UPDATE/NOTE:  Twitter has a very poorly-timed bug. If you're having trouble changing your avatar, see note below.


I so rarely do this, but as I wrote in a post last week, and detailed in my primer on the crisis, what is happening in Wisconsin is too important to not do everything that we can to show support for the demonstrators there; locally, regionally, nationally, and globally, and on Twitter, Facebook, or the back of your damned car.  

Last night, filmmaker Michael Moore asked everyone to wear red to show our solidarity. And this morning, my old friend @hankronan messaged me and suggested Wisconsin Badger Red for our Twitter dress, also known as our avatars.

Now given Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck's faux-fixation with communism lately, the color red might not have been the best idea, but screw 'em all. Wingnuts don't own the color wheel, eh?

Look my progressive/liberal friends and neighbors: this is our Stonewall, Waterloo, and <historical name your battle of choice>.

But win or lose, it cannot be our Last Stand.  So please don't just sit on your ass and watch. Do something; anything. Send yourself, your money, some pizza, or call a union and ask what you can do. If nothing else, just make a Tributar like mine shown at upper right. (I've provided some tools to help you make one below.) 

If you want to be subtle, just stick a red square or dot in the corner of  your avatar. As with much in life (except some of my posts), it just doesn't have to be complicated to be effective.

It's the least you can do. The very least. You only have one country, and you may not have it for much longer. So fight for what you have, and fight as hard as you are able, while you still have a country to fight for.

As always, please use the Tweet button to distribute this post to anyone that should care. Thanks. (Note: When you use the button, you increase the #tally, and that encourages others to do the same. This has greater impact than simply retweeting the message that brought you here.)

Tributar Tools

Avatars with some special image, color or text signifying some event or cause are often called "twibbons." I never like terms that are twitter-centric, or for that matter, dedicated to any one social media service, unless they are only applicable to that service. So last year, I coined the term "tributar" at Urbandictionary,com, after seeing Keith Olbermann make one to honor his late-father last year.

Tributar Editors

  • Twibbon.com — is probably your fastest and easiest option. It's very easy, and the site has instructions. Or if you enjoy tutorials, here are some video guides.
  • Photobucket.com — is very easy to use, according to @angryBlackLady.
  • I really never use these tools — because I really don't do many Tributars, personally, so if you know a better tool, please tweet it to me at: @shoq. I will post here.

Image Editors

If you're not a Photoshop wizard and you want to do it yourself, here are some web-based tools you can use. While it may seem like a lot of work to learn the basics of image editing, it won't take more than 15 minutes to change a color the first time if you have no experience whatsoever. And then you'll know how to do it for the next big thing.

Human Editors

  • Just look for someone with a cool red avatar, and ask them how they made it, or if they will make one for you.
  • If you want to volunteer to make them for others, I will be happy to post your twitter handle here. Just tweet me at: @shoq.

Computer Code For "Badger Red"

One of the code(s) below will render a shade of red in your editor:

The PRECISE WISCONSIN BADGER color is: (Hat Tip to @gaborger)

  • RGB: R 191 G 0 B 0 …or
  • Hexidecimal: BF0000

My Tributar above uses a slightly brighter value, for contrast with a darker image like the @Shoq panther:

  • RGB:  R 254 G 0 B 0 …or
  • Hexidecimal: FE0000

If you don't know what these codes mean, it doesn't matter. You can probably figure out where to put them in your editor. If not, just pick a nice red from the editor's palette and move on :)

Twitter Avatar Bug

UPDATE/NOTE:  With their usual perfect timing, Twitter has a bug and it's not displaying the "Change Profile Image" button on Settings/profile screen.  They claim it's resolved, but it's not.  To work around this, just hold down SHIFT key and press your browser's reload button. After a few times, the button should appear. If it doesn't, try clearing your browser cache first  (Google-it for your browser) and try again.




What is the BL code?

A proposed Message Code for Twitter and any social network.

The BL code means "broken link." It tells someone that a link they sent out was defective.

Geekly speaking, it should be "resource," but I won't get into why. I think the average Twitter user can remember, "Broken link," Busted link, Borked Link, etc..  Not going to spend much time writing this up formally, yet, but feel free to comment/disqus it below.  Perhaps we can make it grow!

As always, I reserve the right to completely discard or discredit this idea at any moment, and without warning or notification of any kind.  #SoSuckit

When To Use The BL Code

Anytime you click someone's social feed links, and get any type of fail, and want to quickly, with a minimum of keystrokes, tell the sender that the failure happened, so they can fix it, hopefully before their bad link gets too much traction with their followers, retweeters, etc. 

The failure may have been due to:

  • Failed links (404s, etc.)
  • Video, page, or widget failure.
  • The earth gets hit by an asteroid and we all die.


What are Message Codes?

Among the many needs we have in the social space, is more codes to give some quick semantic or semiotic meaning to social media messages (tweets). Twitter has become the 21st century telegraph, on many levels. But it still lacks its own modern morse code for daily use.

Mostly for my own fun and use, I am creating a few codes as the need for them becomes apparent. Most languages and syntaxes get set in stone far too quickly, but you can be sure the social namespace is going to get crowded, as our social nets evolve.  I'd like to see an organic, bottom-up evolution from daily use for the most ubiquitous daily codes. Let local dialects flourish! Hopefully there will never be too many at the root level. I'd like to see lean, mean and very clean (and thus, easy to adopt).

Twitter is the proverbial herd of cats, and the only way anything can happen is over time, with enough people doing it. It gets easier if what we want people to do is really SIMPLE. Thus, I have come up with these few…

The Tweet (Or Transmit) Codes:


MT = Modified Tweet/Transmission

Substantially changed to mock or clarify, but may have altered meaning. Be sure to check original, if it could matter.

FF = Follow Friends

Follow anyone, anytime #FF Hashtag.

BL = Broken Link or Resource.  [new]

Please repair & resend… and/or delete bad original.

CC = Carbon Copy Recipent List   [proposed]

Do Not Retweet. Recipients only need to receive it ONCE (and not be tweet-bombed).

DR = Don't Retweet/Retransmit [proposed]

Do Not Retweet. Only copy & paste the message/URL it is linked to (or ignore/discard/keep as just a memo).



Why Define These Codes?

Because I can, of course.  And because they are needed, and because I want to use them right now, myself, and feel my 6000+ followers would, as well.  Each is based on years of daily practical tweeting.  Few would argue that I do and read a lot of that, and I feel my years of programming and interface design skills makes me at least as eligible as anyone else is to make hideous mistakes.

I am sure others, with an interest in such things, will come up with a more robust standards scheme to build on my meager beginnings, or just overwrite them completely. I'm down with either outcome.  For now, Shoq codes are an intuitive and useful language start, that could assist in the evolution of more useful tools (quickly).

See Also: My "MT" signal idea

Can you do this on Twitter… just make stuff up?

So who's gonna stop me, you? Yes, you can just make stuff up :)  Twitter is a community defined tool; many of the better ideas, including the RT, #hashtags, and other conventions came about via an ad hoc adoption by the community itself.  What works is what people decide is useful, and they just start using it. As of September 10th, 2009, I had been using the BL signal for about a week. I intend to keep using it.  If others find it a good idea, it will endure, and future digital anthropologists may find this page and understand its origins. If it doesn't, it's just one more of my thousands of bad or failed ideas nobody will remember a month from now :)