Answering Some Questions About Twitter and Rail Matters

ProRail created "Rail Matters" in the spring of 2009 using the resources of Twitter.

Twitter provides ProRail with yet another way to reach more of those interested in riding passenger trains in scheduled service in the U.S. and/or advocating for more trains to more destinations. ("Rail Matters" is now included in Google search results.) We emphasize activities and developments in the Midwest and Wisconsin.

For those new to Twitter and "Rail Matters," here are some quick things to know --

-- If the "Rail Matters" message box does not show any messages, allow more time for it to upload from or click "refresh" in your browser. Or click on "Join this conversation" to see if you get a "Twitter is over capacity" message suggesting you wait and try again.

-- Messages (headlines) are limited to 140 characters, including any included links to other Web sites.

--The text of messages is composed by ProRail except for those "retweeted" as is.

-- Retweeting describes the act of copying and reposting on "Rail Matters" a message created and shared by another on Twitter. Retweeted messages begin with the symbol RT.

-- Retweeted messages may be edited from the original to fit the 140-character limit, but never should distort the meaning of the original post.

-- The @ symbol is used in messages in conjunction with a name to identify a Twitter user. Example: @RailMatters Click on the @(name) when using Twitter to jump to that Web page so you can see what else is posted there. When used with an RT in front, it means that is the source of what follows.

-- "Hashtags" (#) used in front of a word in a message mark it for inclusion in the Twitter search engine. Example: #amtrak It's particularly useful when the message otherwise does not include that word but is relevant to those searching for messages with that hashtag. Twitter users create their own hashtags, which always must be one word.

Some hastags are universally used, such as

-- #ff and #followfriday. Twitter users looking for other Twitter users on subjects of interest will search by those terms. Twitter users wishing to attract more followers (subscribers) will include one or both in any messages they post on Friday.

-- #traveltuesday is used for travel-related messages posted on Tuesdays. It serves the same purposes as do #ff and #followfriday