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Online Etiquette: Tweet with Care
Online Etiquette: Tweet with Care

By Cate Sevilla

The Internet is an unruly place.

While brilliant and brimming with creativity and forward-thinking, it is also a cesspool for bad manners, ridiculous vernacular and downright rudeness.

The little monster known as “social media” is a free for all for user generated anything. Aside from profile pictures and convoluted online identies, it can be quite easy to be rude on the Internet, and to get away with it. From anonymous comments, and those grey areas where people can infringe on others Intellectual Property without getting so much as a slap on the digital wrist, online etiquette seems to be something that very few care about.

Those that do care, obviously stand out. As do the ones that don’t.

From Facebook to Twitter to Blogging and Vlogging, I’m here to shed a little light on the dos and don’ts of Online Etiquette.

While there are plenty of corners of the web that need reprimanding and guidance, for today, let us focus on Twitter.

Don’t be fooled by its cute little bluebird or the innocent sounding term of “tweet”. The rudeness that can be spewed, both intentionally and accidentally, in 140 characters is astounding. So how can you stop yourself from offending your followers? Here are a few suggestions that should not only keep your followers happy, but prevent you from offending and losing followers in the real world.

“In bed snuggling with @[insert name of lover here] <3 4 Eva”

If your partner is on Twitter, it’s important to mind not only how often you tweet at them but what you tweet at them. Twitter is not the place to profess your love over and over again. If your partner is “big on the Internet” it is obvious when you’re consistently name dropping them. Do this consistently, and if you listen closely, you will most definitely be able to hear shouts of “Yes! We KNOW who you are SHAGGING.”
Somethings are best emailed, texted or discussed over the phone. Just as people at a dinner party don’t exactly enjoy the company of couples who only talk to each other and super heavy on the PDA, the same goes for Twitter. Don’t be that couple. No one likes that couple.

Don’t RT Yourself

If you have multiple Twitter accounts, for example one for personal stuff and another for work, please do not Retweet what you said on another account. If people want to follow both, they will. There’s a reason you  have two accounts: not everyone cares about both of your online personalities.
Those following your work account probably don’t want to see your photos from your minibreak to the Lake District. Those following your personal account don’t care about the article you just wrote about seasonal vegetables for the magazine you work for. If they did, they would simply follow both accounts. Don’t abuse your reach!

“VOTE FOR ME!!!! PLZ RT!!!!”

If you’ve been nominated for an award, or if you’re looking for sponsorship for marathon you’re running in June, you may want to snack on a slice of humble pie before you start begging for RTs or votes. Your followers will vote for you if they want to.
A few well spaced out reminders to vote are acceptable, but have some dignity people. Don’t beg. Likewise, constantly asking people or DMing people asking for RT. Every once and a while for special projects is OK, but twice a week is overkill.

“Always a pleasure to dine w/ @barakobama @stevejobs @God. See you folks next week.”

If you’re sitting on Primrose Hill drinking a smoothie with your best friend, you can @ them. If you’ve just been to a killer event, you can @ the hosts thanking them. But if you’ve just been to a dinner or had coffee with a celebrity, Internet celebrity, or someone highly influential in your community, think before you @.

Are you mentioning them so others will know who you were with? Are you hoping to become friends with this person? Would this person think you were just riding on the wake of their popularity if you feel the need to @ them every time you see them? Your followers may be impressed. But they may also think you’re just a name-dropping fanboy.

To @ or not to @. That is the question.


Cate Sevilla is an online journalist and the editor-in-chief of You can follow her on Twitter as @cupcate. Warning: She may drop an F-Bomb from time to time.

Image via NotionsCapital’s Flickr

* this piece was originally posted on April 16, 2010

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