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Study: Twitter is 40 percent 'pointless babble'

Also notable in data firm Pear Analytics' breakdown of tweet species is that there's less spam than expected.

Surprise! A full 40.5 percent of posts on Twitter--or tweets, as they're called--can be classified as "pointless babble," according to a new study from Pear Analytics. Coming in second was "conversational," which the company says makes up 37.55 of all tweets.

Pear Analytics published its investigation, which was conducted through a series of random samplings from the Twitter public timeline, into the different species of tweets on Wednesday. That means that only public tweets were indexed; the numbers could be different if friends-only accounts were taken into consideration as well. (Obviously, that would be much tougher to analyze.)

There's some interesting stuff in there. Despite some Twitter critics' insistence that the microblogging service is loaded with self-promoters, Pear Analytics only classified 5.85 percent of tweets as "self promotion."

The other categories were "news" (3.6 percent), "spam" (also lower than I'd expect, at 3.75 percent), and "pass-along value" (8.7 percent). Granted, sometimes there's plenty of gray area (is linking to a blog post you wrote "pass-along value" or "self-promotion"? shouldn't tweeting about breakfast too often be considered spam?) but it's pretty cool regardless.

"We thought the news category would have more weight than dead last," the report read, "since this seems to be contrary to Twitter's new position of being the new source of news and events."

That might be a bit of a buzzkill for Twitter's team, which is pretty vocal about wanting the service to be a ubiquitous communication standard. Regardless, the news about the relatively low levels of spam is interesting--for some perspective, about 90 percent of e-mail is spam.