Do you tweet? Tweeting is what you do when you post a message on Twitter, the popular social networking website where messages are limited to 140 characters. Twitter hosts many very active communities discussing everything from politics to sports to news to technical support and everything in between. Interestingly, breaking news spreads faster on Twitter than on many news organization’s websites!

Rather than reading every tweet on the single timeline, you would read your timeline which includes your tweets and the tweets of the people you follow. This way, you can create your own community and just watch the tweets of the people you are interesting in reading.

Those who run Twitter has let it evolve into its own culture with conventions that users adhere to communicate community of interests. The primary convention is one built into the Twitter software is using the “at symbol” (@) to identify a user name. By using the at-symbol in front of the user name, it allows the software to recognize the tweet as a message to or about that user. Direct replies to a user begins with the user name. For example, I use the username coinsblog for numismatic tweets. I would see references made as “@coinsblog” as part of my timeline.

Another convention using the user name is the re-tweet. A re-tweet is a message from another user that I am replaying for those users that follow me. If I tweet something you like and want your followers to read, you would send a message that begins with “RT” followed by the at-symbol prefixed user name followed by the message. This way you give credit to the original tweeter.

One useful way to use Twitter is to point to something on the web that further explains your tweet. For me, I will post something to the blog and tweet about it. However, URLs of the post may be too long to fit with the message in 140 characters. In order to fit the URL into the message, I would use a URL shortening service. A URL shortening service is a website that takes the long URL and shortens it to a few parameters. Two popular URL shortening services are and Both will take a long URL and provide a shorter one that will be expanded when you click on the link. For example, the URL to my last post was shortened to

The final convention that I will talk about is the use of hashtags. Hashtags are keywords that begin with the pound or number symbol (#) to indicate that those interested in the keyword can use to search for similar tweets. Hashtags are created by the community. There is no organization managing these hashtags, which can cause interesting conflicts. So far, there has not been a problem with hashtag “squatting.” Currently, I am not aware of the use of hashtags for numismatic tweets but I am thinking of defining a few.

Today, I will be using the hashtag #followfriday, which is used on Fridays to announce who you follow that other people who share your interests should also follow. Users named on the #followfriday tweet will be prefixed with an at-symbol so that the software will recognize the user names.

Today’s #followfriday includes:

@ANSCoins The American Numismatic Society.
@beautifulcoins Is the user from I like reading the blog which features very interesting non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins from around the world.
@KPNumismatics  Krause Publications, the publishers of Numismatic News, Coins, Coin Prices, Bank Note Reporter, and many numismatic books.
@WhitmanCoin The folks from Whitman Coin Expos who run a number of shows including the Baltimore Expo that I missed last weekend.

Twitter is another tool to help us communicate as a community. If you have not joined, join now and start following these people.

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