Twitter etiquette – modify this? #MT

I’ve been blogging recently on this site about social media and how it can support engagement if done well. This morning I posted a slightly ranty tweet that went as follows:

This wasn’t particularly subtle, it wasn’t meant to be. It also wasn’t actually directly at one individual in their own right, but a small handful in my twitterstream who are starting to take the shine off things for me a little. At this point I should confess that I’m a natural academic, my Gran cursed me as bookish many, many years ago before I’d even set foot in a university! I like reading, I like thinking, I like reflection and I like growing. Social media has been a fantastic source of ideas and concepts for me to explore over the past five years or so. For me personally it’s one of it’s greatest strengths.

Why is this relevant I hear you ask? Well I have a natural aversion to even the slightest whiff of plagiarism, where people (deliberately) pass someone else’s ideas or work off as their own. I know, I know, there are no new ideas and we all learn and grow through engaging with other people, however, there is something important for me about crediting someone with their own original contribution.

What is irking me so much? Put simply there has been a new development on Twitter of late, well relatively recently and that’s the introduction of the MT, which is an abbreviation for modified tweet, that could perhaps more accurately refer to a me-tweet. While potentially really useful, if the content or substance has been changed significantly by the person sharing it with their stream, great. There are one or two people who seem to repeatedly use MT to remove the originator from the front of the tweet, I can only assume to get credit themselves, and of course if it is a great tweet then people are likely to RT it….and for those people who try to game influence scores, they will get credit for the thoughts, even though they are not theirs in the first place.

So are you suggesting never to use MT? Nope, not at all. I can understand if someone modifies or alters the content of a tweet that they may feel reluctant, or even concerned, about simply RTing that. In that instance, where the intention or sentiment is significantly changed then I have no problem with the MT concept.

Aren’t you being a little pedantic? Yes, almost certainly. This is one of my pet hates, I’m sure other people have their own, and I’m sure I’m probably as guilty as the next person at breaking Twitter etiquette. Twitter, and most other forms of social media, grow and develop organically and there really are no rules, so this is a personal bug bear rather than a cardinal sin. The last thing I want is to make people self-conscious, they’re tweets, snippets of a conversation, you don’t need to reference every thought or opinion, just don’t be stealing other people’s deliberately.

So, if you recognise that, why the post? Well Twitter, and most social media platforms, are pretty much governed by the people using them. I find that fewer people stick their head above the parapet or disagree readily online, so I thought I’d put a marker in the sand and offer this as a starting point to continue the conversation. I was also talking with @anniecoops and @JodiMBrown who pointed out that it’s hard to know this stuff if no-one makes it explicit. I hope this will be useful for someone.

This is all very good but what are the other rules I should know about?┬áBack in the day, in December 2011, I wrote a blog post of my top ten tips for twitter newbies that you can read here. The ten tips are listed below but you’ll need to goto the original post to read more:

1. There are no rules

2. You don’t need to read it all

3. Nothing is private

4. Following people is key

5. Don’t be too self-conscious, engage in the conversation

6. Don’t worry too much about your follower numbers and you don’t have to follow someone back

7. Think about your manners

8. Use hashtags to find things of interest

9. Don’t worry about unfollowing people

10. Add a photo and a biography

I’d be very interested in your thoughts on this post, on modifying tweets in general, and anything that causes you angst on the social media playing field.

6 comments on “Twitter etiquette – modify this? #MT”

Mark says:

You’re a pedant after my own heart.

Put simply, if you use MT to edit a tweet to the key point, and add space to comment while keeping the originator … Fine. Doing it to claim ownership of the message and you make angels weep.

Debs Seed says:

I like MTs!
Before I heard about them felt uncomfortable altering tweets before RT’ing, usually to shorten message and adding my own comment. Altering the message may (inadvertently) alter the original tweeter’s emphasis.

Also, when seeing a MT the reader should be able to go back to source to check original tweet. Of course, the original author should be mentioned throughout.

Write a reply or comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *