I’m beginning to wonder whether I’m the only person who likes Twitter’s new(ish) retweet function. Twitter is strewn with people whinging about it. Some of their points have a firm foundation (especially for those who liked to comment on the tweets of others), but no-one seems to have noted any of the positive features of the new function. So I thought I’d run through them here.
1. You can turn just retweets off for boring retweeters
There are tweeters out there who create interesting new content in their twitter stream, but spend most of their time retweeting dull tweets from others. Twitter now allows you to turn just the retweets off from these people, whilst keeping their original content. This is particularly useful for those who have just discovered @big_ben_clock and retweet it each hour.
2. You don’t need to worry about the character limit
It used to be annoying that you’d see a tweet you’d like to share, but it was already 140 characters long. Now, this doesn’t need to worry you, since when you retweet it, the whole tweet is retained. Also this means that if you’re aiming for your tweet to get wider coverage, you don’t need to make it 130 or fewer characters to fit in the ‘RT @username’ characters at the beginning.
3. You know that the tweets have come from the original tweeter
Sometimes, you’d see a retweet and it wouldn’t look right. When you checked, you’d see that the original tweet’s message had been changed by the retweeter adding a comment to the end, or even editing the text of the tweet itself. Unless you checked back, you’d have no idea what actually came from the original tweet, and what was from the retweeter. Now, when you see a tweet using the retweet function, you can be sure you’re looking at that tweet in its original glory. Yes, this means you can’t add your own teeny tiny comment at the end, but in my experience, these rarely added anything particularly useful.
4. You don’t have to see the same RT over and over again
When a tweet was popular, using the old retweeting method, you’d have to see it over and over again as each of your friends retweeted it. Now, if it’s been in your stream once, you don’t need to see it again. This might mean that you don’t get the full effect of all of your friends sharing the same opinion and retweeting the same thing, so you might miss being part of this week’s pitchfork-wielding mob, but it also stops your stream being clogged up with the same bit of information you already knew about and weren’t all that interested in in the first place.
5. You can still use the old version if you want to!
If you don’t like the new retweeting function, no-one’s making you use it. Yes, clients like Tweetdeck and Tweetie are incorporating it, but they’re providing a means where you still have the choice not to use it if you don’t want to. If you really want to show Twitter this function is of no use to you, don’t use it. Yes, you’ll still have to put up with other people using the feature, but if this ends up being so much of a problem for you, perhaps the feature’s more popular than you care to admit.