RT vs Via – the Final Showdown
What’s the difference between RT & /via and Why does it matter?
I stumbled into a friendly passionate debate this evening about how and when to use RT or via. (Yes, my night on the town involves coffee, friends, and spirited opinions on twitter minutiae). I was surprised at the differing opinions so I want to extend my reasoning here.
Obviously how you use twitter should be a matter of personal preference so feel free to disagree with me, Tweetie, Simplytweet, Twitter and the guy who popularized #hashtags.
Just the facts Ma’am
Here’s how I see it.
- A RT is a verbatim, unedited, rebroadcast of someone else’s tweet.
- A /via signifies the words are yours but you are paying-it-forward or giving attribution to someone else.
RT & via are not interchangeable they are 2 distinct functions. The terms themselves speak to their meaning, RE-tweet (a rebroadcast), via (from or by means of).
Why does it matter?
Different strokes for different folks right? Perhaps, but this discussion is worth exploring because we are talking about how we communicate.
I discovered some of my friends really dislike how the Tweetie iPhone app forces you to “quote” a tweet in order to add commentary. However, I prefer the distinction because the usage goes to the heart of authenticity and clarity. Editing RTs can easily result in muddled or unclear tweets. For example how often have you seen a mangled tweet like this?
Who composed the original tweet?
Which comments belong to which user?
It’s impossible to determine and renders the tweet essentially worthless. That ain’t good. Retweets are powerful and we should work to preserve their influence.
All communication requires standards, twitter is no exception.
Better living through standards
Being an IT guy I swear by standards and protocols, they are elemental to effective communication. Thankfully we have people like Chris Messina elevating our practice.
Chris popularized the use of hashtags and last November outlined his ideas for extending twitter notation. His suggestions immediately resonated with how I was using twitter and I adopted his method completely. I recommend reading his full introduction to slashtag notation, “New microsyntax for Twitter” but here are the basics
- RT @user – verbatim quote
- /via – attribution or credit which may include multiple users, e.g. /via @user1 @user2
- /by – author of linked content
- /cc – to a tweet to the attention of someone else
- all /slash notation is placed at the end of the tweet and may be combined after a single /, e.g. /via @user1 by @user2
I find this system to be simple, readily identifiable, and its gaining widespread adoption. I think it works.
In the end this is just my 2 cents and twitter is open to interpretation.