Breaking my own Twitter rules

I’m a strong believer in online etiquette and I guess over time I’ve created a few rules in my own mind which I try to follow as regards to my use of Twitter. They are loose, but kind of sum up my approach to the tool.

  • never, EVER, split a single comment across multiple tweets – 140 chars is enough, or you’re saying too much at once.
  • don’t be too verbose or noisy (I guess this amounts to “don’t Twitter too much”)
  • don’t be broadcast-only, try to respond to comments and questions
  • don’t use Twitter just for chatting (i.e. don’t spend too much time on @replies)

Whether these make sense or not is another debate, but they sum up what my use of Twitter is all about. I have a level of tolerance for others who break my rules, but eventually I tend to unfollow people who do (particularly the multiple tweets rule, which just really annoys me)

My level of twittering fluctuates – some days I don’t say much (last week nothing at all as I was away from technology all week), other days I’m quite chatty. Right now I guess I’m very noisy, as I’m at the Web 2.0 Expo.

Yesterday I had my first instance of unfollowing that was explicitly put down to how much of a firehose my Twitter stream had become:

So I guess the rules I’ve established in my own mind do matter to other people as well. I can understand that.

It’s interesting to note that for a while I unfollowed my friend Luis Suarez because of his tendency to break some of these rules. He now has a separate account for his conference-related twitterings. This seems like a reasonable compromise, but so far I’ve not been to enough for this to be a good reason to complicate my life with an additional account.

By the way, Stowe Boyd gave an excellent talk on “The Web of Flow” at the expo yesterday. His slides are here.

Oh, and Phil: I’ll get quieter again, I promise! 🙂

7 thoughts on “Breaking my own Twitter rules”

  1. Andy, you’re by no means too heavy in general. I do a lot of the louder twitterers via RSS. If I see the feeds getting light, I refollow.

    Can I add a general plug for @tencommandments ?

  2. I see that rule broken with auto tweets about blog posts and so on as well as things like delicious auto postings to blogs.

    I think as you reach a threshold of people you are following, you really only want “real” information from them rather than things you could have found out from other feed sources.

    but I think in the end, if people have to unsubscribe because of that, it could more be the fault of the system they are using than the service, as it would be nice to be able to auto filter out “automatic” posts and even things with a hashtag as appropriate to keep the signal to noise ratio down.

  3. Useful thoughts.

    I’ve recently been experimenting with the ‘Cover It Live’ liveblogging tool as a means of keeping my conference notes from flooding my Twitter stream (and acting as a useful permanent archive of the event too). Otherwise, I find myself holding back on Twitter. If I’m taking notes I want the freedom to be *really* firehose-y.

    Looking forward to hearing more about the mention of current cost and @andy_house at the Web 2.0 expo! (See? Twittering conference titbits has its uses).

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