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Who Gives a Tweet? Nuanced feedback for microbloggers

Flickr Creative Commons
Flickr Creative Commons

Academics are launching a study this week to understand what aspects of Twitter content are considered valuable, and how that impacts presentation and perception of online identity.

People often reach for Twitter when they have just had a great breakfast, updated their blog, feel exhausted, or want to share a news article. The question being explored in the study is - Who gives a tweet?

Responding to the widespread perception that the majority of Twitter updates are boring, inane, or largely sandwich-related, researchers from the University of Southampton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgia Institute of Technology want Twitter users to anonymously rate their friends' tweets.

"Social networking sites currently take an optimistically positive view of status updates,” says Paul André, graduate student at the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science. “Facebook enables users to 'like' their friends’ updates, and Twitter has 'favourites'. But this ignores the value that could be gained from understanding which updates are disliked and why."

Michael Bernstein, PhD student at MIT, comments: "Analysing the negatively rated tweets, and the consensus that forms around them, will help us understand the emerging approved or accepted norms in these new forms of online communication."

The researchers have launched the website WGATweet.com (Who Gives A Tweet), and are asking Twitter users to sign up and receive ratings from both followers and strangers. "The site allows us to gather a more nuanced type of feedback than is currently available, and offers users an insight into how their updates are perceived by different groups, helping them understand what their impact really is," explains Kurt Luther, graduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Twitter users can sign up (for free rating and analysis of their tweets) at http://wgatweet.com.

This research is part of Paul André's doctoral research, along with supervisor dr mc schraefel, in examining how to get more value both into and out of social media, towards enhancing personal and social awareness.


Paul André is a member of the Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia research group in the School of Electronics and Computer Science. If you are interested in doing PhD research in this group you can find out more on our Postgraduate Admissions Pages.

For further information about this news story contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

Posted by Joyce Lewis on 27 Jul 2010.