Twitter and other micro-blogs are an increasingly useful communication tool. However like any tool there should be an agreed etiquette. One of the best I have discovered is by Margaret Mason and in the style of a RT (Retweet) on Twitter here I republish this important list:
Whether you’re a broadcaster, responder, or newbie, if you’d like to be a better citizen on Twitter, here are a few guidelines to help you navigate:
1. Watch your ratio.
If only a few people follow you, but you follow a thousand or more, many people will assume you’re a spammer. That’s because you probably are. Go away, spammer. We do not care about your Facebook app.
2. Think twice before twittering in an altered state.
One drunk tweet might be amusing. Unfortunately, when you’re drunk or high, Twitter is like a can of Pringles. You don’t want to break the seal.
One drunk tweet leads to 20 poorly spelled missives on one amazing house party. If you think texting your ex is embarrassing the next morning, try texting all of them.
3. Consider pausing between tweets.
Twittering 30-plus times an hour pushes other people’s messages off followers’ homepages, and sends mobiles into convulsive twit-fits (to say nothing of excessive SMS charges). If you have a lot to say, but still want to engage with followers without alienating them, consider making more liberal use of DMs.
Also, don’t you occasionally need to use the restroom? Please don’t take your phone in there. Thanks.
4. Keep small conversations private.
If you’re deciding what movie to see with your girlfriend, no one else needs to receive those updates. Hitting @ becomes reflexive after a while, but DMs are a better option in these scenarios.
5. Accept that some people will use lots of @s.
If you’re getting a lot of nonsensical @ messages because you don’t follow the same group of users, either subscribe to the people being mentioned so you can follow the thread, or turn @ messages off. And then stop complaining.
6. Be vague when twittering private social events.
The host may not want her sensitive extended circle to know about the handful of folks she invited for birthday drinks. Let them see it on Flickr.
7. Remember everyone can hear you.
This may seem rudimentary, but Twitter is a public medium, just like a blog. Eventually, your mom’s gonna read it. To say nothing of your employer and your parole officer.
If it could get you fired, be used against you in court, or impede your ability to get laid, be-still your typing thumbs.
8. What’s rude in life is rude on Twitter.
Passive-aggressive tweets are never as inscrutable as the sender thinks. When you’re being mean, even covertly, eventually everyone figures out the target. And then they start firing the arrows back your way.
9. Don’t compound an accident.
If you accidentally twitter a message that was intended to be a direct text, there’s no need to send a follow-up apology if the mistake is obvious.
10. Try to keep within the character limit.
Twitter is best suited to messages that stay within its 140-character limit. Otherwise, users have to scroll back and track your name through multiple posts. That’s not such a big deal if you do it occasionally, but it can become galling if you make it a habit.
11. DMs don’t necessarily require a response.
You don’t have to answer every time someone contacts you directly, especially if it’s a stranger. However, there’s a greater social price for ignoring a DM if your crew is mostly responders.
12. Leave when you want.
If you want to stop following someone, stop. There’s no need to send a breakup note. Unless you’re having Twitter sex.
Wait. Do people have Twitter sex? Yeah, of course they do. Direct messages (from a secret Twitter account) are an ingenious way to communicate with slightly creepy, but intriguing, one-night-stands. Besides, what dedicated Twitter user remembers their own cell number?
13. Plug moderately.
Lots of people ignore this guideline, but if you’re almost exclusively using Twitter to plug your blog posts, events, or products, or to ask people to vote for one of your projects on Digg, you’ll lose some followers.
The exception is if you’ve set up an account named after your product or service, which sets a different expectation among subscribers.
14. Answer your own questions.
All tweets are prompted by the question “What are you doing?” Many people don’t answer the question, and others are religious about it.
Does it irritate people if you don’t answer the question? Sometimes. Should those people take a deep breath? Possibly.
For me like life it is important that there are 3 twpes of people – those that like to give (broadcast in twitter terms), those that like to interact or respond (lots of @s) and those that are in the middle – generally broadcast, but respond when they can.