Modified Tweet vs Retweet: Which style wins?

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You find an incredible article or tweet that absolutely must be retweeted. And you need to add some commentary before it to clarify why it’s worth reading. But when you add your thoughts, the tweet becomes too long. So, you modify the initial tweet a bit, keeping the same meaning but giving yourself a few more characters to play with.

Would you now use the somewhat-new term MT (modified tweet) or stick with the tried, true and recognized RT (retweet) before the start of the original tweet?


Category: Social Media
  • Amy Schmittauer

    I find this new “MT” situation to be so dumb. I mean, can’t we just get people used to the RT without throwing a curveball into it? If someone isn’t strategic enough to ensure their post is retweetable for additional comments or if they simply have too much to say, then I don’t see why they need to be notified that you had to modify their content in order to share it and/or add your thoughts. Just my opinion, of course. Happy Tuesday Kirsten!

    • Kirsten Wright

      It’s a valid opinion Amy!

  • MikeSansone

    Is that what “MT” stands for?  I thought it was like … multi-tweeted or something that has made the rounds.

    I agree a lot with Amy. And if I may, I’ll add this: It’s my tweet now (and my network/audience/tribe/community/pick-a-label of peeps), so I’ll edit as desired, yes? 

    I’ll “RT”,but I don’t think I’ll ever use the “MT”

    RTing the “Happy Tuesday Kirsten [and Amy]” :-)

    • Dust Bunny Mafia

       I agree with you Mike, first, I had no clue that’s what MT stood for and second, I’ll RT but probably won’t ever use MT.

  • Matthew Smith

    MTs are important because they allow us to editorialize without improperly attributing our sources. I know if someone RTs me but changes my verbiage, I’m furious. As an “artist” (is Twitter writing still art? Perhaps that’s a question for another time…),  I carefully craft each Tweet. I don’t want people changing my words around without acknowledging it. Just as a journalist must document and accurately quote his/her sources, so must Twitter users take responsibility for any changes they’ve made to anyone else’s original Twitter content.

    Isn’t it just good manners?

    • MikeSansone

      Matthew – I like the “Is Twitter writing still art?” thought. And maybe it is. So many musical artists have put their own spin on “Hello Dolly” or “Heard it Through the Grapevine” – always in their own voice, yet sharing the original story and giving credit to the originator.

      Sort of a creative commons thing, yes? You’ve got me thinking (thanks) :-)

      • Kirsten Wright

        Wow – awesome conversation going on here and you bring up a VERY valid point. While it is often possible to modify a tweet and keep the same meaning, what gives us the right to do so without asking? Interesting…good debate @MikeSansone:disqus  & @twitter-247376428:disqus 

    • Kirsten Wright

      I think that would be an interesting blog post – twitter writing as an art, as much as any short block of copy?

      • Elisabeth Winkler

        I like to think Twitter writing is an art.

        I compare it to writing a haiku because you are conveying a message within a highly-prescribed form (in Twitter’s case 140 characters). I encourage writing students to get a Twitter account – it’s good practice.
        Yes, it is as much as an art as writing a short block of copy.
        Thanks for this post and the comments. Interesting!

  • Dawn Mentzer

    I agree with Mike and Amy…Even if I modify a tweet to fit the space allowed, I’ll still use “RT” instead of “MT”. When people modify my tweets to make them work for their RT purposes, it doesn’t bother me at all. I’d hope no one takes offense provided the RT’er doesn’t alter the tweet to be in any way distasteful or derogatory. 

    • Kirsten Wright

      I think that’s the core issue – as long as the tweet that is modified stays with the core message, either is acceptable.

      • Matthew Smith

         Why can’t we hold ourselves to the same high standards on Twitter as we would any journalist. If you change the words — not just the meaning — you should acknowledge it. That’s what MT is for. Why would you be against it? It doesn’t add any characters, and it insulates both the original poster and re-Tweeter.

        • Kirsten Wright

          I think the issue is the confusion – for people who are new to the platform, RT is the most commonly accepted version of re-sharing something (modified or not). The MT is great in concept, but has to be generally understood and accepted to work well.

  • John Hannah

    I agree with the comments below from Mike and Amy. I understand the point Matthew is making, but I just don’t see Tweets as an art form. Most people are just delighted to have the resource they provided re-shared.

    This whole MT thing also adds to the complexity of Twitter for newbies. I would hate to see new users scolded for improperly attributing a tweet or not maintaining high journalistic standards. Kind of silly.

    • Kirsten Wright

      John – It’s all about how you use it, right?

      • John Hannah

        Yes, Kristen, I agree. That’s an important caveat!

  • James Dabbagian

    Considering the epic brevity requirement Twitter places on us, I’d say that the MT (Which I also didn’t know meant “Modified Tweet”) is a necessity. What if I want to add a comment to their statement? It only adds to the conversation and is better than just dropping an RT. 

    • Kirsten Wright

      Technically, you could still add a comment and still have the RT…the MT in question is only if you have to shorten/change the original tweet before you would be retweeting it. It’s an interesting concept, and one that I have only recently seen become more used.

  • Sani Golriz

    Perhaps a little lame, but it might depend on how much brain power I want to put into it. For the most part, however, I don’t usually RT or MT. I click on the article, and find time a little later to read it. Then I tweet it and give credit to the author with @____

  • Oakley Boren

    I was just thinking that if you are really put a lot into crafting your tweets that you don’t want people to modify, then you stop at 100-130 characters, leaving room for a little commentary.

    If I have to modify an RT so much it’s barely recognizable, I dropped
    the comment and just RT as is, then follow with a comment. It’s personal

    I don’t think the tag MT is necessary unless you really chopped everything down with barely a trace of the original tweet. But why would you do that? Isn’t that the point of an RT is pass along that tweet?

    • Kirsten Wright

      It’s definitely a personal preference – and all the comments definitely show there are varying opinions!

  • papayasoft

    +1 MT

  • Anthony Ryan

    I change tweets that are too long to re-tweet all the time. BUT I change “and” to “&”. I change “first” to “1st”. Maybe twitter artist should keep re-tweeting in mind when they are crafting something that can not fit “RT AndTheirName”. I do not think it looks like I am claiming that I wrote or took their source, their name is RIGHT BY the “RT”. Sometimes if it is tom much of an effort to edit down, I will also do a tweet with the link and then “Via @TheirNameHere” so at least people know I ran into the link because of someone else. Shouldn’t people just be glad we re-tweeted them?

    • Kirsten Wright

      Changing things like that don’t really count as a ‘modified’ tweet, but if you are shortening it, or removing a section, I like to clarify that I have modified it. It’s a preference thing… :)