Top 13 Features of a Perfect World Twitter

Ah, if only the world were perfect!

Twitter LogoMarch 20, 2012 will mark the beginning my fifth year as Twitter user.

During that time, I’ve posted more than 37,000 tweets. I’ve seen Twitter evolve from the “microblogging” service it was designed to be to one of the top social networking sites and a major source of news and information worldwide. Along the way, I’ve authored three versions of a Twitter course for Lynda.com (with a revision to come soon) and dozens of blog posts and how-to articles about using Twitter.

I’m on Twitter just about every day, checking the tweets posted by the modest number of people I follow, responding to some tweets with @replies and retweeting others. I also respond to every [non-spam] tweet directed to my account — which is often how I find new people to follow. No, I don’t “reciprocate follows” and I don’t collect followers. I’m on Twitter primarily for its social networking aspects — to meet and interact with people all over the world. Indeed, I’ve met many of my Twitter friends in person and consider many of them more than just “virtual” friends.

I guess you can say I’m hooked on Twitter.

But with all that said, I’m sure any Twitter user can agree that Twitter is not perfect. I thought I’d take a moment to list the things I think we’d find in a “perfect world” Twitter.

  • No spam. None. Not any at all. Period.
  • Twitter users who actually try to read — and maybe occasionally respond to? — the tweets of the people they follow. Seriously: why are you following people if you don’t read their tweets? There’s nothing social in one-way communication.
  • Retweets that credit the original source of the tweet. That means using the Retweet feature on Twitter except in the very rare instances that you must add your two cents to the tweet. I don’t know about you, but I like to see the name and profile picture of the witty or informative person who originated the tweet you thought was so sharable. And no, that wasn’t you.
  • Links that point to actual content instead of links to content. Don’t tease your followers with link bait pointing to your paper.li “online newspaper.” Link to the actual content people want to read. (And don’t get me started on sites like paper.li or Pinterest or FourSquare and the auto-tweets they spawn.)
  • Links to the original source of the content. Someone created that content and put it out there for the world to read. Don’t link to the site or page that steals a paragraph or two of it — or, worse yet, the whole thing. Link to the freaking source.
  • Follow Friday (#FF) tweets that list one or two people actually worth following. Not every single person who might have tweeted to you in the past three weeks, shared with your followers (those very same people) in six or seven consecutive tweets. If I wanted to know everyone you were following, I’d look at your profile and check your Following list. And how about including a reason why these people are worth following?
  • Company twitter accounts that interact with customers or provide links to valuable content (or both!) rather than just broadcast promotional messages. Why would anyone voluntarily follow an account that was a nonstop stream of ads?
  • No @replies starting with a . (or other character), thus forcing all of your followers to see one side of a conversation that they may have no interest in. Are your conversations with others so interesting that you need to circumvent Twitter’s built-in filtering for @reply conversations? I don’t think so.
  • No tweets longer than 140 characters. If you can’t express a thought within Twitter’s constraints, post it on Tumblr or a blog. When you use multiple consecutive tweets to express a single thought, you look like you’re talking to yourself. Which, in effect you are, because no one is reading it. (See above.)
  • No tweets about follower count. Pardon me, but who the fuck cares how many people follow you? If you do, you have pretty screwed up priorities. Ditto for Klout scores and any other Twitter “ranking” value.
  • No “Thank you for following me” or “welcome new followers!” or “Thanks for retweeting!” tweets. These messages are noise and a serious waste of bandwidth. (Imagine if everyone did this for every single follower and retweet. Has your head exploded yet?) While you might want everyone on Twitter to know about every new follower or retweet you get, the rest of us don’t really give a crap.
  • No automated direct messages (DMs). I cannot think of a tackier way to abuse a social networking service than to use a computer to automatically generate a message to a stranger that might just end up on his cell phone as a text message. As I mentioned to someone on Twitter just today, I automatically unfollow anyone who DMs me with an automated message. Or even a message that looks like it might be automated.
  • No social media gurus. Seriously: if that phrase (or anything like it) is in your Twitter profile, you just don’t get it.

Got anything to add to this list? Pet peeves you want to share? Wish lists? Post ’em here.

2 thoughts on “Top 13 Features of a Perfect World Twitter

  1. I’m not interested in sports, so find when people I follow (or worse, groups of people I follow) tweet what seems to be every move of play it drives me crazy.

    I follow lots of people who live and work in Wellington, because that’s where I am. They’re part of my wider community. But then some rugby, cricket or soccer match takes place here or elsewhere in NZ, and my stream just fills up.

    I’ve switched from YoruFukurou which had excellent hashtag and keyword muting capabilities to Osfoora Mac which doesn’t *yet* have them. My YF blocked words probably numbered at least 2 dozen.

    • Play-by-play tweets of anything are annoying. I think Twitter should have a time-based mute feature to turn off an account that’s live-tweeting an event others might not care about. And I admit that I routinely drop people who are fixated on certain current events like court cases and tweet mostly running commentary about what they see on TV.

What do you think?