Breaking My Own Rules…

One of the problems with Twitter is that it’s a very transient data stream. By that I mean that unless you’re logged in and monitoring the stream, things can pass you by very easily. Add in the fact that it’s real time and global…

I’ve established that most of my Twitter followers like the fact that I publish links to the content I produce. I think it’s fair to say also, that a lot of people are starting to become more reliant on Twitter instead of RSS feeds, I know I am.

The problem is that if I post a link now, here in the UK (like I just did re my Pixelmator clips on YouTube a short while ago) it gets seen by my UK peeps (logged on to Twitter anyway) but for other timezones it’s not really a time when parts of the world are likely to be monitoring twitter i.e.

Los Angeles – 5:00AM, Saturday
Milwaukee – 7:00AM, Saturday
New York – 8:00AM, Saturday
London – 1:00PM, Saturday
Perth – 9:00PM, Saturday
Hobart – 12:00AM, Sunday

The last two were for Jane and Rose :-)

OK, so my content isn’t of any major importance or significance, but I’d still like to make sure that my twitter followers,  who might be interested in this stuff, at least get a chance to receive the link at a reasonable time when they might actually be able to use it!

So I’ve decided to go against one of my original Twitter rules and use an automated Tweet!!!

Shock horror!!!

Ok, so there are no Twitter rules but I don’t like the abuse of automated tweets. You know, like when someone fills up a tool with various random statement or links that you just know they are not actually sending out live. I absolutely hate that!

What I’m proposing is just to duplicate the very few tweets I send out with links to my own stuff, at times when people in other timezones might actually receive them in real time, and have a chance to catch the links.


In order to prevent too much irritation, I’ll send them out with the hashtag #sco_repost that way, you can filter them out if necessary.

How would this work then?

Well, if I send out a reposted tweet at 7pm UK time, most of the UK peeps who monitor Twitter during the day will miss it but the US peeps will see it in their Twitter stream at:

Los Angeles – 11:00AM
Milwaukee – 1:00PM
New York – 2:00PM
London – 7:00PM

Then if I resend it at 3:00am UK time, the UK and US peeps will miss it but Jane and Rose (OK, and anyone else in Aus) will receive them at:

London – 3:00AM, Sunday
Perth – 11:00AM, Sunday
Hobart – 2:00PM, Sunday

As I said, this will only be for Tweets with links in to my stuff and they will be tagged with #sco_repost.

If it hasn’t got #sco_repost, it’s a live tweet and it’s me sending it in real time – honest!

Works for you?


Am I abusing you…

I sent out a tweet this morning that was a blatant ad for the special offer on ScreenCastsOnline membership.

No question – it was an ad and I even ended the tweet with the flippant comment “End of commercial”

The reason for posting – a completely spur of the moment decision. I’ve been running a special discount all month and this is the last week of the offer. The tweet was not premeditated, I just thought it marked a point in time and some people might find it useful.

I had no complaints, in fact I had one thank you!

Unexpectedly, the tweet has been retweeted several times – thanks for that!

I did several other unrelated tweets but then, half jokingly, my buddy Jonathan Cost from the Mac Tips Daily podcast sent me a tweet saying:

Careful don, with all of the Twitter ad controversy this week, somebody is bound to say ‘he didn’t tag it with #ads‘ so I can filter. I’m unfollowing him!

This got me thinking!

Now I’m really not overly concerned about people un-following me, really, I’m not.

OK, so just a little bit!

I’m really more concerned with people thinking I might be abusing my twitter stream by overly self promoting the content I’m creating?

In the early days, I had a real beef with people who posted blog links to Twitter. I saw it as inappropriate and un-necessary as that’s what RSS was for wasn’t it? I’ve long since changed my opinion on that, as I tend to use my RSS reader less and less and have become more reliant on real time notifications of blog posts by people I follow.

But back to my case, yes, I usually post a link to my daily blog post each day, and whenever a new show is published, I link to that too. And usually that’s it. The bulk of the of my weekly tweeting is helping people out with queries (both ScreenCastsOnline related and not), spouting some opinion, reposting interesting tweets and conversing with lots and lots of people.

Now I’ve started to create YouTube Video Comments on my ScreenCastsOnline YouTube channel and I’m in the process of publishing a new one for today.

Do I tweet links to those too?

Do I tag them with #ads as Jonathan suggests, so you can filter them out (not sure how you’d do that actually!)

Do I move all my tweeting of personal links to my @sconline twitter account? I nearly posted a tweet announcing I was going to do that, but decided on writing this blog post instead. That would mean that all the people following @donmcallister would then have to follow @sconline as well?

My gut feeling is that I have the balance right and don’t abuse those following my twitter stream, and I genuinely feel that the majority of people who follow me on Twitter, really don’t mind the personal links, in fact, that’s why some of them follow me in the first place?

Do I need to start tagging with #ads or should I just carry on and accept that those that really don’t like the limited “self promotion” aspect of my Twitter stream should just unfollow me?


My first 10 Twitter Commandments..

I like to think of myself as a good “Twitter” citizen and have come to rely on Twitter as an important channel of communication. There are no “rules” on using Twitter (although some people would like to think so) but over the past couple of years of constant use, I’ve sort of adopted a number of personal rules which I think make my usage of Twitter better for others. In no particular order:

  • I will not spam my Twitter followers with the latest fad or service. Sometimes, this may be unavoidable if the third party does something it is not supposed, but I’ll never intentionally spam anyone.

  • I will not use Twitter to get a freebie. Yes, I’ve done this in the past but I’ve decided never to do this again. This is when you can get a free this or reduced price on that by sending a Tweet mentioning the product or service. Can get very messy!

  • I will not shamelessly self promote myself or my content. This could be difficult, I suppose it all depends on what “shameless self promotion” is defined as. I will still tell people what I’m doing or where I’m going. I will also post links to blog posts and new shows as they are published. As far as I’m concerned, that’s probably why a good few of my followers follow me, to find out what I’m up to. It’s just I won’t use Twitter as a purely promotional tool.

  • I will not pre-prepare Tweets. All my tweets are spontaneous and of the moment. That’s how I like it! I don’t really like the prepared tweets that have obviously been crafted and pondered over. It just doesn’t seem right. And as for people who use scheduling tools to send tweets at various intervals, do me a favour!

  • I will Re-Tweet interesting tweets. Whilst re-tweeting (the act of replicating someone elses tweet with attribution) seems to drive some people crazy, I think it can be a very useful way of propagating information. As I have a couple of thousand followers, the likelihood is that if someone with relatively few followers posts something interesting, then the majority of my followers will not have seen it, and hence re-tweeting is perfectly valid.

  • I will not Re-Tweet by request. It puts me in a difficult position and I’ll only re-tweet if asked if I would have re-tweeted it anyway.

  • I will not join in with #followfriday. OK, call me a misery if you like but I don’t do #followfriday. However, thanks to all those that include me in their #followfriday posts. Yes, I feel guilty about this one!

  • I will respond to any Direct Message or @message that asks a question directly or indirectly If someone takes the time to message me, I’ll respond if a response is necessary or warranted. If someone just messages me a comment, I may respond or may just read it. A question will always get a response.

  • If I need to thank more than 1 or 2 people for anything, I may send out a blanket thank you. There have been times in the past when people have been kind enough to send me comments or messages on various topics (my 1st Macbreak Weekly appearance for example) when it’s just impossible to respond individually.

  • I’ll only follow Celebs who “get” Twitter. These are the people who understand what Twitter is and enter into a dialog with their followers.

So there you go, my first 10 Twitter commandments…. there may be more to follow.

Please feel free to add your own in the comments!

To Re-Tweet or not Re-Tweet (Hash Tags perhaps!)

dontest - Twitter Search.pngIf you’re a Twitter user, you’ll already appreciate what a huge boon it can be for both research and information gathering, or even just finding like minded people.

I use Twitter a lot and recently hit a fairly significant milestone in the numbers of people who follow my tweets. One of the things I do occasionally, is to ask a specific question to the people who are following me. This is usually for guidance or recommendations on software applications, gadgets or pretty much anything. The answers that come back are always wide and varied but amazingly useful and extremely valuable. The answers come back to me in the form of @replies and I’m always of the opinion that those followers who see these replies directed to me, most likely also get some useful information.

Today I asked a question about a web service and received a dozen or so @replies with tips, suggestions and information all about the web service.


However, I received another @reply today from another follower saying:


This made me realise that not all my followers, see all the responses I get back to questions!

The reason for this is buried away deep inside a Twitter setting within your user account – you can control what @replies you can see! The options are:

Twitter Support.png

As can be seen, the default setting is only see @replies from people you follow directed toward other people you follow. So if like me you have lots of followers and people you follow, the likelihood is that people won’t be following the same people and @replies will be missed.

Now you can setup twitter to see all @replies but to be honest, this gets pretty noisy!

As a suggestion, I’d like to explore two aspects of Twitter that may provide a simple solution:

Within Twitter is the concept of re-tweeting or re-brodcasting any tweets to all your followers and this is supported in TweetDeck, my favourite Twitter client.

There is also the concept of using hash tags – you see them in tweets like this #dontest. This is a mechanism built into twitter to allow you to search for unique keywords or hash tags. We used this very effectively during the recent Liverpool Barcamp for which all tweets included the hash tag #bcliverpool

So what I propose to do is this:

Whenever I post a question that other people may be interested in, I’ll include a unique hash tag for that question. I just sent out a test tweet asking people to reply to me with #dontest in the @reply. Click on the link and you’ll see the type of response I got back!

If people catch on, it would be great if they could include the unique hash tag so people can search for the responses without me needing to retweet.

For any @replies I get that don’t include the hash tag, I’ll re-tweet them so everyone can see them but I’ll also include the hash tag in the re-tweet.

I’ll not re-tweet duplicate responses and will usually re-tweet the first complete one I receive e.g If I receive two duplicate responses but one has a link, I’ll re-tweet the one with the link.

Now this may sound complicated but it’s really not!

I just include a has tag in a question and if you reply to me, just include the same hash tag.

Plus it also saves me the bother of having to re-tweet every @reply I receive.

Plus it will prevent a lot of duplication for people who do see all @replies.

This might be a useful bit of twitter etiquette for people with large numbers of followers to adopt and would make twitter even more useful. That being said, please feel free to Digg and promote this idea to all twitter users to see if it has legs!

Let me know of any refinements or leave any comments in this blog post – or send me a tweet to @DonMcAllister and use the hash tag #SCO_0001

PS It may well be that others are already using hash tags in this way and I’m not taking any credit for the idea. Just seems an easy way to spread the twitter goodness!

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Can I just say that this posting by Justin Williams is completely on the mark.

I’ve decided to become ruthless (OK semi-ruthless!) to people I follow on twitter and will un-follow them if they break these guidelines. Seriously, it’s a real pain when people persistently tweet that they’ve just posted a blog post or they are “streaming now, come and chat”


Sorry, rant over.