Twitter Basics For Beginners: @ Versus .@

This morning on Twitter, Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) retweeted the following from HarperCollins Children’s Books (@HarperChildrens):

I clicked on the link, which gives the following instructions for entering the contest:

  1.  Follow @HarperChildrens on Twitter so we can DM you if you win.
  2. Click here to tweet the following message using #ChusDay for a chance to win: @HarperChildrens This tiny panda stole my heart. Read CHU’S DAY to that special little one in your life. #ChusDay

When I clicked on the “Click here” link, it created the following Twitter message:

In an attempt to be a good Twittizen, I immediately tweeted HarperCollins Children’s Books to let them know that by starting their tweet with the @ symbol they were limiting the number of people who would see it:

I then received several responses claiming that I had provided erroneous information, so I provided a link to Twitter’s advice on the subject:

  • People will only see others’ @replies in their home timeline if they are following both the sender and recipient of the @reply.

Despite this, there was further consternation regarding whether Twitter treats a reply that starts with the @ symbol differently than a non-reply:

In order to test this hypothesis, @justingrammer (who I follow) sent a tweet to @arlothefuture (who I do not follow):

For comparison purposes, here is a screen capture of my timeline in TweetDeck v0.38.2 (in which I have the “Include @replies from your friends to others” box checked):


And here is a screen capture of the same time period from web Twitter:


Note that @justingrammer’s tweet to @arlothefuture appears between tweets from Ted Nugent (@TedNugent) and Jon Gabriel (@ExJon) in TweetDeck, while it does NOT appear between those same two tweets in web Twitter.

I hope this clears up the @ versus .@ “controversy” once and for all!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s