Since Twitter launched the Official Twitter Retweet (OTRT) in 2009, there has been much talk of its pros and many cons. I won’t go into all of the issues involved here. Instead, I’ll discuss a couple of the problems of the OTRT that I think are often not considered, but have important implications for all Twitter users.
The first is that OTRT’s do not appear in Twitter Search. This is easy to see, by doing what I’ve done in the accompanying screenshots – Find a tweet in your timeline that’s been retweeted using the official Twitter retweet, as indicated by the gray arrow icon, as in the screenshot. Then do a Twitter search for some words in the tweet. As shown in the lower screenshot here, the original tweet is retrieved by the search, but eBookNoir’s retweet, in the example, is not.
The fact that OTRT’s do not show up in Twitter searches has particularly timely implications, because of the new feature that Twitter just launched, the ability to search people you follow. If you follow a lot of people with a wide variety of interests, this is invaluable because it makes it easy to find out which ones are tweeting on a specific subject. But unfortunately, if people retweet with the OTRT, they won’t show up in the search.
In addition to Twitter Search not including OTRT’s, Twitter Lists also don’t show them. Twitter Lists are an excellent way to keep track of people tweeting on a particular subject. They have become especially popular and useful in the Flipboard app, so it’s unfortunate that OTRT’s are not shown in Twitter lists.
So, OTRT’s are not found in Twitter searches or Twitter lists. Where can they be found? – On your Twitter home page timeline (of your followers’ tweets) and in the tweets of individual people that you follow. Also, interestingly, in Topsy – Oddly, this third-party Twitter search tool includes OTRT’s in its searches, even though Twitter itself does not.
The basic reason that OTRT’s don’t show up in Twitter Searches or Lists is that they actually are not considered individual tweets, and consequently do not have a separate page. In a sense, they’re considered to be more of a “favorite” than a true retweet. So be aware – If you want your tweets to be in the Library of Congress’s archive of tweets, avoid using the Official Twitter Retweet!
Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter@ericrumsey