I have created or promoted several tags and codes that are in everyday use on Twitter. And I use many of them, often. Logically enough, one result of that is that I often get asked what some code or tag means. So I've listed the common ones below to save me some time and keystrokes in the future.

If I've left out anything that youv'e seen me use often, please let me know.  I'm not going to make this a glossary of all codes in use. Only the ones which I personally use. I will list some general tag glossaries at the bottom of this post.

Signal Codes

VIA  – Has been used like RT in some older Twitter clients, but I personally dislike it. It's very ambiguous to start with, and the different takes on its meaning make it worse. I prefer it to mean (as do many) that "I came upon this resource via (by way of): @name."  While  @name can often be an individual when appropriate, it is most often a publication name, be it newspaper, blog, TV show, or some other venue. Via should refer to the primary publication conveying the content, and not necessarily the content's author (although they can be one and the same.). 

Example: "This title here" by @pinhead666 was via @oprahshow." 
 

HT  (or h/t, or simply ^@name)  Stands for "Hat Tip," an acknowledgement to the person who brought the item to my attention. While HT is the most common variant, I've now switched to the programmer's "hat" (^) symbol. It saves two characters (including the space after HT), and that is not an insignificant savings in Twitterville's 140 character space.

Example: "This title here" by @pinhead666 was via @oprahshow. ^@dingleberry

FTW"For The Win."

Codes Created By Me

I've also conceived or embraced a few codes that everyone would use, were I ever King.  Some of my followers and friends use them now. These can be typed upper or lower case, but the preferred case is indicated.

MT — Modified Tweet/Transmission. The tweet was substantially changed to mock or clarify.

CC — Carbon Copy routing to list of people.  Do not retweet (or the recipients get tweet-bombed).

by — precedes person or organization that authored the work being tweeted. Best when referring to single, not multiple creators. See next.

cr— Creator code. Essentially a more multipurpose version of "BY @someone" when more than one author or producer created the work.  Based on Dublin Core meta data standards. Signifies that @name mentioned before the CR code had some kind of creative authorship or moderating role in relation to the Tweet or resource.  The precise role is beyond the scope of the code, and a level of detail that cannot be conveyed in a tweet. This code at least affirms there is such a role relationship to be further discovered. 

Code Glossaries

Hashtags

#p2 — The "clear channel" umbrella tag for Progressives (you may know them as "Liberals") to connect up and share resources and information across Twitter and other social networks. Read its history and mission here: About the #p2 Tag For Progressives.

#tcot  — Top Conservatives on Twitter.  In reality, it's mostly unhinged teaparty whack jobs, but it's entertaining for some when there's nothing on TV. I usually include this tag in a tweet when I believe the content is of interest to the conservatives wrecking America, or is simply so deliciously mocking that they shouldn't be left out of the mirth.

#tlotTop Libertarians on Twitter. People who wanted to maintain some distance from the whackjobs in #tcot (see previous), but ended up with their own homegrown variation of the tag. After all, as Drew Carey said, "A libertarian is just a conservative who still gets high."

#ocra — Organized Christian Resistance Alliance. A fringe conservative group who should be watched closely before they bite the heads off too many squirrels.

#WTL – Wingnut Threat Level.  A color-coded system for indicating the current alert status of the biggest threat to democracy since Rush Limbaugh. I created this tag because someone had to.

Hash Tags Created By Me

#ff — Alias for "#FollowFriday," but also being repurposed to mean: "Friends to follow."   It basically means, "I am recommending these [ @names in this tweet ] to my followers.

I did not create #followFriday. I did spend years almost bodily forcing people to shorten it to the much more sensible and economic form now known as "#FF."  Read more about that history, and my redefinition of it here.

#Hatriot — Means "this tweet concerns a Foxbagger, Limbaugh/Beck listener,  or some other strain of right wingnut.  Those who know me, know I've been using this term since 1996, on various services. I neglected to add it to Urban Dictionary (only started doing that with my terms recently), and only recently did someone else finally get around to doing that. And that's fine. I just love the term. Credit is for those kids on the FreeCreditReport.com ads.

Hashtag Directories

  • Hashtags.org — A dictionary of tags (which are best picked up by just watching and asking).

Words and Terms Coined by Me

My Urban Dictionary Contributions

Twictionary.com  —which I administrate, had all sorts of Twerms I've created, defined, or just use a lot.

 

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 :)

This post has been updated.

Update: See latest Google Hit Counts: #Followfriday vs. #FF  Click here to jump.

What is the #FF Hashtag?

It's just a much shorter version of the familiar #followFriday hashtag seen far too often on Twitter (and now other social networks, as well).  And as I will explain below, it's also a tag that denotes a ritual behavior that has serious issues and could really benefit from a major rethink.

It's not news to my followers that the concept of #Followfriday is a ritual that I've been openly contemptuous of, but like many trends, such a genie is hard to stuff back in its bottle. But if people are going to use a bad idea, I reasoned, at least they should do it efficiently. Why use 12 precious characters when just 2 would do the same work.

So a few weeks after the ritual was clearly entrenched, I urged my friends and followers to just use both tags for a while, until the #ff caught on with the Twitterverse. After 11 months it seems that's finally happening, and it's now familiar enough that many people are finally dropping the longer original. Good riddance.

But there is much more wrong with this practice than some wasted character space, and I'd like to examine it and propose a retrofit for something popular, but not very useful…yet.

What's Wrong With The #FollowFriday Ritual?

It's just a bad idea, in my opinion. It's noisy, inefficient, quasi-elitist, impractical, disruptive, and just encourages a kind of cliquish behavior that social media has been wonderful at avoiding on many levels.  It can also just make people feel bad.  I have nearly 6000 followers. I follow about 2500.  What does it say to thousands of people that I really like when I single out only a handful of them each Friday? 

Of course they know that I can't possibly recommend everyone, but they STILL feel I did not recommend THEM. Even if they are not consciously acknowledging it, it's there as a resident feeling in most of us.  And that creates a social peer tension that is simply unnecessary, in my view.

The efficacy of the ritual is small anyway. People feel obligated to engage in it, and  wind up just blasting out enough friends so their closer  friends won't feel left out. People receiving these "lists" almost never follow everyone–or even more than a handful of them. Many follow none of them at all. 

While I certainly can't claim formal research, my own experience, and asking amongst friends, is that typically, we might recognize a name we've already seen and think "ok, well there's that @name again, recommended by someone I already follow, so I'll follow them." But that's about the extent of how much we use these "recommendations."

And such a modest value-added to a user's social graph hardly justifies list after list after list of #FF posts  flooding out of the Twitter firehose from millions of users each and every Friday. It's nearly zero signal, and almost all noise. My followers know that I often joke about evacuating or taking shelter when these Friday "Tweet bombs" start to fall.

For a really entertaining comic about #FF, that makes my point in a creative way, check this out: "How Follow Friday is supposed to work."

Is it Wrong To Recommend People?

Nope. And I do that often (but not just on Fridays). But making one or two recommendations, and being specific about why, is a very different message from blasting out some random collection of names that comes off more as "people I like," rather than people who bring value for others to follow. And it's very hard to read news or other important tweets when 150 "name lists" are flooding into our streams.  It's intrusive, disruptive, and often just damned annoying.

Why Do I Even Explain All This?

Because people often include me in their #FF lists, and I do not mean to seem ungracious or ungrateful for the kindness and consideration when they do.  I am pleased they think well enough of me to do this.  But I would not fault them if they didn't, and actually wish they didn't do #FF at all (at least in its present form).

But as critical as I am of the practice, I am also fully aware that #FollowFriday is a fun social activity, and can be a useful way to pass along interesting or important people. I would like to see some new method of recommending people emerge that is less formal, and far more effective.  I just happen to have such an idea lying around here somewhere :)

How Would a New #FF Method Work?

I would like to see the entire meme refashioned from a day-specific "#followFriday," to a far more general, "Friends to Follow" (#FF) recommendation which can be used any day of the week, at any hour, rain or shine.

Note: the actual designation is just a working name. It really doesn't matter what we call it, and at some point, some name will just stick. I also heard and liked "Followable Folks."  So long as the letters stay the same, use what works.

With these "Anytime #FFs,"  Fridays won't come to a standstill as millions of random messages get blasted into the stream, trashing everyone's timeline. If you know a friend who knows a lot about something, and feel they would be valuable to your followers, just go ahead and say so.  For example:

#FF my friend @tesibria. A brilliant lawyer who tracks the Birthers.

#FF @LizzWinstead, co-creator of the daily show. You can think AND laugh (and even chew gum) at same time.

And that's all there is to the idea. Simple, flexible, and far more interesting and informative, in my opinion. And since they can be sent out at any time, there's no need to wait for some ritualistic special day, and no good friend or associate needs to feel "left out," until such time when they've NEVER seen one from you. (But that's their drama–and yours.:)

An important additional benefit is that 3rd party application developers can easily slurp this new meta data from the twitter stream, and feed it into lists, databases, groups, analytic metrics… and whatever. Best of all, now you can do a search for "@someone and #FF" and harvest all the recs they've made in past days or weeks.

But Can't Twitter Lists Be Used To Recommend

Sure, but you run into the same problem–and some new ones. And lots of decisions.  Do you put ALL your friends in such a list, or just the ones you like? How big is the list? Does it just become another variation on your entire follow list? Do you have many lists by topic? What makes these lists different from any topical group you chose to follow?  Why are you recommending them? How much work do you want to do to maintain it?  Lists are a tool.  They can be a very good "recommending tool," but a fairly formal one. They not too useful as informal tool that can be used on a flexible, minute-to-minute, completely spontaneous basis.

Can This Idea Fly?

Sure, why not?  #FF and MT are already catching on.  What else did we have to do this year?  This post is all that's needed to explain it. I plan to just start using Anytime #FFs immediately.

As with any idea I've come up with since I was old enough to say, "this really sucks," you and everyone you've ever known are free to completely ignore it :

Update 1:  In December, 2010, I started noticing a number of people using the "#followanytime" tag. Ugh and more ugh. While it's certainly in the spirit of my ideas herein, and possibly even the direct result of them, I rejected that tag because it's just more characters to waste space. And it's also completely redundant. #FF's meaning is now clear to millions. It's a very small jump to using it "anytime," and as you can see by doing a Twitter search on any day of the week except Friday, miliions already are. Just say no to #followAnyday usage.

Update 2:

Google hits (as of Jan 21, 2011):

#FollowFriday = 510,000
#FollowAnyday = 324,000
#FF           = 202,000,000

Google hits (as of March 4th,  2011):

#FollowFriday  = 622,000
#FollowAnyday  = 339,000
#FF            = 454,000,000

Google hits (as of May 27th,  2011):

#FollowFriday  = 1,480,000
#FollowAnyday  = 1,160,000
#FF            = 809,000,000

Google hits (as of Sept 16th,  2011):

#FollowFriday  = 2,240,000
#FollowAnyday  = 1,200,000
#FF            = 1,180,000,000 (Nutz – probably just a google error )

Google hits (as of April 13th,  2011):

#FollowFriday  = 3,700,000
#FollowAnyday  = 5,960  (finally, this bad idea is dying out)
#FF            = 13,600,000 (This seems more realistic. Google tweaked something)

Google hits (as of November 2nd,  2012):

#FollowFriday  = 2,553,000
#FollowAnyday  = 3,900  (Going, going.. )
#FF            = 11,600,000 

 

Clearly, #FF has failed in the marketplace of ideas :)

Related

How Follow Friday is Supposed To Work

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