Thursday, March 26, 2009

How to cite a span of Twitter tweets in APA style

To catch you up: John Dupuis almost pulled me away from my fishing with his question about how one would cite from my last post I puzzled through (for myself at least) how I might cite an individual tweet.

But the tricky part of John's question remained:
  • what about when the cited message (cheats) actually spans several tweets? such as the 4 part Twitter message that John cobbled together for his readers but which we can hopefully see with a kwout:
Even combined I still see these as a part of a blog-type online periodical?

So, the quote John "cobbled" was from the ?online periodical? titled Clay Shirky (cshirky) on Twitter.

Because the tweets are consecutive and all published on the same day at practically the same time could they be considered to be pages of that day's issue of that periodical? If so, remember that a 'page' specification would be cited in-text rather than in the reference.

Although Twitter posts are named with digits, they are not consecutive and they are large so using those digits as page numbers would be cumbersome and confusing to readers (eg /status/1362459269 ; 1362458547 ; 1362458174 ; 1362457866).

Could we use the date/time of publication as be a page reference? (with this I worry that the time/date we see at Twitter might depend on our timezone?)
(Shirky, 2009, Mar 20, 12:29pm-12-30pm)
Shirky, C. [a.k.a cshirky] (2009, March 20). [4 tweets beginning: (1/4) The "Web vs. Print" ...] Clay Shirky (cshirky) on Twitter. Retrieved March 24, 2009 from

Is that time/date accurate for your viewing of Clay's Twittering? If not, could one include a timezone?

Although I'd understand that citation enough to find the source, I'd guess that it would not enter well into tools like Zotero, Endnote or Refworks.

Please, please, please... tell me how you would cite John's quote of Clay's tweets?


In the process of this puzzling I tried out Gunther Eysenbach's suggestion commented on my citing-a-blog-post description about WebCite. I tested it: but had the curious experience of having the collection of tweets disappear after 7 seconds, leaving only the background image.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How to cite Twitter posts in APA style

While fishing outside Stromgarde Keep this evening I was also Bloglining... as one does ;-D

But the funny thing is I was almost tempted to stop fishing by John Dupuis' question:

Perhaps it is even funnier that I didn't stop fishing? Still the realm went down for maintenance so I'm up late now because I simply must puzzle towards an answer, even if just for myself, or else BURST :P

Well an answer about citing Twitter posts, not about doing it with Zotero or Endnote - are they better at such things than Refworks?

At first I thought Tweets are just short blog posts, and I've described how I would cite blogposts in APA style. To save you jumping back, this was somewhat my conclusion:

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (2000, Jan 27). Title of post. Title of Blog. Retrieved month day, year, from source post specific URL.
... however I wonder:
  • what is a tweet's title?
  • what is the 'blog' title?
  • I already know I can get the URL of a specific tweet but
  • what about when the cited post (cheats) actually spans several tweets? such as the 4 part Twitter message that John cobbled together for his readers but which I can show with a kwout maybe:

So what I know first, considering only an individual tweet:

Stable URL: each Tweet is followed (usually?/always? in italics) by when and from where it was posted... and the when is a hyperlink to the stable URL. In the following kwouted example, hover over the time/date (now this is odd, does it say 6:00 AM Mar 20th for you?) to see the tweet's URL is

sometimes the when is relative...(I wonder whether this will appear different when today is over?... I think it will, when I cut it the when read about 18 hours ago)...

What do you think of Kwout's answer to the title question? Beads suggests the same: That the title of a HTML web page can be taken from the <TITLE> element of that page (which displays in the browser's Title Bar).

However, do you note that the <TITLE> Twitter creates (and Kwout uses) for an individual post begins "Twitter / authorname:" and continues with, logically, the first few words of the post ? If we use that as the individual post title and consider the collection of an author's tweets to be the blog/periodical that Twitter <TITLE>s, for example: John Dupuis (dupuisj) on Twitter ? Then citing Twitter posts as if from a blog would result in a cumbersome reference like:

Dupuis, J. (Mar. 19, 2009). Twitter / John Dupuis: Ref Q: I'm a 1st yr and lo ... John Dupuis (dupuisj) on Twitter. Retrieved Mar. 24, 2009 from


Perhaps <TITLE> serves multiple functions and different ones for different websites? [Can someone send some examples?]. In this case Twitter's <TITLE> for an individual post appears to combine a post title sensibly taken from the first few words of the post with a reasonable periodical title? Thus:

Mr Tom. (Mar. 24, 2009). Twitter will get you fired ... Twitter / MrTom Retrieved March 24, 2009 from


if one is really stuck on using <TITLE> as it is given one might treat the individual tweet as an individual web document? and thus simply:

Dupuis, J. (Mar. 19, 2009). Twitter / John Dupuis: Ref Q: I'm a 1st yr and lo ... Retrieved Mar. 24, 2009 from

What do you think?

Still I doubt either of those questions in any way stumped John. His question I am guessing is "how do you cite a Twitter message that spans multiple tweets?" and I think my puzzling on this should become a new post ...

but what was she saying?


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