Live-Tweeting Etiquette

In response to concerns raised during the AHA's 127th annual meeting, AHA blogger Vanessa Varin crowdsourced a "Dos and Don'ts of Live-Tweeting" list. The list sparked a conversation on social media about some of the professional issues associated with Tweeting, which is captured below.

  1. Privacy-Many users called for more transparency, particularly in regard non-Twitterstorians who do not have access to the conversation being posted online. 

  2. Avoiding the Snark-Some readers cautioned Twitter users to keep a professional tone and avoid sarcasm. 

  3. In the “do” list I would add: ask people on the panel whether they agree to be tweeted. We seek out permissions for audio and video recording: why not ask people whether they wish to be “broadcast” via Twitter?

    In the “don’t” list I would add: don’t broadcast snark at all. Like the people who think their Facebook status update can only be seen by “friends,” inexperienced Twitter users assume that tweets are only available to a select group. Not so so: they are universally available, even to people who have been blocked (this only means that such people cannot respond to you on Twitter.) In fact, you cannot block someone from a Twitter account as you can a Facebook account. They cannot be removed from Twitter boxes on blogs, and once Storified, evidence of your jejeune behavior can be made even more broadly available.

    So ask yourself before Tweeting: is this something I would say in a department meeting? Then take it a step further: is this something I would put on the right-hand page of the New York Times under my own name?
    Claire Potter commenting on AHA Today   
  4. DO: let the speaker give the meat of the paper before you declare how awful, restrictive, or irritating the paper is.

    DON’T: comment on the way the speaker looks or what her personality traits might be according to her hairstyle.

    Elaine Treharne commenting on AHA Today

  5. Others offered more specific comments about live-Tweeting, and the relationship between reader and user. 

  6. To the list of “why live-tweet,” I would add that following tweets from a conference is one way for those without the resources to travel to follow discussions from afar. It also addresses the conundrum of having two panels to attend at the same time.

    To point out these advantages is not to say that following tweets of a panel is exactly the same experience (or even as good of an experience) as being in the room, but I’ve found that in cases where being there is not possible, the tweets of those who were there helped me discover new work or potential connections that I otherwise might have missed.


    To the “Do” list, I would add that tweets should clearly identify the speaker in each tweet, which avoids potential problems of misattribution. If the speaker has a Twitter handle himself or herself, the best practice would be to include that handle in the tweet so that the speaker can also later find out what was attributed to him or her and, if need be, correct any mischaracterizations.

    Caleb McDaniel commenting on AHA Today
  7. I would add to post a link to the paper, if available. If not then a link to presenter's website.
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