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RT @Twitter: Finally a standard retweet function coming

August 13, 2009 |  5:11 pm

Retweet

Biz Stone's sketch of how the new retweet function would work. Courtesy of Twitter

Twitter announced today that it will implement the massively popular "retweet" feature -- which is similar to forwarding an e-mail to all of your friends -- more seamlessly into the service. "It's about [expletive] time," many Twitter users wrote.

Company co-founder Biz Stone posted a pen-and-paper sketch of his proposed implementation on the Twitter blog (image on the right).

Users who want to broadcast an interesting tweet from one of their friends to all of their followers would click a "retweet" button, and then the message would be filled out automatically. To the followers, it would look as though the original tweeter had sent the message, but a small block of text would also indicate who had retweeted it.

Currently, most Twitter users copy the body of a tweet they find particularly interesting, paste it as their own update and append the acronym "RT" along with the originator's user name. For example, to retweet this post, you would copy the next line and Twitter it from your own account.

RT @LATimesTech: Twitter finally planning a standard retweet function: http://bit.ly/UWLYd

Go ahead. We'll wait.

Many third-party Twitter applications contain a one-button function for retweeting. But each offered its own take on the concept. For example, TweetDeck, the most-used ...

... Twitter software, follows that formula. But Tweetie, another popular client on the iPhone and Mac, puts the credit at the end with the form "(via @username)" -- and its developer is rather passionate about doing so.

To confuse things even more, Twitter's co-founders had their own ways of doing things. Stone and Chief Executive Evan Williams put "Via" at the front of their tweets and quotation marks around the message -- a nonstandard practice. Site creator Jack Dorsey follows the standard "RT" convention.

There's already some debate about the new standard. Some say it could be confusing when unfamiliar faces start showing up in their streams. Twitter user Sarah Mei writes, "Is Twitter missing the point with their new way to retweet? Interesting people add commentary to the RT."

Regardless, it looks like Twitter's so-called Project Retweet will probably be the de facto standard. They're opening it up to developers so that all software running Twitter will be able to support the standardized function.

What we're most excited about is the ability to silence all retweets from individual users. Now, if we could just do the same with e-mail forwards from cat-loving coworkers.

-- Mark Milian

Follow my commentary on technology and social media on Twitter @markmilian.

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