How relevant is retweeting in Twitter?

12Jul10
Retweet Toon
Image via NorthernVirginia

Old Style

The old style retweet came into being in a similar way that the mentions or replies(username preceded with @) had. They were just a convention used by a few people and then they got picked up by more and more, till they became a norm. Old style retweets just like mentions are viewable as intended on any and all twitter clients. The format is to put “RT @username” at the start or end of the original tweet that is being ‘retweeted’ or re-posted.

How useful is the old format?

I prefer old style retweets and use them as much as possible because :-

  • I can post and read old style RT’s from any twitter client
  • Clients not supporting new style RT can’t display beyond 140 characters and “RT @username” itself often takes up many characters. This gets worse if there is a chain of RT. I feel it’s straining the copyright. The accepted norm in these cases is not clear or official enough to me.
  • Old style RT’s allow you to add your +1, +100, or 2cents, if you can fit it in i.e.

New Style

The new style retweet was twitter’s implementation of the concept with (I feel) a focus on finding the most popular tweets and hence (often) finding the most popular links. This is particularly what makes me think of the title of this post. I’ll come to that in a while. The new style retweet is possible in select number of applications.

How useful is the new format?

Barely.

  • I prefer new style retweet in the mobile twitter web app Dabr as it saves me from editing and trimming messages to fit in 140 chars. OTOH I do miss out on adding my own character to it.
  • I think there are some tweets that just can’t be added to or deducted from. There are tweets (links) that you want people to see rise in popularity as you vote it up with a new style retweet.

How useful/relevant is retweeting in general?

I guess its got something to do with belief. I’d often retweet requests for blood donation than not. There’s no reason behind it. I’m not the one needing/offering. Yes, it feels lame than doing the real thing. But its a belief that it helps get the real thing arranged somehow. I wouldn’t want that unfounded faith to be shaken with statistics. FYI Retweets are free. Although the whale floats up often #justsaying

Retweeting links is serious abuse of Twitter (esp. since it doesn’t have a link field), non-existent attribution to link authors and a way to say “yea yea you’re right” like a sycophant. I don’t see the point of retweeting links. Why credit the person tweeting the link? There are a myriad ways to discover a link and twitter is but again one of those myriad ways to share the link for more people to discover. The person tweeting the link is hardly ever the author(s) himself/herself/themselves. However in case of the exception to this generality, attribute the tweet composer with a RT. I’d say post the link (after shortening it) and use all the leftover space to add your opinion on the link. Your opinion is the ‘what matters’ part of the tweet. Let bookmarking tools take care of link popularity. If you need something that’s based off twitter. Take a look at topsy. Favorite tweets are my way of bookmarking tweets with links (usually) to be perused later.

The concept of retweeting could also have something to do with attributing the original composer of the tweet that is being re-posted, which leads to a (invisible, unless you take it up) debate of copyrights and related licensing issues on tweets and their ownership. For me, I choose twitter to voice out stuff that can be publicly viewed, reviewed, reused, abused and ignored. I know there’s not much that can be done. I am not going to put up useless copyscape banners next to each tweet of mine. Protected accounts have their privacy as required.

I’m guilty of having defied almost all the conditions that I’m setting up here for not retweeting, simply as I’ve learnt of the deficiencies and efficiencies going down that certain path, that looks quite wrong now. What’s been the best use of RT that you have seen on twitter or any other micro-blogging service? Write in the comments section.

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4 Responses to “How relevant is retweeting in Twitter?”

  1. ReTweeting has its merit – no doubt . It allows you pass the goodness of others to your followers . Personally i don’t like the new style format as its mechanical without allowing you to add your bit. Also , now because of these 2 formats i ( may be ignorance ) find it difficult to know who all have RTed my tweets.

    I tweet at http://twitter.com/vikaspgoel

    • 2 Diabolic Preacher

      thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. I agree with the point ‘allows to pass the goodness’. but like i say, the goodness better be in the content of the tweet. a good link is but just a find, the merit, hence the credit should belong to the link author. if u tweet a blog update of urs and if i feel it deserves an rt then by all means i will RT the link and in the process mention you and attribute the link’s content to you.
      i think some twitter applications have a separate column, section called retweets that shows the new style retweets in one place. old one could be obtained via search i suppose.

  2. 3 Aliya

    Well i’m not very technical when it comes to it, so from an un-technical person’s view-point it’s this- i mean, u speak a lot about RTing links. But like, what if u ain’t RTing a link? Like just a favourite quote of yours? I use the new RT for that very often. Other ppl also use it for getting required no of RTs for twititions which i think is pretty lame n annoying when they keep asking you to RT! Btw, i liked the way u penned ur views. They made an interesting read:)

    • 4 Diabolic Preacher

      I have not read about twititions. twitter+petition?
      I think quotes are also second-hand content like the content in links. After a while, public knows which are the source twitter users for quotes and stuff, so they’d unfollow the retweeter/middleperson.
      Like i say in the article, some reasons to RT like a job offer, a job need or a blood donation need are usually RT’ed based on faith than facts.

      Thank you for appreciating my work. 🙂


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