Improve conversations in Twitter: enter the ~tildetag

Twitter isn’t about conversation. It’s about broadcasting that there is a potential conversation happening.

I avoid following conversations in Twitter. The reason is simple: Doing so is hard and RTs lead to reading the same staff over and over. Plus, I can’t always actually read everything, as not everyone uses “reply” and I am rarely a follower of all parties. Use of multiple URL shorteners don’t make it any easier to identify identical links, either.

I would expect Twitter threads marked with a #hashtag to work a bit better. Indeed, most Twitter clients make following threads with a #<subject> very easy. The #hashtag makes tweets hard to miss. Still, almost none of the above issues are answered. RTs (with the #hashtag) are still noise. Plus, not everyone always uses the #hashtag, despite the fact it’s automated in some clients.

I agree with Robert Scoble that “Twitter isn’t about conversation. It’s about broadcasting that there is a potential conversation happening.” (…). How do you get all the parties interested in an already started conversation in Twitter to a single different service and which one would that be? People don’t always join new services that easily. Nor migrate their conversations, for that matter… Let’s face it; conversations do happen in Twitter.

So, this is what I suggest would improve following the conversation in Twitter, using what we have:

  • A conversation should always have a #<subject> hashtag
  • A conversation should have only one #<subject>. It should be as short and decriptive as possible. A bad #<subject> is prefferable to none at all and to multiple ones
  • The #<subject> should be thoroughly used within the discussion, even if this takes reposting. There is a “delete” option for slipped tweets
  • RTs of a tweet that already has the #<subject> don’t help the conversation
  • RTs and mentions of the conversation for each user’s stream are ok, provided the #<subject> hashtag changes to a ~<subject> tildetag (which won’t appear in the original thread). It’s easy to do and saves everybody time and effort
  • Twitter clients can implement the ~tildetag in no time, replacing # with ~ on RTs, ~ to # on Replies and having both ~tildetags and #hashtags point to the same search on click. They could also suggest a  #<subject> hashtag as we type our tweets

I admit this is somewhat bureaucratic and I am open to suggestions. Where should we take the conversation?

4 comments to Improve Conversations in Twitter: Enter the ~Tildetag

  • Yes, Vicki, this is exactly it. Substitute the # (hash) with a ~ (tilde), so RTs don’t appear in the #hashtag stream.

    Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  • Vicki Kolovou

    Sorry Alex. Obviously something I didn’t understand. No idea what the ~tildetag is (is it the name of the ~ ?)and is it to be used instead of a # in front of a topic, ie #systemgraph? Confused, sorry, but anyway thanks for the answer.

    (Meanwhile please add notification for follow up comments, if possible. Arrived here through a Google Alert that my name was mentioned on Twitter somewhere, which was an automated twit probably by dipot 🙂 )

  • Thanks, Vicki.

    That’s exactly the idea of the ~tildetag:
    “Regular mentions of the conversation or even repeating key tweets for each user’s stream are ok, provided the #hashtag changes to a ~tildetag (which won’t appear in the original thread).”

    I am rephrasing to make the idea more obvious.

  • Vicki Kolovou

    Looks like a strict list of rules. For ex. There should be no RTs to a tweet that already has the #hashtag. Most followers would read a RT I would make, rarely a whole #. Too rigid but I can see the need for some rules. I’d prefer Twitter gives some better solution, like a thread indicator…
    Good article and topic.

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