Just call me @the_pet_peeve_evangelist (comments always welcome)

Tweaked with clearer thoughts about the @ symbol and no comments, Tuesday, March 3, 2009. Updates in italics.

You wanna know what bugs me? No? Okay, here are a few things that bug me.

1. People in social media and marketing circles who refer to themselves as “evangelists.” I know this is nothing new. People in the business sector have appropriated and co-opted the term for years. I first noticed it in the late ’90s.

Nowadays, though, it seems everyone on Twitter is some sort of evangelist — either a social media evangelist, a twitter evangelist, a search evangelist, a user experience evangelist, a technology evangelist, a VMware virtual evangelist or some such label.

Technically, according to the Merriam-Webster definition, all the people using the term are correct according to the third definition — the evangelist as “an enthusiastic advocate.” But it still bugs me.

2. Blog posts that use the @username convention made popular by Twitter. I’m guilty of doing this, but usually only when referring to someone’s Twitter account or a tweet that person made. But I see the convention showing up a lot on blogs, especially in comments. I say, keep the @ on Twitter, where it belongs.

I guess one thing about the @ symbol on blogs that bothers me is that it smacks of elitism. Sure, a lot of bloggers are now tweeting, so they know what the @ symbol symbolizes. But a lot of bloggers, and blog readers, aren’t tweeting. It’s kind of like the secret handshake, a sign that you’re part of the “in” crowd. That just sticks in my craw. I suppose it’s because I don’t like elitism.

3. Bloggers who don’t accept comments on their blogs. This too gets back to the whole elitism thing. I think Ron Bronson nailed it in the comments below, when he wrote, “… some just think they’re cooler than the rest of us.” That’s it. Elitists. Boo, hiss, on the elitists.

That is all. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

12 thoughts on “Just call me @the_pet_peeve_evangelist (comments always welcome)”

  1. 1. “Evangelist” has negative connotations for me. A fake someone pretending to give you something of perceived value in exchange for your money, your pride, something of actual value.

    2. I don’t have a problem with using @username in blogs.

    3. Bloggers who don’t allow comments are missing the point.

    4. NEW! The pop up ads for words like “convention” in your blog post! ;-)

  2. I recently looked for explanations of what evangelists “do” for brands or sites. I thought there must be something to it, and I was going to blog about it and ask “Why don’t colleges or alumni associations have evangelists?” Eventually I came to the conclusion that we do have evangelists – passionate alumni, donors, students, parents and staff who spread the message about our institutions, without much urging from campus.

    So we don’t need to put it in our Twitter profile or our job title on LinkedIn. A quick search show I have 4,397 self-described evangelists in my LinkedIn Network. They may as well add that they were on “a panel of experts.”

    Meanwhile I’m ok with @name in a blog posting or comment, IF the posting or comment refers to that person’s use of Twitter.

    My current personal peeve is organizations that say that something (usually “collaboration” but sometimes “innovation”) is “in their DNA.”

  3. Nancy – I have the same feeling toward the term “evangelist.” Maybe that’s why I loathe it so.

    Andy – You are correct that our colleges, universities and alumni have scores of evangelists. But I’m glad we don’t call them that.

    Erica – I too hate those preview bubbles and I’m glad your link to one of them isn’t working. ;)

  4. I mostly mock the evangelist thing by saying I spread the “good news of the web.” It makes me laugh.

    But I like you, was jarred the first time I ran across the word evangelist in reference to someone who worked for Microsoft a bunch of years ago. It made sense to me and yet, I thought it was the strangest thing I’d ever heard.

    I am the guy who grew up in church and whose oldest, best friend in the world is a pastor and who would make him spend Sundays with him going to LOTS of churches to visit them throughout my teen years.

    So I have a strange relationship with such things.

    In any case…I think I get bloggers who don’t allow comments. I mean, some just think they’re cooler than the rest of us. In other cases, they’re more trouble than they worth, because they distract from the conversation, I guess.

    The idea I had with comments is, if you don’t allow them, you can be less likely to worry about not getting any comments and it might increase site traffic, because more people are less likely to dismiss a post that has no visible number of comments on it, than those with lots (which may make them more likely to post…)

    I’m enjoying your evangelist post on a Sunday, tho. ;)

  5. @Andrew – Have to disagree with #2, in comments at least. It helps to clarify which commenter you’re responding to in a long thread.

  6. Ron – Like you, my religious experience colors my perception of the term “evangelist,” although the original ones (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were more storytellers than salesmen.

    Colin – Sorry, but I just don’t buy that argument. How can the @ before each name in a comment better distinguish one from another than, say, the way I’m doing it here?

  7. Is it the “@” or the “twitter name” that you have a problem with? I’m guilty of using ’em, so I’d like to know why I should stop? Perhaps an evangelist could enlighten me…

  8. Todd – I guess it’s both the @ and the Twitter name. I don’t know if there’s any good reason for why you should stop. I’m just saying it’s one of those little things that annoy me. Next thing you know, people will be hashtagging blog comments. #justsayin

  9. evangelist = I worked in an admissions office for 2 years and did some cool web stuff now I am out on my own trying to make a living

    Loved your picture on this post!

  10. I’m old enough to remember when using evangelist in a tech context = Guy Kawasaki or a serious Apple fanboy. I agree with Andy–the term is way overused now to the point where it’s a yawn.

    I’ve read lengthy blog posts where the @twittername convention is used. It’s bad enough on Twitter–where every character counts–but on a blog it’s just plain confusing, especially since there’s a good chance that a slew of readers aren’t following some, or even most of the people who are identified only with @twittername.

    It’s related to the kind of post that uses a slew of unfamiliar terms and doesn’t link to them so I have to switch to another tab to figure out what the writer was talking about. I’m all in favor of clarity and enlightening one’s audience rather than communication obscurata. [Don’t look that term up: I just made it up, so I can’t link to a definition. It’ll take a little while to make up the Wikipedia entry.]

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