Tweets can now become Techmeme headlines or discussion. So tweet away.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 1:54PM ET
by Gabe Rivera (@gaberivera)     Permalink

For as long as newsmakers have used Twitter, tweets have broken news stories. And yet for Techmeme, linking directly to tweets was never imperative - after all most newsworthy tweets are blogged within minutes, moreover with helpful context. But still it seemed as if something was missing in passing over tweets: we'd miss the first few minutes of certain developing stories as well as opportunities for including good commentary. We also missed the chance to let certain sources simply speak under their own byline. And so, at last, we've begun incorporating tweets on Techmeme. Our first tweet as a main headline is here, and appears below.

What kind of tweets will appear on Techmeme?

The tweets Techmeme will now link to fall mainly into two categories. First is the news-breaking variety, which directly offer new factual information, whether a straight-up product announcement (example), a new "rumor" report (example, via), a statement containing a veiled announcement (example), or a kind of inadvertently newsworthy announcement (example, via). Tweets of this sort, if interesting enough, will receive full Techmeme headlines of their own.

The second type is commentary: reactions, responses, rebuttals, endorsements, or amplifications to news stories. Exceptional tweets of this sort may occasionally receive headlines, but more commonly will show up in Discussion, the smaller headlines collapsed by default on Techmeme. Even a tweet simply intended to share a link, if paired with incisive commentary, could show up on Techmeme.

How will Techmeme discover and surface tweets?

Essentially the same way it currently does for other posts: a combination of automated and human editing, but with one significant difference: tweets mentioning Techmeme have a much easier time being discovered, since our automation is already continuously scanning for them. Specifically, tweets that mention @Techmeme or @TechmemeFH or include links to or will be crawled. So a tweet along the lines of, say, "The premise of this story is totally unfounded" will have a greater chance of being picked up if it contains via @Techmeme or cc @Techmeme, or a permalink at the end. And yes, you can tip @Techmeme on Twitter about another newsworthy tweet. (Spammers: I know exploiting this sounds tempting, but whatever you're plotting won't work and will waste more of your own time than ours.)

How about an aggregator just for tweets?

Since 2007 I've been asked about 200 times about whether we would introduce a "Techmeme for tweets," i.e. a Techmeme made up of just tweets. My answer for this has always remained "no". Any news site aiming for a certain level of comprehensiveness can't limit itself in such an arbitrary way. Most of the time, the best headline for a story, and the best link for a story is, well, a story, not 140 characters. But omitting tweets from Techmeme wasn't the best approach either. We believe a mix of blog posts, articles, and a smattering of tweets (plus other new forms of content), is the best way to distill what's happening right now in technology. We hope you'll agree, enjoying Techmeme all the more, and will maybe even contribute something to Techmeme now that it requires only 140 characters.

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