Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

The bird is the word.

You may have heard of this newfangled social media thing. Like me, you might be initially opposed to it. I thought that Twitter was mostly people talking about what they had for lunch (in 140 characters or less). I suppose sometimes someone mentions lunch. The breakthrough for me with Twitter came when a blogger I liked and respected (hi Anea!) suggested I ought to sign up for Twitter “because I seemed like I’d be fun to talk to.”

“People talk to each other with this?” I remember thinking. They do! It’s like a big IRC channel where WoW nerds hang out. Whether you are a blogger or an avid blog reader, a knitter, a runner, or just someone who enjoys MMOs, there are people who share your interests that you can talk to. You’d be surprised how many of those interests often intersect. I think there are many reasons to sign up for a Twitter account and start tweeting. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. You can unsubscribe from the major MMO news sites, because you’ll never miss news again. I’ve truthfully ‘heard’ more breaking news on Twitter than anywhere else. Of course, it’s not a ‘news source,’ (do your own research!) but if a new armour set has been released, if a Blue has said something noteworthy, or if some major change has been announced – you’ll usually hear about it in under a minute. Sometimes controversial news is marked by what I fondly think of as a twitsplosion – a flurry of incensed or astonished tweets from different people.

2. Get to know your favourite bloggers, or get to know your readers. Often, discussions on Twitter can be similar to blog comment discussions (albeit a bit truncated). Most bloggers and WoW folks have a Twitter account – everyone from Big Bear Butt to El from El’s Angling. (I really like fishing!) People use them to various degrees, but it can be really fun to see the person behind the blog or site, as most folks are a bit more personal on their Twitter.

3. Take advantage of a resource in its own right. Usually, if I have a question that Google doesn’t immediately answer, someone (or multiple someones) can answer it for me on Twitter. Does anyone have good links to warlock guides? Does anyone know of a holy paladin leveling guide? My guild has been wiping to phase x of fight z, can someone give us some pointers? The people on Twitter in my experience have been incredibly helpful. You can probably find anything from a recipe for a good bean soup to a boss strat just by asking, and there will be someone willing and able to help.

4. Find new reading material. Most bloggers will tweet about any new blog entry they make. People who read their list can then choose to “retweet,” or repeat that message to their own list of followers. In this way, you might see a blog entry whose name or subject matter catches your eye. I have found many new blogs via Twitter, just from following people who follow me, or clicking on interesting sounding blog articles. This doesn’t just have to be WoW-related, either – I also follow a few Canadian newspapers that tweet new articles as they happen. I definitely read more news because of this than I would otherwise.

5. Gather around the virtual ‘watercooler.’ Especially if – like me – you work from home, you’ll know that sometimes it can get a bit quiet on your own. Sometimes saying hi on Twitter in the morning can feel like strolling into an office, with fellow telecommuters and at-work people alike. There are people to commiserate with about the weather, or in my case to remind you that spring IS happening somewhere and will eventually come to the frozen north as well. (It did happen eventually. We have sun now instead of snow). If you have any kind of smart phone, you will find Twitter is a boon when you have to suffer public transportation or other boring necessities.

6. Customize your Twitter feed to suit you. By this I mean, you can follow five hundred people, or you can follow five. You can limit it to people you ‘know’ really well. I know people who follow three thousand folks, and people who follow forty-five. It’s entirely up to you how you choose to use it, and you can say as much as you like or as little. I guarantee you, it’s more fun if you join in the conversation, though. To find new people to follow you can always just look through someone’s Twitter friend list and see if there are any familiar faces. Don’t be shy; if you do decide to give it a shot, make sure you say hi to @_vidyala!

Twitter Basics

Hashtags: are used to separate subjects or topics people want to talk about and keep separate. For example, #wowarttrade2011 might be used for a specific purpose. Sometimes people use a hashtag ironically to comment on the subject matter they’re discussing or just to be silly. (e.g. #shitmyguildsays or #needcoffeenow). I don’t drink coffee, though, I’m just making this stuff up.

@s or “Mentions”: When someone ‘mentions’ a twitter name by including it in their tweet in its entirety, that tweet will appear in their timeline as a mention. You can mention multiple people in one tweet (reply all is the easiest way to do this). Even celebrities see their mentions and sometimes reply. Yes, I had a total fangirl moment when Brandon Sanderson answered a tweet of mine, what about it?! Anyway, make sure to check your mentions so you don’t miss when someone is trying to talk to you. It’s considered polite to reply if the tweet is a question, but depending on how many people you follow sometimes it’s not possible to reply to everyone.

DM or “direct message,” Twitter’s equivalent of a whisper. You can only direct message someone who is a reciprocal follower.

The specific tag “#FF” is used on Fridays to denote ‘Follow Friday,’ when people recommend others that you should be following. The Oatmeal summarizes what actually happens on Friday. For this reason I try to limit my #FFs and actually explain why the person is fun to follow.

Twitter applications: There are better ways to use Twitter than via the website. Personally, I use Tweetdeck on my computer and HootSuite on my phone. (Twitter itself has an app for the phone but it had a few bugs that were driving me crazy). These allow for more customization in the feeds and tags that you might follow, as well as easy ways to reply to everyone, block or report spam, etc.

Which brings me to: bots and spammers. Not everyone that might follow you on Twitter is a real person. It has more than its fair share of bots and spammers, unfortunately. I always go to someone’s home page and glance at their tweets and description. If there is no description, no avatar (the default Twitter ‘bird’), a page full of links with no commentary – or all of the above, then it’s quite likely they are a spammer. Tweetdeck has an option where you can block and report spam in a single click. On the persons’ avatar, it’s under Other Actions and then Block & Report Spam. Use this feature liberally. Death to spammers!

A final note about Twitter privacy and etiquette: You can opt to have your tweets “protected,” i.e. visible to only those you allow to follow you. Be aware though that if you want to acquire many followers of your own, this isn’t the best way to do it. If someone follows me and I have to request to follow them and I can’t see what their tweets are like, typically, odds are I just don’t follow them back. If you are uncertain about privacy, at least consider staying public until you find the folks you want to chat with and then go private later.

Remember: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, and nothing you say on the internet ever goes away. Your tweets are searchable, so I’d advise not saying anything about someone you wouldn’t say to their face. But that’s just plain old life advice anyway! The only trouble I’ve seen on Twitter are when people start talking about religion, politics, and sometimes mages vs warlocks. Don’t assume that everyone who also likes to kill internet dragons shares your politics, and above all be respectful. If someone really bugs you, you aren’t obligated to keep reading what they have to say. The number of people you will love reading greatly outweigh the few though, I think.

What do you think? Are you still a Twitter holdout? Are you thinking of giving it a try?

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Comments on: "6 Reasons To Sign Up For Twitter" (32)

  1. I especially like Twitter for having an immediately-available resource of peers and opinions to draw on! “Hey guys, what do you think about raiding in PVP gear?” Flurry of responses. “Does anyone know if Lil’ KT kills critters?” Immediate answer within minutes.

    I also really like the spontaneous lore conversations that spring up, usually from some offhand or random comment that gets everyone chatting. EVEN IF SOMETIMES THOSE ARGUMENTS ARE BECAUSE PEOPLE COMPARE ORCS TO NAZIS.

    • Speaking of that, I’ve done a little raiding in my PvP gear. My only problem? Hit is too low. Once I flask for Hit instead of Intellect, my DPS shoots up to nice solid levels.

      • For me (as melee) my problem was the utter lack of Expertise on PVP gear. Basically every single piece I had was reforged for Expertise to hit the cap, haha.

    • Heyyy now, whoa. Don’t make me go all Godwin’s Law on you! You can still argue this so passionately and yet we’ve both read the comic where the orcs KILL THEIR ORC BUDDY after killing his adopted daughter’s father, and mother, and second cousin, and then her adopted father… And she has chubby little legs! For shame. But really, we’ve laid this to rest, haha.

      I definitely love the immediate response aspect of Twitter, as you said, for opinions, for info, for links. It’s such an incredible cross-section of people with different focus and interests. I didn’t even include how it can be good for finding a guild!

  2. One evening, not to long ago, my spouse – a Twitter holdout – turned to me and asked me to ask Twitter something.

    I was shocked, as no such request had ever been made before from this master of Google. “Okay,” I said, bracing myself for the worst.

    “I need a new laptop, one that can handle processing huge data sets. If anyone will know the best machine for the job, your Twitter folks will know. They’re gamers. They will know.”

    So I asked, and in 15 minutes I’d received a complete education on the various processors available to purchase, their relative merits, the types of RAM available, several trusted vendors.

    In 20 minutes the proposed configuration had been circulated and approved by people with far greater domain knowledge than I have on the matter.

    It may – and your results may vary – but Twitter may have made up for my spouse’s irritation at WoW over the past two years.

    Twitter is good like that. :-)

    • Seriously! I’m thinking back to all of the things I’ve discussed or seen discussed on Twitter over the past year. Everything from dog training (“I’m dog sitting this big dog and he’s doing these things, what should I do, Twitter?”) to workplace conflict (“This coworker and I don’t get along, what do you guys think about…”) to of course, WoW things. “What is the questgiver who gives this quest about the blah blah…”

      That is so great that your wife wanted to “use” Twitter to get the answers she needed, and of course Twitter came through! I am a huge Twitter advocate. Twiadvocate? I actually confess to not liking Twitter word amalgams, I should stay away from those. I may have said “tweeps” before, though.

      • Gameldar said:

        This is one of the biggest things I miss about Twitter having been there and given it up for my sanity/work/distractions reasons. Questions I’ve or others have had that you can get answers too because of the broad base of knowledge and experience it combines into one medium.

        The other is the wow community on there – starting out with the wow blogging mob then expanding into players and readers. I don’t have any RL friends to discuss wow with and there are some awesome (and knowledgeable) people on there that were quite happy to discuss the ebbs and flows that is WoW… like I’d love to have seen the immediate reactions to the 4.2 changes to Holy Shield!

      • Questions I’ve or others have had that you can get answers too because of the broad base of knowledge and experience it combines into one medium.

        Gameldar, I sense the beginning of a SF tale concerning the creation of an uber-mind. Forget Google; Twitter bypasses the active search process and mimics the reaction of neurons to a query…

      • Gameldar said:

        I sense the beginning of a SF tale concerning the creation of an uber-mind. Forget Google; Twitter bypasses the active search process and mimics the reaction of neurons to a query…

        Hmm I wonder what sort of beast you’d create feeding all the conversations in twitter into some form of neural network… I don’t sense a SF tale… I sense a computer science thesis (that someone is probably already doing!)

        Then again I’ve just finished reading Frankenstein… perhaps some research is better left alone.

  3. Very nicely done! :-)

  4. I’m still waiting for this Interweb-thingie to blow over. Just like Disco.

  5. I’m not sure if I like it or not.
    The thing I see being highlighted a lot here is the ease at which someone can tap into their twitter network and get answers, but the majority of the time, twitter to me is a lot of work. It takes sooo much filtering, that I often don’t open up tweetdeck at all.
    I think I need to sort my list a little, as you also recommend ;)

  6. I don’t know what I’d do if I went back to not having Twitter (and especially the WoW community there) now. I lurk there from waking to bedtime! I’ve been able to say hello to so many people I wouldn’t have dared to email or comment on the blogs of and people are just so darn nice :D

    It also keeps me sane in a job that’s often lethally tedious, entertained on commutes full of irksome students and happy on days when I’d otherwise be tired and lonely.

    Get on there and say hello if you haven’t already! I guarantee that you’re missing out!

  7. Delightful summation and excellent information! And you are, if I may be so bold, very fun to talk to (as is Anea, natch).

    Additionally, now I want to know if Lil’ XT does kill critters. Hey, wait, I can go ask Rades on Twitter right now!

  8. Dancingblade said:

    (Disclaimer: None of the following should be construed as an opinion of specific individuals, i.e. the blog owner or other commenters)

    I strongly dislike Facebook (though I have an account as a “last resort” means of contacting me), and have no desire to jump into the Twitterverse. My life is not a reality show that requires me to update status or tweet with every random thought that comes to mind, and I am not narcissistic enough to actually believe that any “followers” would actually care.

    One thing that is so sadly lost with these social diseases (yes, I said “diseases”, rather than media) is:

    Intimacy. Meaningful exchanges are pushed aside in favor of mass consumption. It’s just not for me.

    • Dancing, I think you’re mistaken. Twitter isn’t the reality TV, “EATING A HAM SANDWICH” animal many think it is. It’s earnest conversation with people you choose to follow – ie, be friends with. I’ve partaken in Twitter conversations just as, if not more genuine and heartfelt, than ones in-game or even in real-life.

      Honestly, anyone who still believes Twitter is the random thought barrage of mundane nonsense should try it for themselves, as they would be pleasantly surprised to discover how wrong they were.

  9. Kialesse said:

    I have been a Twitter hold-out since its inception, confident in my prognosis that a 140 character limit must surely signal the End Of The World As We Know It.

    However, I said that about Facebook, too, back in the day, and now I never get off it.

    And also, I hear that this Saturday the 21st is the REAL End Of The World As We Know It.

    Therefore, I feel that you may have finally convinced me to take the plunge, in keeping with my resolution to put myself out there. So if you see my name pop up as someone now following you, you have only yourself to blame.

    • This is a risk I’m prepared to take. Besides, if the world is going to end, at least we can commiserate together as it does!

  10. I’m so incredibly distractable that I still am not completely persuaded that I need the extra level of distraction/procrastination that Twitter would provide in my life. But if I do ever give in, you’ll probably be one of the first ones to know, as I show up on your follower list!

  11. Nochecazador said:

    I originally joined Twitter just to follow the news. Then I started following others and joined in on the conversations that were happening. BOOM. I’m more conversational on Twitter than I was ever on AIM.

    My wife has benefited from it too. She’s not on it, but there have been sales that I caught to buy her nice things. The advertisement was only on Twitter.

    The earthquake in Japan. It was reported on Twitter before any major news outlet was carrying it.

    I do flip back and forth between having a private and public account. I’m set to private right now, but will most likely go public again in the near future.

  12. dallanna said:

    The thing is, if I do eventually go on twitter, it’ll be when I think it’s best for me. I can’t and won’t speak for anyone else, but it just seems not to be that useful yet.

  13. One thing to consider is exactly how Twitter will change in order for the investors to make money.

    Is it a good service? Okay, I’ll grant it that.

    But is it profitable? As-is, no. Something will have to give in order for Twitter to become profitable, like for every Tweet there are two ads to filter through.

  14. Good post! :) Very succinctly puts why I love Twitter.

    Also, I love how the post is “6 reasons” and the URL is “10 reasons” ;)

    • Hahah dammit. I could have sworn I changed that. I must have neglected to hit ‘save.’

      Can you imagine me? “I know! I will write about Twitter! Ten reasons why I like Twitter and everyone should like Twitter! Ten!”

      *twenty minutes later* “Okay, six…I’m at six…Ummm. Errrrr. Well, it’s a website, how much more can I say about it?” *delete, delete*

      “Five reasons! No, that’s not enough reasons. Okay… six reasons! Yes! I will change the URL. Nobody will ever know.”

  15. I love popping on to twitter when I need to see what’s what in the blogging community. I recently reached 500 tweets and I felt so good about myself and then I check someother people’s tweet # and it was over 20,000…. needless to say I was floored.

    Another great example of how twitter comes to the rescue was when I was writing a guide to Conclave of Wind because I will be raidleading this one and I needed to find out if Al’akir drops tokens. Within 2 minutes I had my answer from someone who I didn’t even know but I follow on twitter now ^+^

    -Anslym

  16. I was a twitter holdout until recently and I must admit that I’ve been very pleasantly surprised. Like Nochecazador, I signed up for the news and eventually added a few WoW bloggers I respected out of curiosity. Those few turned into a few more, who turned into a few more. It really is like an ongoing IRC channel and I love it! I’m glad I finally took the plunge.

    I think you brought up all the best points about twitter in a succinct and heartfelt manner. There’s something about the voice of this post, even more than the words themselves, that captures the sense of community. Great post Vid!

  17. I’d add “recruitment” as another valid reason to be on Twitter, if you’re an officer, GM, or looking for a guild. Not only is there a lot of “Hey, we need a shaman, anyone know a shaman?” conversation, it can be a great way to get to know what kind of people and environment you can come to expect if you join a specific guild, or invite a member.

    It’s much harder for a guild to create unrealistic expectations if several members are active on twitter than it is just relying on one or two pieces of static, crafted recruitment boilerplate. (Say a forum post and your guild website.) And if your new tank app has 58 tweets last week bitching about how his ex-guildies are (*@#&s and (*#*s and bads and he never gets loot QQQQ more loot!, well. Recruiter beware!

  18. Thanks so much for the tips at the end :) I just joined Twitter but after a few days of eagerly following the news and trying to catch up on all the personal posts I had missed I was a little disappointed. Not being in the same timezone, or even able to monitor Twitter while I am awake makes it hard to follow while people are actually active!

    I have an etiquette question as well. Say you see two or more people having some sort of @name conversation, and after a little digging you see the whole list of tweets that make up the conversation and want to interject. Is that weird? Can you do that non-creepily?

    • It’s a public forum, so I don’t see any harm in jumping in. You might not want to take over completely, but there’s no reason you can’t dip your oar in politely. :)

    • Amerence said:

      Hehe, Redcow I know your new to Twitter and all, but don’t hesitate to jump in conversation like Lara was saying its a public forum. and your just doing fine! I feel the same way you are when I first tweeting and still sometimes I feel like im the only one just talking to myself but sooner or later they will get what your saying and they will also reply to you, but it wont bother me if they dont reply, the important is they know that your also active and you TWEET!. Ask any questions and don’t feel any hesitation of doing so, that’s how I handle it myself anyway.

      But sometimes for me I don’t know if I am doing it alright, and sometimes I don’t understand sarcasm, or jokes and english is not my first language, but im learning a lot. some people may not understand what im saying but hey 140 characters pifft I used short cut words screw auto correct sometimes if i used my phone haha as long as I can tweet what I want to say.

      Anyway, As to the blog post this is a great topic! Thanks for sharing! really helpful. =)

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