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Twitter Robots Killed Me (And Why I Apologize I May Not Be Following You Anymore)

Below is what my Twitter direct messages became, automated unreadable and annoying spam.

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Until today I was following more than 23 000 “friends” as Twitter (thanks, Jack!) had nicely setup for me a script that was autofollowing anybody who was following me. I asked that and enjoyed it because I thought that if anybody cared enough to follow me I should also follow them back in return and read my “personal firehose” when I had some free time, instead of watching TV for example. Actually I never watch TV but you get the idea! I learnt a lot by following all my community and it has been a really enjoyable experience.

Until recently. It has been a few weeks some people thought it was smart to create autoresponders, robots that would send you thank you direct messages when you were following them as you can see above. Worse, some just use it as automated marketing like check my product here etc. As a DM it is terrible. My direct messages timeline has become a total nightmare and not usable anymore. I had to do something and I decided to remove all my followers as I was too much under heavy robot attack.

I thought about opting out as some of these services offer that option but I did not find it was a good solution because there are plenty of them, you do not know where to opt-out exactly, the DMs do not tell you which bot generated them…

With 23,000 followers, filter tools (including the Twhirl competition!) do not work, it simply does not work, when I setup the autofollowing I never thought I would reach such a high number.

So… no choice. It was breaking my entire Twitter experience.

Please do not take it bad, I will continue to follow many people and add them back manually, search, activated search in Twhirl and other services make it really easy to read lots of content without having to follow tens of thousands of people!

I read very often my @replies so I remain very easy to reach. I am also of course adding following again, one by one, manually.

My rule is simple: I need to be explain how I know the person I am following in a few sentences or why I am following that user if I do not know him/her in person. I will also unfollow immediately anyone sending me automated DMs.

One interesting thing Zac -who wrote a script to remove all my followers today- noticed is that in the process of removing the 23 000 following I lost some followers who have in return robots that automatically unfollow you if you unfollow them, interesting robot play!

Apologies then if I was following you and I do not follow you anymore, I am sure you will understand it was not manageable and since we are behind Twhirl, I am trying to find a way to solve this problem, like follow large groups of people without having the DM spam problem, and I am confident we will find a solution.

If I am not following you yet, it’s all good it means that either:

1) I did not have the time to add you yet and I apologize
2) I do not know you enough yet and I would love to know you better, let’s talk, meet, read each other etc with pleasure.

update: removed the Facebook mention which was not that related.
new update: thanks Socialtoo, unfortunately there are many other services like these…



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New Twhirl 0.9 public release is here

FirefoxScreenSnapz057.jpgWe have been working really hard with the feedback from Team Seesmic (nearly 5000 members!) – the team of our core users helping us create the best social software client in the world. I can’t thank you more given the hundreds of emails, votes on UserVoice.com, tweets and Seesmic videos we have received with suggestions and bugs to fix. So thank you.

The vision we have for Twhirl is very simple: be the best client in the world to help you share information with your friends across all social software, and to help you get their replies for a constant conversation within your communities.

Following on from today’s release we’re already working on our next top priorities – to help you group your friends and also an uber stop secret surprise feature we’re very excited about! So remember to join Team Seesmic if you want to help us design the next version as well as get the previews before anyone else!

In a nutshell, here’s what’s new in Twhirl 0.9: (a more detailed description follows below)
-spellchecker (currently English only, can be deactivated in settings if you use Twhirl in other languages)
-your Twitter @replies will display even if you are mentioned in the middle of a tweet
- don’t miss anyone quoting your name
-share all your updates to all your favorite social software via Ping.fm support: Twhirl now posts to Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and more
-follow any topic in near-realtime: searching for a term or a brand and then activating it as a saved search it will bring all future mentions of it into your timeline
-record a video and post it straight to Twitter, then get your Seesmic video replies and follow the video conversation
-get new Seesmic replies and videos in realtime thanks to XMPP support
-support for bit.ly url shortnener with stats and history
-support for direct messages and favorites on laconi.ca/identi.ca

We’ve also fixed many bugs, including:
-”in reply to” references on Twitter and identi.ca are now supported correctly
-drag/resize issues should be fixed
-ping.fm support from Twitter and laconi.ca/identi.ca accounts
-pressing Shift-Space no longer creates two spaces on non-OS X systems
-@usernames, ‘Twhirl’ and ‘Seesmic’ are not marked as spelled wrong :P
-copying URLs from timelines using the contextual menus is working now


And don’t forget the existing core Twhirl features that made it a success:
-multiple Twitter, laconica, Friendfeed and Seesmic account support
-runs on Windows and Mac OSX (and Linux)
-notifications of new messages across all of your accounts
-shorten long urls easily (using snurl, twurl or is.gd)
-post images to TwitPic
-search tweets using Twitter Search and Tweetscan
-timeline filtering
-groovy color schemes to personalize your experience
-automatically checks for new versions

Now, some details on the new features…

* Catch more tweets from people talking about you!

Twhirl now displays all mentions of your @username in posted tweets – no longer just those that begin with your @username. Example: “this is fantastic @username, have fun” would not show up as a reply (and does not show up on Twitter web as a reply) but will now show up in your @reply timeline in Twhirl. This is a great way of enabling you to engage with anybody mentioning your Twitter name.

* Post your messages from Twhirl to Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, WordPress and a gazillion services with Ping.fm integration

Why keep your updates only for one social software while you could reach all your friends on all of them? Updating all the major social software is a great way of reconnecting with friends that are using only one–like the hundreds of millions on Facebook or MySpace for example! We have integrated Ping.fm goodness in Twhirl to achieve that goal, just get an account, add your services there and start talking to all your friends. You can even seamlessly send a video via Seesmic to all the social services you setup. Our friends at Ping.fm also added Seesmic recording from their update screen.

* Record a video and reply to your friends straight from Twhirl.

If there is something we are positive about, it’s that your friends will love seeing you in video. If they know you in person, they will be happy to see you again. If they only talk to you via text, video brings them close and lets them discover you as you are in real life. That’s about as close as it gets to meeting in person. Remember when someone once said “on the Internet nobody knows you are a dog?” Well, with the new Twhirl everybody will know you are not a dog. Of course, real conversation goes both ways, so you can also reply to any of your friends straight from Twhirl and follow the conversation. All the replies to the original video are kept together in the thread (click “this conversation” and see the thread). Twhirl also supports active conversations and user search on Seesmic.

* Follow in near-realtime any topic, brand or username with the new saved searches.

This was one of the most requested features asked on twhirl.uservoice.com by the community – and we are delighted to deliver it. Say you want to follow what everybody is saying about planes, like you probably did just after that amazing landing in the Hudson River. Just type “plane” into the search in Twhirl and locate the “activate” button at the top of the screen. This will create a tab that you can easily come back to and view the latest results for that search term. Even better, Twhirl will automatically mix in those search result tweets into your main friends timeline in Twhirl. Finally there is the option to have those results also appear with your notification – making sure you never miss an alert as you are working on other windows.

* Shorten your urls with more options and now measure who clicks and where your visitors are from.

Url shortening is one of the original features that made Twhirl popular. We now have is.gd, snurl.com twurl.nl and bit.ly giving you interesting reports on how many people clicked on your links, where they are coming from, and other information.

Thank you for posting about this Twhirl release (I will link back to every single blog post that covers Twhirl 0.9 let me know if I miss any):
TechCrunch: Twhirl Gets An Upgrade, Too; And Now Seesmic Has A Desktop Client
CNET: Twhirl, AlertThingy expand supported services
Livecrunch: Twhirl 0.9 Is Released To Public
Scobleizer: Twitter Client War



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Twhirl step by step features screencast

As many team seesmic members asked me to better explain the Twhirl features I thought it would be a good idea to record a video walkthrough with most of the new features. Please keep giving us feedback on the twhirl uservoice page or in the comments below. Thanks!



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Twhirl preview release later today for the “team”

I am amazed by the conversations around Twhirl today, thank you so much for all your interest. We really care about quality, remember Twhirl originated from Germany so it’s like your Mercedes or your BMW, it’s german engineering :) This is why we are cautious about not releasing too fast new versions. For those of you who would really like to help us and give us feedback on this upcoming new release as well as the future features you would like, we are creating a small group of friends with whom we would like to communicate frequently and more directly, so email is probably the best.


Join team seesmic-twhirl and get exclusive preview releases before we make them public and stay in touch with us.
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