Twitter is my preferred social network for a number of reasons. But more than anything I love it because it’s simple and, with the help of various clients and lists, easy to organize and keep track of. It’s far easier to spend twenty minutes a day catching up on tweets, in my opinion, than the inevitable sink-hole of time Facebook takes up. Not to mention, the UI doesn’t burn my eyes, which is always a plus.
I also feel at home on Twitter because it really is geek central. Geeks are everywhere on Twitter: from Jonathan Coulton to Cory Doctorow, from Felica Day to Wil Wheaton—we flock there, we geek there, we connect there. It’s like a great geek network.
But that’s not to say it’s easy to get involved in Twitter. And admittedly, the longer I stay on Twitter, the more I become a lurker; I’ll have the client connected all day, but I’ll only tweet a handful of times. And since I’ve been tweeting less, I’ve been atching my geeky people a little more closely. All in all it’s alerted me to some rather amusing—but often detrimental—geeky mistakes on Twitter. So here’s eight things you might want to keep in mind to become a better Tweet Geek.
1 – Don’t give a play by play of your six hour long D&D game. Sure, we like to hear what’s going on, and some people just might be able to tweet a whole game without being dreadfully boring… but it’s probably not you. A few pictures are good, but in all honesty, no one’s as excited about your game as you and your group. If you have some folks really interested in how it goes, video tape it and utilize YouTube. Most of your Twitter friends really don’t want to know about every single hitpoint and minor action. Not to mention constant tweeting during a D&D game is super irritating to the DM!
2 – Don’t irritate the Twitter celebrities. So you like Wil Wheaton. So you like Felica Day. That’s fine. But you know who else follows them on Twitter beside you? Like, everyone else. So when you respond to everything they say, every single time they post, we all get to see it, too. We can also see that they’re not responding to you (not to mention that you’re starting to be kind of creepy about it). Don’t retweet every single one of their tweets either. Be cool, be selective. It’s unlikely that you’ll become best buds with any of these bigwigs, but you can easily wipe out any possibility at all by being a pest.
3 – Don’t retweet every single mention of yourself. I can tell some people have bots installed, and every time someone mentions them in a tweet, they in turn mention it again. You know what that looks like? Total narcissism. So you got a mention. Congrats. But unless it’s really something that, you know, is helpful to the rest of us, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself.
4 – Don’t be a retweet spammer. If your entire feed consists of cool Star Wars links and science news, you’re forgetting a really important part of Twitter. It’s not just about links. It’s about making connections. In fact, I don’t follow people who only retweet because, honestly, it’s like they’re not even there at all.
5 – Don’t go nuts with the game bots. So you play WoW and RockBand and BioShock and Dragon Age, and practically every time you breathe your Twitter feed comes alive. Really, really annoying. If you’re going to link your account to your gaming achievements, do so selectively. We all like games, but there’s a definite point of saturation.
6 – Don’t give out spoilers. Seriously? I see this so often. I mean, the day after the last Lost episode is fine, okay? But there are lots of us in different time zones or recording the show. We know you like your shows—heck, pop culture draws us all together. But spoiling the show for half your Twitter friends isn’t going to win you more.
7 – Don’t just talk about yourself. So now we know you wear Spiderman boxers, you eat oatmeal with raisins every morning, and by 10am you excuse yourself for a bio break. Ugh, TMI. If you can’t think of something interesting, maybe it’s best to just… not say anything.
8 – Don’t be a dick. So yeah, I stole this one from Wil Wheaton. But while it’s fine to get into heated discussions about your favorite topics (I mean we’re geeks, it’s what we do) picking fights and calling people names is just low. Be courteous, be as respectful as possible. This is not PvP! Remember that we can all see what you’re saying. And if you get really involved in a discussion, do the right thing and take it to email. It’s 140 characters for a reason.