I am a twit ’cause I don’t know whether to twitter–help me!

I grew up with rotary dial telephones and sometimes I miss them. Now I am blogging. That is a prime example of cognitive dissonance.

Anyway, a really nice person wrote me an e-mail and said I should use Twitter with this blog. Honest to God, I have no idea what that means, or why that would help me blog better. Really, I am a twit in the old-fashioned meaning of that word.

Can anybody help me understand how Twitter would make this blog better? If you do, please explain how I should do it, and then give me a 1, 2, 3 step approach.


PS While I don’t have a Twitter account, I do have a Facebook page (with essentially no information on it). I don’t use it and don’t know how to use. I got it to help me understand how one registers for Facebook and to address a legal question related to one particular aspect of sex offender registries. So, if you think I should be using Facebook with this blog, feel free to add your thoughts to that mystery as well.

23 responses

  1. Twitter is cheaper than texting, so long as you’re not using your portable calculator that also runs a telephone app to do the twittering. It’s not as good as some twittering, though.

    It’s also useful for broadcasting your pithy thoughts. If that’s not interesting to you, Twitter won’t do you any good.

    Eric Hines

  2. Twitter is a form of microblogging. Each post is limited to 140 characters. Further, you can post photos. If people “follow” you, your posts will appear on their “feeds”—a constantly updating, scrollable, vertically oriented list of tweets given in chronological order. People who do no follow you may yet discover your tweets if your tweet appears in a search query they happen to input.

    Bloggers use Twitter in three primary ways: (1) to publicize recent blog posts; (2) to express thoughts not meriting a full blog post; (3) to connect with readers/followers.

    I follow a few state judges on Twitter: (1) Don Willett, Justice on the Texas Supreme Court (@JusticeWillett); (2) David Medina, Justice on the Texas Supreme Court (@JudgeMedina); (3) Stephen Dillard, Judge on the Court of Appeals for Georgia (@JudgeDillard). Dillard is the standout of that group.

    How you would use Twitter: (1) go to twitter.com; (2) follow the “New to Twitter? Sign up” prompt; (3) once logged in, take note of field located in the top left of the screen: “Compose new Tweet…”; (4) Tweet.

    I suggest you take the handle @JudgeKopf.

    You would also want to blog here to announce you entry into Twitter. Likely, a couple law blogs would pick up on that and spread the word, and you’d get several followers immediately.

    You’ll definitely want to follow me for my sporadic and unfocussed tweets: @burntornge.

    Note the convention: the nom de guerre of each user is preceded by the symbol @. Similarly, hashtags are employed as metadata tags. They provide a method of grouping tweets. Thus if, say, on July 4, you were to tweet some patriotic message, you might append the tweet with #GoAmerica. Patriotic Twitter users searching for #GoAmerica would find your tweet among others so tagged—and believe me, there would be more than a few.

    Hopefully this helps.

  3. Judge Kopf: The usual place where Twitter helps a blog is that it offers another way for readers to find out about your blog posts. I suspect it is not worth it for you.

    This can be a simple system where every time there is a new blog post, a tweet is sent out. That way, people who follow you on Twitter will find out about blog posts and be driven to them. It’s not hard to summarize a blog post in 140 characters, it’s really just like a headline. By way of example, see Eugene Volokh’s Twitter feed, https://twitter.com/volokhc. Or Howard Bashman’s: https://twitter.com/howappealing.

    (This sort of simple one-way announcements-only twitter functionality can be automated from your blog’s RSS feed using Twitter tools like Hootsuite. Or with a plugin for WordPress.)

    Twitter can also be used in more complicated ways, encouraging a more interactive approach between readers and bloggers. In this usage, the line between “author” and “reader” blurs; one option is a back-and-forth conversation between readers and bloggers. Another is that twitter makes it easy for you to refer your readers to other people’s content without the effort of an entire blog post, like for instance your post from a-week-ago-Friday citing Tulsa World’s article about Oklahoma’s ban on considering Sharia law.

    My estimation is that a more interactive use of Twitter may represent a can of worms as well as an opportunity to waste a lot of time (some would say it is not “judicial”; few judges blog, even fewer tweet). And while the simple one-way announcement use is a nice way to drive traffic to your blog, it is probably not worth the effort to set up and maintain. But maybe there’s an easy plugin for WordPress to do it, I don’t know (Google suggests there is. see http://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-to-twitter/ as one example.)

  4. The second comment on this thread is very good. The key to understanding twitter, though, is that it is not merely a broadcast medium. Those who use it simply to advertise their blogs are guaranteed to fail. It is really a multidirectional conversation medium, with the ability for others to forward your messages to much wider audiences. If you engage in insightful conversations with others on twitter, the occasional broadcast of a blog post will be much better received and can help you gain a wider audience. And, along the way you’ll end up learning a lot from your followers and others as well. It could even come to help you on the bench.

  5. With all due respect…. I know you’re senior status, but don’t you have SOME work to do? Facebook is a HUGE time suck. I should know.

  6. Why not institute a Motion day every week.? Let lawyers practice their craft of persuasion and as sometimes happen, talk about events in the community and in their lives.

    Cyber Court is not good for the parties or the lawyers, and I wonder how it is for the judges? While I don’t know for sure but I think trial judges like the interaction with lawyers. Tweeting face to face without smart phones, its all good.

    If opposing lawyers actually have to meet now and then, its becomes harder to be rude and obnoxious as opposed to the easy ability to insult in faceless emails and legal papers. As Cyber Court grows, so does the decline in civility. Prosecutors and defense counsel see each fairly often, I bet they they get along much better that the many civil attorneys who just read emails that begin “I will seek sanctions unless….”

  7. I couldn’t agree more with Vince’s comment above about the benefits that would come about if the court instituted a motion day, or even just scheduled intermittent status conferences so that the practitioners had an opportunity to (a) see each other, and (b) see their Article III judge before the first day of trial. (It also is crazy to me that the Article III judges require the magistrates to handle pretrial conferences; they have no authority to do anything, and an opportunity is lost to work through some critical issues that will now possibly be sprung on the Article III judge for the first time at trial).

    In addition to the reasons Vince mentioned above about the value of a motion day, I also think that it would enable the parties to buy into the process more so than is now possible. While there are many sophisticated corporate parties in federal court, there are also many unsophisticated parties who don’t understand the process. It is much easier for them to accept defeat, or a harsh ruling, if they were able to walk into the courtroom, see the judge who is deciding the issue, and see their counsel argue on their behalf. When decisions are made based on papers alone, it is hard for many unsophisticated clients to accept those rulings. And frankly, it is also hard for some of the sophisticated clients to take, when they don’t know if the Article III judge understood the issue, or if a law clerk decided the issue and it received only brief attention from the judge.

    I suspect that the inability to actually appear in court, and the inability to see your Article III judge before the first day of trial, is one of the reasons why civil filings have fallen off over the past decade.

    No doubt it would take an investment of time from the bench to make this work, but I think it would be a wise investment…

  8. Susan,

    Your comment about having “work to do” hits home. To blog in the way I want to blog requires more time than one might think. I get up fairly early in the morning to write and I find that I can just about keep my head above the rising tide if I do so. So, I particularly appreciate your views about Facebook. Thanks.

    All the best.


  9. Vince,

    I am not quite sure how we get to “cyber court” from this blog post. That said, your idea of a motion day is an interesting one. Many years ago I held “motion days” for summary judgment motions. I won’t report the results of that experiment now, but I have some experience as a judge holding what you call “motion days.” Anyway, thanks for the proposal. I will do some thinking on it.

    All the best.


  10. As John Hawkins mentioned above, once you have a Twitter account, it’s very easy to set up your WordPress blog to automatically “tweet” your blog posts.

    After you open a Twitter account, on your WordPress “dashboard” page, go to “settings” and then “sharing,” which has a section to allow you to connect your WordPress account to your Twitter account (“add new Twitter account”). If I remember correctly, it helps to be signed into both accounts at the same time in different windows/tabs in your browser. Once that is done, every time you publish a new blog post, a tweet will go out with a link to the new post. (You can see some examples of how this works on my account at twitter.com/Dispositively.)

    You don’t have to do anything separately on Twitter if you don’t want to, since WordPress does it for you. The benefit is that people who prefer Twitter can get updates from your blog without having to use the RSS feed or email, and they can share your blog posts with other readers who may not have found your blog yet. And as some other commenters have said, you can also use Twitter to tweet an interesting article or something that doesn’t warrant a full blog post.

    If you like, you can also follow people on Twitter and interact with them by having a public conversation that your followers can read. This is one way to use Twitter, but since a lot of Twitter users tweet many, many times per day it can be very time-consuming to keep up with these conversations. (seanr1978 above says that if you’re not being interactive you’re “guaranteed to fail,” but I suppose “failure” really depends on what you’re trying to get out of having a Twitter account.)

    Hope this helps!

  11. Yes, please put HATU on Twitter! I don’t know that tweeting itself would make an already great blog “better,” but setting up automatic cross-posts would probably increase HATU’s regular audience. Right now HATU probably gets some traffic from regular readers tweeting to their followers links to HATU posts. (Several people whom I follow tweeted a link to the post re: Shon Hopwood, for example.) Tweeting would let you reach many of those third-party followers directly. Your followers will see your tweets and can easily republish (i.e., “retweet”) those tweets to their followers. And on, and on, and on until HATU conquers the Internet.

    Plus, HATU on Twitter would improve my personal Twitter experience. My Twitter feed is sorely lacking two sources of valuable (to me, at least) information: links to new HATU posts and links to new 4th Cir. decisions. (Law Week Colorado tweets links to new 10th Cir. decisions, but I can’t find a comparable service for 4th Cir. decisions. It’s very upsetting.) Not a reason to put HATU on Twitter, but a happy consequence for me.

  12. Rich, don’t bother. That’s my advice. I like Facebook and use it regularly. However, once people under 25 discovered that people over 25 could use Facebook, it became less cool. I don’t really “get” Twitter. I get it in the sense that I have an account and I occasionally look at it. Its highest and best purpose (as far as I’m concerned) is that I can follow Creighton athletics and if there’s, say, a women’s basketball game on the road it will feed me the scores in quick intervals. Much of the rest of it is half formed thoughts that should never have been uttered. It’s sort of like getting a tidal wave of texts. Best, Pat.

  13. I have a Twitter account so that I can follow (i.e., monitor) the tweets of my eighth-grader’s teachers. I still haven’t tweeted yet, as I cannot think of anything of moment that I should broadcast to the world.

  14. Judge Kopf:

    I have my suspicions about Twitter. About four years ago, at the urging of a friend, I opened a Twitter account for myself. I then thought better of it, and I have never once posted anything on it. Nonetheless, roughly once a month, I get a message from the Twitter Home Planet (or whatever they call their headquarters) telling me I have a new “follower.” I have come to believe that there is something quite pathetic and sad about a group of people who choose to follow a guy who has never uttered anything. No poignnant comments. No profundities. No comments about a tasty bagel just eaten. Nothing. There they sit. Eating their Cheez-Its and waiting for the Oracle to speak. A strange world indeed.

    Respectfully submitted,


  15. What is this “Motion Day” of which you speak? As a CJA panel defense attorney, I find that most of my motions are routinely denied without a hearing. And as for seeing my opponent more often, I would probably just punch her in the throat, thereby increasing rather than minimizing the lack of civility.

    P.S. Vince, that app is genius. I will immediately see that my assistant gets it.


  16. Alison,

    Your post regarding Twitter on Girls Guide to Law School is great. Thanks very much, and what an interesting idea for a blog. Perhaps I should start another blog. Can’t you just see something like “Aging Guys Guide to . . . .” Infinite possibilities for merriment there.

    All the best.


  17. I second Ryan Killan’s comment. Judge Dillard of the Georgia Court of Appeals is the standout judge on Twitter. https://mobile.twitter.com/JudgeDillard

    But to answer the question presented, I don’t know how twitter can make a blog better. In fact I doubt it can.

    To be fair to Twitter, I should note that I am here now because a colleague tweeted a link to the Liptak article which then linked to this blog.

  18. Pingback: Why not institute a “Motion Day” each week for civil cases? « Hercules and the umpire.

  19. Pingback: Twitter–@JudgeKopf « Hercules and the umpire.

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