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Jun 26, 2018 β€’ 79 tweets β€’ 39 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Welcome to #twitterstorians101

This online workshop for #ozha2018 will be running throughout the day, if it doesn't interest you feel free to mute the hashtag. πŸ˜ƒ
If it does, fit yourself into that lecture seat with the wobbly table thing that is just a bit too small, pull out your notebooks and let's begin.

I'll begin by introducing myself; I'm one half of this workshop's facilitation after all.

My name is Will Scates Frances and I joined twitter in 2011. I am a PhD candidate at ANU, in my last year. I've written the equivalent of 62+ history theses on here.

The other half is @DJMay19, fire historian and fellow Coombs corridor denizen at the ANU, he is a PhD candidate, post-grad rep at the AHA and many other (good) things besides.

Hi Donna,
Following a hashtag is an active process, more than following a person you click on the tag itself #twitterstorians101 or you go to the search bar and type it in. This will show popular and latest tweets from the tag.
As Dan says, if you'd like to mute a hashtag, follow these instructions:


Following, both people and hashtags, is really what twitter is about.

If you're just getting started your first order of business is following people to populate your timeline/feed.

There are some third party twitter apps that allow you to do this, but the default app and website requires you to actively search out the hashtag.
So how do you find people to follow?

There are a number of ways. Clicking #Twitterstorians is one.

Search people you know and like and follow them.

Look on your timeline for retweets that interest you and follow their authors.

Meet people at conferences and follow them. Read op eds and follow the link to their twitter bio. Search for controversial artists and follow them. Follow the Pope.

But either way, following is the first order of business.

How many you follow is up to you. Following a lot of people if you use Twitter occasionally can be overwhelming, but following a few will be limiting. Find a balance that works for you and know that the goal is not to read the entire timeline. Skim!

I use the default app, I've tried third party apps but never found their functionality that handy. Any #Twitterstorians swear by them?

So then we come to followers. They're the other side of the equation, people to talk to. When you first join twitter it can seem like you're yelling from a soapbox to an empty square. Followers are there to yell back.

How you get followers is how you find followers:
-using hashtags
-getting retweets
-personal introductions
As well as having conversations with those you follow.

So if you're new, go to your profile and ask "would I follow me?"

As @DrDreHistorian says, don't feel obliged to follow back those who follow you.

On a point of etiquette, an unfollow after a follow can be taken badly, depending on the individual, particularly if done after they've followed back

So what makes you worthy of a follow? Are you already established in your field? Does your name already ring bells? Lucky you!

If not, then your profile is your introduction. It should show what you offer.
Your profile page should be fully filled out. Have a cover pic, a bio, a pinned tweet, a header pic, even a website if you have one.

Are you here solely in a professional capacity? If so it should look like it. If not, give it personality!
If you are here just to share your work, go back to that question: are you famous? If so, then you can get away with just tweeting blog posts.

If not, twitter is an interactive medium, I would argue that your main content should be interactive.

This means responding to others. Retweeting (which shares content to other people's feeds). Sharing articles you've come across with added commentary. Etc. Etc.

You can't edit tweets as @DrDreHistorian says and you may have already discovered.

Once you chuck them out into the feed, the only way back is to delete and repost.


So to sum up the above, twitter is I think a fundamentally social space.

It's like a conference hall at lunchtime, yes you can sell your book but if you're in the corner yelling about it you won't make friends.

Like a conference it can be a great space to meet people, discuss ideas, learn things and, yes, build your profile for the sake of your career.
Historians are, in my experience anyway, well suited to twitter. Our training in writing and research makes us well suited to the kind of analysis and writing that works well here. Once we get used to the technical side and the genre.
So that's my opening spiel done, and we've already had a bit of a conversation happening on #twitterstorians101, about follow etiquette and third party apps.

If you have technical questions feel free to ask, but now we'll get to further discussion.
(side note: this thing you're reading is called a "thread" or a "tweet chain" and is a good way to make twitter a bit more coherent. I will take posts from the hashtag and add them to this chain as it progresses.)

This is a good point, often crafting tweets or your profile with the sole intent to "go viral" is going to come across as insincere.

Sometimes the most interesting tweets are unguarded. You'd also be surprised what people like!

Perhaps my analogy with a conference lunch (unless a very rowdy conference) is off. Perhaps it's more later in the evening at a conference dinner.

You see the other side of the presenters of the day.


I am the same. I maintain a porous barrier between my profile as a PhD candidate and myself on here as a result.

Most of my followers are not here for my thoughts on nineteenth century history, though some are.


"Shitposting" carries a range of meanings, and is sometimes used with a good dose of self deprecation. It often refers to unconstructive or deliberately controversial posts.

Which is a good segue into another topic.

Twitter has its joys, but personal interaction also has its hazards. What, aside from incessant self promotion, is bad tweeting to you?

Yes! This is another good tip. There are often hashtags to help you find people in your field. #envhist for example. A good way to find them is to follow organisations/accounts dedicated to promoting or networking in that field.

It can be very easy to misinterpret or accidentally misrepresent things in 140... Now 280 characters.

I've been guilty of this myself.

Another good point. While I said earlier that conversations is a good way to build your network on here, be wary of unsolicited replies, even when with positive content and especially when little is being added.

Others chime in but I'll answer for myself.

I spend the most time on memes and twitter threads. The latter I really like as a genre of writing. Long form tweeting is not everyone's jam but it is mine!

Otherwise I fire from the hip
Yep! Beyond "all historians are now environmental historians" I follow @NiCHE_Canada as well as @auswhn because they're great accounts!

If you're new to twitter you may come across the phrase "ratio'd" or "the golden ratio."

Both refer to a rule (I can't recall the origin) of measuring the success or failure of a tweet by its ratio of replies/retweets/likes.
Twitter's new "stuff your mates liked" feature has muddied the water by making the like ("fave" for the old hands) also serve a (random) RT function.

For me likes are a head nod or acknowledgement. Or a "I don't know what else to say"
Extended twitter use changed the way I write.

It leans you towards the epigrammatic, though this is slightly less the case with 280 characters.


Further to this, there is a whole language that has emerged from twitter that the first time user often finds hard to navigate.
"Dog_rates milkshake-ducked" is an archetype of this.
As @wragge says "we should be mindful of warning people against self promotion."

So I should clarify a few tweets above, don't be afraid to share your stuff, it's more just don't ONLY do so.
This highlights something really important. If you're only tweeting at other #Twitterstorians in your field, I'd argue you're going the wrong way about it.

Use it as an interface w/ other disciplines, schools of thought, public etc.!
I personally love seeing people's work in progress. Their archives, quirky sources, the kind of thing that won't "make it into the thesis but is interesting anyway."

Twitter is great for this and I'm not alone in finding it appealing.
Some of my most beloved (if not necessarily shared) tweets are history related memes, sometimes as an intervention in public conversations. Sometimes just for fun.

Intervening in current debates is fraught but rewarding. Many people worry about the implications for employment but these are oft overstated.

A supervisor told me "sometimes we need to be a footnote saying 'that's not quite right. '"

This is one of my favourite examples of a historical intervention on twitter.

Funny, timely and drawing on expertise.

The thing with memes is that you never know what people will enjoy.

This destroyed my mentions for a good week.

Twitter is by nature intrusive. It can suck in hours and hours...

Some would argue it is just another burden, more unpaid labour for precarious historians. What do you think?

Ping @jypersian @clarecorbould
My personal approach is to argue for the fence sitters. You'll never change such people's minds but you can shift the position of onlookers.

This however has its drawbacks. Blocking is good too.

Sound advice! Twitter breaks can be good practice. Even just going on private and posting pics of your kids (something I do now).

(You can set your account to private via settings, allowing only existing followers to see your tweets)

Speaking of, I'll be taking a break from monitoring the hashtag for a bit now πŸ˜ƒ

As you were.

I'm back! Many thanks to @DJMay19 for all his contributions today and leading up to #twitterstorians101

Particularly considering he does so from overseas.
I'm the same, in that I joined twitter before I started my PhD.

I have however come across many who resent the push towards twitter, it makes them feel they are missing out if they aren't online.


I was once told "if it's in your field, fine, go to war!" but it's unfortunate how much ambiguity exists around this.

I think there are some cases where public statements are relevant to a person's role...
I heard a publisher say that they "look at twitter followers before citations" and it was heartening...

Yet I expect that is as exceptional as it is terrifying for some.

Some guidelines are good but needing to state that my opinions are not that of ANU seems a waste of bio space.

I don't think the university as a whole has an opinion on Vegemite chocolate cheese toasties.
I don't believe I've shared this on the hashtag before but do check it out if you are tweeting at #ozha2018
Etiquette guides like this are a good idea.

In the post lunch lull I thought I'd post a few general etiquette points, some are debatable, many are not confined to #twitterstorians101

What are some twitter etiquettes you had to learn?
As I said above, twitter has spawned a huge number of new phrases. One important one you'll come across is the "subtweet" or "subtweeting."

Which is tweeting about someone/something in deliberately vague terms, obscuring the target.

Subtweeting can be snarky and nasty.

It can also be a way of depersonalising an issue, moving the focus from individual to topic.

Use wisely.

Related to this is "snitch tagging" which is where you see someone subtweeting and then alert the target.

This is almost universally viewed as bad form.
Quote tweeting someone else's content can be good or bad.

I do it here to draw attention to the conversations going on and the people having them.

However if your quote adds nothing, a simple RT is better.

When you reply to a tweet, check to see who is tagged into your reply.

Do they need to see the reply? Is it directed at the lot? Or just one?

Having a convo in someone's mentions is irritating to many.

I, generally, think that sarcasm in particular should be removed from many twitter vocabularies.

Not everyone on here knows you, or can read your tweets in your tone of voice...

Also some people are bad at it.

That's a subtweet πŸ˜‚
Also doing this about conference papers as they're presented can be really nasty.

It's great that conversations can happen and continue around a presentation as it's happening but when it's just snark...


This discussion has been mostly about twitter.

What do people think about other social media as a tool for #twitterstorians?

Any you've used/use for good effect?

If our students would get pulled up for it, we shouldn't do it!

I like the idea of using Instagram this way. One of my favourite accounts is the @BioDivLibrary insta account. #sciart!

Any other insta accounts you'd recommend? Even your own.

Oh, another question is: how do you deal with meeting mutuals in real life?

In the scheme of things historians aren't THAT numerous, so chances are you'll run into one another.

Particularly at #ozha2018

Do you go with "hi, I know you from the internet?"
Oh, since one of my great students from last semester just followed me *waves* πŸ‘‹

What do you think are the implications of twitter for teaching?

I really enjoyed this thread, but sharing this account with students?

It's approaching 630 Sydney time & the hashtag has been quite active since this morning! Thanks to all who took part in this (experimental) twitter workshop πŸ˜ƒ

Continue to post to #twitterstorians101 if you feel inspired and I'll see you all around #ozha2018 and the timeline!
And again, thanks to @DJMay19 who did the bulk of work behind the scenes and dealt with my thesis writing/baby cradling unreliability!
Another good thing about Twitter is keeping in touch with #twitterstorians you meet overseas.

Though unfortunately timezones are a problem! I met so many great people at a workshop in GΓΆttingen but only see them in passing on the TL.

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