While doing the post about WordPress implementing Twitter’s Blackbird Pie tool, I noticed something interesting. The tool brings back something Twitter had long since left for dead: the old school Retweet!
When you insert a Tweet URL into a WordPress.com blog post now, it will automatically generate a nice-looking Tweet in that post, complete with working links. But it also adds a “Retweet” link below the Tweet. Clicking this takes you to Twitter.com where a tweet is automatically populated for you along the lines of: “RT @USERNAME TWEET HERE”.
The Retweet is a feature that was created by users of Twitter back in the old days of the service. It is basically just a way to quote a Tweet, but using the syntax “RT” to let others know that it’s a Tweet from someone else. Twitter eventually realized that with so many people using it, they’d have to create some way to make it easier for all users (mainly new ones) to use. So they created the new Retweet, which doesn’t use the “RT” syntax, but instead takes the actual Tweet and places it back in the timeline of users who follow the person doing the Retweeting.
A lot of users didn’t like this new-style Retweet at first, and bitched up a storm about it. The main issue was that the new way doesn’t allow you to add an commentary to the Tweet you’re Retweeting. Twitter more or less said “too bad” and moved on. Now the new way is pretty much the accepted norm, but a number of third-party services still allow you to use the old way.
And now Twitter is sort of bringing it back themselves with this tool (update below). And it seems like they have to — that’s pretty much the only way to do it without getting sites to install some sort of plugin that would allow for the new-style Retweet on Twitter.com.
Welcome back, old school Retweet!
Update: Twitter has reached out to say that WordPress is responsible for the Retweet implementation, so they’re not officially bringing back the old school Retweet. Still, if this feature takes off, it could be back on Twitter in a major way.