Which do you prefer?
I spent most of this past week writing a new script for my Twitter Essential Training course on Lynda.com. We update the course about once a year to account for changes in the Twitter.com interface, as well as new features. This will be the fourth edition of the course.
Yesterday, I wrote about retweeting. I faced a minor dilemma: Do I cover both ways to retweet — with the Retweet button and with the old-style RT shorthand? Or do I just cover the Retweet button, which I personally prefer?
Understand that retweeting is something that developed on its own long ago. A Twitter user would see a tweet he wanted to share. He’d copy and paste the tweet into a new tweet, including the characters RT to indicate that it was a retweet and an @mention of the person who he was retweeting. Because this added characters to the original tweet, editing was often necessary. Each time it was retweeted, more editing occurred. Sometimes editing completely removed the @mention of the originator of the tweet, thus removing credit for the tweet.
Then, a few years ago, the folks at Twitter created an “official” Retweet feature. They added a button available for each tweet that copied the entire tweet and placed it in the retweeter’s timeline with the source tweeter’s name and profile picture still attached. This made it very clear who was the source of the original tweet. It also prevented tweets from being edited into nonsense by forced abbreviations. It made it possible to keep track of who was retweeting good content. And it prevented the same tweet from appearing multiple times in the timelines of groups of people who follow each other.
In my mind, it was a win-win.
So I decided not to include instructions for the old-style retweeting in my revised course. I mentioned it, of course, and showed an example, but I didn’t show how to do it.
Fast forward to this morning. I check my Twitter stream and discover a perfect example of how a tweet can be degraded by multiple old-style retweets.
Here’s my original tweet:
All, this is too funny. “How many clients does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” is.gd/EgbK6m From Clients from Hell.
— Maria Langer (@mlanger) April 8, 2012
(And yes, that first word is a typo. It should have been “Ah.” Damn you, autocorrect!)
Note that there’s one (at least right now) official retweet. (You can see this if you click the date in the tweet embedded above to view it on Twitter.com.) That means that one person has used the Retweet button to copy my tweet to his timeline. On his Twitter profile page, it looks like this:
Note that although my profile picture and name are attached to the tweet, his name appears at the bottom as the retweeter.
Now look at two old-style retweets. The first is from someone who follows me:
— PattyHankins (@PattyHankins) April 8, 2012
The second is from someone who follows her:
— John PeterThompson (@InvasiveNotes) April 8, 2012
In order to keep her account and my account in the tweet, he had to edit the hell out of it, to the point where the second “RT” is just “R” and the bulk of the post title is removed. Huh?
Do you think this is right? Effective? Acceptable?
Why couldn’t either one of them simply use the Retweet button?
Most people who don’t like the Retweet button complain that it prevents them from including a comment with the retweet. But do you think an emoticon smiley face is a comment? The original tweet says it’s “too funny.” Does a smiley face add anything to it?
And what of the second retweet? There’s no comment added there at all. In fact, the first retweeter’s comment is removed.
Is it because they wanted their account names attached to the tweet? That’s the only reason I see.
And I’m left wondering if anyone else retweeted it but removed my account name because it didn’t fit.
The truth of the matter is, the Retweet button isn’t only a better way to retweet. It’s also an easier way. One or two clicks and it’s done. No copy and paste, no editing required. The tweet is shared in its entirety, the originator is given credit, the retweeter’s name is still clearly indicated.
What do you think? Which method do you use and why?