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Monday, December 15, 2008

ReTweetBot: Instruction Manual for Users

(Note: We've finally launched ReTweetBot.com
these instructions are mirrored there along with much more info)

After essentially borrowing and tweaking the idea from a few others, @phragmunkee (Garrett) and i put together what he accurately dubbed the ReTweetBot. A very simple tool that allows for Twitter users to form permanent groups that have a large numbers of users, with a common interest, follow each others' tweets without having to follow all off-topic tweets.

You can check my first post on the topic for a bigger explination of what ReTweetBot groups are and how they got started (and how this differes from hash-tags for topical twittering).

What follows is a quick instruction guide for users of the groups (a set of instructions for managers of the groups will be posted shortly).

(For all examples below, I will use the group @PredFans as the group in question. Just substitute the name of whichever ReTweetBot equipped account you want to use when you are posting.)

There are two basic ways of posting to a ReTweetBot equipped group.
1) Using an @ reply. Simply start your Tweet with "@PredFans". Anyone can post to a group this way (if the administrator has the option enabled).
Send a tweet like this...
And it will appear like this...
As you can see, this method has the disadvantage of "double posting" and making what you say show up in your regular Twitter feed as well as going to the group account. Sometimes that is fine, but the point of these accounts is to move topical conversation 'clutter' to the group account, so there is a better way...

2) The other posting option is to send a Direct Message (sometimes called a DM) to the ReTweetBot enabled account. For this to work, the admin must have the option enabled (it is "on" by default) and the ReTweetBot enabled account must be following you on Twitter. If they aren't following your Twitter account, then the @ reply option above is the only way you can post.

The advantage here is that your Tweet will only show up on the ReTweetBot account (for everyone following there to see) and not clutter up your main feed.

So you send the tweet like this...
And it will appear like this...
With no duplicates in the feed!

So, that is the basic method behind posting to a group.
A few more pointers and tips:
  • Your name will be added to the front of your tweet (along with a colon and a space), so make sure to leave room - you can't post a full 140 characters. If your username is 11 characters long (like mine), your message to the group can only be 127 characters long (11 for username + 2 for the colon and space + message).
  • If you want to tweet "at" someone in the group using the @ reply method, make sure you still start with the ReTweetBot group name first, otherwise it won't post. Saying "@predfans @pwnicholson blah blah" will post to the group. Saying "@pwnicholson @predfans blah blah" will not post to the group.
  • Same principle aplies to DM posting method. "d predfans @pwnicholson blah blah" willpost to the group just fine. "d pwnicholson @predfans blah blah" or "d pwnicholson predfans blah blah" will not post to the group.
When everything is working right, you'll end up with a twitter stream that looks like this:
A bunch of people with a common interest who don't have to follow each others' every tweet to have a conversation about the topic they all care about.

If you have any questions or feedback for the groups, please let me know in the comments of this post. We hope to be either launching either an online service, open to all, or make the code available so others can start their own groups soon as well. For now, the test groups that are up and running are:
@PredFans - the first group, created for Nashville Predators fans. Already up to 160+ followers with many regular participants.
@TitanFans - for fans of the Tennessee Titans
@GoLeafs - For fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs
@OilFans - For fans of the Edmonton Oilers
@MotorcycleFans - For fans of two-wheels
@BOLOEastNash - "Be On The Lookout" Crime watch group for the East Nashville neighborhood


Chris said...

Great idea, and very helpful description!

Mezamashii said...

neat! Thanks!