When quoting tweets, is it acceptable to correct punctuation and other edits for readability? If so, what syntax would you use to indicate it?

For example the tweet quoted in this answer would be improved by fixing the punctuation and capitalization. But there are even more (and less) egregious examples.

Another example of an edit that I think might be appropriate is removing the @ and other Twitter syntax that break up the natural language of the text.

Should we rigidly adhere to the quoting of the material over its readability and usefulness as an answer?


3 Answers 3


Quotes are quotes — it is important to accurately reflect the original source we're quoting, and it's generally frowned upon to “revise” a quote such that we give the impression it says things it didn't (or says them in a different way).

That said, we don't need to use the quote as-is with all flaws intact.

There's editorial standards that let us add insertions or corrections or summaries in square brackets. Where we're not doing that, we can use [sic] to indicate an error (such as a typo) is present in the original source and wasn't introduced by us. Combining them, I'd quote someone saying “that thing is rely bad” as “[The vow of poverty] is rely[sic] bad” to help make it clearer. These bracketed bits let me add/clarify details, but without suggesting it was a literal part of the original quote — and [sic] lets me make it clear the typo isn't a flaw in my recreation of the original text.

In this case...

like most spells can a known cantrip be cast at a higher spell slot lvl. Aka sacred flame lvl 1 for 2d8 radiant dmg

... that'll be a lot of square brackets.

It'd be preferable to use another tool, paraphrasing, and make it clearer we're doing that. So I could write:

Q (paraphrased): Can a known cantrip be cast at a higher spell slot level? For example can Sacred Flame be cast at level 1 for 2d8 damage?

A: No, since cantrips don't use spell slots. — Jeremy Crawford, Lead Rules Designer D&D

(I don't know if that paraphrasing is accurate, but it's my best attempt not knowing the D&D 5e rules being discussed.)


I think the writing in tweets specifically should be preserved, unchanged, as it appears in the original.

Twitter is an inherently abbreviated medium and that leads to all kinds of spelling, grammar, and orthography shortcuts. It's hard enough to quote tweets with decent formatting; correcting them too is a lot of work — and worse, how to correct the abbreviated nature of tweets is going to be subjective!

But more importantly, I think we should not correct tweets at all for this reason: We started quoting tweets in order to preserve them in case the link breaks or changes. If we start correcting them, then:

  1. …We are no longer accurately preserving the text, in all its details and (possible) ambiguity, and are instead making our own judgements about what it should say or actually means. This impairs it as a citation source if the link becomes unavailable.

    If the changes don't affect the understandability of the meaning of the quote, then the changes aren't necessary for our citation needs. And if the changes would help explain what a quote means, we risk erring. Besides, our answers usually explain significance of a quote outside the quote already.

  2. …We may lose the exact text, especially if the uncorrected text never appears in an edit revision. An exact text is one of the few ways to find all the places a quote is referenced in discussions online. Changing the text makes that maneuver difficult.

    Further, if the link becomes unavailable, the exact text is one of the few ways to search the vast Internet for a location where it might be archived. We may even be that archive location, should Twitter itself ever disappear.

    Imagine someone working from some old notes that contained copies of Crawford rulings pulled from twitter. They want to locate the tweet again, and they enter the exact text into Google, and an RPG.se page pops up in the results. If we correct the tweet, that doesn't happen.

    This may seem an implausible need, but entering exact text into Google to find its original is something that I've long had a need to do for various reasons, and altered quotes are the bane of my existence when I'm doing that kind of research.

So both because it's unnecessary work and because it alters our backup of the link, I suggest that we should leave tweets, specifically, in their original form. I think they're more valuable and useful to us in their unaltered form.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 do not edit quotes so that they're not quotes, period. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jan 6, 2018 at 20:11

In regards to aspects like this, (funny seeing as it is my answer which has the offending tweet,) I'd say it doesn't matter as long as the point is expressed clearly. As long as the formatting is clean and you can differentiate the question tweet from the response tweet, and then the tweets from the stackexchange answer, there shouldn't be an issue. I expect most users to be able to read relatively clean text even if there is a short burst lacking in grammar.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't say offending, but it was what inspired the question. I couldn't find anything official on it so I put it to meta. Funny that you should be the first to see/respond to it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5, 2018 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ You wouldn't say it, but I would. Haha :P Anyhow, I was actually checking Meta for something, and this happened to be similar enough in name that I thought it'd be relevant, then I read and was like "OOOHHH!!!" \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5, 2018 at 15:13

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