Replying with RT in Twitter? Then You’re Probably an Idiot

Monday, August 31, 2009

Twitter has somehow found its way to Indonesia’s mainstream social networking level. Thousands, and literally thousands of internet-connected people have jumped to the bandwagon of this microblogging service. Is this something good? Yes, it shows that Indonesia’s online users have grown significantly compared to the previous years. But is this actually something that is good and flawless? No, having stubborn and clueless people that thought the internet is without a set of rules is something we — as early adopters — diss.

One of the matters involved here is as simply as what is the proper etiquette when you are replying someone else’s tweets, and whether you should use RT to reply or not. Let me give you the ground rules of proper manners on tweeting.

What is RT? And why is it such a big deal?
RT stands for ReTweet and NOT Reply To. And if you ask us if this is something that we made up or not, then the answer is NO. It is written in Twitter’s help guide, and let me quote that for you:

What does RT, or retweet, mean?
RT is short for retweet, and indicates a re-posting of someone else’s tweet. This isn’t an official Twitter command or feature, but people add RT somewhere in a tweet to indicate that part of their tweet includes something they’re re-posting from another person’s tweet, sometimes with a comment of their own. Check out this great article on re-tweeting, written by a fellow Twitter user, @ruhanirabin.

So you see, even if this function is not yet available officially in Twitter’s API, they support this is as one of the community’s culture, and they encourage it that you use it correctly.

When we — early adopters — see new Twitter users used RTs for replies, we often suggest them — in a polite manner initially, of course — so that they could follow the culture and try to change their point of view on what RTs really are. RTs are meant to forward your friends’ tweets, something that is worth checking out, something that is worth reading, an important and useful information, some might say. But not for replies. Why? Because most of the time, we don’t give a shit on what you’re talking about in your replies, and when you’re engaged in an conversation with your fellow newbie friends. RT-ing would subconsciously trigger avid Twitter users to treat that message as something useful. And when these messages turned out to be just regular conversation, in which you misused RTs, then you’re polluting the timeline, and we just wasted a few seconds off our precious time to read everything that has no importance whatsoever.

So what do we do? Should we stop using RTs for replies?
Very much yes. Ignorant users may disagree with me, and some of my friends who suggested them to stop using RTs to replies even get disses from these users. Some responses from these ignorant-is-my-middle-name users include:

  • “Why don’t you just unfollow me? I don’t like seeing people mad about RTs in my timeline anyway.”
  • “Are you a Twitter cop?”
  • “Do you think you own Twitter?”
  • “I think it’s up to me. Besides, it’s only Twitter.”

And so on, I could give you tens of dumb reasons, but you get the big picture. Okay, actually, we don’t mind passing the culture to new adopters. Most of them probably don’t know and that RT is obviously easy to be misunderstood as “Reply To”, and we really appreciate when they know what to do and what not to do as they earned our respect. We don’t, however, respect those who are ignorant and instead of understanding the whole concept of what the Twitter culture is, they decided to fight back with the wrong thing they believed in.

I agree completely that the internet is a free world, but being free is not without rules, and on top of that, you’re not the first retarded bozo that knew Twitter. The Twitter may not be ours, but we followed the culture right on from when it was established. And since this is a social networking service that requires us to interact socially, I really think that you should follow the “rules”.

If your reason to RT is to keep the conversation thread, let me tell you this. As long as you reply directly on that specific tweet, Twitter will keep the thread logged, and you can see that conversation take place in your Twitter client. So your reason is no longer valid.

Who often use RTs for replies?
From what we’ observed, the main culprit for this utterly-dumb manner, apart from new and ignorant Twitter users, are probably celebrities. If you follow them in Twitter, I can assure you that at least 90% of them used RTs for replies. Some of them even abused hashtags with improper uses, such as this. At first we really thought that this is because UberTwitter’s failure to design an easy and understandable software, because most of these incidents came from UberTwitter uses. But no, every major Twitter client available in the market, although some suck in designing a proper user interface, provide the means of both RT-ing and replying. So unless you are purely an idiot or you have your excusable reason, then it’s just you and your lack of intelligence.

Can we rely on Twitter to reduce this madness?
I sure do hope so. In the coming weeks, unless hell froze over, Twitter is going to launch Project Retweet. That is making RTs into their official API, and hopefully reduce the number of the misinformed, and have them use RTs and replies properly. But personally, I don’t think that this is the ultimate cure. From what I see, an ignorant is always an ignorant.

And oh, some reads that you might find interesting and useful:

And one more thing, if you still don’t get it, or if you’re offended with what I wrote in here (then you’re probably one of the culprits who is indeed ignorant), or if all else fails, please just fucking read this. Period.