We need social media etiquette

We need to develop social media etiquette. Some of the conversations I have seen on Twitter have been out of control rhetoric, other tweets have just contributed to the noise, and benefitted no one. During our discussion on how to make Twitter more accessible to new people, I tweeted some "rules" that if all followed, Twitter would be a lot more accessible and usable for everyone.

Of course, these rules are just my interpretation of what should be useful, and probably need to be reworked. Also, the idea for this comes from the email charter, which I strongly recommend you make an effort to implement for yourself.

  1. The network is capable of only so much information. Don’t overload the network.
  2. Be kind to each other, and assume that tweet did not convey the message intended.
  3. Links are a way of sharing extra information in a conversation. Use them sparingly.
  4. When you see a question asked, answer it, even if your answer is to redirect the questioner to another source of information.
  5. The purpose of the social media is not to gain influence, it’s to communicate ideas. Don’t forget the social in social media!
  6. Where reasonable, give attribution to ideas that you find & your sources of information.
  7. Take some time to think about what you are tweeting. Is this contributing to the conversation?
  8. It’s okay to disagree with someone, but do it respectfully. Don’t tweet what you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
  9. Be safe. Stop before you click on a link & think, does this link have a context which makes sense?
  10. Stop making lists of the "best people" to follow on Twitter. This is completely subjective & exclusionary.

There are other "rules of Twitter etiquette" out there. Here is a page for Twitter etiquette that @jlubinsky found and here’s another article on Twitter etiquette shared by @PivotLearning. There are also other useful resources on social media etiquette here, here, and here, as shared by @erringreg

How would you edit this list? Is it necessary?



  • Hi David,

    This is a good list of rules to be followed but I still have to disagree with some…Maybe further replies, from other tweeters, will help me refine my view.

    #3 I tweet links to blogs or articles and very seldom to resources (i.e. graphic organizers)unless the latter are truly valuable (at least in my opinion). I save resources to my Diigo account so I wouldn’t overload the network.

    #7 My tweets are not always contributing to a conversation. I just feel like sharing a thought or a feeling, and that does not overload the network. If we focus solely on being “productive” we lose a more humane sight of the people in our stream. Sure ideas should prevail…but I also enjoy glimpses into a tweeter’s idea of beauty or art or spring, for instance.

    #10 I made lists on Twitter because it helps me organize. By doing so I do not label them into “best” but I assign them a field or area of expertise (i.e. “Designers”, “Edtech”, “Inspiring” – art, photography etc).

    As John T. Spencer said in the #edchat today, I think self-censoring too much makes the presence on Twitter inauthentic. I keep it as a professional channel but a smile-triggering joke or a tweeter playing with metaphors is fine by me. Honestly.

  • David Wees wrote:


    Posting out tweets that are not part of one conversation is a way to start another. I don’t mean focusing on productive, and certainly we need to share more of our humanity, but similarly, we need to be somewhat considerate in how we post. So "off-topic" tweets that share our humanity are part of the greater conversation. However, I’m sure that you will agree with me that there are many, many tweets which contribute very little to the overall conversation.


  • Sheila Stewart wrote:

    It’s good to reflect on the ways we use Twitter. I think tips are appreciated by new users, but a lot is learned through observing others. I see many different ways that people use Twitter. I wonder if we have different expectations of those we consider in our “PLN”. Are there different rules/norms for driving conversations with a PLN? For example, is in a good thing to tweet that we commented on someone’s blog? I like seeing that, but do others? I worry how I come across when I do that though. I am also often not sure where to best spend time between tweets/convos and blog comments. It seems that some are more comfortable responding in tweets than on blogs, and some, the other way around.

    All 10 are good suggestions, David. Good to focus on conversations and help other see purpose. I try to respect the ways others feel they need to use Twitter as well, even if I don’t agree. I follow many that I know are just here to “broadcast” and will likely never reply to a tweet. I guess it depends on how we set out to build our network, and how much we want to have conversations. It is easy to forget about all the learning that is going on in the “lurking”, but that can make it tough, and maybe even unfair, to those who are driving rich and interactive conversations.

  • I’ve written something for staff to consider when responding to online conversations http://www.prn.bc.ca/ts/?p=1527

  • Thank you for this list, this advice, David.

    I would also add to it something about the efficient use of Twitter hashtags #. Personnaly, they play an important part for me to filter out noise when I need to read/converse about a certain topic, #CdnEd, #edchat, #Clair2012, for example. With Tweetdeck or tweetchat (or other services too), it becomes quite easy to direct a specific flow of tweets in their hashtag channel and maintain focus on the discussion. Also, hashtags are a key component to effective searches of Twitter discussions, although there are yet few tools to effectively collect and export discussion threads outside twitter.

    The downside of hashtags, however, is apparent when they are overused, flooding most of the 140-character space with terms that are of little or no utility. It’s a balancing act: an appropriate, sometimes funny, specific hashtag to express an emotion, an opinion, etc. can be used to emphasize something but this should, IMO, be used sparingly, wisely.

    When I talk about Twitter to newcomers, I tell them how effective hashtags will help them filter noise and therefore contribute to have the user realize the power of social networking.

  • David Wees wrote:

    I might consider this to be part of the "grammar" of using Twitter, and the grammar for each social media sight is slightly different, but I agree, something like should be incorporated into a social media etiquette. Could you say something like, "Use effective communication strategies" with the social media, and then break that down specifically into hashtags, appropriate syntax and how to avoid flooding a channel?

  • Seems generic enough, yes. IMO, we’re hitting it bang on with 21st c. communication skills and digi literacy.

    “You are what you publish.”

  • Hi David, I read your post on a day when I was feeling a uncomfortable with some of the content I was starting to see in my Twitter feed. I appreciate this reminder as to what makes Twitter. I am not really a “rule” maker, I like to think of them more as guidelines, but that does not really matter. I like #2 the best! This post also renewed my conviction that we need to be working these “rules” out with students as well.

  • Hi, this is my second post on your blog, and it will be followed up with a summary post on my own blog. I think rules definitely need to be implemented on Twitter. I am required to have a Twitter account for EDM 310, but before this class I was extremely apprehensive about having a Twitter account. I thought it was just a place where people wrote useless information that they thought was important. However, I have now realized the importance of Twitter. It is an excellent place to share information and ideas. It must be used correctly, though, which is exactly why I like these rules.

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