How do you explain what a retweet is?

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via flickr.com

Yesterday a friend joined Twitter and we talked about the basics. You know that RT or retweets are going to come at some point of the discussion. I found out that I didn't know what to say. "Retweets are like those forwarded emails you get, but instead of Fwd, it says RT". For Retweetrank.com “Retweeting” is best described as rebroadcasting a twitter message someone else has posted, while giving credit to the original poster".
Even if my one line decryption is lame, I don't think it's valid anymore. The new twitter update and the rewet integration in apps like Tweetie 2 have changed that concept for me. I did a bit of googling an here I come with some key ideas:

 

RT are not spammy anymore. You can choose to mute a twitter user RTs but continue following their own tweets. This makes me think… who might be hiding mine and why?

 

When some popular content gets retreated by many people you follow (see Mashable's trending articles for instance) you will only get one RT. This makes things simpler, but I miss the information given by "RT @secondretweeter RT@firstretweeter RT@contentcreator I wish this was retreated". I tend to miss what happened there.

 

You can now see both in twitter.com and Tweetie the avatar from the original creator of the tweet. Seeing an unknown avatar can be surprising and make you go mad (spammers!) but it has helped me to discover interesting users to follow. 

 

If you want to add your comment (I'm looking forward to this RT @…) you can still can. Just don't hit the rewet button.

 

Some sources for RT knowledge: 

 

Twitter's CEO Evan Williams blog
Atebits Support (The Tweetie creators)