I’ve noticed this trend to screenshot tweets instead of copy-pasting their texts in blockquotes for some time now. On web design and technology blogs, no less. You’d think these sites who constantly write articles about HTML, CSS, web standards, usability, semantics would actually listen to their own advice.
What do people get out of doing it, though? Is Twitter really that much of a game-changer that you can now break the conventions of quoting people in articles on websites? Is it really that big of a deal to debate on how you should add tweets to articles—which is so obviously linkbait?
Are tweet pages designed so much prettier than your default blockquote designs that you feel compelled to use them instead (that’s definitely an “unsuccessful designer trend” isn’t it)? Though, consider the construction: large text, a clear indication of who said the tweet, and a fuzzy timestamp. Maybe that’s what blockquotes should aspire to be?
Are tweets such special data forms that you need specialized plugins and scripts like WP Quote, Twickie, QuoteURL to display them? Or do those exist to up one’s geek cred and feed the third-party Twitter apps machine?
Still, those aren’t as bad as web apps like tweetshots. Want to share a tweet on Tumblr? Use the Quote post type. WordPress is getting custom post types in its next major release too. But publishing platform or no publishing platform, that’s what the HTML tag
<blockquote> is for.
Let me channel Steve Ballmer and say: Blockquotes, blockquotes, blockquotes, blockquotes, blockquotes. They’re not that hard to use, certainly not more than taking a screenshot and uploading it.
I understand why on some occasions using images instead of text and other data formats is preferred. They’re usually more portable when passed around in email, forums, social networks, and other communication platforms. More people know how to deal with images than URLs too. But for the purpose of quoting tweeple on websites, I see no excuse for displaying text as images.
I’ll spell it out for you in
<em>: display text as text, not as images, damn it!
Sure, screencapping tweets may not be as grave a sin as using tables for layouts, but back when that was the dominant method of creating websites, it was a pragmatic choice to make do with the technology available. The choice to use images for text is illogical today. It is confusing behavior that is inexplicably linked to Twitter’s success.