Recently IFTTT (If-this-then-that) renegotiated the right to implement Twitter triggers on its platform. While this was a pretty phenomenal development so far the flexibility it offers users, I noticed something funny:
The Right Way to Reward Your Customers http://t.co/jdv1wcgzaq via rogerdooley
— Jim Dougherty (@leaderswest) September 17, 2013
Notice anything odd in that tweet? There’s no “at sign” preceding Roger Dooley’s Twitter handle. A fun fact about the at sign is that it is also known as a “strudel,” and a not so fun fact is that it makes the effort to attribute a writer’s work back to its author rather difficult. IFTTT is eliminating the “at-sign” in their recipes.
I should backtrack to say that there are a handful of people (Roger Dooley of Forbes and Neuromarketing is one of them) whose work I support enough to share all of their articles. Some people may object to this practice, but one of the way I choose to use Twitter is as a distribution channel for writers that I support. That’s primarily how I use IFTTT with Twitter. (an article that hits the RSS feed is sent to Twitter). It’s not much different from Triberr’s “Atomic Tribes.”
Why eliminate the at-sign?
Alexander Tibbets of IFTTT was generous enough to offer me an explanation of why IFTTT is deleting any strudels before firing off Tweets to Twitter:
“Any Feed Channel > Twitter Channel Recipe will have the “@” sign removed due to Twitter’s Automation Best Practices. See here for more info: https://support.twitter.com/
And what is it that Twitter says that makes IFTTT fearful of violating their guidelines?
“The @reply and Mention functions are intended to make communication between users easier, and automating these processes in order to reach many users is considered an abuse of the feature. If you are automatically sending @reply messages or Mentions to many users, the recipients must request or approve this action in advance. For example, sending automated @replies based on keyword searches is not permitted.
Users should also have an easy way to opt-out of your service (in addition to the requirement that all users must opt-in before receiving the messages). We review blocks and reports of spam, so you’ll need to provide a clear way for users to opt-out from your messages.”
In other words, not everyone is interested in using IFTTT for author attribution. It would be rather easy for people to use some trigger as a spam device. IFTTT can’t police intent cost-effectively (especially since it isn’t generating revenue), so they drop the @. It may be an overreaction somewhat, but the recent history of Twitter suing TweetAdder and other companies for enabling spamming behaviors on their platform IFTTT’s reaction is understandable.
You can still send triggered article Tweets with attribution using Twitterfeed
One of the heroes of the social web, Beth McShane introduced me to Twitterfeed, which is owned by bitly.com. Twitterfeed is a service that Tweets articles from RSS feeds as its singular purpose (you can also use it for Facebook and LinkedIn). So here is how simple it was to migrate Roger Dooley’s RSS feed trigger and Tweet action into Twitterfeed:
Note that by default Post Content will show title and description which should be changed to “Title Only” to fit with convention, and that the attribution should be placed in the suffix.
I believe that connection is a huge part of contributing to online conversations. I am personally quite uninteresting but if I can introduce you to someone extraordinary like Roger Dooley or Beth McShane then I’ve enhanced your experience far more than I could have otherwise. That’s why I think attribution is important hugely important for that end and that’s why I’m migrating my Twitter shares from IFTTT to Twitterfeed.
I’m curious to know your experiences and how you’ve used these tools in practice.