface home page that you have to go through to find out if you've been retweeted;
(7) your so called "retweets" won't show up in Tweetdeck or any other Twitter "clients" or applications*;
(8) to the extent your identity is recognized at all in Tweetdeck, the recipient can't reply to you, or retweet you, or DM you, and may not even be able to verify your user name which appears in hazy type at the bottom of the tweet;
(9) it prevents conversation.

I.e., it takes the "social" out of "social media". It eliminates conversation and interaction, insists on blind rubber stamping, prevents you from letting your friend know you've honored them, and prevents you from knowing your friends have honored you. And it removes any clear indication of your identity to your own friends. Idiocy.

One of the primary uses of the traditional retweet is not as a simple "retweet" at all, but to start or continue a conversation, with 2, 3, sometimes even 4 or 5 people participating in a single tweet. Twitter management -- consorting as it does with the moneyed interests and "social media experts" who never get to enjoy such conversations -- appear to be oblivious to their very existence. Here are a couple of examples from some wonderful conversationalists who use "retweets" as conversation:

Can't you tell that the people who engage in such conversations are having the most fun of all on Twitter? They are absolutely the coolest communicators here.

Twitter's management doesn't get it. They're too important for that. They think a retweet is for the purpose of repeating some genius's isolated statement spoken in a vacuum to a vacuum, to be broadcast into an abyss.

People who tweet without these lively conversations are, to me, the saddest thing on Twitter. Twitter's pseudo retweet discourages -- actually makes impossible -- such interaction.

Why did Twitter do this?

I'm guessing it had to do with helping the "paying" customers -- celebrities, social media professionals, corporations, major news media -- who never retweet anyone, but are frequently retweeted by others. Their visibility will be enhanced, and Twitter's ability to sell us to them as "faces" and "impressions" will be enhanced. Meanwhile our interactivity with our friends is shattered, and our visibility to our friends is removed.

Even the "paying" customers -- for whose benefit this was done -- are being screwed. The Twitter they're paying for isn't the one they bought into.

What about other microblogging sites?

Since Twitter has basically given up its competitive edge by ruining the retweet, I recommend exploring the many other microblogging services, such as StatusNet (, friendfeed, etc. I personally am looking closely at friendfeed and StatusNet ( at the moment.

Right now we can probably do what I mentioned for the internet interfaces in most of those microblogging services as well. [E.g. FriendFeed has a "share" function. If you click that, it copies and pastes the post. Then at the beginning put in "RT @username", and you'll have a traditional retweet. Now if FF is smart they'll add a button which inserts "RT @username" automatically, and then you'll have a 1-step retweet like Tweetdeck, & most other applications, provide.]

Most likely some of those services will be smart enough to recognize Twitter's huge misstep, and will quickly implement formal "retweets" of their own, retweets which will embody the attributes of the true retweet rather than Twitter's joke version. [Note: Twitter, like all companies which are poorly managed and then try to make up for their business mistakes by resort to litigation, will no doubt try to force their competitors to use terms other than "retweet", probably claiming some trademark although Twitter itself has never even used the term until now. So just be on the lookout for the other microblogging services to use some alternative terminology for it.]

Also the desktop applications makers will no doubt be supporting more of the other microblogging services as well, and will be adding retweet buttons for all of them.


This is my advice:

1. Don't use Twitter's so called retweet function.... ever. (Unless you want to disappear into a black hole, in which case it would be easier to just stop "microblogging" altogether).

2. Use genuine retweets only.

3. Explore other microblogging services, and do traditional retweeting in them. If those sites or applications develop traditional retweet capabilities, then use them.

4. Use the hashtag #saveretweets when tweeting about this subject, and let Twitter management know that they should have spoken to their customers before ruining something.... just so they'll have a better understanding of how things work in the business world when they report for their next jobs, after Twitter has gone out of business.

* Update 2:07 PM ET, 12/26/09. In Tweetdeck vers. 32.*, the "new retweets" do show up in stream with 2 half sized avatars, 1 of the original tweeter, 1 of the last retweeter, and in latest verions have RT'g person's name in small hazy type at bottom of tweet. The avatar of the last retweeter and the name are for show only, however. You can't do anything with them other than squint at them. If you click them, you get no information about the retweeter, and you can't use them for RT'g, replying, DM'g, adding to a list, or anything else.

More importantly, Tweetdeck vers. 32.* has made it easy for you to configure it so that your retweets will by default be traditional, real retweets.

* Update 9:11 AM ET, 2/5/10. The recent Shorty Awards voting demonstrates the problem. Apparently votes lodged by the "fake retweet" button weren't counted, since the tweet had no identity -- URL -- of its own.

*Update 5:18 PM ET, 3/12/10. Seesmic desktop's "retweets" are the bad kind. But you can do a traditional retweet by going through a few extra clicks: click "more" then click "quote" and you'll be able to do a traditional retweet. Unlike Tweetdeck, Seesmic is not yet offering a means of configuring it to default to traditional -- rather than bastardized -- retweets, so you'll have to go through this exercise each time.

Update 9:43 PM ET, 4/7/10. One of Twitter's most successful accounts, shitmydaysays, just joinedr StatusNet (

(Short URL for this post: )


  1. I mostly agree but fyi, re:

    "(5) if someone retweets you, you will never know that they did; (6) if you retweet someone, they will never learn that you did."

    They do show up under "Retweets" on the right side under "Favorites" if you're using Twitter on

  2. Thanks for pointing that out Meg. Seems a tad inconvenient, but I'll update my post to reflect that. Thanks again.

  3. You mean like checking your mentions? I'm sure as the twitter APIs adopt the new RT function, they will add a place on their own interfaces to check who's RTd you, etc, just as we all now have a place on all the APIs to check all the tweets where our usernames have been mentioned.

    A lot of the problems with the new RT feature will dissappear as soon as the other APIs start incorporating those RTs into their systems. Then we might actually have the best of both worlds-- a way to RT tweets that were too long to RT before (a problem I have been frustrated by many many times and feel bad about bastardizing the tweeter's original post) and also a way to (manually, if nothing else) RT the old way when wanting to add comments to it.

  4. Interesting post and good points but I think its a bit quick to say move on to other services now. I mean its only in beta and if you brought these points forward or even tweeted to them about the improvements i'm pretty sure they'd be happy to take that into account for the next release of the retweet.

    I agree that the main problem with it is that you can't edit them or put your own comments in the tweet

    O. G. Net

  5. Thanks for the information. I had noticed some of the limitations but it did not occur to me that we would now have to CHECK the retweet column in addition to @ collumn and DM messages. It makes it cumbersome. As a newbie- I am still getting used to my stream.
    Question for you or anyone reading: What client or third party application do you use to tweet? I see so many of them. Any that you suffest as better.

  6. As I have done elsewhere, I want to recommend, here, for folks who like a web interface/client but not Twitter itself, try - which has *always* offered a "normal" retweet button - plus? same-screen, threaded convos instead of having to open endless new windows to follow who said what to whom.

    Also, in response to what Marcy said above abt "bastardizng" tweets, @shoq offers the idea of calling the RT "MT" for modified retweet. I've seen it catching on a bit, too.

  7. Dean I rejected your comment because the fact you stated is incorrect.

    If the tweet begins with "RT @username" it will be visible to everyone following you.

  8. For the computer I use Tweetdeck.

    For the blackberry I use uber twitter.

    I remain open minded, however. One thing Twitter has done right is make it easy for developers, so there are lots and lots of programs in the works.

    Right now I'm hoping Tweetdeck will add support for & FriendFeed.

  9. I agree entirely with your observations on "proper" retweeting. Part of the challenge of the RT is clever editing to enable as many previous tweeters to be visibly included in the message without losing any of its meaning. Acknowledgement of ALL others' efforts in a series of recommendations is part of twitiquette. It's also essential to display the chain of RT'ers to allow proper attribution of earlier remarks, especially if you don't particularly agree with them but think they should be shared all the same. I guess the guys at Twitter don't get this... they think we should just click their stupid RT button to keep their server busy and their pockets filled in ways we have yet to discover!

  10. Yeah I'm guessing it's got to do with:

    1. reducing bandwidth usage (note how twitter can never keep up with it, even after eliminating most of their traffic by removing most "replies" from stream)

    2. having easily documented "impressions" their business customers are willing to pay for

    3. enhancing the visibility of accounts like Guy Kawasaki, mashable, celebrities, etc.... i.e. anyone who's in a position to pay them large sums of money for reaching a certain number of "faces".

    What they don't realize is that their wealth is in us, the people who use Twitter, and that they're not going to have anything left to peddle if we take a walk to Friendfeed or or some other site.

    In the Web 2.0 world no one who is going to survive ignores their customers, as Twitter has done.

    They never talked to us at all, and their "beta" wasn't even a true beta because they never sought feedback.

    They never even responded to the unsolicited feedback we volunteered.

    Shmucks.... we are not "faces", we are not "impressions", we are people.

  11. Ray ~ Fantastic Blog. Good points made by all. I've sent in my opinion via their convenient feedback button.

    I usually manually RT with credits, editing, additions, comments when space allows.

    P.S. I'm sharing your blog!


  12. wonderful post which outlines the many reasons why twitters RT feature stinks

  13. Use an external app if you care. Or not.

  14. I'm loving this post as I feel exactly like you. I almost always insert a comment to my retweets and the auto-RT just plain doesn't work for that. Great post.

  15. I could care less about retweeting. I really don't need to know who retweeted a comment of mine or have fifty million "@Such RT @And RT @Such blah blah blah (This is my retweet)" messages. I'm so tired of people retweeting more than they tweet. If people are that hungry to know who sent a tweet, it's like the high school yearbook. Make me look popular and let me know I'm popular too. *shaking my head* And I don't mind seeing another user in my Twitter field considering I can see who retweeted the message directly under it.

  16. I must say that this feature is not something I can ignore. It's not just an improvement that I don't like, but it's very existence is ruining the twitter experience for me.

    Now on Tweetdeck I can't even tell WHO retweeted something. On Tweetie 2.1 (iPhone) I can't retweet using the RT syntax without some serious manual editing.

    For all the reasons that you mentioned this is a bad feature. I'm not going to get upset about it. This was supposed to be a leisure time activity for me. It's been fun, but if this doesn't change I'm done.

    Friendfeed might be an option. I'll play with it.

  17. Dear Shamontiel

    I can see where a person who's hostile to retweeting would prefer Twitter's new version.

    The people who will benefit most from it are the commercial accounts... the big "gurus"... who never RT anyone but who benefit from being RT'd over & over again.

    To me, the retweet is at the core of what makes Twitter special, and what makes it social.

    The inability to see if someone has retweeted you is only one of the many defects in the faux-retweet button, but it's the only one you addressed.

  18. Was my previous comment rejected?
    (I have no way of knowing, other than to ask)

  19. Ellis, sorry about that. I was just very behind in taking care of comment moderation.

  20. In TweetDeck's latest release, they've added the original ReTweeter's user name before the date/time. Before, only the small icon was visible-and for most you could barely make out who it was- now it says something like (RT by ..user name).

  21. The new Tweetdeck is much better and a step in the right direction.

    Now they just need to add in the ability to @reply to the re-tweeter and NOT the original tweeter. Also: If I re-tweet the post (using RT @) I want to retweet the re-tweeter, not the original tweeter.

    But certainly a step in the right direction.

  22. Ellis, that's not going to help with the pseudo-retweet's biggest problems. Tweetdeck can't cure Twitter's screwup.

  23. Well, they can make the new pseudo-retweet feature usable for those of us who know what we are doing vs. those who click a button. Otherwise, those comments, tweets or other messages might get lost.

    I sincerely hate that we have to even deal with this, but alas, we must.

  24. I agree that original RT method is better. There is only one case where I will use the new feature - those cases where the tweet takes up the full 140 characters and it is inconvenient or damaging the original tweet to edit it to fit the extra characters needed for the RT.

  25. Paul, remember, though: if you do use the Twitter-fake retweet button, your friend whom you retweeted won't know you did it, and your friends viewing it probably won't see your avatar and may not even know it's from you.

  26. Now I know why nothing has shown up and why I was getting frustrated with not being able to add comments.
    Your post is a real benefit. I plan to do a REAL RT several times.

    I want to see who has done an RT of something I have said. I want to personally thank them. I also think this a great way to build relationships. You are showing someone you value what they say. It is a form of reciprocity.

  27. Exactly, Heshie. The traditional retweet is a wonderful social interaction; Twitter is trying to take it away from us, and turn it into an advertising device.

    Screw that.

  28. thank you, i'm still learning.
    ive just been using their button when i can't possibly fit the traditional RT into 140 characters AND keep attribution.

    otherwise i do the ol' RT @!

  29. Well Norn, just remember: when you do, the people receiving it probably won't know it was from you, and the person you're retweeting probably won't know you did it. So you're making yourself functionally invisible.

  30. i *usually* only have to use it when someone has chosen a 20-character handle!

  31. I still see a lot of the "old" RTs. I'm wondering how well the new RT has been accepted? (How many are using the new vs. the old, etc?)

    At some point (hopefully) Twitter will take notice and FIX IT!

  32. I don't think they'll fix it until it's too late.

    I think the reasons we hate it are the reasons they did it:

    1. take the 'little people' out of the equation except as 'faces' and 'impressions' to 'sell' to the big guys

    2. standardize measurement of how many 'faces' and 'impressions' the big guys 'bought'.

    They're trying to turn us from people into numbers, so that they can turn the numbers into numbers of dollars.

    The end result of course will come tumbling down when one of their competitors makes its interface as friendly as twitter once was.

  33. I can't argue. I agree. I hope we are both wrong about when they go to change it.

    I'd like to see a decent competitor to twitter. Competition is good for everyone. I tried Friendfeed. It didn't cut it for me.

  34. I am scheduling my retweets with socialoomph and I am always using RT @name. I know that my tweets getting to my followers. But none of my retweets are showing up on my twitter account in the "Retweets from you" section. Is it because I am not using the retweet button on twitter? Thank you for your post. And greetings from Germany.

  35. Yes, Sandra. Those headings are just for the pseudo-retweets. Twitter has no good way of keeping track of the traditional retweets, which is probably why they've tried to kill them. They want to be able to sell us to their paying customers as "faces" and "impressions".

  36. By and large I agree with you. The ideal thing would be if Twitter just made its RT function work like TweeDeck does now.

  37. Are twitter days coming to an end?

    Just somethig on my mind...

    Did you know people can simply send you an @message with a link? Even if they are NOT connected to you they can see your @name via the lists and also when you RT somone else that they are connected to.

    That's another reason why we should not use these apllications that say get 100 followers everyday. You do not know who is going to follow and can send you an @message.

    Check your new followers everyday and BLOCK those who are not good. If everybody blocked new (worrying)followers eventually they would not have any access to any messages.

  38. The retweet feature is massively overused, people who want to get their "tweets" up will use it just to look like they have made an effort, or this is a growing trend that I am noticing.

    I much prefer the manual way, a lot easier and more personal. A little time taken is a good thing.

  39. I deleted a comment which disagreed with the thrust of my advice, but did so in an unnecessarily foul mouthed and disrespectful manner.

  40. I think they both have their respective places in the expanding twitterverse. In emergencies or breaking news situations editing a message could actually distort the information or leave out important data. It also saves the person RTing from having to become the source of info by keeping the source of info intact and showing readers where and who the accurate info is coming from.

    Of course, if you have an opinion about things or want to comment there is no replacement for the original RT.

  41. I read the earlier (now deleted) reply (thanks to e-mail). It certainly was unnecessarily inflammatory.

    I was going to respond with a sarcastic message something to the effect of "How cute, the geniuses who came up with this idea finally found this blog post and wanted to comment."

  42. I did indeed get the impression that its author had a lot invested in this. And the reasons he gave -- in between his discourteous comments -- are the same highly commercial reasons for loving twitter's mock retweet, and for reviling the traditional retweet, that Twitter itself has.

    Of course for the people who actually made Twitter what it is -- we, the community -- the pseudo retweet is a trap intended to make us slaves of Twitter's paying customers.

    I wish that guy would come back and civilly

    -lay out his rationale
    -explain how his rationale would help anyone other than the original sender and
    -disclose what his connection is to all of this

  43. Ray, you've gotten the exact point that I was trying to make.

  44. Thanks, Ellis. Have a great weekend.

  45. Ellis, you made me realize that I could retrieve the deleted comment, edit out the bitchiness, correct the misspelling,, and present it for what it is.

    So here is Kevin 's comment, as edited by me:

    I disagree with you wholeheartedly. The original user-created retweet has no convenient trackback function, floods your mentions column, & sullies the original tweet with editing & confuses attributions if it gets retweeted more than two or three times. Twitter[']s attempt to standardize a "share this awesome tweet" meth[o]d is useful and I wish [.....] early-adopters like you would [.....][synonym for "be silent"] & use or not use twitter however you want. I'll proudly keep using the new RT if I don't want to add commentary, & use the old method to communicate with the original tweeter.

  46. Dear Kevin:

    1. Twitter could have 'standardized' without omitting the retweeter from the equation; e.g. it could well have been the retweeter's icon, rather than the original tweeter's icon, that appears.

    2. Why are you so concerned about standardization? Isn't twitter supposed to be about conversation, rather than about repetition?

    3. Why are you so concerned about the "trackback function"? What does that mean to anyone other than the commercial user?

    4. Why would you want me to refrain from speaking out about this? Why does it bother you so much? And why the nastiness?

    5. Why do you assume that RT'g the old fashioned way is only about adding content? Isn't it also about a communication between the sender, the retweeter, and the retweeter's followers, in which the retweeter communicates to the sender and to his followers that he values the tweet? Why would you want to take that away from us? How could you possibly argue for that being more social?

    6. Please disclose whether you have any financial or other interests in this debate.

  47. I forgot to thank Kevin for calling me an "early adopter". I wish I were an early adopter, but I'm not, really.

  48. I have a problem with this RT so I use Hootsuite & RT like I enjoy & can comment.. I have a problem with seeing posts from people I don't follow & on Hootsuite I don't have to view them but without using Hootsuite, I do.. problem solved for me :)

  49. Hey Ray,

    I picked this post up from Calvin Lee on Facebook (@mayhemstudios).

    Sounds like you've ruffled a few feathers. Quite right too... :) I've never been a fan of the new RT function instead preferring to stay with the old.

    One thing that's maybe worth mentioning (& I could be way off the mark here) about why Twitter have implemented this crap (for want of a better expression) version of RT is it occurred to me that it's possibly down to things like data processing power & storage. Each old style RT (I'll call it oRT) is another, seperate, Tweet whereas the new RT (nRT - I bet you saw that coming?) is probably a reference to the original Tweet. Thus likely to save a little storage. At 50m Tweets a day, any saving is better than nothing. Same as the processing power required. OK, we have vastly powerful resources available in this day & age but those resources are finite & what happens when they run out? Yep, the good old fail whale. Twitter have taken a lot of flack for that so if they can claw back any processing power then they will (IMHO).

    Do we all remember when Twitter changed the @replies to @mentions (or was it vice versa)? Again, my first reaction was "they're doing this to save on storage & / or processing power" & the user base reaction was the same then "twitter's stifling the conversation".

    Only reason I mention this was because I noticed you mentioned the nRT was financially driven (or did I miss the point?).

  50. It seems to me if your business model relies on getting lots of free content from your subscribers, you would want to get more -- not less -- of the free content.

    I have no inside knowledge of the business motivation for what they are doing but it seems consistent with everything else they are doing to assume that the purpose of the rubber stamp pseudo-retweet is to theoretically assist in 'monetization':

    1. targeted lists, the ultimate marketing/advertising tool
    2. localization, the 'next big thing' in marketing/advertising
    3. standardizing retweets so they can be counted
    4. home page "Twitter 101" addressed to businesses
    5. imminent launch of their "advertising platform"
    6. home page recommendations of "top tweets"
    7. home page recommendation of "top people"

    I don't know... it all sounds like part and parcel of plans to make money.

    Of course what they haven't factored in is that by killing the golden goose they will wind up having no eggs at all.

    Raise your hands, people: who came here to be sold to, marketed to, or advertised to?

    Who came here to become a "follower"?

    Who came here to become a "face" or an "impression" to be sold to someone else?

  51. I had the same exact feelings about this when the new "retweet" functionality was added...I'm glad you put it into words. I totally agree and I am glad others are advocating on these grounds.

  52. I don't agree with you. I will continue to use the new retweet button except in the case of protected accounts, where the button is not available. (If the comment made under a protected account is obviously something meant to be shared ONLY with the select people they have allowed to follow, I respect their privacy & will not retweet.)

    I have met more people, who subsequently became mutual followers, from commenting directly to them regarding something they said. True, I could have done this before by cutting & pasting their name into a comment but it is easier now that I can simply hit "reply" and my message appears to the original poster. I fail to see how this "eliminates conversation and interaction."

    I don't feel a need to capitalize on someone else's words. If a person said something worth repeating, why shouldn't they get full credit for saying it? There is nothing special in my agreeing or finding value in it. There IS something special in my following someone worth retweeting but if I am seeing their content you already know I was smart enough to follow them or follow someone who does. If I disagree & want to say so, I can write my own tweet & give the url to the poster's original tweet.

    What gives me the right to edit someone's words? They are THEIR words. Unless I am employed to edit someone, I think it is out of line for me to do so. Do what you want but I am not presumptive enough to alter another's statement. Under the old retweet method, if I could not shorten a tweet without possibly changing the meaning or making them look illiterate by including a bunch of "ur" "u" and "r"s then I wouldn't retweet but I might still link to what they said and comment on it. Also, I don't see any reason why I can't tweet a related comment in a separate tweet.

    I don't understand why I have to see the avatar of someone who retweeted something. I already follow that person so I see their avatar all the time. I have no problem reading the information under the tweet so I can tell who found a comment retweet worthy. I've always read that information even before the new retweet feature. It is how I follow conversation threads and also how I get an idea whether the person is mobile or sitting at a desk.

    I know when someone retweets me using the new retweet method because I periodically check the web version of Twitter. If I can do that, anyone I retweet can do the same. I don't believe I render myself “invisible” by retweeting with the new method. I also don't feel it is overly important that I always BE visible every opportunity I get. How is it social to feed my own ego? Social is a two way street. If all my actions on Twitter are a variation of shouting, “Look at me, me, ME,” then I am not concentrating enough on the other portions of the conversation.

  53. Dear Emma:

    I'm glad you feel you've made a lot of new friends due to the new pseudo-retweet button, but

    (a) with traditional retweets the original retweeter gets your retweet,

    (b) the intermediate people get it too, which means MORE people get it than under the pseudo-RT,

    (c) there is a conversation that goes on sometimes between 4 or 5 people, which is totally lacking in the rubber stamp retweet; if you haven't experienced that, I'm sorry for you, because it's one of the most wondrous things that can happen to you on twitter & it happens to me many times a day.

    A traditional retweet does give the original retweeter full credit.

    "Capitalizing"? What a strange word to use when we're talking about conversation. That is what conversation is, Emma. In a real conversation you capitalize on something other people said, and then you add your contribution, and lots of people capitalize on each other. I think a much better word is "sharing". When I find something valuable, from one of my friends, I like to share it with my other friends.

    The "right to edit"? You've got to be kidding. I've probably done 60,000 or more retweets, and no one has EVER complained because I shortened their tweet when retweeting it.

    Sorry you look down on "ur" and "u" and "r" but they are standard commonly understood shortening symbols developed in the world of texting; I'd much rather have a lively wonderful conversation with abbreviations than live in the kind of isolation you suggest.

    I follow 7300 people. The avatar is very very important to me by signaling to me at a glance the identity of the person from whom the tweet or retweet is coming. I don't have time to do an investigation of the fine print on each tweet.
    It matters much more to me which of my FRIENDS has sent it than it does which STRANGER with whom I have no relationship originally tweeted the original thought.

    You are VIRTUALLY invisible to both the original tweeter and to the recipient, since neither can find out about your involvement without an INVESTIGATION, and you are IN FACT invisible to everyone else along the way, since you have failed to converse.

    If you like the new button fine, but don't call it a retweet, because it's not.

    It accomplishes nothing that the traditional retweet accomplishes. All it does is republish the original tweet.

  54. I don't understand why in one's tweets history view on twitter, they can't post more tweets and have all that blank space at the top of the page instead and also why their own tweets don't write under them how many people have retweeted them

  55. Some advantages of the RT button are:

    1) by not being able to edit, the writer is not misquoted

    2) allows more (140) characters

    3) identity & avatar of writer exposed to more tweeps

    4) works great on - automatically tracks these 'official' retweets

  56. Oh...and by the way, FYI...I would not have stumbled on this article were it not for the 'Retweet' button.

    Twitter knows its advantages, and still allows the manual RT, as does it allows other twitter clients to do it that way. Twitter allows all options, and all have clear benefits.

  57. Jennifer, I guess you missed the whole point of my article.

    Of course it has many advantages to the original tweeter, if that tweeter is a celebrity, or a business, looking for "exposure" rather than conversation.

    But the person doing the retweeting is making a fool of him or her self, by invisibly providing free republication to the original tweeter.

  58. Jennifer....

    1. You would have stumbled upon it just as easily with a traditional retweet.

    2. Twitter does nothing to "allow" traditional retweets; it has no power to stop them.

  59. Ray,

    I think it's a requirement with the powers-to-be at Twitter that someone pop-in here every few weeks and regurgitate the company bullet-points. (At least it sure feels that way)

  60. Does seem that way, doesn't it, Ellis?

  61. Many on twitter are looking for more exposure, including myself and yourself. For those who use primarily the twitter homepage, it's quite convenient to spread the word, and the person who retweeted the item is credited clearly enough. I personally very much like being exposed to more tweeps & their avatars through this new option.

    Do you really think the person who led me to your article was "foolish"? He's not. He's actually quite wise. He is @staffystaff and we gain much from retweeting each other in that we have similar interests yet work in different fields.

    Thanks for your comments though, I do appreciate the interaction.

  62. Jennifer, you've misspoken.

    @staffystaff's retweet of my article was a traditional retweet, not a pseudo-retweet:

  63. BTW Jennifer, who are you? What is your Twitter name?

  64. If you want MORE exposure then you need to use the traditional RT. The "new" pseudo-RT renders you nearly invisible. I *never* know who RTs me using the new RT unless I go look for it in a different screen. (Which I won't do.) The traditional RT shows up right in my mentions.

    More exposure is an argument against the new RT (for me anyway)

  65. Jennifer corrects me. She learned of my blog post through @staffystaff 's pseudo-retweet of @MKupperman's traditional retweet of @PaulSteele's traditional retweet of my original tweet. [I would give you the link for @staffystaff 's tweet, except there is none, since fake-retweets have no identity of their own].

    I.e., @staffystaff was disregarding the advice of myself, Paul Steele, and MKupperman, and was in essence "retweeting" something with which he apparently disagrees.

    Go figure.

    In any event, I stand corrected.

  66. No problem, neighbor.

  67. I agree with traditional retweets with the exception of people who have protected accounts. If a person has a protected account and they use the twitter function retweet, the original tweeter can see that person retweeted.

  68. I'll tell you, Bob, I don't think about that much, because I'm of the school that if you want privacy, you shouldn't be on the internet.

    I think people who are trying to balance a public internet presence and personal privacy are in for a disappointment.

  69. For a day or two, I saw new style retweets appearing in my mentions on Twitter web client as well as all other clients (Death of Old School RT and New Rules of the Twitter Game. But it seems it disappeared since then.

  70. I disagree with much of this article.

    I think people are free to use so-called 'true' retweets, especially when they need to comment on it.

    But other than that, there's no reason you can't use the new retweet button (and it IS a retweet button).

    1) Full credit should always go to the person who posted the tweet in the first place.

    2) People can check who retweeted what, even if it's one extra step to take. If it can't be seen by Tweetdeck (which I don't use), then it's up to Tweetdeck to update its software.

    The retweet button is useful for me, because it preserves the look and the text of the original tweet, including the avatar. I won't even retweet if someone just tweets, for example, "RT @hulahoopz check this out! [URL]". In fact, I'd actually go to hulahoopz's page to retweet the original tweet.

    I don't mind people using the old RT function at all, especially when they need to comment.

    What I mind is people trying to tell other people that the 'new' retweet is not a 'pure' retweet. What I mind is people thinking they deserve the same amount of credit as the person who posted the original link.

    I don't think Twitter implemented the new RT function purely for revenue functions. I think they put it in for someone who likes to share content with just one click, who does not care that his avatar won't show up as the 'tweeter,' and is happy to let the original tweeter get all the glory.

    If you're not that person, then fine, use the old RT. But don't go dissing the new RT.

  71. Ray,

    Very interesting post and it is also interesting to see how long the conversation-through-comments has been going on.

    Until a month ago I was using TweetDeck on my computer and just occasional texting through the phone. I happened to "retweet" on the Twitter website and I did notice that it doesn't allow editing. I more than once wondered if the tweet was retweeted entirely, as it was clearly too long, if my RT @username was supposed to show up too. But then I realised retweeting from the website takes away links to the retweeter and although I don't have a particular urge to become a top tweeter, I found some interesting links and people there, by reading retweets. Then it seems fair to me that my (or any other retweeter) username should be on the retweet.

    This being said... I noticed that TweetDeck was using up a bit more memory than I was expecting a Twitter application to use. Besides I don't use Twitter *that* much anyway, so I moved to Tweetie. I now use Tweetie on both my computer and the phone. It is very smooth and also allows:
    - retweets
    - quote tweet: useful if you don't want "RT: @username" to appear, or if you want to add a comment
    - reply
    - post link to tweet
    - mail tweet.
    And alike in many other Twitter application, if your tweet/retweet is too long you can either re-spell it or post it via Twitlonger automatically.

    Light and easy-to-use, I'm a happy Tweep!

    As for the privacy issue, I think that if you want to retweet, you just have to take off the Protected Tweets option. Just as simple as that. Why would you retweet someone else's info to spread it to the whole tweet-cosmo and keep yourself anonymous/unreachable at the same time? You're already on the Tweet-cosmo. If you wanted real privacy, then you just didn't have to go online at all, not even read newspapers or find news... Just avoid the internet ;)

    But I can understand someone might want to keep Twitter to communicate within a restricted group of people. In this case, there could be a sort of restricted community, forum-like, where people tweet each others and keep their conversations private (and therefore don't re-tweet or have no interest in re-tweeting, I suppose).

    Again, great post Ray!


  72. Dear Jay

    1. No it's not a "true retweet" because it has none of the properties of a retweet, other than the repetition property.

    2. Of course people are "free" to do whatever they want; I am not suggesting otherwise. I am simply advising people that by using the fake retweet they are impairing their standing in the community.

    3. "Full credit" does go to the original poster in a genuine retweet.

    4. The recipient is not following the "original poster"; he is following the retweeter. It is the "personal brand" of the retweeter that matters to the recipient, because that is the person to whom he or she has subscribed.

    5. You're not telling us anything when you say that "people can check" to find who the retweeters are. My article explains that, doesn't it? But it's when we see the tweet that counts.

    6. If you would skip the page of a genuine retweeter, and then retweet the original from the original sender, then you are cheating in my book. Not giving appropriate credit to the person who brought it to your attention is dishonest IMHO. You are just stealing the tweet.

    7. When there is an impossibly long string of RT'ers, I'll delete one or two in the chain, but NEVER the person from whom I received it and NEVER the original poster.

    8. Your opinions, that twitter's motivation in ignoring the traditional retweets, and creating a rubber stamp "retweet" instead, was not financial, and that you "don't like" me giving advice, are (a) your opinions, (b) not based on any facts you have offered us, and (c) lame.

  73. Dear Sara,

    Thanks for your kind words.

    I'm glad to hear that Tweetie gives you options.

    I have a Blackberry and use ubertwitter, which -- like Tweetdeck -- allows you to configure it so that you'll always default to a traditional retweet, rather than a rubber stamp.

    Sounds like you're having a positive Twitter experience.

  74. Thank you, Ray.

    So far so good with Tweetie. I also have more than one account (main one; one for friends not interested in what I mainly tweet about; and one for a seminar we organised in March, it went so well that still people are following news about Transition Farming)

    Tweetie is a bit like TweetDeck, but instead of columns, there is one column and side tabs for each account. Very fast and smooth, plus it saves space on the screen, especially on my 13" laptop.
    The iPhone version is also very easy-to-use, especially the "attachments" (photos, videos, @, hashtags, links...)

    I registered on Twitter about 2 years ago, but I haven't really used it until late 2009. I find it much more useful than other Social Media services because one can gather news on a wide range of topics of interest and at the same time spread news in a quick, simple and short way. Just by sending out the link and a catch phrase or short commentary, we can start very interesting conversations we'd never have otherwise.
    Twitter also helps users to be concise in their thoughts: summarise, go to the point. Humans tend to digress a bit too often... ; )

  75. I'm a Twitelator Pro man myself. I used to use Tweetie from 1.0 until 2.1 when they (gasp) broke the RT feature. At some point with (2.1?) they made it so the "editable" RT only allowed the "via @ ..." format and not the RT "prefix". The developer had some high-horse thing that the RT-prefix was "wrong" and we shouldn't do it.

    So, I switched products. A bit of a small learning curve with Twitelator Pro, but I've been quite happy using it to manage multiple Twitter accounts.

    I have no idea if Tweetie ever caved and put back the old RT-prefix syntax or not. Once I drop a product I rarely go back.

  76. I've been seeing tweets that seem to be the new format "retweets", with the double avatar and show as being from the original poster (via the retweeter). But a reply goes to @retweeter.

    I think this might be a function of the app that I use, which is Tweetcaster, for android. Tweetcaster also allows you to default to traditional retweets.

  77. Hi Ellis,

    I discovered Tweetie about a month ago, so I don't know about the previous versions. The one I have now does put RT @username in re-tweets. I guess they put the feature back.
    I've never tried Twitelator, but like you, when I stop using a software to use another one, I rarely go back. I suppose we all have our own preferences and until I started using Twitter from applications and phone (very recently) I had no idea there were so many applications. I'm kind of a "noob"... : )



    thank you for the update on the RT issue! It sounds a bit crazy to me, why would Twitter block RTs in searches, I don't know...

  78. Sara,

    Thank you for the update about Tweetie. That's certainly a 180 from their earlier position, and I am very happy to see the return of the RT function.

    (Since I've already paid for it) I might re-install it and give it a try again. Thanks for the tip.

    - Ellis

  79. I'm totally in agreement here...I'm happy to see more bloggers promoting this perspective. I've always used only "old school" RT's (or via/V) and I am also skeptical of the new functionality and how it is implemented.

  80. Ellis,

    scratch that... Tweetie just died. The new update has a new name, it is a free app now (!) and no RTs.


  81. Sara,

    Looks like Twitter bought Tweetie. No surprise that RTs are dead. Glad I didn't go back to it. (smile).

    I still like Twittelator Pro if you don't mind a small learning curve to it's somewhat strange UI. (Such as clicking on the text or the avatar doing different things.)

    - Ellis

  82. Yep, Ellis... I had heard of Twitter buying atebits applications, but that was before the whole RT war started and I had no idea the upgrade would be such a disappointment.
    I don't know if I can downgrade, possibly not. But it would be interesting to know if keeping the old Tweetie (no upgrade to "Twitter for iPhone") the RT function stays intact, mmm...
    I'm using TweetDeck now because I had already used it in the past. I think I'm going to give Twittelator Pro a try, feels like I'll have to look for a favorite app again ;)


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