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Arts Post
Posted at 04:11 PM ET, 04/19/2012

On Twitter: Only 36 percent of tweets worth reading

Those mediocre updates about choosing a food truck for lunch, complaining about work, or a link to the same viral video you saw a month ago: No, it’s not just you rolling your eyes and scrolling quickly.

(Oli Scarff - Getty Images)
A new study published in the Harvard Business Review found that we’re only interested in about 36 percent of the tweets flowing through our streams each day. Another 39 percent of tweets are “just ok,” and 25 percent of tweets are not worth reading at all.

In the study, 1,443 users rated the quality of 43,738 tweets. Unsurprisingly, tweets that were funny, that shared information, or that asked interesting questions rated the highest. Surprisingly, tweets that were self-promotional did, too.

The study seems to confirm what so many people on Twitter already know: Two-thirds of a person’s online communications are totally boring. Many people probably think they’re an exception to this rule, but unless their name is Lady Gaga, that’s probably not the case. Twitter gives us the platform to be witty and funny and interesting, 24/7, when very few people other than professional comedians and entertainers actually have the ability to do so.

I include myself in this — many of my intermittent tweets are links to posts on this very blog, and the conversations that surround them. Sometimes, they’re pictures of sloths. Other times, they’re complaints about ridiculous news releases that I’ve received. Now that I’ve enticed you, go ahead and follow me! Or not, if you think any or all of those things would fall into your 25 percent.

The study also proves that, when it comes to non-celebs, a good Twitter user can be hard to find. There are people whose tweets may always fall into the 25 percent “ignore” category, and others whose 140-character bon mots always end up in my 36 percent. I’d pick @badbanana, who is always ready with a snarky comment, @nprmonkeysee, for its wry take on cultural news, and my colleague, @ageneweingarten just for being himself (If we’re not just counting accounts that are manned by humans, @Horse_ebooks is, of course, magnificent).

Who would you nominate as a Twitter user who is in your 36 percent, 100 percent of the time?

By  |  04:11 PM ET, 04/19/2012

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