Joanna Young over at Confident Writing wrote a post recently on why it’s worth sticking with Twitter which generated a huge amount of conversation. One of the comments left was from Joely Black who writes:
The thing I like most about Twitter, that makes it so different from other online communication media, is the code of behaviour. In a sense it’s really old fashioned, but the demand that you show up authentically, that you don’t auto-DM people, that you don’t spam people, that all the conversations are public so you avoid the horrible stalky followers so easily.
Joely’s comment really chimed with me as it felt absolutely valid. Twitter does function according to a set of codes which are regulated by the community. It is, perhaps, the last bastion of old-fashioned manners. Please and thank yous abound. Attribution is closely observed. Common courtesy (which is rapidly becoming less and less common!) is demanded from tweeters by tweeters.
Auto-DMs (Direct Messages) are an excellent example. For a while, they were, if not actively encouraged, silently condoned and tolerated. As numbers have increased within the Twitter community, it has become less and less acceptable to set your Twitter account to send a pre-written DM to all those that chose to follow you. As this pattern of behaviour became increasingly condemned as lacking authenticity, respect and consideration, those continuing the practice were called out and unfollowed.
This, of course, is also the case for any other practice that is considered undesirable by the community. Some of the outcomes of this are: a very vocal aversion to spam, derision of soap-boxing and a celebration of authentic connection.
To get on in the twittersphere you need to follow the rules of the playground. They’re very simple: be polite, be considerate, and above all, maintain respect for other tweeters’ time, space and sensibilities. In other words – PLAY NICE!