Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Twitter etiquette for commenting on tweets & blog posts


If you want to comment on a tweet you should retweet it.* That is by far the best way to comment on a tweet. Detached comments are time-wasters.

When you retweet, you are sharing the underlying tweet with your followers, helping both the tweeter and your followers. You are helping to build conversation, dialogue, and community.

If the tweet is too long to accommodate both the retweet and your comment, retweet part of the tweet and/or keep your comment short, or send the comment in a separate followup tweet, or use a long tweet tool  like twitlonger.

Almost always, the right way to comment on a tweet is to retweet it with your comment.

If you retweet, it's not even necessary to add a comment; the act of retweeting is a powerful comment in and of itself. It says: "this is something I find worthy of sharing with those people who trust me enough to follow me".

To comment on, or otherwise respond to, a tweet, without referencing the underlying tweet, is just plain w.r.o.n.g. None of your followers know what you're talking about, and the recipient usually has no idea either, so you're just wasting a lot of people's time.

If you're going to take the time to comment on a tweet, send something intelligible.

Tweets referencing blog posts

If you like a blog post which has been tweeted, you should post your comment on the blog post itself, either instead of, or in addition to, retweeting. But you should not merely tweet.

Some people try to get into a Twitter conversation about a blog post. While that's okay, it's not enough.

Where the tweeter has tweeted about a blog post, the blog itself is the most important place for you to comment.

Twitter is very fast moving, and we miss most of what goes through our stream. By leaving a permanent comment on the blog post, you help to build a genuine, lasting, growing conversation about the substance of the post. If you fail to do that, none of the blog post's readers will know what you had to say.

So if you're going to take the time to comment, you might as well leave a comment where it will have some impact -- on the blog.

If you want to also comment on Twitter, great; but do that in addition to, not instead of, commenting on the blog post itself.

*By "retweet" I mean "traditional retweet" not the twitter "retweet button" rubberstamp "retweet".

(Short url for this post:


  1. I think I may have just 'annoyed' you by doing on Facebook what you say not to do on Twitter... commenting on your FB comment about the blog rather than on here... but in my defense, I did ask ... waiting for reply on FB... :) ~Janet

  2. I always learn from you Ray. Thank you for a wonderful post.

  3. Thank you Ray for saying this; I am often finding people just do not do the right thing. They do not honour the tweet and just go into converstaion. I do know what you are saying is correct.
    And yes the traditional RT is best!

  4. Thank the lord you wrote this! If you have a sec, check out my blog post that still is the lead post on Freshly Pressed, the homepage. THANK YOU!

    The post is:

    My best to you. I love your feed. Now I have your blog...~Mike

  5. Thanks, Ray. I'm new to Twitter so your tips are often very helpful to me!

  6. I see most comments on blog posts limited to one word or a sentence at the most. 'Excellent', 'Nice', 'Good Effort' etc are comments that have no meaning.

    If the post has been read and understood fully,

    1. The comment should be a logical paragraph minimum
    2. The comment should be an opinion on the subject or should add to what has already been written
    3. The comment can be in response to some other comment which one finds thought provoking
    4. The comment should name other people who have made a deserving comment, which needs to be acknowledged.

    Commenting on blogs is a big step towards engagement and should be done enthusiastically and regularly.

    Aman Sharma
    Twitter id : @amancool5

  7. Dear Aman,

    I can't say I agree with you there. Not everyone has the time to do what you're suggesting.

  8. Nice post Ray, simple, informative and straight to the point!

    Im sure lots of people will find it useful, especially those who are new to the net/tw/blogs

  9. That was interesting. The importance of posting a comment directly under the blogpost never entered my mind. I usually just go back to twitter and comment. Thanks.

  10. Totally agree- now I wish we could just get everyone to sign on to this :)

  11. Almost always, the right way to comment on a tweet is to retweet it with your comment.

  12. I wholeheartedly agree.
    I am commenting and I RT'd the link to the article.

  13. Dear Ray,
    I'm new to this tweeting business. I still don't understand how you retweet and reply at the same time. When I open up the retweet box there is no room to comment. Am I doing it backwards? I'm just trying to follow your advice. Also there are some tweets I only with to reply to. Do I have to tell the world everything I'm interested in?

  14. Dear Allan:

    1. You are referring to twitter's fake-retweet or rubber stamp button. That is not a genuine retweet. The difference between that and a classic, traditional retweet is explained here.

    2. If you just "reply" to someone without referencing the underlying article, (a) how will they know which tweet you're replying to, and (b) how will your followers know what you're talking about? Wouldn't that be rude IRL? If so, why isn't it rude here?

  15. Thanks for the etiquette hint. Seems reasonable, I'll try it out and see if it improves my understanding and communication.

  16. I'm the Devil's advocate here. While I think there are preferable ways to do things on twitter and blogs, there is no "right way" or wrong way, in my mind. Sometimes people just want to comment on a tweet and for various reasons may not choose the Rt the blog, original tweet etc. If twitter was restricted to this "tweet / comment & RT" format the stream would look pretty much all the same. People are here for different reasons. I see nothing wrong with saying to someone "I liked your blog post. It made a lot of sense" , or some variation thereof, without actually retweeting the blog or original link to it. That is asking a lot and requiring an obligation that one should not require of followers. Followers are friends, not promoters.

    If I were to feel this obligation, I would be making less contact with people. I won't hold myself to this rule.

    However, I do always appreciate your blog entries :-) and respect your point of view.

  17. I always appreciate your posts Ray, and admire the way you've set out to codify common sense and best behaviors for Twitter. I have to ask though, how does work into this? Unlike other tweet expanders, such as tmi and twitlonger, incorporates it's own comment structure which takes place outside of the twiiter ecosystem.

    Since I know that you use frequently, how does this work within your comment and retweet practices?

    This question is intended with all sincerity and I am in no way trying to play the troll. As someone who finds most tweet expanders and particularly to run counter to the nature of twitter, I'm genuinely curious about your take on it.

  18. Hi Marcos

    The thing is something provided by tweetdeck so that I don't have to arbitrarily cut a tweet short; it makes it easier to retweet, since there's less pressure to edit.

    I haven't really thought it through.

    I didn't even realize it had its own comment system until you just mentioned it.

    So you tell me, if you think it's a bad idea for us to use it, because you know more about it than I do :)

  19. Thanks for responding Ray. My opinion about breaks down into two parts. First, I tend to be anti-tweet expanders for the simple reason that it removes the conversation from Twitter. I enjoy the both the ability to read a complete tweet within a client and the discipline that crafting a message in 140 characters requires. If more space is required than 140 characters, perhaps Twitter isn't the medium for that message.

    Second, is the previously mentioned comment structure. Similarly to your views about using the official Retweet, it breaks the conversation by removing it from the Twitter ecosystem. Tweetdeck is a great client which supports more than just Twitter, and there is no reason to think that will function on just Twitter. What is being created here is the framework for a client specific social network which is by default exclusionary if you do not have software which supports it. Twetdeck gets at that somewhat in their post here;

    There's my two cents on the subject, thanks for listening.

  20. You make a lot of sense, Marco.

    I kind of like the idea of a "client specific" social network. Twitter management is too arrogant. I do agree with you that the trend may be towards having a single client which can cover all your social networks, so that if Twitter management wants to continue with their dance of death we can easily transition to other, more responsive, organizations.

  21. I agree with Ray's original comment but thank you for the advice about leaving a comment rather than just tweeting. Here's the proof with my compliments! I'm headed off to the Urban Dictionary to figure out what shilling and trolling might mean.

  22. ps I still can't figure out how to retweet with a comment or added # (which may be a faux pas...) - any advice gratefully received! There should be a Tweet 101 somewhere!

  23. Yes - seems good - I retweet and reply if appropriate, doesn't have to be either or. Same with blog posts - leave a comment and tweet it.

  24. Very great post. Going to clean up some of my online manners, starting now!

    (This is my first blog comment since joining Twitter.)

    Ryan Horsfall
    The Bay Area's Magician

  25. I agree with whoever it was who said that there is a multitude of ways to use Twitter. That being said, I think what you offer here are very good guidelines, and for all the right reasons - thanks!

  26. Thanks, Graham:

    As I once said:

    Don't let yourself be boxed in by Twitter's terminology as to what it is for. It is for anything conversation and writing are for: making new friends, making people laugh, getting a laugh, sharing thoughts, sharing information, making the world a better place, learning, teaching, kvetching, commiserating.... Using it mainly to "update" your "status" is a good way of ensuring that your status is.... lonely.

  27. I'm all for etiquette and manners, but sometimes time & work pressures don't allow more than an RT on Twitter to point new people to something you've seen that interested, amused or moved you. One handy 140-friendly option is to re-tweet the link with some kind of cryptic or interesting comment and reference the author, or conduit, for the original item.

  28. You make some good points, thank you, Ray. I confess I usually shy away from leaving comments on a blog page, preferring instead the dynamic, less permanent nature of Twitter. Nevertheless, I hear what you say, so here goes!

    Incidentally, as I do try to leave a comment here, I find it impossible to do so using my iPhone.

    I do agree that retweeting with comment can be powerful. However, have you considered that by using the reply button, Twitter preserves the thread, so that the reader can easily see the context by clicking on the tweet? I have previously read an equally forthright blog post exhorting people to "reply" and not "retweet with comment". Perhaps it depends upon the length of one's comment and whether one wants one's readers to see the context at a glance.

    For what it's worth, for retweets without comment, I personally find it easier to read what you call "rubberstamp retweets" than "traditional retweets". Also, the "rubberstamp retweet" preserves the context/thread and provides information about all those who have retweeted the post.

    As for expanded tweets (such as the old, I wonder what proportion of people who read a tweet will click through to the expanded tweet (with accompanying advert)? I suspect not 100%.

  29. PS And another limitation of adding a comment to a blog page would appear that one has to wait for the comment to be approved. This means that I cannot tweet the link to the newly commented blog until later - when the moment may have passed.

  30. Dear informedsauce:

    I agree with you. A classic RT is all you need to do to comment.

    But to reply or comment WITHOUT referencing the thing you're referring to is discourteous, because it wastes the time of the recipient, who may have no idea what you're talking about, and it is an insult to your followers, who likewise have no idea what you're talking about.

  31. Dear John Cosgrove:

    Of course I have considered that Twitter 'preserves the thread'.

    But as you yourself seem to recognize, time matters.

    It's rude to force people to go do research to know what you are talking about.

    If you send a mere reply

    (a) the recipient may not know what you're talking about, and

    (b) your followers certainly don't know what you're talking about.

    That is rude in my book.

    As to your doing rubber stamp retweets instead of classic retweets, that harms you more than it inconveniences anyone else. The only thing rude about it is that you've sent the tweet of a stranger into your followers' streams. Some of them might not mind that. Some might. (I for one get livid when I see the tweet of kim kardashian or someone like that in my stream due to a friend's having used a rubber stamp retweet)

    Your defense of the "rubber stamp retweet" on the ground that it "preserves the thread" again fails to take into account the time factor; you should not put a burden on people to do research in order to understand what you've done.

    Of course people click through on expanded tweets only if the first 140 characters caught their interest.

    Yes you're right that the blog comment process is a slower and more permanent process. It's just different than twitter. That's why we need twitter too (or something like it).

  32. Thanks for authorising my comment and responding, Ray. I doubt I will see these options as black and white but rather as "horses for courses".
    For me, RT with comment is great when the context is simple and the comment short. For all else, Twitter tries to help with "reply" and "rubber stamp retweet". :-)

  33. I followed Twitter to find this blog and of course I do as recommended: Thank you for your helpful advice!

  34. This blog post is very helpful for those who are getting started in the Tweetosphere. Great work, Ray. I really enjoyed your insight and will do my best to incorporate these suggestions into my Twitter habits in the future.

  35. Thank you for your kind words Helen... and for including them in the blog post comments :)


I have a few simple comment rules:

(a) No

1. rudeness
2. falsehood
3. deception
4. unfair tactics
5. comment spam
6. shilling or trolling

(b) stay on topic, and

(c) if you're anonymous, use a handle so we can distinguish you from other anonymous commenters.

Thanks for commenting.