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Two-Minute Pause Before Tweeting

June 11th, 2009 by Steven Gardner

Over the past several weeks I’ve become kind of a fan of Twitter, after entering into the technology somewhat reluctantly. I know, Nikky. My participation has made Twitter officially uncool. Tell Ashton Kutcher.

We use the technology to post links to our stories and blog entries, to blast out one sentence of news when that’s all we have and to repeat things overheard in the newsroom.

Twitter does remind me of an online chat room, except that you can pick who you chat with a lot easier, so the conversation seldom, if ever, devolves into “Who here wants to party!!!!”

There are risks. The ability to write something and post it can happen almost as quickly as it would at a cocktail party. So remember that time you said something really stupid, and realized it sometime between the words coming out of your mouth and the laughter dying down? So it might behoove us all to wait at least a couple of minutes before Tweeting, at least on issues that aren’t critical. Case in point from Monday, from a Tweeter whose name I’ll keep to myself:

RT @TheRealMariners Tarp is currently on the field with rain expected. US: Uh, doesn’t Safeco Field have a retractable roof?
2:07 PM Jun 9th from TweetDeck

Never mind—the game’s (duh) in Baltimore. @TheRealMariners
2:09 PM Jun 9th from TweetDeck

“Twitter” is now in the AP Stylebook, along with “collateralized debt obligations” and “baba ghanoush.”

The new entry for Twitter notes that the social networking Web site limits messages to short Tweets. The verb forms are to Twitter or to Tweet.

I think AP is wrong about using “Twitter” as a verb, but I don’t know anything. I just Tweet here.

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5 Responses to “Two-Minute Pause Before Tweeting”

  1. Nikky Says:

    It’s okay. I’ve posted my root password on twitter before by accident, and couldn’t remove it because I had gotten locked out for about a week because a misbehaving program would randomly (and often) corrupt my password on the way to the server.

  2. Nikky Says:

    I very rarely hear “twitter” used as a verb. The only time that it will be used is:

    “John sprained his thumb he twittered way too much yesterday.”

    It’s almost always “tweet” or “tweeted” or “tweeting”

  3. Susan Says:

    Perhaps the two-minute rule should include how OFTEN someone tweets. Had to cut loose an interesting twitterer because she (apparently) saved up her tweets and posted them all at once. One whole screen’s worth of tweets were hers. This happened repeatedly. TMI, no matter how riveting those tweets might be!

  4. Jake Metcalf Says:

    I’ve been using twitter to network with other journalist and bloggers working the video games industry beat. It is one of the quickest ways to get a response from a PR person.

    I need to get the new AP Style Guide and actually spend sometime to read it. The Seattle PI has been syndicating my blog there over the AP newswires so I should tighten up my grammar.

    Using twitter has helped me cut down on extra words and letters. Being limited to 140 characters is a bit Orwellian. Granted I did kill my first iPod Touch by dropping it in the bathtub. I was reading my twitter feeds in the tub. Dead Tree newspapers are not as pricy if you get them wet.

    A while back I tipped off the Kitsap Sun of a silent police raid in my apartment complex by using Twitter.

  5. Jake Metcalf Says:

    From the AP Stylebook’s Twitter “For those of you interested: our Twitter entry has been corrected to say that to tweet as a verb and a tweet as a noun should be lowercase.”

    http://twitter.com/APStylebook/status/2180960251

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