There’s a Better Way to ReTweet!

by Miles Tinsley – follow him at @milestinsley

birds_on_wallRetweeting is a popular way to share a useful or interesting tweet. The concept is beautifully simple, but fundamentally flawed. Using the “RT” prefix worked well when the Twitter-verse was small, but since the big bang it has simply failed to scale. Prolific RT-ing is polluting the Twitter-sphere, suffocating the original, high quality tweets that make Twitter so compelling in the first place. “RT” simply doesn’t add value to something that thrives on individuality, creativity and niche communities.

However, RT-ing is popular and well established in the Twitter community: so why change it? Well, there’s a much better way to tweet interesting content and be a better Twitter citizen at the same time!

Use “via @” instead of “RT @”

Here’s an example of a recent tweet that is interesting and intriguing. This is definitely worth passing on to my followers, so I could ReTweet it as shown on the right.


As you can see, the text from the first tweet is completely copied in the ReTweet. Wait a minute… copy and pasting! Would you copy and paste someone else’s blog post into your own? No, so why do it on Twitter?

It would be far more interesting and unique to Tweet the following instead:


I am still referencing the original link and the use of via @tferriss is clearly giving credit to the original Tweeter. But, most importantly, I get to convey this information in my own words. This is vital to keep Twitter Tools content unique, fresh and current, and prevents the now ubiquitous duplication thanks to RT-ing.

3 Tips for using “via @”

  1. Be creative – You can put the “via @” anywere in your new Tweet, so focus on writing something unique, that reads well and conveys your message.
  2. Add value – Whether it’s a link, quote or interesting nugget of information, add value to what’s been said before by contributing in your own words something relevant to the content. Give your opinion, be critical, be complimentary – this shows that you’ve actually looked at, or read the article or post rather than just blindly forwarding it on.
  3. Keep the original shortened URL – It’s polite to keep the original shortened URL in your new Tweet. Lots of URL shortening services show traffic statistics, so it’s only fair the originator of the link should be able to track their hits.

So, next time you read a fascinating Tweet, pause for a second before hitting the retweet button: can you add value to what’s already there? If it’s a link, write something original – there’s a reason why you want to share it, so explain yourself! Rather than wasting your precious 140 characters with someone else’s words, be creative and put your own spin on things, your followers will appreciate it and the Twitter-verse will be a better place!


  • March 19, 2009

    Finally. An admission that prolific RT-ing is polluting the Twitter-sphere.

  • March 19, 2009

    This is a great idea. I wonder how fast it will catch on.


  • March 19, 2009

    This is something I’ve wanted people to do for a while now. I personally don’t like it when people RT me, because a LOT of people ignore any tweets with RT in them (including myself, for that matter). This actually makes the tweet interesting to your followers, because it seems like you actually put thought into the tweet, instead of the blind copy & paste method of retweeting.

    I really do hope people catch on to this one.

  • March 19, 2009

    RT’ing especially through things like TweetDeck or DestroyTwitter makes it easy to do.
    What you suggest will require a bit of thought and insight – which is good.

    But I use HT (hat tip) in this manner.

  • March 19, 2009

    Cool article.

    I mentioned some of these points myself in my last blog. Also starting to utilize the power of the @ – there are a lot of undiscovered usage of the @ that can make your tweets stand out. Still educating myself on this.

    Cheers.. :)

  • March 19, 2009

    Tweetie for the iPod Touch and iPhone uses the “via” format for retweets already!

  • March 19, 2009

    I was just thinking about this. Retweet someone else’s tweet but make it more interesting!

  • March 19, 2009

    Of course this would spawn a great application to track the variations of context each story is applied to. Originality is king here.

  • March 19, 2009

    @jfellrath Yay,a fellow Tweetie user! I’m a big fan too and it gets extra points for giving us the option to use “via”!!

  • March 19, 2009

    I don’t agree at all with your point, here’s why:

    - RT@ vs (via @…) Here you’re loosing 3 precious spaces to express yourself. Some will argue that 3 spaces is nothing. I say it would make a difference.
    - RT @ stands out right away when you screen your feed and even more when used at the beginning of your feed
    - Remember that RT @ was created by the users, not Twitter
    - Finally I always try to RT adding my own words or opinion to personalized it, just the way I think sharing should be

  • March 19, 2009

    A while back @jack suggested using “original message -@orignal_sender” Using a minus before their @username at the end. I’ve been doing that. I don’t think I can afford the parenthesis and via instead of RT! That’s +3 characters over the original method, @jack’s is -2 compared to the RT method because you save a character and a space.

  • March 19, 2009

    I’d have to agree with the key points you made, having skimmed through the post. I have many similar views on this topic.

  • March 19, 2009

    This is in keeping with blogging convention where we’ve used “via ______” for years to attribute a source. Glad to see that shift in thinking here as well.

  • March 19, 2009

    I’ve seen some people doing this already but I’m not sure it’ll catch on nor do I necessarily think it should.

    Here’s why:

    1. Assuming one leaves the original tweet intact, ‘via’ adds another character to the re-tweet (via is longer than RT). It’s already tough enough to re-tweet at the best of times because of the size of the other person’s username.

    2. It is often considered bad form to heavily edit re-tweets. I’m not sure I subscribe to that methodology but many do, and to complete change it using your example might bug a few people, especially if they’ve put some effort into their prose. The re-tweet is often more than just the link itself.

    3. I believe I’m right in saying that the re-tweet tracking services actively scan for the RT part in order to tally it. I’m sure they could look for via too but via is a word that could be used in many tweets in normal use (i.e., not in a re-tweet).

    4. As Phillip said above, many external Twitter applications have built-in RT functionality and while they could be altered by the coder to use via as well I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

    Because of this reasons I don’t see via catching on. I’m sure a minority will use (as said, some already do) but all the power-Twitterers use RT and my guess is they’ll continue to do so.

  • March 19, 2009

    This also may help us to actually, um, read a tweet before retweeting it…

  • March 19, 2009

    you’re an idiot.
    why does this matter?
    reading this article just made me mad that someone actually has this pet peeve.

  • March 19, 2009
    Dan Dashnaw

    The via @ syntax was being used by the iPhone Twitter app ‘Tweetie’since it was released. After hundreds of requests from users to implement the ’standard’ RT method, the developer finally caved in and added the RT method as an option to appease the adamant users. So, although I agree with the ‘via’ concept, it’s not in any way new and will likely be a hard sell to the mainstream users. Just wanted to let you know. ;-)

    All the best,

    …Dan Dashnaw

  • March 19, 2009

    A couple thoughts.

    First, I don’t think RT is “suffocating the original, high quality tweets that make Twitter so compelling in the first place.” I think RT adds value — a lot of value because it helps a particularly interesting blog post or story go viral and gets a wider audience for it. Some of the most interesting tweets are read are retweets, and they help me find interesting folks to follow. It also helps drive up blog traffic. If I tweet my blog link and someone retweets it and then someone else retweets that person, I’m golden in terms of hits that day.

    Second, I don’t think copying and pasting a tweet is akin to copying and pasting someone else blog post into your own. You have the RT and you repeat the tweeter’s Twitter name, so it’s clear it’s not your words. I think one of the great things about the Web is the interactivity, and I think RT allows that, encourages that. I think copying and pasting a tweet in a retweet is more like quoting a snippet of text from a blog post with credit because you felt it had value.

    I see RT and via as separate function.

    I use RT to indicate I’m retweeting someone else’s tweet. I include that person’s Twitter name with the @.

    I use via if I’m retweeting something a bunch of people have already retweeted. The original tweeter (if I can figure out who that is) get the RT @ … the other people get via @…

    I like to repeat all the Twitter names even though it takes up space because it tells my followers that those folks had interesting content. I’d love someone to do the same for me.

  • March 19, 2009

    This is great. So simple. I’ll be using via from now on.

  • March 19, 2009

    I like the concept behind this post, that is, a creative way to retweet, but I feel that the “RT” creates a simple way to track the spread of content. On my blog, I wouldn’t steal content, but I certainly might quote others’ words. If “via” or “from” or something else is used, searching for and identifying the spread of content will become much more complex.

  • March 19, 2009
    Marianne L

    Sounds like a great way to keep content fresh. When someone wants to RT, it would be nice to know their reasons for appreciating the original. Often just adding RT to a tweet takes it near the edge or over the edge of content constraints. When this happens, or if I need to edit to allow a 1-2 word comment, I use ellipsis in the point of edit.

    Via @ may catch on, especially if Tweetdeck or other apps program for it.


  • March 19, 2009

    Hey @Sheamus, you make some good points. Although in answer to number 1, the idea is not to leave the original tweet intact: re-write it to convey the message in your own words.

    I understand that is probably an uphill struggle against an increasingly mainstream (and stupid) Twitter user base!! But that shouldn’t mean we can’t maintain a focus on quality, creativity and originality in our own circles.

    As for the Twitter clients – Tweetie on the iPhone has got it right!! :-)

  • March 19, 2009

    I have seen this becoming more and more used in Twitter. It does seem some what more “professional” or more of a way of acknowledging the original tweet.

  • March 19, 2009

    1. I agree, it can be difficult to RT some tweets, but with via it’s much easier, as you choose the text, but preserve the link.

    2. I’m not sure about software, but when I RT I always hit the reply button, because then it will also link back to the original tweet. As I see it, they can always see where I got it from anyway. People are too hungry for getting credit.

    4. But as Jamie states, it’s already in Tweetie. So it might catch on.

  • March 19, 2009

    Ok, so I just figured out how to RT today (yes, I’m tech-lame) and now there’s a new way. Eh… I like the new way better!

  • March 19, 2009

    I have not seen this yet, but I think I may still prefer RTs.

  • March 19, 2009

    This is great, no doubt, but this isn’t ReTweeting. ReTweeting is not about writing a new post or claiming you have written a new post, it is spreading someone else’s post. ReTweeting is advertising someone other than yourself. Via @ is advertising yourself. Neither of these right or wrong. The one you would use depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

    I have been wanting of a way comment on posts in this way, and I am so happy to find a way to do it, thank you.

  • March 19, 2009

    I have used via @ for a while now actually without thinking of the benefits (until @Mattjabs referred me to your article). I see the value in not using RT and will probably do this more often than before. Thanks!

  • March 19, 2009

    If we are using via instead of RT, then how do we track how many times our message is re-tweeted?

  • March 19, 2009

    I totally agree with this way of RT. I hate when I look up a hashtag or something and find like 100 of the same RT. exactly the same. super annoying…atleast then this way we see what someone might be getting out of the link.

  • March 19, 2009

    I see where your coming from and agree with you on some points. I often like to add a small opinion blurb before a retweet and try to keep the original shortened URL because there maybe some tracking going on in the background. Sometimes I’ll shorten the original retweet, so I can fit this all in, but keep the original idea in tact.

    However, (via @twitter-person) is adding 3 unnecessary characters. I think most twitter people understand what RT means and that your giving credit to the person being retweeted for the quote that occurs after these characters. Plus, I think RT does give a tweet more value. In fact, you said it yourself that you retweet “a recent tweet that is interesting and intriguing. This is definitely worth passing on to my followers.” Your followers will say “hey, if he passed this on to us then it must be good.” Plus, it gives the tweet an opportunity to spread to other twitter networks. So it adds a LOT of value.

    For these reasons, I don’t think its really necessary to rename RT to “via”. Although, I find the tips that you mentioned important and worth considering for any twitterer.

  • March 19, 2009

    A caveat is that the “via @” method will take up one more precious byte as compared to the conventional “RT @” method. I understand how some may feel if people are simply ripping their Twitter feed off by mass using RT instead of proper paraphrasing in the “via @” method, but I’m also thinking along the line that “RT” is the best way to give the original author credit (for not modifying their original tweet).

    I’m a little torn now :P

  • March 19, 2009

    I use RT most of the time, when it is a direct retweet. If I modify the tweet, I will via.

    Two things: RT is quicker, and implies that the tweet has been untouched. Because it is a prefix, the reader knows immediately that the content from the pen of another, whereas a “via” is generally a suffix, and therefore lends rather too much ambiguity, in my opinion.

    Furthermore, ‘(via @)’ is 7 characters, whereas ‘RT @’ is only 4; a small difference, but 2%+ of not very much is still plenty enough.

    De facto standards such as the use of RT are not easy to undo… I can’t see it changing.

  • March 19, 2009

    Great post! I might just re-tweet it…er, I mean, tweet it myself via you, of course!

  • March 19, 2009

    I love this idea! I am annoyed by a lot of RT’s that come through over and over again. Putting a spin on it like this is a really neat idea. You could always still use RT but make it more personal. Just thinking out loud.

  • March 19, 2009

    This is a good idea, but I want to mention one exception: when the original tweet says something funny. Rewording a humorous tweet is a TERRIBLE idea. If you’re passing on a link, I agree that you should pass along your own ideas as well, so the “via” option is reasonable. However, if a tweeter makes a great joke that’s worth passing along, leave it as it is.

  • March 19, 2009

    retweeting isn’t just about links, and it’s called “retweet” for a reason. if someone said something you feel everyone that follows you should see, then you can retweet it. of course, if it’s just an interesting link, via would work just fine. i see your point, but i think retweeting is more complex than you’re letting on – it’s more than just spamming regurgitated info. it’s about respect and recognition of the originator’s tweet. and like others have said, RT is short and sweet, which is very important with the 140 char limit. i sometimes add quotes around the original text and add my own tidbits to the end, space permitting. you’re proposing via to replace RT, but i think instead via should be supplemental to RT, mainly used for links.

  • March 19, 2009

    via means something different than RT. via is used when you are forwarding a link from a third source, e.g. “great NYT article on food safety (link) via @ethicurean”. RT is more often used when you are directly quoting the author, either something he said or a link he wrote, e.g RT @ross mourning the death of twitter (link)

  • March 19, 2009

    I think the via @ is a much nicer way to share tweets. I plan to start using it from now.

  • March 19, 2009

    i also find it ironic that the “retweet” button at the top of this post uses RT =)

    “RT @tweetmeme There’s a Better Way to ReTweet!

  • March 19, 2009

    Thanks for your feedback @KnightOfShaddai. You’re right, RT-ing is like voting for something – it adds values to the subject. However, as I said in the article, the usefulness of this starts to rapidly drop off as the number of ReTweets explodes (which it is!). This becomes unmanageable and less meaningful because the same content is simply duplicated across Twitter.

    At the end of the day, it’s about being personal and writing what YOU think…

  • March 19, 2009

    Isn’t it a little bit weird to talk about this and have a retweet button(that has a default text) just near the article ?

  • March 19, 2009

    I thought that RT was more like a FWD in email… Sure, the VIA suggestion works for spreading links, but what about simply funny or inspiring statements? There are many things people say on Twitter that are original and hilarious and worth re-stating in their own words. Could it be that we need both–RT *and* VIA, just for different purposes?

  • March 19, 2009

    I agree with the commenter in support of ht or h/t (for hat tip). It nicely parallels rt and r/t. It is shorter than via (without the /). “Hat tip” is common on blogs. And I enjoy the reference to traditional etiquette.

  • March 19, 2009

    I like the idea for via if you are just wanting to pass on a link (say to a blog or news posting). But if you are wanting to bass on Verbatim, such as a quote or thought, RT still sounds better.

    For searching, you would track the unique shortened URL instead of your @username, provided people are polite enough to keep your shortened URL intact.

  • March 19, 2009

    Thanks for the excellent post. I think that is an excellent tip and provides good insight. More value will be added if you add your own information content to the retweet like you stated. I believe this is in fact better than the simple RT method. Thank you!

    Bill Romanos
    Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

  • March 19, 2009

    It depends, what you want to say.

    If you use ‘via’ you are talking about a person (which gave you the information).
    If you retweet (‘RT’), then you talk about the information (from somebody)
    via means ‘by’
    re means ‘anew, once more, again’

    If you retweet you quote a source. And that should be in their words.
    If you say “via @person” then you just tell, where you got it from, but the info can be in your own words. Like in a brief summary.

  • March 19, 2009

    Okay gang… let’s not beat up the author of the post when he has no control over what the owner of the blog chooses to have as a default tool (the RT button).

    Personally, I think he has a good idea in the idea of being creative and original… regardless of which method you choose. I too get tired of hunting for a hashtag and finding the same thing for pages, or seeing the same exact RT in my home feed 20 or 30 times… changing it up would be a bit refreshing, and would make that Twitterer stand out in my mind a bit more, knowing that they actually put some thought into it.

    Not that RT’ing is entirely bad, but again, I can see the author’s basic points.

  • March 19, 2009

    Yes this make much better since and jives with the work ethic and plagiarism rules we are so strongly encouraged to learn all through our educations.

    Excellent suggestion, I am totally on board.

  • March 19, 2009

    i’ve been thinking about the whole “i hate seeing the same tweet so many times” bit regarding searching for hashtags. whether you’re using RT or via, you’re still sharing the same information, essentially. why would you prefer to read the same information in so many different ways? i think i’d actually prefer to skim past the same RT rather than reading everyone’s own personal spin on the same piece of information. seeing numerous RTs on the same subject also is a fast and easy way to notice that a specific statement or idea was appreciated by so many people, or that they agree on that particular tweet.

  • March 19, 2009

    the question is how soon before there is an easy plugin for this. I have been working with twitter retweet on various blogs and am finding it rather useful, but I like the style of via much better.

  • March 19, 2009

    Love the button at the top right… What plugin are you using to put it there?

  • March 19, 2009

    Miles, thanks for replying to my points. I think perhaps the best/most-likely way forward is for RT and via to not compete, but complement each other.

    I think as in your example when you completed edit or change the original user’s tweet then the via option is probably best. After all, in these instances it isn’t a re-tweet at all. I actually did this earlier today, though of your post, and used via. :)

    However, I think any time you are leaving the original prose alone – and in many cases this is both the proper etiquette and the smartest thing to do – then RT should always be used. As Bryan says above, this is notably appropriate when it comes to humourous posts. I try to write a few of these myself and they often get re-tweeted intact, which is how I think it should be.

    I understand that you are encouraging people to be creative with re-tweets. As said I have mixed feelings about editing people’s submissions (as many do) when you do an RT (or a via). If you have something to add then it’s fine to put a little something on the beginning or the end, but in most cases unless the link is great but their prose is awful (or misleading, which does happen) I prefer to leave it alone.

    Also, you make the point that too often we see the same re-tweets. I agree to an extent, but if everybody adopted the via system and was ‘creative’ with their own tweet, you’d get a lot of confusion about what links you’d already clicked on. At least with a repetitive RT you know you’ve already visited the site.

    Appreciate your thoughts, and I’ll be following you on Twitter. :)

  • March 19, 2009

    Now that you mention it, Miles…. Seen it before and will use the new format from now on… :)

  • March 19, 2009

    A couple people above mentioned posting to a blog. With a blog at least you are able to use a tag-and-ping or trackback, and you can also use a whole lot more typing space – you are not restricted to 140 charters.

    So, lets see here. If I want to quote a tweet directly then RT @tweeter_user is good. If I read a tweet with a link in it then via @tweeter_user if I want to add my own take on things and still include the link. If I am expanding on an idea then just the @tweeter_user is good. People can check the timeline to figure out what has gone before.

    So, we have the following:
    RT @ for direct quotes
    via @ for links with our own comments
    ht @ for acknowledging a good post

    That should sum it up pretty good I think

  • March 19, 2009

    @IMSales, thanks for summing it up so well, great job! :)

  • March 19, 2009

    “the retweet button”

    So, I’m a little behind the times with a very basic question. Where is “the retweet button”?

  • March 19, 2009

    Hi @tomhanna,

    In answer to your question, the “ReTweet Button” refers to the button often found in many Twitter client applications such as Tweetdeck, Twhirl and Tweetie (iPhone).

  • March 19, 2009

    @Sheamus and @IMSales,

    I think you have both got it spot on. The reality is, that RT-ing does have a use when the item of interest is the wording of the Tweet itself – as you both said. For example, a joke, quote, or interesting/original anecdote, would all benefit from a simple RT.

    However, what I am trying to convey, is that the pure ubiquitousness of click-before-you-think RT-ing, especially when something has already been RT-ed, propagates around Twitter before you can say “retweet”, significantly reducing the signal-to-noise ratio in the process!

    Thank you for your awesome feedback :-)

  • March 19, 2009

    I agree fully with @Sheamus on this topic, and tend to disagree with aspects of the actual blog post.

    First, I find it easy to filter RT’s because of the identical formatting and text (usually). If I’ve seen one, I’ve probably seen the others, and therefore I only visit the link once. The “via @user” method doesn’t give me this benefit, because the content is unique. I don’t want to have to compare shortened links simply so I don’t read the same article twice, etc.

    I -do- use “via @user” if I’ve read the article/whatever through and have something personal to add to the tweet about it. I’ll state my opinion or whatever, and use the “via @user” to give credit. Often though, the original tweeter sums up the topic well enough that I don’t feel guilty about RT’ing straight up.

    I don’t agree with the copy/paste etiquette BS. This is Twitter, not a blog. Twitter is 140 characters, and (most) people expect their tweets to get retweeted verbatim. This is one of the reasons people are told to keep your tweets under 140 chars so people can retweet without editing. We’ve got conflicting etiquette rules now.

    I’m a member of the “do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t harm another twerson” boat. I won’t scold you for using “via @user”, I won’t praise you for using “RT @user”. I care about the content more than anything, and I’m really getting sick and tired of all these so-called gurus and experts telling us how and when we can use Twitter. Twitter itself has some very basic rules, the rest of this twetiquette was created by the users, and it keeps changing every day and depending on who you talk to.

    I believe we should stop telling people HOW they should be twittering, and let them do what they want. Perhaps give them some suggestions, but stop making it seem like everything YOU don’t like is a Twitter faux-pas. (I couldn’t bring myself to use Twaux-Pas.)

    Opinions are opinions. Everyone’s got one, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to agree with it.

    For less flak from people, I’d “suggest” more “gurus” try to use “suggestive” wording rather than scary-hype-wording-that-makes-us-afraid-we’ll-lose-all-our-followers-if-we-don’t-tweet-a-particular-way.

    Good read, though.

  • March 19, 2009

    It’s funny that when I started tweeting back in ‘07 I did this, or something like this. Then came the advent of RT-ing and I fell in w/ the masses. I’ll gladly go back.
    Good tip!

  • March 19, 2009

    Good idea – I’ve seen it around a bit already. I’ll take it on and see how it goes.

    But I don’t think RTing will ever completely die, especially given how easy it is in Tweetdeck.

  • March 19, 2009


    When I retweet — fine way to spread good content — I often add my own note in brackets [ ] to indicate the text is my contribution to the tweet. I believe “via” is a less awkward way of doing that, so I plan to add the via protocol to my bag of twitter tricks (TwiTricks?) Thanks for a good post!

  • March 19, 2009

    This is nothing new… I’ve seen people use “via” to paraphrase retweets and give credit to original tweeter ever since I’ve been on twitter (which, admittedly, has only been a few months).


  • March 19, 2009

    This is great! I have been modifying my re-tweets, and placing the RT @ in different places, but your solution is much sexier. I already switched. Thanks

  • March 19, 2009

    Interesting idea, but it seems awfully close to simple “replies” – I think it could get confused with replies. But I guess it really is a reply, with including credit to the original poster.

  • March 19, 2009

    I use RT all the time. I filter for ‘RT @’ on TweetDeck and the majority of them have some value. Obviously it’s mixed in with assorted RTs of funny things that someone’s said but so what? It’s Twitter – it’s a conversation.

  • March 19, 2009

    Great article.. One of the things that I always suggest to my clients and to others, is that they give the Retweet a personal reccomendation as well.. That then adds some weight to how good the link is, that they have taken the time to actually go and have a read, and it will also give them more value as a trusted source of great info..



  • March 19, 2009

    Instead of “via” how about “BY” which is specifically giving authorship. It has two characters like “RT” which is one point others bring up.

    I think this is a silly debate and will use RT. Every Twitter client I use has it built in and everyone knows what it is or will by it’s use.

  • March 19, 2009

    I agre that sometimes you need to give props to others. I have avoided rewriting because I don’t want to step on toes of original, but I guess there are appropriate times for both.

  • March 19, 2009

    I have to agree with Lee above – and in doing so, disagree with the author’s points for a few already stated reasons

    The main one for me, I think, is that the “RT” (& keeping the text) gives me a visual key to know that I’ve viewed or RTd that tweet already. Also, if I really want to add something, I’ll usually just * my comment. simple. Occasionally I might shorten the original tweet, by using numerals or shortened words, etc, but mostly I try to keep the original tweet as much in tact as I can.

    One thing – I don’t particularly appreciate you referring to anyone who doesn’t use your great “@ via” method as being an “increasingly mainstream (and stupid) Twitter user base”.

    There are reasons I use and prefer RT over ‘via’ (although I do on occasion use the via @ method, where appropriate) – what I’m trying to say is – I’m not doing it blindly, I’ve thought about it (not that much.. but I have) and I prefer it. And just maybe, it’s mainstream because it works well. It’s simple fast and easy. It may not require much creativity, but then why should it? it’s spreading information, forwarding one resources and help or something interesting. It’s not a place for me to try and show off with my magical prose. That, I feel, should be kept for my own link sharing, or tweets. If some of those tweets happen to be referring to a link shared by another, then great, use the “via” but that’s the exception, not the rule.

    Your suggestion would go a great length in crippling the power of the RT. I personally think to use “via” as the norm is a regression in RTing. It reduces much of the value that the original tweet had, along with making Retweets harder to visually track. As another commenter said, it’s often about more than just the link. It also reduces the speed with which messages or links might travel, greatly reducing the viral aspect that RTs have.

    But, each to his own. I often retweet based on the content of the tweet itself (if it’s eye catching or sounds like something I’m interested in) and will only go read through the link at a later stage (here’s to a twitter app that has a built in browser – preferably built on the Firefox engine, not IE :D ) and to be honest, more often than not, the original tweet says it fine – why should we reinvent the wheel?

    As I said, each to his own – use whatever method works best for you, and if you feel the need, tell other people how you do it. But please, please don’t go branding your little way of doing something as THE ONLY/BEST WAY to {enter mundane twitter habit here}.. your condescending tone and manipulative language makes you sound more like a religious bigot than someone truly wanting to help or give advice.

    Appologies if this sounds a bit like a flame.. but you did (indirectly) call me stupid back there..


  • March 19, 2009

    I wouldn’t replace RT with Via but use it as an optional alternative.

  • March 19, 2009

    Will it fly? There is one way to find out. I’ll definitely give it a try, and ask my tweets what they think. Both camps have merit. May the best one win!

  • March 19, 2009

    I like that idea but encourage everyone to use this standard as well:

    (via ;)

    ha ha

  • March 19, 2009

    Some tweets are so awesome they must be retweeted without even removing a comma.

  • March 19, 2009

    Hmmm…. Lee (@logic), Cameron (@cameronolivier), you are both making the case for RT-ing as a normalised way of filtering Tweets and, Cameron, you mention using it as a read/unread indicator. Firstly, I don’t think it’s helpful to identify unread tweets. Remember: Twitter isn’t email – you don’t have to read every tweet. However, I do agree with you that RT’s have some value as a way of measuring the popularity of a Tweet. Each one is like a hi-five recommending something interesting.

    But I think this is where the usefulness stops. Let me just reiterate, my main thrust behind this article is that, I personally find there is too much duplicate content on Twitter. All the points I make stem from this premise. I want to be able to extract information that valuable/interesting me, without having to trawl through countless retweets. This is the problem.

    As I’ve mentioned previously, the purpose of the article is to promote originality within a community that, whether we like it or not, is quickly becoming over-saturated with nonsense.

    Of course, you’re forgetting, and perhaps I should have mentioned this in the article, that an alternative solution would be to simply link to the original tweet in your tweet. I.e This would be useful in the cases where is helpful to cite the tweet verbatim AND you can add your own words. In fact, a lot of Twitter client apps make this very easy to do… Maybe this could be a happy compromise. :-P

  • March 19, 2009

    Great tip! Will be using it.

  • March 19, 2009

    Incredibly ironic that an article about originality in retweets comes packaged with a tweetmeme widget that has been clicked on 361 times. That’s probably over 300 identical messages about this post.

    I don’t mind duplicate copy RTs. When you share only about 1 in 20 of someone else’s followers, they are an essential way to spread information. I may add a parenthetical comment of my own at the end of the RT so instead of tweeting this:
    “RT @tweetmeme There’s a Better Way to ReTweet!” I might tweet this instead: ” RT @tweetmeme There’s a Better Way to ReTweet! [ironic that @milestinsley uses @tweetmeme to promote his posts]

  • March 19, 2009
    Daniele Beta

    ME I use both “RT” nd “via”; RT distinguishes what is already posted on Twitter; I use “via” alone 2 show a not Twitter source

  • March 19, 2009
    Simon Sanders

    Was just thinking about this myself tonight. Here’s my thoughts.
    1) RT does stand out when viewing a whole crop of tweets. It says to me someone I value enough to follow says “this” is worth reading. So, RT has great value
    2) But…though I value the original T which has been RT, I might also value the “Added Thought” of the person who sent it on. This saves them having to first RT the original and then send a further T with their thoughts.
    3) ‘via’ is good, and lets you clearly show the source whilst writing a whole new T.
    4) HOWEVER, where you want to post the whole original T but also add your own comment, and be clear which words are RT and which are new and yours, I would propose usnig AT (“Added Thought”)

    So examples:
    Arsenal won a great soccer game tonight (LINK)

    RT @simonsanders – Arsenal won a great soccer game tonight (LINK)

    Arsenal win again (LINK) via @simonsanders

    AT (Added thought, or after thought, or added Tweet)
    RT @simonsanders – “Arsenal won a great soccer game tonight” (LINK) AT – they are the best team in London!

  • March 19, 2009

    This is a pretty good idea…I do get kind of sick of Retweets…especially since it seems like they don’t have anything new to say. I think this is what I like about google reader, sharing interesting articles with friends…but they know it’s not my own content, I was just lucky enough to stumble upon it.

  • March 19, 2009


    I see where you’re coming from, however, and I suppose this might be where we differ, I think having the RT helps me differentiate between tweets I have already read -and therefore wouldn’t want to read again- and those that may still contain value for me. I skim over each quickly and make a decision. Using the re-writing method (with via), forces me to focus more attention on the tweet to try figure out if it’s something I have already seen/read.

    I am well aware that twitter != email (I don’t read all my email either, btw). Following over 800 people, which isn’t the most, but is still a large volume, it is impossible to catch everything, and, for the most part, I skim-read posts here and there, either to find something interesting to engage in, or to find links, etc to retweet or have a look at. My skimming ability, as stated, will be largely reduced if every retweet was restructured and rewritten.

    You see, for me, the fact that the duplicate content is easily recognisable actually assists in reducing the effect of the duplicates. If, however, each duplicate was wholly changed (yet the link content, etc was the same) it would make my life exponentially harder.

    The only way I see your option possibly working (and I think this might actually be what you’re aiming at) is if the effort to rewrite the tweet amounts in less people retweeting tweets, and therefore simply less volume.

    I don’t really understand how rewritting a tweet (or having others rewrite instead of simply RT) would assist you in not reading as many tweets? – bear in mind, that if the tweet is about the same link, chances are the topic that interested you before, would interest you again, and might actually become more of a time-waste than before, as you may, very possibly, click on the link again, and have to review the page before you realise it’s the same (this has happened to me before, and it can be a bit irritating).

    The only benefit I can really see, is that there is possibly a bit more added to the conversation on that topic as a whole.. but I don’t see how it practically reduces the time to skim/manage ones twitter stream..

  • March 19, 2009

    I’m thinking this post is coming way too late in the game. What a mess if everyone starts adopting different methods–HT, RT, etc.

    Retweet is the norm that’s being widely used on Twitter and numerous applications, and I don’t think it’s ethically troubling. It’s understood that a retweet is a quote, so I don’t see that the comparison of retweeting and pasting from someone’s blog is a fair one.

    And I don’t think retweeting is responsible for suffocating Twitter. I can look at Twitter and see people posting the music they’re listening to via some application that does this. Some are hypertweeters, basically using Twitter as a chatroom. Many will post links with barely any description at all, such as “check this out!” Those things suffocate and clutter Twitter, IMO, more than retweeting posts that are retweet-worthy.

    The basis of the issue isn’t really the problem of retweeting–it’s that we don’t as yet have an adequate platform to filter the garbage we don’t want to see. Everything is vying for our attention, and there’s no good way to identify which tweets deserve the most attention. It’s just a matter of time until developers help us out with this.

  • March 19, 2009

    I’m a fan of the retweet. Not against via but I dont think i’ll be switching to it yet.

    I also like the language “retweet”. If someone likes something I said or a post I write sometimes i’ll ask them to retweet it. It just flows.

  • March 19, 2009

    This is an interesting approach to Retweeting. Some how I felt Retweeting is just repeating what some has already said. “via @” gives a way to express yourself in your own words.

    But tell me one thing!! Does a retweet stats site like recognize “via @”?

  • March 19, 2009

    Interesting idea.

    I find that often, in order to RT, one has to do a bit of editing anyway. I think the twitterunity understands that this happens to the original message.

    RT is quick & easy – no need to add steps.

  • March 19, 2009

    Timely topic.

    I use RT in a different way than Via. I use Via when I snatched the post from someone else’s Twitter stream or it was brought to my attention but that person. They may not be the original poster/blogger (incidentally, I was scolded once for doing that and not using a “RT”).

    What’s going on is the formation of a “Retweet economy.” The more you retweet, the more people retweet you, the more followers you get. I don’t have anything against people who do this unintentionally or intentionally since many folks find value in that.

    The Retweet is shifting the Twitter “scoreboard” from Twitter grader sites to retweet measures as in the “tweets” counter on this post at the top of the page and rankings on This will be one reason why folks won’t want to change from the current RT format.

    BTW, I agree with @cameronolivier and don’t think it’s cool to call any Twitter folks stupid.

  • March 19, 2009

    I’m sticking w/RT to give full credit to the tweet & tweeter– as one would quote verbatim. via@ is a h/t to the link & tweeter (but ignores the tweet) which is OK too. So my twit book notes the difference.

  • March 19, 2009

    I love this. I have seen it done a lot lately.

    Strangely, I have seen it written in blog posts by some “social media experts” that this wasn’t allowed — that one MUST post RT in front of someone’s tweet, and MUST copy and paste exactly the way the original tweet was written! The explanation for this was that some systems keep track of how many times someone is RTed, and that the systems are logging the most RTed people on Twitter, and it is only fair that these tweeters get credit for the number of times they are RTed! Also, it is only fair, some “experts” claim, for those RTed to be instantly recognized clearly by all, and that their exact words be repeated. It has been claimed in posts that their exact words are preferable to phrasing something in our own opinion.

    This has been a tough call for me. I have put things in my own words. Especially when I wanted to RT something very important, and I couldn’t bc it was longer than 140 characters! But it is such a hard call. I feel like I am cheating and going against some kind of sacred rule.

    I am wondering what Darren thinks about this?

  • March 19, 2009

    I don’t think using “via @” is a better way to retweet at all. In fact, by using that syntax in the first place, by definition you are not retweeting.

    RTs are used to quote another user directly, passing on their content that you feel is worthy of exposing to your network. As @l0gic mentioned, I don’t want to read a bunch of paraphrased tweets about a subject and have all of them click through to the same link. I’d rather be able to skim across them all, see they all reference the same link, then visit it.

    I use the “via @” if I find an interesting article or blog post and want to credit the author of the content. I use “via @” because I am not quoting or reposting a tweet they’ve already made themselves, but rather listing the resource and the person that authored it.

    Also, based on the current state of syntax being used in the Twittersphere, there’s no way you can single-handedly change the culture of how people post their retweets. People will post them the way they want, and the way they have all grown accustomed to. It’s back to the argument about trying to call microblogging by another name. Microblogging emerged from the community, not from one individual wanting to name it. The same is true of reteets. RT was a convention built by the community and will continue to be used.

  • March 19, 2009

    First, let’s hear it for TWEETIE!!! The only Twitter iPhone app you’ll ever need – can’t imagine life before Tweetie. [Shoutout to fellow Tweetie fans: @jfellrath @milestinsley @milestinsley @xen_yasai]

    However — gotta say, when retweeting from my iPhone, I add in the “RT @name:” and back out the “(via @name)”. It’s just a more widely recognized format, e.g. as in emails that are preceded with “Re:” we know it’s a reply and “Fwd:” we know it’s a forward.

    In addition, I absolutely always love to give credit where credit is due. And if I don’t precede a tweet with “RT” and someone retweets me and drops the (via @name), it would make me feel bad to think I’m being quoted for someone else’s tweet.

    One thing I do love to do is add my own comment in square brackets at the end, like [Excellent post!] or [A must read!] or [Fab content!] — so my peeps know I’ve actually read the content and feel it’s of value to them too.

    @AdInfinitum Dan, you say the Tweetie developer caved in and added RT as an option… I don’t see it. Maybe on a new release?

  • March 19, 2009

    You seem to misunderstand the way many users see retweeting. If you are simply re-posting a link then it’s fine to use the Via@ method and customize the tweet to suit, but the whole point of many retweets is to provide wider coverage for a particular tweet because it is apt, funny, insightful, poetic, relevant, shocking etc. You do that by leaving it intact.

    And who, exactly, is complaining about retweets? They certainly don’t bother me. If you can get the via@ established as well, good on you. But Twitter will be used the way it’s users decide. That seems to suggest the retweet is here to stay.

  • March 19, 2009

    I think we’ve covered the difference between RT & Via.

    RT for exact. Via for anything that you change that doesnt just abbreviate or take away punctuation.
    H/t can be used if you find something through someone’s link, almost in a roundabout way they led you there- among substituting it for Via as well.

    I personally use just someone’s @name after the RT w/o RT to attribute the preceding information to them, almost in quote format, but that’s my gig.

    I hope we’ve closed the book on this now. Not much debate on how to use either. Plus, Via isn’t quite new in the context of Twitter. It just happens to not be used as much as RT.

  • March 19, 2009

    424 retweets for this post! .. people normally like to forward than adding value to the system. too troublesome for a ‘regular user’

  • March 19, 2009

    Wow, this is definitely a hot topic, I’ll give you that!

    From what I can gather from these comments, you seem to group into three school’s of thought:

    The Fence Percher’s: those of you who are perhaps complaining about the extra character, but think there’s merit in using both methods.

    The Bandwagon Rider’s, whose over-zealous, blind obsession reveals their true misinterpretation of the message in my article. These are the sort who click on popup ads. They don’t like the idea of changing something that is so established (easy?) and probably have slightly more time on their hands than the rest of us. :-P

    and, of course
    Those Who Get It. These guys don’t necessarily all agree with the article (that’s not actually a requirement!), but they understand the bigger picture, read between the lines and put forward meaningful additions to the conversation. These are the ones to follow…

  • March 19, 2009

    I think there are benefits to each approach, there are many people searching the Twittersphere for RT as a keyword – to find people promoting their tweets and thus changing the approach would render this useless.

    The community has adopted RT as the mechanism, and I think you’ll find it hard to change the opinion of loads of tweeters out there. Unless you can add value (in 140 characters), there’s no reason not to copy paste.

  • March 19, 2009

    I LOVE THIS. I, too, am so sick of all the RT tweets. But yet I find myself still doing it. THANK YOU! I’m so linking to this and posting about it.

  • March 19, 2009

    *I LOVE THIS. I, too, am so sick of all the RT tweets. But yet I find myself still doing it.*

    Jeez. What point are you making, then? And why SHOUT about it?

    Perhaps, like the writer of this post, you might be happier moving to another platform, leaving the rest of us to continue using Twitter in the manner we have been happily doing since the start?

    Put simply, if you don’t like the way people use Twitter – go away!

  • March 19, 2009

    Your post contained one error that ought to be avoided! By putting the originator’s twitter id in brackets, you made it impossible to click on them to access their profile or cut and paste their name. This is because the id now reads @username). You must make a space after the username before putting the closing bracket: @username ). But why bother with the brackets anyway? They just take up 2 more characters!



  • March 19, 2009

    The problem I have with taking someone else tweet is that you are changing it and then Rt-ing just under the guise of via…@ – but the first impression is that it’s your tweet. It’s NOT.

    Someone else found that information and decided to Tweet it the Twitter-verse – those tweets may be what distinguishes that person from you.

    If you take their ‘hard’ work and then package it as your own (forget the via that’s just a back door way and poor excuse for getting away with ripping off someone else’s stuff) then you are doing them out of the recognition. It really comes across as a last minute thought to put the via – and what if the person RT-ing using via decides that they just don’t have room for it after all?

    I personally think the via@ is a cop-out and I prefer to know straight up when I am reading a re-tweet with the RT at the beginning. And if I think something is interesting I will RT it using the RT.

    And I just don’t want someone taking my original tweet and changing it beyond all recognition – it was my tweet – it should stay that way.

  • March 20, 2009

    I’ve been using either RT and shortening the post to the essentials, then adding my own short comment OR replying and using re (regarding), copying bare essentials, then adding my own comment.

  • March 20, 2009

    I loved to read that many of you didn’t agree with the ‘via’ concept. Every necessary bit to unjustify the replacement of ‘RT’ with ‘via’ has been wisely said by the fellow commenters. Sometimes I’m having the feeling that people are intending to move Twitter from it’s simple yet beautiful concept to a rather complicated social network.

    To me the ‘via’ thing is simply unnecessary.

  • March 20, 2009
    John Piercy

    I think its a great idea .. it streamlines the information and also gives credit to where the Tweet originated from … instead of seeing too RT’s in the space …

  • March 20, 2009

    RT @jnicolespencer A Better Way to Retweet –

    could become:
    Adding more value to your Retweet – (via @jnicolespencer)

    Great idea, thanks for excellent info.

  • March 20, 2009

    Love it, I’m sold! I always felt awkward if I needed to trim the text in the original tweet to make things fit, especially if I felt called to add something myself. This is perfect! Now if only TweetDeck can pickup this style as a config option…? Here’s hoping!

  • March 20, 2009

    I like the idea however it’s nearly impossible to change something the herd created.

  • March 20, 2009

    interesting concept for twitzu (

  • March 20, 2009
    Jim Espinoza

    As ususal, I believe there is a time and a place for everything. Some tweets are so “on” that a RT is all I want to do since it works to spread the original words . If I add a few words of my own, I’ll add them in and be sure they are shown as mine. Other times where I add more than just a few words I will use via or from to give recognition to the originator.

    Using the example you gave in particular: The original post was about “How To Be” and it may intriguing in it’s own right. If I want to RT as-is because I found it intriguing, I might start with something like “Intriguing: RT @tferriss … ” On the other hand, if I was inclined to “fancy myself as a” then I would indeed use something like you have shown.

  • March 20, 2009
    Begoña Tocino

    I think the main point Miles wants to make is being diluted somehow as in their comments Twitter users are mainly focusing on whether “via” is a good way of quoting somebody else’s tweet or not. From my point of view, what Miles wants to make us aware of is the fact that RT as a simple “pass it on” clogs the dynamism that tweets are supposed to bring to communication via microblogging. As I see it, one of the aims of tweeting is actually to keep communication active but making it brief and dynamic. When we read a tweet that we find interesting and want others to know about it, we should also convey this, i.e. why we feel it’s an interesting tweet to pass on. The trick is to keep the 140 characters in shape, but that’s also what makes tweeting fascinating.

  • March 20, 2009

    When I first started using Twitter, I thought that it was pointless to Retweet someone with a huge number of followers (like say @guykawasaki) since most likely your followers r already their followers ( here is the tweet and you are duplicating information.
    But then someone pointed out that RTing is a way of reinforcing the original message thereby giving high quality tweets more shelf-life on Twitter.
    However, the ones with the most followers get Retweeted the most as well – as a result of simple statistical probability – not necessarily because the original tweet is always the highest quality and deserves a retweet. I also realized that maybe just 5 to 10% of stuff on Twitter is original insights/comments/observations – since it is so difficult to distill your point of view and say something wise and important in 140 characters. It is much simpler and takes all of 2 seconds to RT someone then tack on an original comment – and we are all guilty of this IMO.

  • March 20, 2009

    Wow, now I’m wondering what boat Miles just threw me (and a few others into) with his quip about the fence-sitters, overzealous, and the “englightened.”

    From all the reading I’ve done of the comments so far, there really are only two categories…

    1. The gung-ho people who’ve decided that RT is annoying (and therefore ReTweets in their current form are annoying) and want to change to a method that presents more unique content. (I have nothing wrong with this, it’s just not what I’ll be using, and I’ve already made my arguments as to why.)

    2. The rest of us… Who’ve read the article, made up our own mind about why we do what we do, and decided to keep on truckin’. (Again, nothing wrong with this either. I like my own reasons, I’ll use my own methods.)

    Miles, you seem to have made up a third group so you could separate out the people who are voicing very good reasoning for not trying to get the Twitter community to switch to “via @user”. What’s the big deal? You honestly can’t think one article is going to get the entire Twitterverse to switch to your preferred method of retweeting.

    Calling any of these people overzealous is overstepping the line, since I’ve yet to read any fanatical comments.

  • March 20, 2009

    Wow, I did not know that Twitter (Tweetie app) originally used via but switched to RT. Interesting and informative replies to this article! I tend to look at RT as return tweet which confuses me. I think that someone is replying to someone else so my mind hasn’t adjusted to what it actually means, Re-Tweet. I’m working on it. If I re-tweet an article, I don’t change the article’s name. I use RT @user_name Original Article Title Here and link. If there’s room, I add my own thoughts on it. If not, I just let it go.

    I hadn’t realized about tracking the budurl or tinyurl from it, so I’ll make sure to do that from now on instead of creating my own smaller url. Now, if I re-tweet some tidbit of information from someone I usually say Thks to user_name for this tip! So credit is given. I like via though for this instance…good idea.

    I would hate to see Twitter become the new dumping ground for those stupid FW’s people send out in emails which I NEVER forward! One person in particular refuses to listen to my request to NOT forward them to me. Aren’t chain letters illegal? That’s what a lot of those FW’s are, btw. Not to mention breaking a bunch of copyright laws but I won’t get into that here.

    I am really hoping that Twitterers will continue to use good judgment when RT’ing. So far, it’s been fine but with the upsurge of popularity these past few weeks, I cringe to think what will become of Twitter. I like how it is used now. Thanks for the article and thanks for all the comments. Lots of good points made!

  • March 20, 2009

    This is a good thought. I think it would negate some of the spam blower effect that Twitter has been taking on.

  • March 20, 2009

    This is stupid. Someone who’s been on Twitter for ten minutes decides to straddle his high horse and tell us all what’s wrong with it and how to put it right which, naturally, involves doing things the way HE prefers. Jeez, what arrogance! Still, I shouldn’t be surprised. The web is full of people who start preaching to us as soon as they work out how to do what some of us have been doing since they were in short diapers. Bloggers who blog nothing but ‘How to Blog’ posts. Tweeters posting on the “etiquette” of Twitter and so an – ad nauseam. One commenter above even refers to us as the “herd”. Pompous and arrogant. I’ve had enough of this puerile nonsense. I’m off.

  • March 20, 2009

    Great i try it out and you are right about how they over use the RT sistem but soon its will be the same whit the Via @ lest hope they rispet it.

  • March 20, 2009

    I agree that RT does cause congestion due to the fact that within the group of your friends you can see the same tweet over and over again as everyone retweets it. Also the other negative about retweeting is that people don’t remove multiple retweets so the message is fully of RT @thridperson RT @secondperson RT @firstperson when really credit only needs to go to the first person.

    I am in the process of building an app that will help you manage your tweets more efficiently and have included the Via @ function, so lets see how it goes.

  • March 22, 2009

    Isn’t this the same thing? Still retweeting…just in a different format. It won’t be long before people are replacing “via @”. Let’s just pick a standard and go with it.

  • March 23, 2009

    Ok, what about authority, stats and analytics? Of 117 comments so far, only one person brought this up. (kudos to you Ashwin @ Thoughtsunlimited )

    I agree with @milestinsley’s points about “creativity” and “adding value”, but have we carefully considered how changing the original post and excluding “RT @” affects stats on services like, which are Digg-like services for Twitter? Sites like this are popular because they measure influence and allow people to track the impact of their messages and what content is popular in the community. If it’s the case that altering the message messes with statistics produced by these popular services, I’d venture that being creative in an attempt to “add value” is actually hindering the person who originated the Tweet more than it’s helping because it’s reducing their ability to “be found” by people using those services to find them (and reducing their perceived influence).

    Of course, I’m asking the question because I don’t know, and while I mean no offense by pointing this out, given that the person that wrote this post only has 146 followers and 163 updates, I doubt he does either.

    A clear answer to “does this affect Retweet stats services” is needed before we all start getting “creative”. Social and stat systems are being built on our current habits. Before we change them, we need to find out what the ramifications will be and how it affects code.

  • March 23, 2009

    Rewording a good tweet is like rewording a successful headline – usually not a good idea. If a particular tweet is being retweeted, it’s probably because the tweet has a compelling headline. Messing with that headline will likely STOP the VIRAL nature of the tweet.

  • March 23, 2009

    I don’t think its selfish to change the way you retweet. As long as you are giving the original tweeter credit (via, RT, or some other means) then I think you’re doing what you need to do.

    I think adding your own comment or idea to something someone else shared is social media is all about. We’re all sharing and commenting on all sorts of things. I mean I think it only really works when you’re sharing a link to something, even if its just a link to the original tweet so that people can see what you’re commenting on.

    I think as long as we can agree on a few common words (like via) to precede someones id, then those services can adapt to give proper credit. But the principle idea of not just retweeting word for word but providing your own commentary, to me, is a great way to use twitter.

  • March 23, 2009

    I have to agree with @alexhsantander, @Sheamus and, especially with @IMSales’ summary so, if going forward I were to make any changes to my tweeting/retweeting behavior, I’d try to follow something along the lines @IMSales recommends:

    RT @ for direct quotes
    via @ for links with our own comments
    ht @ for acknowledging a good post

    BY THE WAY: I think a much more important issue to resolve than RT versus VIA is how to respond to blog posts such as this one which has 120 responses prior to my response. Um, honestly, even as somewhat of a speed-reader, that’s a doggone lot of responses to take into consideration before adding to the conversation stream…anyone else have more concerns about TM? (Time Management) than about RT? :-)

  • March 27, 2009
    Rejean Bradley

    Totally agree, i’ll do it that way from now on!

  • April 5, 2009

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Must add some personal flare! Great suggestion.

  • April 10, 2009

    I agree with MikePower about how retweeting verbatim is often made on purpose. I see no probem with it needing to be fixed. To me it all boils down to common sense. I blogged about just that actually, here: When retweeting, apply common sense

  • May 13, 2009

    My 2 cents:

    If the tweet’s interest lies in the wording itself, a simple RT will do.
    If what matters is the info ( link, …) within the tweet, feel free to rewrite the message – giving proper credit when it matters – if it’s a scoop, for instance (most of the time it isn’t).

    For fun, let’s try to define the major user categories – oversimplifying shamelessly:

    Infocentrics: individuals using twitter to share valuable information.
    Information is the message. They use RT when it matters.

    Egocentrics: individuals tweeting to boost their ego (ranking & recognition become more important than the information itself). Identity is the message.
    “Copyrightweet” rules are called to the rescue to justify a restrictive RT acceptance.

    PRcentrics professionals using twitter with a “press release” approach.
    Information and identity have equivalent values. RT is crucial.

    RTaddicts: channel surfing couch twitterers who forward stuff because there’s a button for that.
    Information and identity are lost in the noise. RT is just another click of the mouse.

    RT is a convention that appeals to most, meaning different things to many – because we’re all different, with different needs. (Conflicting personal strategies – conscious or not – are nothing new.)
    We just need to tolerate such diversity. Isn’t it what freedom is all about?

  • May 16, 2009

    great post. the RT vs (via @) versus any other approach is something i’ve been mulling over lately. i prefer the (via @) approach because it does allow me to add my own thoughts, perspectives, or reactions to a piece, which is key since i’m basically recommending others spend time reading what i’m retweeting. while i understand the biz sense of keeping the initial URL, given the space limitations and some tweeter’s preference for long URLs i sometimes have to weigh shortening the original URL to add my two cents. it’s a toss-up, but i typically go with adding my two cents.

  • July 6, 2009

    Can anyone explain the lingo 4 retweeting a retweet?

  • July 30, 2009

    sweet tip, much ta

    duly @’ed!

  • August 9, 2009

    Since I’m probably not the only one who thought (via @name) was the same thing as RT @name, then I’m afraid if I switch to using the “via” method, then my followers will think I’m copying and pasting the whole tweet, rather than using my own pithy comment. Of course, I’d RATHER use my own pithy comment, so maybe it’s just a matter of my “getting over it”.

    Great! Now I can be a Twitter snob and pooh-pooh people who use RT… and delete all my previous entries that use it.

    But wait, what if you want to quote someone’s tweet word for word because THEY said something fabulous, not because they are merely passing on a URL? Do you still use “via”?

  • August 17, 2009

    Hi.I am wondering if you guys are using twitter the same way as me .Especially shocked by the person who “ignores” retweets.Surely the fact that something has been retweeted meands that it is more likely to be interesting

    I am on Twitter for increasing consciousness about certain issues and about technology and also for fun and stimulating conversation.Firmly believe that around 60% of your tweets should be retweets however you package them.Around 30% conversation,5% links you found yourself and 5% stuff about yourself,your business, what you are doing today etc

    I have made a short video on my You Tube channel explaining why I think retweeting is great.

  • September 16, 2009
    Randy in IL

    Wow, teh stoopid amazzez. This all assumes that people are just RTing links. Most of the people I follow are actually making intelligent statements and when I retweet them I am essentially expressing my agreement. Even when they do tweet a link they usually make some comment about it that I want to pass along.
    The one good thing I can see about using Via @ is that I can take your link and completely disagree with your opinion and spread it. Instead of;
    RT @jayrosen_nyu: Via @eric_andersen: Good post on the use of “via” when passing along links. (I very rarely use RT for the reasons given.),
    I can
    Via @eric_anderson An poorly conceived notion about Retweeting assumes we only RT links.

  • September 16, 2009

    As soon as they bring this functionality to TweetDeck, I’ll use it :) Until the, it’s RT for me….

  • October 9, 2009

    Great tutorial!!! Thank you

  • November 19, 2009

    Understood… I’ll start trying that. – I do usually add some ed to a RT if there’s room – but this logic makes it easier to distinguish. Cheers

  • January 6, 2010

    When I use the “via @” trick, it is usually when I find something of interest written by someone on their blog or website. For example, here is what I would tweet about a blog post I found while surfing the web:

    “5 Reasons Why RSS Readers Still Rock (via @rww)“.

    However, if I found the post through someone I follow on Twitter, I would use the “RT” feature:

    “RT @rww: 5 Reasons Why RSS Readers Still Rock:“.

    I think the main difference between “RT @” and “via @” is where you found the information. I agree with others above who have said that completely rearranging somebody’s tweet and then tagging their name on the end would a bit confusing and irritating to some twitterers.

    Also, I think that the RT method adds value to the tweet. This usually only applies to tweeps that I already know and trust that their content is interesting and useful, but if something is being RT’d, I think it demands attention, no matter how great the content is.

    Granted, this is “polluting the twittersphere” in some ways, but since when are we rearranging our twitter-ways according to the methods of spammers and twitter-polluters?! No matter where you go on Twitter, and the entire Internet, there will be spammers and people who will try to ruin everyone else’s fun. This is something we should naturally pay attention to and avoid and not something we can hope to eradicate completely.

  • February 5, 2010

    I will just stick with RT @. In my mind it isn’t broken…so it doesn’t need a fix. I look for RT’s because I believe it to be a sign of value. Sure it is going to be abused but so is anything else. If you don’t like the RT, quite following…vote with a block.

  • February 9, 2010

    I agree. When I see the RT it stands out from the other tweets populating my home page. I will have to do some split testing to see which has the better conversion.

  • April 25, 2010

    I know based on my own behavior how I will retweet. I will always prefer the RT @ over the Twitter Retweet button. I read RT @ tweets and will click the links included. I hardly ever click the link on a tweet. I view it as a referral or recommendations by my “neighbors” in my Twitter community.

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