Tag Archives: twitter

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.


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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Evan Williams of Twitter Speaks at TED

pic by jurvertson

Quotes from Evan Williams at TED, did my best Evan spoke fast like tweets. There is no news in the talk but Evan was very inspiring in the way he said Twitter was a side project in Odeo which was not taking off. That should remind anybody to always let enough space for creativity and side projects. Imagine if Evan’s board and direct professional entourage were telling him constantly stop playing with that Twitter thing and concentrate on saving Odeo. Odeo would have probably still not grow while the huge Twitter success would have never happened. We should always keep our ideas open, it is not what your initial idea of a business is that matters, it is where you take it and how fast you can adapt to a new side project getting traction. Let’s all have fun little things on the side like Twitter!

“4 years ago I announced on the TED stage the launch of Odeo” @ev #ted

“@jack came with the idea of twitter as a side project. It is hard to do a side project while we were focusing on Odeo” @ev #ted

“I learn to launch projects even when they have nothing to do with the company” @ev #ted

“people lets share people moments of their lives. By sharing these moments as they happen people feel more connected. Primary use” @ev #ted

“we had no idea Twitter would be so big to cover events” @ev #ted

“President Obama is our #1 Twitter user but he kind of lets us down a little recently” @ev #ted 11 minutes ago from twhirl

“we built an API. 2000 pieces of software are capable of sending updates. Summize was the most important one” @ev #ted

“search has changed the way we view twitter. New use cases like a gas shortage in Atlanta. People tweeted the price of gas to help others”

“raising money for homeless people. for family in crisis. people raised lots of money in a matter of day” @ev #ted

“when you give people better ways to share information great things happen” @ev #ted

“I have no idea where Twitter will go” @ev #ted

@TEDchris joked “Evan Williams is just DYING on stage here at #TED. Worst talk ever.”

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Twitter: We Need Search By Authority

200812262224.jpgThere were more than 7000 tweets posted during the two days of LeWeb, no way anyone can read them quickly. We need filtering and search by authority. We’re not equal on Twitter, as we’re not equal on blogs and on the web. I am not saying someone who has more followers than yourself matters more, but what he says has a tendency to spread much faster. Comments about your brand or yourself coming from @techcrunch with 36000 followers are not equal than someone with 100 followers. Most people use Twitter with a few friends, but when someone who has thousands, if not tens of thousands of followers starts to speak, you have to pay attention.

Brands do pay attention and already start understanding the difference. We made the experiment with Ben Metcalfe. I started complaining that Sprint was not offering the new Blackberry (they still don’t, I want a BB Bold with worldwide unlimited data) on Twitter and minutes later a Sprint representative contacted me and offered me VIP customer service. I loved it. For the experiment, @dotben started also complaining about the same issue (and really would love a Bold too, it was true) but nothing happened for Ben. Why not? Sprint understood that I have nearly 10x the number of followers of Ben so I had to be answered immediately, even with my weird last name no one can pronounce. Ben has almost 2000 followers, I think Sprint should actually pay attention too.

What we need is search by authority in Twitter Search. Technorati had nailed it years ago by allowing searches filtered by number of links the blogger had. It would be very easy for Twitter to add an authority line in their search criteria, with the number of followers so that you can search for say, only people who have more than a thousand followers and see what they say. React as fast as you can for criticism from them. It is not a criteria for being smart or not, but clearly a criteria for how fast something can spread.

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