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According to John Metcalfe, "The Self-appointed Twitter Scolds", NYT 4/29/2010:

A small but vocal subculture has emerged on Twitter of grammar and taste vigilantes who spend their time policing other people’s tweets — celebrities and nobodies alike. These are people who build their own algorithms to sniff out Twitter messages that are distasteful to them — tweets with typos or flawed grammar, or written in ALLCAPS — and then send scolding notes to the offenders. They see themselves as the guardians of an emerging behavior code: Twetiquette.

What strikes me about this article is that complaints about spelling, grammar, and capitalization are merged — at least by Metcalfe and perhaps by the community of Twitter Scolds at large — with a wide range of other individual, cultural, and political criticisms:

Among the laughers and pointers is Jacob Morse, a 27-year-old user interface designer from Richardson, Tex. Last year, he and some friends started a Web site — Tweeting Too Hard — devoted to mocking self-important Twitter users. There, people can discuss fake-humble tweets like, “I gave my cleaning lady a raise today, even though she didn’t ask, as my own little contribution to fighting the recession.” Wrote one commenter: “Let’s hope she was grateful enough to overlook the bionic condescension.”

This is consistent with my general take on the social psychology of the new-media Gotcha Gang.

I haven't had the time or energy in this case to watch the watchmen, to see whether their judgments are as randomly flawed, from a merely factual point of view, as such interventions usually are. If you'd like to take up the task, some of the "twitter scolds" mentioned in the article are GrammarCopTwenglish Police, Grammar Fail, Grammar Hero, Tweeting Too Hard, and  Twitter Fail.

Apparently there are many others as well. Some enterprising scholar of Peevology could no doubt get a few research publications out of this phenomenon, thus raising the process another meta.

[By the way, current Google hit counts are

twetiquette 3010
twettiquette 409
twitiquette 7160
twittiquette 1850

Note the forces of analogy (with etiquette) struggling against the general principles of English letter-to-sound correspondence..]


  1. Faldone said,

    April 29, 2010 @ 11:26 am

    These people are in serious need of a good peeve obedience school.

  2. Ginger Yellow said,

    April 29, 2010 @ 11:32 am

    Twetiquette, to this British ear, is dangerously close to something that would presumably be a breach of etiquette.

  3. uberVU - social comments said,

    April 29, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by PhilosophyFeeds: Language Log: Twetiquette

  4. Matthew said,

    April 29, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

    So these grammar Nazis are forming the Twird Reich?

  5. neff said,

    April 29, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

    Personally, I welcome the kind of condescension that results in me getting a raise.

  6. Ken Grabach said,

    April 29, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

    Isn't being a tweet scold, on whatever grounds, an example of tweeting too hard? Considering the character-no. limit in a tweet, seems to me that being understood is far more critical than being grammatically or orthographically correct? So what is the point? Showing off a profound absence of a sense of humor? Or absence of sense?

    Using an algorithm seems weird. My response to something on the web that a viewer or reader doesn't like is to suggest they stop reading or viewing. But to seek out alleged egregiousness, simply to call attention to it? I think these guys need something to do, and they need it bad.

  7. John Lawler said,

    April 29, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

    Interestingly, Google currently shows only one hit for "Tweet scold", a blog that once posted the following sentence, in which "Tweet scold" functions as a verb, and not a verb of peeving per se:
    "Okay…I'm getting of Twitter now lol. Feel free to Tweet scold me if you see me on here again!"

    Are there any papers on Verbs of Peeving?

  8. Assistant Village Idiot said,

    April 29, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

    We need to build our own algorithms to sniff out tweet scolds and tell them to enroll in a local Get-a-Life program.

    Wait, that's the same thing…

  9. Dierk said,

    April 30, 2010 @ 2:19 am

    a profound absence of a sense of humor? Or absence of sense?


  10. Lynne Troost said,

    April 30, 2010 @ 10:06 am

    In a matter of years, this grassroots action against degenerate grammar will be seen as a the first strokes of a great Kampfzeit rising up from the downtrodden American writer. Soon, everyone will see the natural truth of these grammar rules. Pedantic scorn is the only way to show that we are better than other people.

    Lynne Troost

  11. parvomagnus said,

    April 30, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    well, from grammar fail:

    @LizknowstheBiz Wow, thanks for the @reply! I would of never known about the article. What are you interested in?

    perhaps it's ironic?

  12. parvomagnus said,

    April 30, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

    hmmm…and from grammar cop:

    every day* (everyday is an adjective) @souljaboytellem: everyday I find a new room inside my crib

  13. Twitter Fail said,

    April 30, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

    When John Metcalfe called to interview me for this story, I shared with him the mission of my blog, "sharing the best, and exposing the best of the worst on twitter." It's intended to be a humorous look at twitter, and the people who use it. Unfortunately, that 30-minute interview was reduced to "she mocks tweets that she considers stupid." Completely off the mark. I have received emails, and read tweets from people who were thrilled to be mentioned in a blog post, because it's all in fun. If you'd like to judge me, please do so by reading my blog and leaving a critique in the comments.

  14. Zarggg said,

    May 1, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

    Sounds like the Twitiquette people need to learn some basic Netiquette.

  15. Sparky said,

    May 1, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

    I prefer "tweetiquette," with 4,280 hits.

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