When you see an update that you want to comment on or reply to on Twitter, most people click on the Reply arrow on the right side of the update. (See How to Reply to Tweets)
When you do this, the person’s name, in this case @DebraCortese, automatically appears in the Twitter form at the beginning.
You type out a response, send it to the Twitterverse and assume that everyone who follows you can see your conversation with that person.
Not so! Only the people who are following BOTH YOU AND THE PERSON YOU’RE REPLYING TO can see that response.
To get around this, someone smart started using a period before the @, which seems to work–as evidenced here in a reply from JohnTUnger to someone I am not following, which showed up in my Twitter stream.
It’s not necessary that all of your followers see all of your replies. In fact, in can be downright noisy to hear just one side of a conversation. But if you have something interesting to add in your reply–something that you think your followers want to know about–you can either add the period at the beginning (.@abstanfield) or add the @name anywhere in the response EXCEPT at the very beginning. So . . .
This reply that I sent to @AngelSnakes was seen only by the people who were following both AngelSnakes and me.
If I had wanted everyone to see it, I could have written it like this:
The best lesson I had on this came from the article Much Ado About @reply
Thanks to @WalterHawn for the heads up on this. I honestly had never considered it!