Word Badger

Digging into words we use and how we use them with Gazette reporter Frank Schultz

Tweeting into the wind

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Frank Schultz
May 31, 2013

A tip for tweeters: You have 140 characters. There’s no need to abbreviate everything.

Case in point, the National Weather Service on Friday, which put this beauty out on Twitter: “#SPC Day1 Outlook Moderate Risk: from cntrl ok into swrn mo http://go.usa.gov/YWq5”

Now, I’m a license-plate cryptologist and weather watcher from way back, but it took concerted effort to decipher this one. I’d wager “ok” is Oklahoma,” rather than just a brief form of “okay,” and “swrn mo” is southwestern Missouri.

After going to the link, it occurred to me that #SPC is the Storm Prediction Center. I never would have gotten it, otherwise.

After more thinking, a sudden burst of understanding: “cntrl” is not “control.” It’s “central.”

Note to public servants: This Twitter thing could be a great way to communicate quickly with the public. It's not so great as an exercise in cryptology. That’s the business of the National Security Agency, not the National Weather Service.

If these tweets are meant only for weather professionals, maybe they should be sent in email blasts rather than tweeted to the universe.

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