Open question: How should you correct a bad tweet?

Twitter errors are inevitable, but a correction standard has yet to take hold.

Open QuestionRegular Twitter users know that deleting tweets is ethically dubious and technologically useless. A live tweet is a helium balloon in an open field — within seconds, it’s long gone.

But correcting tweets is a different matter, and that’s what I’m interested in discussing in this open question.

We’ve all tweeted incorrect links or made egregious spelling errors, and many of us live with the horror — real or imagined — of launching a direct message into the public Twitter commons. Yet, an agreed upon correction standard has yet to manifest (as far as I know).

So here’s what I’m curious about:

  • If you mess up a tweet, do you send a follow-up correction?
  • What isn’t worth correcting? Spelling errors? A tweet that runs too long?
  • Should Twitter accounts associated with established information sources (@nytimes, @cnn, etc.) always send corrections?
  • Is there a correction window? For example, if you notice an error in a tweet you sent two hours ago, should you bother correcting it?

Please weigh in through the comments.

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  • Shane

    Depends how bad you mess up, a spelling error that changes the meaning of the tweet. I guess if you missed out giving credit to the source a correction could be made. In the end, if the mistake is bad and you realize it, no matter how long you should correct it out of respect to the source. It’s just common courtesy. That’s my POV.

  • IMO you should definitely correct the tweet if there is any misinformation or a broken link—even if you don’t notice it until hours later. Spelling mistakes don’t count, though. I usually let those go. Also since Twitter is an endless stream, it’s often the case that you’re going to repeat tweets anyway throughout the day, depending on their importance. So that also gives you a great chance to correct them.

  • If I realise I’ve made a mistake, I’ll always send out a correction immediately.

  • Grace Simrall

    I’ve used:
    s/this/that/ to correct previous tweets, and
    MT = Modified (re)Tweet,
    PRT = Partial Retweet,
    HT = Hat Tip.

  • I’m with Richard on this: correct quickly.

  • Pietro Blu

    C’mon… spelling mistakes are granted. At least I don’t consider bad people who commit some of.
    Other thing are mistakes in tweet content.

  • Yeah, what we need now is an “untweet” feature. As Twitter grapples with the challenge of revenue generation, probably a suite of such advanced options could be offered to paid users!

  • Michel Poulain

    It depends if the tweet is :
    – a response : in that case the person has already received it. You have to send another tweet.
    – an old tweet (more than 15 minutes). You have to send another tweet.
    – a tweet already retweeted (or worst already in the top tweet). Impossible to correct it.

    Generally I delete bad tweets. Then post the corrected tweet directly after. Doing that, I’ve got a proper time line. The worst case was a tweet with broken URL. But my tweet was already in the Top Tweet. Because of that I received dozens of tweets with “your URL is broken”. No way to correct it, nobody will see the correction.

  • Merry

    Until I knew better, I deleted tweets with mistakes. Can tweets flagged for deletion not be bulk purged regularly?

    Is it not possible to just provide an Edit Tweet option? Err, but without any notation attached saying you edited it (as in forums).

  • simplynonna

    I guess spelling errors depends on whose spelling you use and what language. I myself find error correction a feature that should be unchecked.I believe Twitter is its own language so a language should have its own vocabulary, as should each individual person.
    While i may be a person who follows rulez, IMHO your own styles izza a lot harder to copy/fake (especially when you’ve never met most people anyway;)

  • Well, actually, if you have something wrong with your tweet like a spelling error or grammatical error, you shouldn’t bother posting a follow up correction tweet. It will just make it obvious. lol

  • Obiamaka Chima

    What if someone retweets a bad tweet (and that happens a lot). What happens then? Retweets can’t be deleted unless you tell everyone that retweeted it that you want that tweet to be deleted.

  • Sometimes I wish Twitter would be more like Google: “Did you mean” Alas, that is not the case.

    I often use the term: “Remix” or “RM” before the follow up tweet when I have screwed up the English language, or posted a bad link.

  • I personally hate typos or spelling mistakes, so as soon as I spot it, I’ll RT it corrected, or delete and follow up immediately with the corrected tweet.

    And I’ll sometimes follow up with a “I wish twitter could spellcheck” tweet.

    If someone else spots it first, well, then it becomes an opportunity to interact doesn’t it?

    If it’s a typo more than an hour (or X tweets in the tweetstream) old, it’s probably not worth worrying about anymore.

    As for plain out and out bad “wish I hadn’t tweeted that” tweets, I have no compunction in deleting those, even though Google (and who knows who else?) probably already has it cached for posterity.

    And I’ll usually follow up with a tweet declaring deletion.

    But it goes without saying, that I reserve the right to change this protocol, ignore it completely, or drop it entirely, at anytime in the future, ‘cos it’s my protocol after all. ;-)