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a frog the size of texas

June 18th, 2009

12:20 pm - Musings on citing online sources, especially Twitter

A friend of mine asked a couple of theoretical questions about quoting from a microblogging site such as Twitter, and these are my thoughts on the matter. Which are extremly subject to change. Anyone with thoughts, feel free to jump in.

How does one properly attribute quotes taken from Twitter when quoting someone?

Well ... to start with, the purpose of citations is to allow others to look up the source. So at a minimum, you'd want the URL and, since this form of electronic data can change rapidly, the date on which you accessed it. For published articles archived online, the date retrieved is less important, since theoretically it won't be rewritten and posted back to the archive. Websites that might change are another matter entirely - like Twitter constantly adding new material at the top of the page - so you'd want to list the date you retrieved the content (ETA: Oops, they have permalinks! Discussed more below.). In order to be able to find the particular tweet, you'd want the date on which the tweet was posted, and since Twitter allows for multiple posts per day, I'd say adding the time. The name would be the name the person posted under.

So let's see what we can build from this tweet I posted a couple of days ago:

"@puppleball Have fun!"
name: telophase
date and time: 5:41 PM Jun 16th 2009
location: http://twitter.com/telophase
date and time accessed: June 18 2009, 11:47 AM CST

This is, however, made complicated by the fact that I changed my time zone to Tehran's in a minor show of solidarity, and I might change it back at some point. It will take someone better than I to work out the implications of that, especially since Twitter doesn't list the time zone of the time on the tweet as far as I know.

The citation format itself will, of course, be different depending on what style guide you're using. APA style says when quoting in text to direct the reader to the paragraph for a document that doesn't have page numbers, like so: (Beutler, 2000, Conclusion section, para. 1)

So for a tweet, perhaps: "Telophase tweeted 'Have fun!' in response to a tweet by puppleball (Telophase, 5:41 PM Jun 16 2009)."

And on the Works Cited page, which I am mostly making up because I don't have access to the full APA Electronic Content Style Guide, just this page to work it out with:

Telophase (2009*), Telophase Fines on Twitter**, http://twitter.com/telophase, retrieved June 18 2009.

ETA: Pointed out by [info - personal]kate_nepveu on DW, there are permalinks for the tweets, so I'll revise that to:
Telophase (2009*), Telophase Fines on Twitter**, http://twitter.com/telophase/status/2191914267.
or even
Telophase (2009), http://twitter.com/telophase/status/2191914267.
Removing the retrieval date, as THEORETICALLY it shouldn't change because you can't edit tweets. But a blog post I'd probably put the retrieval date in, as they can easily be edited, as this one has been edited multiple times, for example. :D

* Assuming you treat my full Twitter feed as one document, and my tweet as one quote from that document, you don't put the time and date in the Works Cited page, but in the citation in the text.

** Page title in the upper browser bar. An argument could be made for just "telophase," as that's the headline on the page. And my author name might be cited as "telophase" instead of Telophase. I don't THINK there's an accepted protocol for listing a pseudonym along with a real name, but I could be wrong about that, in which case it might be 'Lastname, First Initial/Name (writing as Telophase)", "Telophase (Lastname, First Initial/Name)" or something like that. (I'd go upstairs and look up how to cite Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens, but that would mean getting off my nice, comfy chair, so I'll leave that to commenters.)

And because individual tweets are so short, would they still be quotes or, since you're almost certainly going to be quoting the full 140 characters, would it be a reprint?

As I said above, I'd treat most tweets as quotes from an ongoing, active document, which is the Twitter feed. Where it gets murky is Twitter zines like Thaumatrope, where the 140-character quote *is* the entire work. In those cases, I'd limit myself to quoting 10-15% (although that would be only one or two words in most cases), or seek permission to quote/republish.* OTOH, there's at least one ongoing story on Thaumatrope, where the narrator is tweeting from a postapocalyptic land, in which case the story might be considered to be the sum total of all the tweets, so quoting one in full would not require permission. But the others are full stories contained within 140 characters.

O the modern world!

* [info]octopedingenue! Since you received $1.25 for your Twitter story, what do you think would be a fair reprint fee? XD

There's a discussion of how to cite blog comments here that might be of interest.

03:16 pm

And a quick graphic made by myrialux...

cut so as not to break your f-list layoutCollapse )

05:48 pm

20 min. 3.5 mi. Total: 750.5 mi. From Rivendell: 274 mi. Still camping.
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