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Comments on Reposted Tweets

Page history last edited by Stowe Boyd 11 years, 10 months ago

by Stowe Boyd


I have been poking around at the question of making comments when reposting earlier tweets made by others. These are generally retweets, preceded generally by 'RT', a convention that is widely supported by clients and Twitter's UI as well. I am writing this discussion in a generalized way, though, since there are a number of proposals and early approaches to what might be called 'REs', where a repost does not include a repetition of the post to be commented on, but just a URL referencing it.


An example RT with a comment:


@skairam: RT @stoweboyd: What convention should I adopt for commenting on retweets? I have seen '>' '::' and many others. » This is what I use.


Here we see the use of '»' as a delimiter, and the RT author's comment trails that until the end of line.


Many have adpted the 'comment at the end model, and I have seen dozens of delimiters in use, like '//', '::', '>', '<' and so on.


A bunch of folks have said they precede the RT with their comment, which seems counterintuitive to me, since I have to heard the thing being retweeted before I can undertand the comment, and the order is backwards. Also, folks are used to the RT being at the start of the tweet.


I was wondering is this is actually part of a more general case, and then I saw this tweet today:


@c3o: RT @seedcamp: @Platogo win techcrunch pitch competition! #tcb09 #scb09 // awesome! congrats, guys.


Imagine that I retweeted this without adding a comment of my own. You'd then see:


@stoweboyd: RT @c30 RT @seedcamp: @Platogo win techcrunch pitch competition! #tcb09 #scb09 // awesome! congrats, guys.


However, someone reading it wouldn't know who had added '// awesome! congrats, guys.'


In the perfect world, RT might have had a beginning and a ending, like quotation marks or the proposal for geoslash. In this way things could have nested. However, we are pretty far down the path on RT to make any changes, and even if we do come up with a convention for introducing a comment at the end of the line, I don't know if we can straighten out all the odd ball cases.


However, it did occur to me that the CoTweet CoTag might play here, aothough it is intended for other purposes today. But in both cases, it could be used to clarify identity associated with the words in a tweet. For example, @c3o could have posted:


@c3o: RT @seedcamp: @Platogo win techcrunch pitch competition! #tcb09 #scb09 ^awesome! congrats, guys.


And then if I were to RT, I could add his username to make it clear @c3o was patting them, not me, and even add my own:


@stoweboyd: RT @c3o RT @seedcamp: @Platogo win techcrunch pitch competition! #tcb09 #scb09 ^c3o awesome! congrats, guys ^Kudos!


In this case it is more or less obvious that the first comment was by @c3o but the 'Kudos!' came from me, the author of the last post in the RT thread.


Update 18 June 2009: Saw this today:


tomrafferty: RT @BreakingNews: Continental Airlines flight 61 from Brussels to Newark has declared emergency after its captain died<<Do passengers know?


Seems Tom is using "<<".

Comments (7)

Cody Marx Bailey said

at 3:08 pm on Jun 10, 2009

I just saw someone use the ♻ sign to show that the tweet has been "recycled" or "retweeted".


JonTheNiceGuy said

at 3:17 pm on Jun 10, 2009

I've got a feeling this repost behaviour originated on Identi.ca - people there didn't want to use RT, which firmly ties you to Twitter (a service many identi.ca people are trying to leave behind) and RD (re-dent, where dent is like tweet as identi.ca is like twitter) is specific to iDENTi.ca. I've taken to RP (re-post), as many many client apps can't cope with the unicode.

Tony Buser said

at 3:32 pm on Jun 10, 2009

I still think comments at the beginning make more sense, particularly with your RT of an RT example. Also think of it this way, whatever comes after the "@name:" is what that person is saying (up to RT or some other code word). Tacking on multiple comments on the end is a nightmare, having to scan back and forth to figure out who said what. Consider this:

@stoweboyd: RT @c3o: RT @seedcamp: @Platogo win techcrunch pitch competition! #tcb09 #scb09 ^c3o awesome! congrats, guys ^Kudos!


@stoweboyd: Kudos! RT @c3o: awesome! congrats, guys RT @seedcamp: @Platogo win techcrunch pitch competition! #tcb09 #scb09

or without comment:

@stoweboyd: RT @c3o: awesome! congrats, guys RT @seedcamp: @Platogo win techcrunch pitch competition! #tcb09 #scb09

Seems to me to be much easier to see who is saying what. It also requires fewer characters.

Amy Unruh said

at 4:38 pm on Jun 10, 2009

I'm starting to see the comments placed at the beginning of the post more often too. I've also seen people add something along the line of:
(me: <a comment>)
at end. for ex.:
sort of like an editor's note.

Andy Mabbett said

at 8:29 am on Jun 12, 2009

I and others I follow use /RT, like this:

RT @example blah blah blah /RT I agree

Stowe Boyd said

at 8:31 am on Jun 18, 2009

There are similarities to the reblog issues at Tumblr, but I don't thenk they have a solution there, really.

Stowe Boyd said

at 8:34 am on Jun 18, 2009

I am experimenting with '|' as the divider in my own RTs and REs. It has a strong semiotic message of separating two sides of something, like a perforation. This doesn't solve the identity problem when a series of RT/REs take place, all with comments. I am starting to believe that the identity of a commenter is only relevant for one degree of separation, so maybe it's not worth trying to determine who said what comment.

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