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Page history last edited by reuptake 14 years, 4 months ago

Please add new sightings of Microsyntax, below:



Retweeting is a common or known phenomenon using RT coupled with a username to cite the source of a quote. On laconica based microblogging sites, you may see this also shown as "RP" (re-post) or "RD" (re-dent - where dent is the functional equivelent of tweet on Twitter)


"Via username" is an alternative to retweeting and indicates a modification of the original tweet, but provides credit to the source.


Stocktwits use of '$' and '$$' for stock tickers and general messages.


CoTags use '^' as a convention for identifying the people behind corporate and shared Twitter accounts.


Whispers, using '!' as a way to indicate messages should be directed to your 'inner circle', suggested by Chris Messina.


Laconica (a similar service to Twitter, but federated - like Jabber, and open source) has an in-built function which uses '@#' to send a notice to everyone that a user previously tagged them with. Similar to Whispers.


Laconica also has an in-built function which uses '!' to address to a group (which can be compared to a subscribe/followable hashtag) which has subscribed members (users). Any member of the group who posts an update, including !<groupname> will post to all other users on the site who use that group. Searches for that entry as a hashtag will also return posts for that group. An example: I'm using groups on !laconica. Isn't this great.


Microrevie.ws, uses ';' to delimit somethign being reviewed from the comment about it. Also proposed 1-5 '*' as a rating. For example: Fabulous Band; This band were really great *****


Dopplr uses natural syntax to recognive travel plans, requiring no specific microsyntactic punctuation, but requiring the careful use of prepositions like 'to' 'on' 'to' and so on. This comes in three forms:

  1. A trip to Helsinki on May 19 to May 23
  2. At SFO on September 9th. Leaving on September 20th
  3. I'm going to Austin on July 15 for 3 nights


Peqipedia is a wikipedia-like project where all the entries are 140 characters or less. Entries are defined in Twitter by messaging to @peqi, and the '=' sign connects the defined term (left) with a definition (right), like '@peqi Talinn=the capital of [[Estonia]].' The double brackets indicate that 'Estonia' is another entry, and a link should be created.


Amplicate  collects similar opinions in one place, making them more likely to be found by people. it uses #anyhashtag along with #sucks and #rocks to add messages to the service. It also uses #amp at the end of their own bitly links to detect messages belonging to a specify subject.  Examples:

  • I believe mycrosyntax will help to develop the new internet. #mycrosyntax #rocks
  • I lost my plane because of Airline employees! #airline-xyz #sucks
  • Pandora is great. I use it everyday! http://bit.ly/USX1s#amp


Blip.pl microsyntax

Blip.pl is Polish microblogging service, which, unlike other European Twitter-like sites enjoys quite a success on local marked (it's more popular than Twitter in Poland). Blip was started early in 2007, and it uses different syntax than Twitter:

>nick - direct (public) message to someone (>nick should be at begging of the message) - similar to '@nick message' on Twitter

>>nick - direct, private message to someone (>>nick should be at begging of the message) - similar to 'd nick message'

^nick - mentioning someone (talking about someone), can be anywhere in the message. Is replaced by link to profile of mentioned person, also, person who is mentioned is notified about it (in a separate message: "^foo is talking about you"), similar to 'message part 1 @nick message part 2' on Twitter

[blip] - when user places link (URL) to another status in his/her status, its replaced by [blip] which links to that status. Author of cited status is notified (in a separate message "^foo is citing you"). Could be compared to RT, but works slightly different

[domain.com] - http://domain.com/dir/some-page.html is displayed as [domain.com] in WWW interface

#tag - hashtags work in similar way as in Twitter. Can be subscribed(=followed)/ignored

@/place/ - we started using this syntax for location, example: @/stegny, warszawa/ http://blip.pl/s/24306017




Paul Kinlan has started using, instead of hashtags (#topic), positive and negative topics for the post using -UnhappyTopic and +HappyTopic.




Ev Williams suggested on Twitter (5 June 2009) that tweeple in SF could direct of-local-interest posts to @SF. Not clear if this is a recommended generalized practice, or not.


Geoslash or /location, a geolocational microsyntax suggested by Stowe Boyd. For example; I'm in /London for the weekend - anyone up for a drink. Or alternatively; I'll be in the bar at /The Hilton Hotel, Paris/ for the evening. [A full proposal at Geoslash]


The BBC have been using location formats like "l:Tambulbunia, Bangladesh=22.27722,89.71905" to encode a placename and its coordinates. (this is as promoted by twitmap)


SeeClickFix has a Twitter interface to its municipal reporting tool, and relies on Google Map URLs for geolocation:


@seeclickfix there is graffiti http://bit.ly/RzTp2 http://twitpic.com/fjdkadk 


San Francisco government has created a Twitter account to allow residents to tweet the equivalent of 311 calls. No microsyntax involved. See @sf311.


Sponsored Posts


@savvyauntie is using '[sp]' at the end of sponsored posts for the Saving Grace show: "Because these weekly events are sponsored, I will add [sp] to each tweet. The hashtag "#SavingGrace" will be used to keep track of the conversation for all those following."




Selective Twitter is a Facebook application that uses a hashtag of '#fb' to designate specific tweets for publishing to Facebook status.


Data Collection


Twitterdata, a generalized model for embedding data in Twitter with type indicated by a leading '$', proposed by Todd Fast and Jiri Kopsa


RapidSMS (and here) collects data via SMS messages. It's used by UNICEF and other groups for humanitarian and development projects. The default format for a data entry about item of type ITEM_TYPE reported from pre-defined location LOC_CODE is a message "ITEM_TYPE LOC_CODE val1 val2 val3 val4"


Other systems prototyped (reference needed) used a SMS data collection system using the format "FORM_NAME 1.val1 2.val2" with semantics for querying the data tables.


Donating money as part of RT


TipJoy "p @ev $1 because twitter is fun" is used to pay $1 to @ev. Different keywords ("p", "pay", "give", etc.) are allowed as long as the keyword username and amount are the first 3 works in the Tweet. Note also the keyword RTip . Note that Tipjoy requires the user twitting this to follow Tipjoy (to be followed back). See TipJoy microsyntax for details.


Twollars inserts the number of Twollars given as part of the RT between "RT" and "@...". For instance: "RT 2 Tw @giyom". Note that this requires the keyword Tw or Twollars to work, since Twollars.com does not require a user who gifts Twollars to be followed by Twollars.com. 


Plane Flights


Noticed @cdibona used this syntax to describe United Airlines flight 852 from NRT to SFO by using some rather handy unicode characters.


Link to tweet:

✈ UA 852 NRT ➝ SFO 


Objects Communicating (Spimes)


Kogi food truck in LA twitters its location (see http://twitter.com/kogibbq/). Seems to be an odd use of '@', perhaps as a shorthand for 'at':


VERDE: 6PM-9PM@Toyota & Alpine Headquarters - Toyota Way and Gramercy Place in Torrance; 10:30PM-1AM@Northridge - Devonshire & Reseda


DJs Posting Setlists


Found this at www.twitter.com/rhawtin, a DJ that seems to be using some app (a script for iTunes?) when he DJs.

is now playing: Alva Noto - xerrox monophaser 2


Snow report hashtag with location and severity


In February 2009, a convention emerged with the #uksnow hashtag. As snowfall began (on people not very accustomed to snow) people around UK tweeted


e.g. #uksnow CF11 10/10 http://twitpic.com/aaaaa

Postcode means the same thing as zipcode, except that the first half of a UK postcode is human-readable, e.g. CF11 means I live in a specific part of Cardiff city. The score indicated severity, with 10 meaning very heavy. The Twitpic URL was optional.


Leading to a map visualisation

http://www.benmarsh.co.uk/snow/ (currently bereft of snow!)



and inspired derivative works building on the idea of visualising hashtag data

Comments (3)

monkeyarmada said

at 12:09 pm on Jun 5, 2009

The use of '[ ]' to enclose a 'clan' tag is prevalent in the online gaming community to indicate membership of a clan, team or group. There are many variation on this but the square bracket seems to be the most widely used.

Examples can be found here: http://www.atomicwarrior.com/cgi-bin/clubregistry/db.cgi?db=clubsearch&uid=default&view_records=1&REGISTRATION_Number=*&nh=1
(apologies for the link, its quite hard on the eyes)


Gordon Joly said

at 3:03 pm on Jun 5, 2009

I used "de" which I blip a track at http://blip.fm/

For example "track 1 de @jones123" when I picked up the track from jones123. "de" is French for "from" and also a Morse code short form for "from"".


Amy Unruh said

at 3:07 pm on Jun 18, 2009

Sometimes I've seen the use of 'MFRT' instead of RT.
I think this might be the 'origin tweet': http://twitter.com/poeks/status/1307409178
Here is a meta-tweet: http://twitter.com/nictate/statuses/1866571443

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