The 10 rules of Twitter (and how I break every one)

If you follow the talk over on Twitter you’ll see that there are some unwritten “rules” and that I am breaking lots of those rules and pissing lots of people off.

I break the rules so you don’t have to. :-)

So, what are they?

1. Never send more than 140 characters. I break this rule all the time because what I have to say simply doesn’t fit into 140 characters. So, why not just say it on my blog? Easy. I’m reacting to something someone said to me on Twitter. What happens on Twitter should stay in Twitter.
2. Never Tweet more than five times a day. First, a “Tweet” is a Twitter message. So, why no more than five times a day? Because if you post more than that you are in danger of pushing other people’s messages off of the home page of your follower’s Twitter. Last night one guy complained that all he saw on his Twitter account was my messages.
3. Never follow more than 300 people. Why is this a rule? Because if you follow 5,700 people, like I do, then you’ll be tempted to answer lots of those Tweets, which will put you in danger of breaking #2. See next rule.
4. Never follow anyone who isn’t your “real” friend. This will help you keep your friends’ list down to less than 300, which will keep you from breaking rule #2.
5. Don’t assume other people are having the same experience you are. My experience with Twitter? I get 20 new Tweets inbound EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY. It’s like a 24/7 chat room for me. But for you? Most of you only follow 30 people, so to you it’s more akin to instant messaging with just your friends. If you subscribe to a noisy jerk, like me, you’ll get overrun. Me? I just tell my friends who complain that they don’t have enough friends. :-)
6. Don’t post thoughts across multiple Tweets (see #1). I do this often and it pisses people off. They think that the 140 character limit was there for a reason. The real reason is that SMS can’t handle more than 140 characters.
7. The Twitter question is “what are we doing?” It’s NOT “what do you think about XXXX?” I break this rule all the time cause, well, I have opinions and Twitter is my way of sharing short opinions with the world. Sue me.
8. Follow one person for every 10 who follows you. Me? I follow EVERY person who follows me, as Dave Winer points out. Why? Cause I believe that anyone who follows me is a friend and is someone I should listen to. Other people think it’s just a publishing mechanism for posting their URLs and other stuff to the world.
9. If other people are telling you you’re spamming, you should listen to them. Me? I tell them to screw off. Why? Because if I’m being too noisy then there’s a little button called “unfollow.” Why should I change my behavior to suit others? Many other people tell me they like my noisy behavior. One thing I like about Twitter is that you don’t need to follow people you think are jerks.
10. Don’t put things into Twitter that aren’t designed for Twitter like photos, audio, etc. Me? I use TwitterGram and am playing with Flickr embeds too. Why not push it around?

Anyway, are there other rules I don’t know about? I’d like to break those, too.

226 thoughts on “The 10 rules of Twitter (and how I break every one)

  1. I agree, it's a different experience for different folks, depending on how you use it. But frankly, if you've got 5,700 “friends” all talking at once, you can't possibly “listen to” all of them. I think you just like collecting all those little pixilated faces.

  2. I agree, it's a different experience for different folks, depending on how you use it. But frankly, if you've got 5,700 “friends” all talking at once, you can't possibly “listen to” all of them. I think you just like collecting all those little pixilated faces.

  3. Long time ago, i never use the twitter and i don't like the twitter's rules.

    Maybe , I have to use it bacause alot of people talk to its.

  4. I never got the memo on the “rules”. I'll do what the hell I like on Twitter and if you don't like it, don't follow me.

  5. Great post, really enjoyed it! I do think that there's always a time and a place for proper Twitter etiquette — but you don't have to follow them ALL the time (I know my table manners aren't as good as they could be when I'm eating at home, alone). Some of the rules — like your #7, where people feel they always need to answer the question “what are you doing” — is plain silly, and probably meant to be broken. I recently posted a few of my own “rules” for newbie Twitterers — but I cited you as a good example of someone who successfully breaks the rules. Check it out here, if you like: http://www.thewritersforhire.com/blog/social-me

    Thanks again for the good post!

  6. I don't get why people complain about others tweets, there is always the leave button.

    Oh and scobble you don't follow EVERY one who follows you, last I checked you weren't following me :-)

  7. i like your attitude and you are right if people were not happy they could unfollow!
    How do you get around the 2000 bit. I have 1928 followers and following 2080 and I am stuck I can't move . IF you know how to get around that one you would help me a lot. I want to get over the 2000 to keep building!
    Thanks in advance. happy tweeting from Barcelona. follow me too!

  8. Nice and informative article. lot of information about it. Very interesting for students like me. i found lot of interesting and important articles in this website.

  9. Well, if what I'm “doing” is “thinking”, then we don't have to worry about that issue. I think we could issue 10 interconnected “tweets” as, hmmm, our preferred ethical commandments? As serial parables? Some bible guy on PBS tried to make the point that his god was very concise. So are Haiku. There we go! This system could be a concentrating force, an ultimate response to Kant, an Einsteinian verbal equation challenge. I'll cease and desist here, as I save my own words (spontaneosly spewed here) for a real text file :)
    PS I've not yet taken this very dangerous plunge into the abyss of ADD noise. Not sure of my swimming technique.

  10. I had never heard of the 300 rule before – makes sense to me. As my numbers started going up, I was wondering how I was supposed to track everyone. I’m following someone who has 42,000 people in his network – even Tweetdeck won’t solve that sensory overload.

  11. I had never heard of the 300 rule before – makes sense to me. As my numbers started going up, I was wondering how I was supposed to track everyone. I’m following someone who has 42,000 people in his network – even Tweetdeck won’t solve that sensory overload.

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