I got this question today from Reader Charmian.
Often when I retweet, the original message becomes too long and gets cut off. What should I do? Edit the RT to be less than 140 characters? Simply send it and let it get cut off (which could snip the tiny URL)? Or should Tweeters write short short short if they want something RTd?
There's no official protocol spelled out for how to retweet, but these are my thoughts on the matter. If anyone has a different opinion, please let me know and I'll be happy to post it as an update.
My response stems from the idea that the point of a retweet is to share information someone else has passed on to you, ensuring that you credit that person for his effort (both because it's polite and also because other people might want to now follow that person who shares such fabulous info). Given that, I see nothing wrong in rewording the tweet so it preserves the original meaning. For example, if I tweeted...
NASA scientists discover definitive evidence of life on Mars! Turns out the little green men are actually orange. http://tinyurl.com/a1b2c3 (139 characters)
... then adding "RT @EKricfalusi" would obviously go well above the 140-character limit. So I think an alternative like below would be perfectly acceptable.
RT NASA discovers evidence of life on Mars! @EKricfalusi points out little green men are actually orange. http://tinyurl.com/a1b2c3 (132 characters)
For that matter, I don't think there's anything wrong in shortening it even further to add your own comment as long as you retain the original intent. For example:
I knew it! Great news. RT @EKricfalusi NASA proves life on Mars. But little green men actually orange! http://tinyurl.com/a1b2c3 (129 characters)
One thing I would definitely NOT do is truncate the URL. If someone is posting a link to something, that's probably the most important part of the tweet. And if someone wanted to go to the link, it would be a nuisance for them to have to go to the original tweeter's profile and search for the post to get the link.
Charmian raises another excellent point. If you are hoping your post will be retweeted, then make it as easy as possible for other people to do so! Keep your tweet well below the 140-character limit so the person doesn't have to do anything more than add the retweet "code" and cut-and-paste your message.
Thanks for asking the question Charmian. I'm sure lots of other people have been wondering about this predicament (twedicament?) as well.