Another dot in the blogosphere?

How not to tweet like a bot

Posted on: April 21, 2015

A tweetbot could be a person, a collection of algorithms, or a combination of both that might collect information and tweet based on keywords of other tweets.

There are good tweetbots like the ones that send reminders of regular hashtagged conversations in education.

There are also tweetbots or tweetbot-like individuals that represent everything I find reprehensible about such persons or entities on Twitter. These tweetbots are:

  • attention-grabbing
  • an eyesore in timelines
  • incapable of clear dialogue


Robot Attack! by Dan Coulter, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Dan Coulter 

A tweetbot or bot-like individual might try to disguise itself with two distinguishing Twitter traits: Sharing bite-sized information and holding conversations. It will fail at both. Here is how to recognize tweetbots.

Tweetbots or bot-like individuals use multiple hashtags in a vain attempt to reach as many audiences as possible. This is despite research that recommends no more than two hashtags per tweet.

Hashtag-driven communities might establish a norm of only using one or two hashtags they identify with. Hashtag how-to sites [1] [2] also recommend this number. It is a logical attempt to go deep instead of wide.

Tweetbots might fool a few users initially, but the more savvy recognize the pattern and learn to ignore, mute, or block them.

Tweetbots or bot-like individuals are attention grabbers. Their tweets might exhibit #childish #use of #hashtags #knowwhatimsaying #justsaying.

While hashtags can be used humorously, they are also important for the identity of a community and also for search. A tweetbot wants to play the game without actually being part of the team.

Tweetbots or bot-like individuals might also try to get attention by using text symbols >> look at me!!! <<. Such tweets stand out in a Twitter timeline, but that also makes them easy to spot for muting or blocking. They ignore research says meaningfully embedded images or videos draw more views.

The people behind tweetbots struggle with conversation. Their goal might be trackbacks instead of feedback. You will either not get a reply or you will receive a reply that makes little sense. This is because such people do not bother to 1) look back at Twitter conversations or 2) thoroughly process a previously shared resource.

The best ways to deal with tweetbots or bot-like people is to ignore, mute, or block them. Giving them the attention they crave only adds fuel to their fire.

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