[NOTE: this should not be taken in the sense of “My Twitter Rules All Other Twitters,” which is clearly untrue, but rather in the sense of “These Are The Rules By Which I Try To Govern My Twitter Posts.” Sorry for the confusion.]
Not for any reason other than thinking about this a bit this morning. These are rules that I have occasionally broken, but I try hard not to. Also note that none of these are an indictment of how other people tweet. My Twitter, my rules; your Twitter, your rules. Some people thrive on Internet arguments; some people need to vent about their feelings; some people use Twitter as a sort of diary to record their lives. It’s all good.
If my thought is…
“This is an amusing thought that I think many people would enjoy.”
Tweet it. This is basically why Twitter was invented.
“That person is WRONG and I have to tell everyone!”
No. Really, what good comes of this? Do I need another Internet argument in my life?
“That person is wrong about a fact which substantively affects their or other people’s actions in the real world.” (e.g. “Hey, I heard if you go to the Sofawolf table at MFF and whisper ‘huskies are awesome,’ they will give you a free book!”)
Yes, to politely set the record straight, as long as someone else hasn’t already done it (check responses to their tweet).
“Man, I am in a shitty mood today.”
No. What does that solve? I’ll bet getting away from the Internet improves my mood more than tweeting about it.
“I have a technical issue with a device/program.”
Yes, but I try to give as much info as possible, otherwise I’ll get people suggesting the obvious solutions and/or solutions that don’t apply to my problem. P.S. This is one of the ways to get a bunch of responses, if I want to clear out my @ queue for any reason.
“This thing happened to me that I want to complain about.”
Depends. Have I already been complaining a lot today? Then no. Is the thing unusual, or can I make my complaint funny? Sure.
“I’m traveling, and–“
To let people know where I’m going and when I’ll be there, yes. Otherwise, see above rules on complaints. Sadly, traveling often comes with a lot of downtime, and a lot of things to complain about, and the temptation to write stuff on Twitter sometimes overwhelms the above rules.
“I need to get in touch with that person.”
No. Send e-mail. Make an effort to get the person’s e-mail if I don’t have it.
“I want to say something positive to that person that I don’t mind other people hearing.”
Yes. This is one of the primary use cases of Twitter.
“I want to say something negative to that person that I don’t mind other people hearing.”
No. I don’t like being negative.
“I want to contact that person for a business project–“
No. N-O. If I have a business relationship or want one, I should use a more private and professional means of communication.
“Okay, but what if I met them at a con and they said, ‘We should work on a project together, hit me up on Twitter,’ and I really want to work on a project with them?”
SIGH. Fine, but I’ll try to use Twitter only to establish a connection, then ask for e-mail or another means of communication right away.
“This person tweeted something I think my followers would enjoy/be interested in.”
“I’m not sure I should tweet this.”