So here I am, having a rant again. Those of you who know me probably know I have a rant blog – Somebody Has To Say It – because, well, somebody does! Strangely, it often seems to be me…

Many of you have even expressed your delight at my wide-ranging and entirely justified vitriol. I have touched on Twitter etiquette previously, in my early days on Twitter, but we’re going to revisit the topic again, with some new and exciting pet peeves of my own and some contributed by my Tweeps. Yes, I asked you what annoyed you most and now I’m going to rant about it. 

So what are the most annoying breaches of Twetiquette and related pet peeves?

  • Requests for RT (retweet) – If you’re going to ask people for RTs, it’s polite to RT them back. Definitely you should RT them if they ask, and if they don’t, you should still RT them from time to time anyway, check out their blog, make a comment, and perhaps even follow the blog. This is called gratitude. It’s not hard and it shows people you appreciate their efforts on your behalf. Get it right. After all, this is simple courtesy is it not? It’s not all about you!
  • Relentless spamming of timelines with promotional tweets about your book or blog or music (yes, this isn’t limited to the writing community!) and nothing else. Why would someone be interested in you if your only interest in them is as a buyer and, therefore, really just their money? Engage! Interact! Start a conversation, tweet a memorable quote, anything. If you are an interesting person, I will check your profile to see if you have a book available. But no one likes spam. A friend of mine says the only outcome when she plugged her book all the time was lost followers and no sales. I will add this related issue, too – running a blog where you do nothing but talk about your book! I will not read it.
  • Sending a welcome to a new follower – and it’s spam. The last thing I want from someone I just followed is spam. I don’t know you yet. Sending me a spam direct message or mention does not help me to know you, but it helps me to dislike you. I know people who automatically unfollow someone who sends them a spam DM. Think about that.
  • Sending a direct message to a new follower - and you’re not following back! Don’t get me wrong, I do not subscribe to an auto-follow or follow for follow policy (more on that later). But it’s just rude to send someone a direct message they can’t reply to.
  • Repeated requests to F4F (follow for follow). I do not F4F or auto-follow. If your only interest in me is to add to your numbers, I’m not interested in you. I want followers who are interesting and engaging. 
  • TrueTwit – Let’s face it, people don’t like it. You want the follower, why do they have to jump through hoops to make you happy? Also, can I say, this is the worst captcha ever. I can’t read it. Forget it, it’s all too hard. I’ll follow someone else….
  • Request – to read my book, listen to my music, review… The list is endless and it’s not limited to the writing community. You’re asking for this person’s time, they are probably busy as hell, and there’s a reasonable chance you won’t appreciate it when it’s done anyway. Save the favour requests for the people you’ve earned favours from. Otherwise, you’re just pestering people and pissing them off.
  • Starting conversations without context – hello, 140 characters can make a conversation confusing as it is, at least make sure you start the conversation with enough context so it makes sense.
  • Interrupting a conversation – to basically call someone stupid. Feel free to drop in and say hi or just join a discussion, but if your sole purpose is to call someone an idiot, just don’t.  Meaningful, rational and logical debate is fine, but not baseless and irrational stupidity.
  • Baiting or trolling – I know some people who bait with political statements, I’ve had a run in with a troll myself, and some people who pick a fight with Tweeps even when the other person has no interest in the debate. Your Honour, defence is badgering the witness…. How, exactly, do you expect to make friends with this kind of behaviour? And if this is just your brand – it sucks!
  • Porn-related spam – Why is it this pervades every aspect of the internet? Emails offering to enlarge my penis are inappropriate enough (hello, woman?) but it’s poor when you get this on Twitter. Interestingly, one complaint from a Tweep I know is that these spammers are never men! These accounts are usually bots with thousands of followers and very few tweets. The most annoying one I encountered was one that made you follow it when you tried to block and report for spam!
  • Avatars – This came up in my informal polls. Some people don’t like moving avatars, they find them distracting, and some people don’t like rude, naked or disgusting avatars. Sorry, erotica writers, the consensus seems to be this is tasteful and appropriate on your blog, but not in a follower’s timeline. Plus, there is probably a tendency to assume it’s porn… which may or may not be a good thing for you!
  • Inappropriate gratitude – being thanked for  RT, or following, or an #FF when I’ve done no such thing. These leave me scratching my head. I’m not sure if the other person is just an idiot to the point they don’t realise I didn’t do what they are thanking me for, or if they are trying to generate some kind of response. I usually make none.

Triberr – OK, Triberr is not Twitter but it tweets through Twitter so we’ll count it here. Three things on Triberr seem to bug people the most:

  • First, multiple blog postings in one day. Unless you’re in a tribe for heavy bloggers, this is just unreasonable. The people in your tribe are already doing you a favour by loaning you their followers to promote your blog. Don’t stretch the friendship. Really. You don’t want to alienate your fellow tribe members.
  • Don’t fail to tweet your tribe members and then expect them to promote you. Triberr is an ‘I scratch your back, you scratch my back arrangement’. I respect everyone’s right not to tweet someone for whatever reason, but don’t expect them to tweet you back. If you do, you’re just an ass. You definitely can’t join a tribe and expect to tweet no one. It’s even more annoying if you post three times a day and never tweet anyone else’s posts.
  • Tribe up with the right people. Ideally this should be people whose work you are prepared to tweet to avoid problem #2, but also people whose blogs may appeal to your followers. Random marketing about bras and makeup and the like if you write crime thrillers may not go down too well…
  • Blogs – Indirectly twitter-related to the extent they are so often promoted through Twitter.:
  • Blogs about nothing except promoting your book. Sorry, I will not read it.
  • Blogs with pop-up promos on first arrival. It’s just spammy, or like cold-calling.
  • Answering the person who RTed the blog post in relation to the post instead of the blog author. I get tired of explaining… I didn’t write this post.
  • Replying to a blog tweet without having read the blog post. God this is so annoying. Usually titles are clever to get interest but may not bear any relation to the title in the way expected. You just make yourself look like an idiot. Read the post first.

If you find yourself guilty of any of these things, I suggest having a good, long, hard think. Why are you doing these things? In all likelihood your objective is not to piss people off – but hey, guess what? You are!

Might be time for a change of direction…

Ciara is a writer of high fantasy. She has been reading fantasy since she was 9 and writing it since she was 11. Born argumentative and recognising the long road to make money out of writing, Ciara wisely invested her natural inclinations in a career in law.

Connect with Ciara:
Twitter: @CiaraBallintyne