What is Twitter? A Twitter Glossary of Terms

Half a year ago, I posted “What is Twitter”, which really just linked to a rad video you should see if you have no clue what Twitter really is.

I’ve been tweeting for a while, and I have watched a sub-culture emerge around the tool of phrases, terms and actions people take. Many of these concepts are not new with twitter, but are regaining a popularity since it is (without add-ons like twitpic) a text-only medium.

The following glossary will live and grow as time goes on. Did I miss something? Exercise your inalienable right to a voice and SAY SO in the comments!

Twitter Glossary:

This command (pronounced “at”) is used to designate who you are talking to, or referencing, in a tweet. Proper twittiquette says you begin a direct reply to someone with the phrase “@username” and then your message. Example: If you want to direct a comment at Robert Scoble, whose twitter username is Scobleizer, you would tweet something like the following actual tweet:

    @scobleizer I’m a huge fan but do you really need to grade yourself on grader.com? I mean…you’re a 100. You will be next time, too. 😉
n: A message sent through twitter.

v: The action of sending a message through twitter

“Twitter is a privately funded startup with offices in the SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. Started as a side project in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices.” source

The action of forwarding or repeating a tweet someone else sent. Usually because you agree and wish to promote what was said, or because of blatant promotion.

Updating yourself on past-tweets that you missed because you turned twitter off, went dark, or the tweets just came in while you were in a meeting or otherwise unavailable to watch the stream.

An sms or IM command used to tell the twitter system to stop sending you updates.

Short Message Service, the technical term for sending a text message from your cell phone (or other tool) allows you to keep up with tweets wherever you are. See commands for more information.

Instant Message, a way you can receive and send twitter messages. Currently disabled.

going dark
Turning off your twitter messages so you can concentrate on other things.

Analagous to a river, the “flow” of messages coming to you through twitter

An acronym for “Direct Message”, a message sent directly (and somewhat privately*) to another twitter user. A complicator for this term is that users will say, “If you want more information then DM me…” but the command for sending the message is not “DM”, but simply “D username“.

Keywords used by SMS or IM or other applications to change the message you’re sending, change your alerts/updates from twitter, or get information about users or other things. Learn more about twitter commands.

One of twitter’s great advantages is that it has an open platform anyone can write applications to interface with. There are many twitter applications you can choose from. Some update your desktop, others update your iPhone or Blackberry, others allow you to sync your twitter messages with facebook or friendfeed


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