Twitter Arrives at Metro in DC

You know a technology has arrived when the media stories are not about whether a government entity should be using it, but how it currently ...
by | August 24, 2009
 

You know a technology has arrived when the media stories are not about whether a government entity should be using it, but how it currently is using it. In this case, I'm talking about Twitter.

A Washington Post reporter has complained that people at Metro don't know their tweets from their chirps and warbles. That is, they're writing long. Way long. The limit is 140 characters. Metro is engaging in character overload. Which makes their verbose tweets hard for readers to figure out.

As in:

"No Line: There is no Blue line train service between Rosslyn & King Street. Shuttle bus service is established. Customers are encouraged to"

What? What? Customers are encouraged to what?

I love the part in the story where a spokeswoman says her department is working with its IT department and rail operations control center to tighten the language but that there's no timetable for the change.

How about a timetable of 5 seconds? That's about the time it takes to notice the character count indicator on your Twitter page has gone into the minus zone. Step back and start cutting letters. How hard is that?

Letter slicing I can see right off the bat: Make Street "St." Change the shuttle bus part to "Shuttle buses available." Instead of "customers are encouraged to" how about "riders can"...

Here's another gem out of the Metro PR office: Metro chose Twitter as a way to alert customers, yet doesn't seem concerned that many tweets can't be understood. The Metro spokeswoman reviewed 140 messages and found that 80 of them had been cut off due to excess letters.

The response? The "gist of 42 could still be understood."

So 38 indecipherable tweets, or nearly 50 percent, is a defendable record? C'mon people.

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