Science & Technology
8:00 am
Mon February 6, 2012

Website Helps People Evaluate Tweets

Wonder what people think about your recent tweets? Well, a new website is offering feedback if users agree to anonymously rate tweets from people they follow.

"Who Gives a Tweet?" is a collaboration among researchers at Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Over 19 days, 1,443 visitors to the site rated more than 43,000 tweets.

CMU researcher Paul André said social media often help people express interest in things but not their dislikes.

"You can 'like' things on Facebook, you can 'favorite' things on Twitter, but what about the reasons people dislike things?" said André. "We don't understand a lot of the perception that our tweets get. And so what we wanted to do is understand the reasons people like or dislike things."

André said participants liked only 36 percent of tweets and disliked 25 percent. About 39 percent had no opinion.

He said they found people are not interested in "me now" updates. "These things where people were updating about their current activity, their mood, and particularly Foursquare location check-ins were hated across everyone."

Other things that people disliked include:

  • Overuse of hashtags, mentions, and abbreviations. André said too many make things difficult to read, although adding a hashtag when asking a question can be helpful.
  • Tweets that are too short. Vagueness and ambiguity make things hard to understand.
  • Whining. Negative comments and complaints were unpopular.

André said what makes a good tweet depends on a person's followers.

"It's information they value. Perhaps it's a link they're going to find interesting; it's your personal opinion or your perception of that link. It isn't just the link itself, it's what you think about it," said André. "Also it's going to be concise as well. You're going to keep that short, you're going to add a few words of what you think about it, and the link itself. And there's all that kind of human touch. If you're personal and you're honest, your followers are going to value that."