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Top 5 Twitter Transgressions for Writers

At the risk of sound all high and mighty by tackling this subject, I need to point out that I had a Twitter account a year ago and failed. I mass followed people just to get followers, I never interacted, and I blasted people with links in blatant self-promotion.
I was a total twit.

After a few months, I closed my account and decided I wasn't destined to tweet. A few months ago, some of my fellow highway girls convinced me to try it again, and I did. And I'm so glad. The writing community is just as helpful and supportive on Twitter as they are on forums and on their blogs, and I really enjoy being a part of it.


There are a few faux pas – Twitter Transgressions, if you will – that I have noticed. A few types of tweeple that use and abuse tweeting and their followers just a tiny bit. Who are these tweeple? Allow me to introduce you.

1. The Briber

One who tweets dozens of times daily reminding followers that one is having a contest and/or is nearing a certain number of followers and will be holding a contest as soon as that number is reached.

Sample Tweets:

@ChosenOne HEY GUYS! 23 more in Dumbledore's Army and I'm giving away an autographed Snitch AND a ride on my broomstick. #notaeuphamism


@ChosenOne Have you signed up yet? We still need 20 more DA members - prizes prizes prizes!

@ChosenOne Come on, seriously you guys. Just 20 more. Did I mention my broomstick's a Firebolt and it's, like, really fast?

@ChosenOne @Hot_Gin Not funny. :(

@ChosenOne Almost 200 DA members!!! I know some of you still haven't signed up. Come one, it's like you guys want @MugglesSuck to win or something...LOL (plz RT)

Nothing wrong with contests, nothing wrong with followers. But the redundant brute force tactic of slamming those already following with tweet after tweet after mother-lovin' tweet of contest reminders and follower number updates? The people subjected to this are already following, and if they're going to enter, one tweet was enough to convince them.

2. The RT Reflector

One who retweets every retweet of themselves, leading to a mirror-in-a-mirror effect that subjects followers to the mind-numbing experience of reading a single tweet several times for no real reason.

Sample Tweets:

@MaryMary Seriously. A day at the beach. Is that too much to ask?

@UnconsecRatedR GO TO BEACH THRU FOREST LOL RT: @MaryMary Seriously. A day at the beach. Is that too much to ask?

@MaryMary LOL You wish! RT @UnconsecRatedR GO TO BEACH THRU FOREST HA RT: @MaryMary Seriously. A day at the beach. Is that too much to ask?

@UnconsecRatedR BUT REALLY DO IT NOMNOM RT @MaryMary LOL You wish! RT @UnconsecRatedR GO TO BEACH THRU FOREST HA RT: @MaryMary Seriously. A day at the beach.

@MaryMary Silly thing. ;) RT @UnconsecRatedR NOMNOM @MaryMary You wish! RT @UnconsecRatedR GO THRU FOREST HA RT: @MaryMary Seriously, a day at the beach.

What the Reflector doesn't seem to understand, or understands but chooses to ignore, is that replying and retweeting are two separate functions. If followers want to see what the tweet is in response to, it's a simple click. But this is a misguided tactic for self-promotion that backfires and eventually makes me feel like I'm looking into some sort of Escher-like pit of RT despair.

(It must also be acknowledged that when this gets really out of hand, two parties are to blame. But suffice it to say that RTing yourself even once, fun as it sounds, is not attractive.)

3. The Passive Aggressive Pissant

One who tweets an angry message that is obviously aimed at a specific individual about a specific incident but is supposed to be understood as a general statement.

Sample Tweet:

@SparkleMePretty You know what I effing hate? Dogs who can't go more than 30 seconds without ripping off their shirt. Just sayin'. #steroidsshrinkyourjunk

Ah, the P.A. Pissant. Facebook is like a dirt hill filled with these darlings too. The frustrating thing is that chances are the person in question probably won't see the tweet, and if they do, they won't even know it's about them. Meanwhile, all of Pissant's other followers are left thinking one of three things: "God, I hope it's not me," "Ugh, Pissant is passively pissy again," or "....WTF does that even mean?"

4. The Follower Effer

One who #ffs each and every individual they're following in a series of mindsploding tweets every single Friday.

Sample Tweets:

@KillerKat Happy Follow Friday everyone! @peetabread @G_Hawt @PrimnProper @Cinnful @EffieT @FoxyFace @HayABeer @MuttCato #ff

@KillerKat Love you guys! (Still gonna kill you, LOL) @LuckyClove @onthethresh @AllThatGlimmers @BrutalBrut @Win_Finn @BTBabe @PrezSnowflake #ff

@KillerKat @G_Hawt What? Don't get all pissy. I #ffed you first last Friday.

@KillerKat @Dist1Boy @Dist1Girl @Dist2Boy@Dist2Girl @Dist3Boy @Dist3Girl @Dist4Boy @Dist4Girl @Dist5Boy @Dist5Girl @Dist6Boy @Dist6Girl #ff

@KillerKat @Dist7Boy @Dist7Girl @Dist8Boy@Dist8Girl @Dist9Boy @Dist9Girl @Dist10Boy @Dist10Girl @Dist11Boy @Dist11Girl #ff

And so on. Follow Friday is a fantastic thing, really. A tweet or two every Friday to share a few people that are your speshul snowflakes of the week. But seriously. Seeing pages like this really #ffs with my head.

5. The Condescending Monarch

All of the above are totally forgivable offenses. It happens. But this the land of Mi_Schu, this is grounds for instant and eternal exile.

One who addresses one's followers as if they are one's mindless minions by speaking to them as a group in a manner reflective of how one might speak to a newly hatched flock of chicks.

(The last part of this definition is what matters. I see nothing wrong with someone addressing all of their followers with a question, or to share an anecdote, or just as a general greeting. But the Condescending Monarch is under the delusion that addressing a few hundred Twitter followers puts one in the position of Saruman at the top of the tower of Isengard calling his cuddly widdle orcs to action.)

Sample Tweet:

@FUTreebeard: Good morning my sweets! *pats orcys on head* I'm taking you all to Uncle Sauron's today! *puts orcys in basket* *skips to Mordor*

Right. Let's be clear on this; while I understand that one might get a huge rush out of having 100, 200, 500, 1,000 followers - 1,000 people want to know I just ate a pickle and now have pickle breath ZOMG! - "followers" aren't actually "sycophants." ( the traditional sense of the word, they are, but Twitter followers are not.) We're all just people connecting with people we know and others we don't. And if a twit pats me on the head or slaps me on the...cheek (without my permission or request), then that is quite simply the end of our tweelationship.

I've missed a few here that are big no-no's for writers, like carrying on what is obviously a private conversation without moving to DMs, or tweeting someone to ask for a favor so they're pressured into saying yes rather than look like a meanie in front of all the watchful followers. What other tweeting transgressions can you give me?
Michelle Schusterman

Michelle writes books for kids, screenplays for a tv/film production company, and music for anyone who'd buy a "groove matters" bumper sticker. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist). She is the author of middle grade series I Heart Band - 2014, and The Kat Sinclair Files - 2015 (both from Grosset).

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  1. That's so funny! I'm a little relieved that I'm not guilty of any of these (okay, okay, maybe one).

    What I hate: Meanness.

    What I love: People who #RandomlyMakeUpHashtags.

  2. this post is awesome! thank you for this. i think #1 is the worst and the most annoying.

  3. God yes! So funny. xD And 'sycophants.' In a blog post.


  4. I love Katniss' tweets! Comedy gold!

  5. Ugh I hate the The Follower Effer Stop loading up my page with all the people you follow.

    Let's face this face too, only Maureen Johnson can talk to twitter like she's it's overload, because she stuffs us in a jar. Right, that's what she's doing with the Jar? Seriously I can't figure that out at all. How does all of twitter fit in a jar? But at least she's funny.

    Tweets should be funny. Or once a day a shameless plug for your blog... but only one maybe twice a day.

  6. This made me laugh so hard. But is such important advice at the same time! (And G_Hawt is right. TEAM GALE. Also laughed extra hard at 'still gonna kill you LOL')

  7. What about people who forget about Twitter for days at a time? That's my big Twitter sin.

  8. OMG #ff drives me insane! I have unfollowed people because of their damned #ff list.

  9. O.O Oh dear I just joined twitter. I have to say it is rather addicting but I'm only following some friends and the blogs I follow right now. I was maybe on for like 30 minutes and know what I got tired of?

    "Ask me a question on formspring!"
    "Seriously guys I'm bored! Ask away!"
    "am playing around on formspring! Ask me anything!"

    Seriously, just GAH! And RT are annoying as hell! AH! I hope I am never guilty of these. O.o

  10. Great post!

    I hate the tweeters who follow me when I'm obviously not going to be interested. I only follow writers (especially YA writers), agents, and editors. Though I mostly follow aspiring writers. I DO NOT follow people who are mass following just to get their numbers up. Especially when they're promoting something I'm not interested in. You know these people haven't even looked at my bio. ;)

  11. LOL, love Mary and Katniss' tweets.

    I've had to unfollow people that did #1 and #2.

  12. Ha! All things I try to avoid - someone please smack me if I make any of these mistakes!

  13. Ugh, the endless #FF people are the worst (and I am totally LOLing at "follow effer"...nice. And obviously @peetabread should be first. That's where he belongs. Duh.)

  14. I couldn't have said it better myself. This post was perfect. I hate Twitter for all of these reasons, yet I stay on it just to keep 'in the know' with the writing community.

  15. Just when I think I couldn't love you anymore. *snuggles Mi_Schu* This is flat out hysterical and so, so true. Networking can be a great tool, but you have to know how to use it.

  16. sheer awesomeness.

    I think some people tend to forget (with the exception of RTs) they're tweeting to those who are already following them.

  17. Hilarious. And so, so true. I haz unfollow button; will uze unfollow button.

  18. @peetabread @G_Hawt & @Cinnful HA! @FUTreebeard FTW!

    That was so dang funny - and I agree with pretty much all these things. One or two of these "transgressions" once in a while is no big deal, but I have unfollowed multiple offenders of some, for sure.

  19. I wish there were a law against FourSquare. Please think twice before you tell the world you're the Mayor of the Main Street Preschool, or WTF else no one cares about. That just flat out makes me want to bang my frontal lobes against a wall.

  20. Lol, I agree, hilarious post. Gah, I signed up for Twitter but I don't really go on... I'm considering deleting my account but I'm not sure. The problem is that my main computer doesn't let me go on Twitter, so I find it bothersome to keep switching computers to go on. Thanks for the reminder to maybe get this problem solved, haha.

    And despite my limited time on Twitter so far, I know what you mean...

  21. Like Erinn said-- Maureen Johnson can get away with putting her followers in jars. Unless you are MJ, please do not try this at home. And DEFINITELY only one, maybe two, links to your blog per day. For the love of...

  22. Thanks everybody!

    I totally agree that the occasional infraction is forgivable. But there are definitely some repeat offenders out there.

  23. Oh god.

    *looks guilty*
    *skulks back into jar*

    (Great post, seriously. I must be on the lookout to avoid committing these Twitter transgressions- they creep up on me WITHOUT MY AWARENESS).

  24. Ha, this was hilarious and totally true. Twitter definitely intimidates me whenever I run across some of these :/

  25. Excellent post! I'd say the most annoying one to me is the #ff for EVERY PERSON ON YOUR LIST. Just don't. I appreciate thoughtful #ff, but not 100 tweets of them.

  26. Interesting. I just joined Twitter last week, and I'm trying hard to get the gist of it - so far, so good - none of these transgressions for me. (And your faux-Tweets made me smile. That must have took a while to come up with!)

  27. Argh! #5 is for sure the most annoying out of all of those for me.

  28. I had to unfollow one of my favorite writers because she was guilty of tweet splurging. Seriously, ever ten seconds was a meaningless tweet: "I'm making tea."

    Then she started tweeting recipe links. I still love her books, but I had to unfollow her.

  29. Love this post! I absolutely agree with everything you mentioned. And the twitter handles?! Hilarious!

  30. ha ha... I've only been on twitter 3 days and I've seen all of these!!

    Like forums, twitter also has it's own etiquette. I'm still trying to figure out what that might be exactly, so your blog post came in handy!

    p.s. what the hell is formspring? a new dieting regime?

  31. I am not on Twitter that much, but I know what you mean. What I hate are endless tweets about what someone is listening to on Pandora, or links to great deals at such and such website.

    Second- is there some unwritten law that if someone follows you they expect to get a follow in return? Because I don't mind people following me, but I don't like the pressure of following back if their tweets are not something I am interested in reading about. Any thoughts on this?

  32. Ah, Haiku Amy, you bring up another one - those who follow someone, see that they didn't follow back, unfollow them, then follow them again as a way of saying HELLOOOO, FOLLOW ME. Exile. :D

  33. I am definitely a passive agressive pissant tweeter, lol.

    A spin-off of the Condescending Monarch, maybe, is the random person who sees your tweet (but doesn't follow you) who feels the need to give you advice like they're your mother.

    @badday God, today sucked. I'm just going to kill myself now
    @Needz2BaMom You know, impressionable children might see that tweet & think it's cool to commit suicide

    @ITattoo4U Wonder what my next tattoo should be
    @Rando Just remember, tattoos are cool when you're young but look ugly on old ladies

  34. This article--which was great, by the way--inspired one of my readers to do some mocking fan art of me as a condescending tyrant.

  35. Great post! As a new twitterer (is that even a word?) I'm always afriad I'm going to make some horrible faux pas. This helps!

  36. Sage, that's an EXCELLENT one!

    Johnny, sweet fan art. I love it!

  37. Maureen Johnson can put me in a jar. Stan Lee can address me as a member of his personal army. People less cool should probably not do these things.

    And I agree with the anti-ff-spamming crowd. I kinda hate Fridays just because the overuse of ff's is so common.

  38. I've had to unfollow some people because of Follow Friday. One in particular would FF each of her - brace yourself - 5000 followers every Friday.

    I sincerely hope she had a script that ran it for her. Otherwise, that represents 3 hours a week that she will never, ever get back.

  39. This is a great list. I'm guilty of passive agressive comments, but thankfully I'm not an aspiring author yet. I'm an easily irritated truck driver, and my family uses my twitter to keep tabs on whether I'm alive and well or rolled over in the ditch.

    One I can't stand is people whol tweet ALL THE TIME. Seriously, I don't need to know every Pandora song you've heard today, every page you've visited, every rt you think is cool, and everything you've had to eat. My limit is 2-3 tweets that I see on my main page. I seldom check it, maybe that's why it irritates me to no end.


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Item Reviewed: Top 5 Twitter Transgressions for Writers Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Schusterman