11 Feb 2010 8:00 pm   //   Filed under: Technology

Six personal rules of Twitter

Here are some personal guidelines I follow when tweeting at @daryllang:

1. Don’t tweet about Twitter.

Did the first people with typewriters pound out story after story about typewriters?

2. Always build up. Never tear down.

Tweet about things you like, rather than complain about modern life’s myriad inconveniences.

This corresponds to one my personal rules of blogging: Before you hit publish, imagine the person you would least want to read the post reading it back to you aloud, slowly, with a tone of deep disappointment. This check has spared me a lot of trouble.

Related: A worst-case-scenario story about what happens when you whine on Twitter.

3. Tweet like you talk.

You can assume Twitter users come with some basic specialized knowledge — they understand RT means it’s a pickup of somebody else’s tweet, and that the symbols @ and # summon special Twitter functions. But beyond that, Twitter users are real humans who want real human thoughts, not a string of machine-readable code.

4. Only one idea per tweet.

They used to teach us to write one idea per paragraph. (Remember paragraphs?) It’s tempting to try to convey about five thoughts in 140 characters. It’s better to simmer down, wait a few minutes, settle on the one best idea, and tweet only that.

5. Delete bad tweets.

This medium is so ethereal that nobody expects (nor wants) a perfect permanent record of your tweets. If you feel regret, learn new information that changes your opinion, or think of a more effective way to say something, go fix it! You’re the boss of Twitter, Twitter is not the boss of you. And if you ever feel otherwise, take a moment to re-center.

6. Never call yourself a Twitter expert.

It takes 10 years to become an expert in something. Twitter is less than five years old.

Note: I realize that by tweeting a link to this post, I have broken rule number 1. So, um, I hereby grant you permission to break these rules. Whatever!