In my everyday life, I like to say thank you to people who do things that make my life easier: open doors, make me coffee, move out of my way, etc. Whatever it might be. I consider it the most basic positive thing a human can do to another human. Please works in the same way.

We call these good manners.

And I’d like to say that the majority of people have these ‘good’ manners. It’s a reflex for many.

So, let’s imagine for a moment that this is an academic paper. I’d also have a list of references. Then you could go and see where I’d found my information, and then follow even more sources to get a rounded view of a topic. It’s called research, or reading around a subject. You probably did it at school, or University. Or just through buying and reading two different newspapers.

It’s a simple idea, isn’t it? It’s good manners, too.

In social media, though, these manners can fly out the proverbial window. Referencing – and allowing your readers to find out where your sources lie – seems to be non-existent for many. It could be that the 140 character limit leaves little or no room to give the source. And for the most part, I think it is. But not always.

Recently I’ve seen quite a few Tweets from people about others not listing their sources: passing off humorous or clever Tweets as their own, when they’re not.

Personally, I don’t really care. That could be because I rarely (if ever) Tweet something that I have thought of myself. It happens, occasionally. But there are others (and I’m not referring to celebrities here) for whom a funny Tweet or cool link is the reason I and others follow them. It’s their social currency.

As social media allows anyone to spew forth on any subject – and lets us all be sharers of things (I refuse to say curate) – then is the art of referencing going the way of search directories and Netscape?

*For the record, I believe I do note my sources in retweets, but only if they come via Twitter. If it’s via email, RSS, etc then I don’t.