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Things I need people to stop doing to me on twitter


I have no illusion that I control the world. I would never tell everyone on twitter that they must do something a certain way (unless you can point to a specific instance when I did, and then, uh, I promise I won’t do it anymore). In fact, the dumbest argument I ever got into on twitter was one I could never win, because the person I was arguing with kept insisting that things should be done her way because “it was an unwritten twitter rule.” That was one of those times when I had to sit on my hands and not point out to her that I had been on twitter 3 years and 50,000 tweets longer than she had, so I might just be the authority in that conversation.

But no, I’m not trying to control twitter. I would, however, like to have some control over what is done directly to me on twitter. It would be super duper awesome if the world would stop doing these things:

Asking me to follow you

When I first got on twitter I followed back everyone who talked to me. I didn’t check them out at all. A few years later I found myself following 6,000 people and not really listening to any of them. I couldn’t really get to know anybody with that many tweets flying by in my stream, so I mostly just paid attention to the people I already knew outside of twitter.

Then I unfollowed about 5,000 people. I didn’t do it all at once. I started by using automated programs that told me who I was following who hadn’t tweeted in over a month (why are you on twitter?). Then I got a list of all of the people I followed who weren’t following me back and I looked at every single one individually. I did it a little at a time, over several weeks. I did it manually, and with discretion.

I don’t care if someone I find interesting doesn’t follow me back. I’m following them because I find them interesting. If they follow me, that’s a bonus. But there were thousands of people I was following and I had no idea why. I checked out each stream, and if I didn’t find it interesting, I chucked it. And over the next few weeks, I lost a lot of followers. I had a lot of people write snotty, passive-aggressive tweets to me about how I wasn’t following them anymore. But then things leveled out and started going up again. And I felt lighter, and found myself interacting with people on twitter a lot more.

And that’s the sum total of my method of following people now: I read their stream and decide if I want to read more.

Interestingly, the people who ask me out of the blue to follow them are hardly ever worth following (in fact, a large part of their stream usually consists of them asking other people to follow them; I don’t consider that fascinating reading). On the other hand, when people I’ve conversed with a lot on twitter ask me to follow them back, I’m usually surprised that I’m not already.

That’s the thing about following somebody: aside from boosting your numbers, the only thing them following you will change about your relationship is that you can direct message that person. And 99% of the people who follow me on twitter don’t need to direct message me about anything. I consider a direct message just a step below calling me or texting me.

So the rest is about ego. Or numbers. Or a combination of the two. I’ve never asked anyone to follow me, not even for a giveaway. I hope the people who follow me do it because they find me interesting. A little funny, too, perhaps. But if they’re following me just trying to get a follow back, I suspect they’re not getting as much out of twitter as I am.

Want me to follow you on twitter? Be interesting. Have a conversation with me occasionally, but not in an aggressive way just to get me to notice you. Retweet my stuff. I assume that’s how I got my followers.

Asking me to RT your post publicly

This makes me so uncomfortable. This is one of those times I wish you would DM me (and if I’m not following you, and you can’t DM me, chances are good you shouldn’t be asking me for a favor anyway). If you @ me on twitter and ask me to RT something, I feel like I have to respond publicly. What if your post sucks? What if I just don’t find it interesting enough to share with my followers? What if I have 73 things open that I’d rather read instead of your post? I don’t want to tell you that publicly, so I usually just ignore the tweet, which makes me feel a little like an ass.

Contact me privately. At least then I feel more comfortable contacting you back the same way, and letting you know why I will or won’t promote your post or cause.

This goes double if you want me to comment on your post. I just hate that. If I’m already discussing your post publicly and you say “Hey, would you mind saying that in the comment section?” That I totally get. You know I’ve read it, you know I’m already interested in talking about it. But to just blindside me with a post and say “Could you comment on this?” is presumptuous and rude.

And this goes triple if you want me to vote for you for something, because chances are I won’t, and again, I don’t want to tell you that publicly.

@ing me with a business pitch

I always assume an intern is manning the twitter account when this happens. If you want me to review your thing, if you want me to come to your event, please email me. My blog URL is in my twitter bio, and my contact info is linked to at the very top of my blog.

If it’s too much work for you to do to find my email, then chances are I don’t want to work with you anyway. Plus, I’ve got some very valuable info on my contact page that will save us both some time.

This makes me uncomfortable in the same way that asking me to RT you does. If I don’t want your product, if I don’t want to attend your event, if I don’t want to work with you, I would like to be able to tell you that privately.

The possible exception is when you’ve already emailed me and I haven’t answered. The sad fact is I get over 100 pitches and requests a day, and while I’ve gotten much better at actually looking at all of them (after missing a few important ones), I simply don’t have time to respond to all of them. Ones that are completely off base just get deleted. So while I understand that you’re frustrated at my silence, and want to contact me some other way, chances are good that if we don’t have a prior relationship I’m just not going to answer you. I wish that weren’t the case, but I simply can’t spend any more time on email each day than I already to.

Keeping me in a conversation I have no interest in

Oh dear. So you were nice enough to include me in a tweet, along with a bunch of other people. Maybe you were saying “Great to see you the other night!” or recommending me for Follow Friday. But then, 30 tweets later, the other people in the tweet are still hitting “reply all” and discussing something I have zero interest in.

It’s pretty simple: if you’ve tweeted to everybody a few times and there are people who still haven’t jumped in to the conversation, leave them out of it.

Of course, there’s a simple way to avoid this scenario in the first place…

Including me with seven other people I don’t know in a tweet

This usually happens during Follow Friday. Follow Friday drives me nuts for many reasons. It was a great idea in the beginning, but it has far outlasted its usefulness. Now it’s mostly people cramming as many other people as they can into a tweet and ending it with #FF. There’s no context. There’s no theme. It’s just random, and I really don’t get the point of it. And it usually results in me being included in a bunch of other tweets where one of the other people hits “reply all” to thank the original tweeter, which drives me crazy.

Asking me what’s going on instead of reading it for yourself

So I’ve spent a few tweets complaining about something (likely) or complimenting something (less likely), and you jump in and ask me what I’m talking about. Instead, how about taking a look at my stream and seeing if you can suss it out?

If I’ve been tweeting about something for half an hour and you would have to go back 30 tweets to find the original tweet, then I don’t blame you at all for asking. But usually it’s someone asking asking about something I said two or three tweets ago. And they just look really dumb.


Did that all sound cranky? I don’t care. You are, of course, free to do and say whatever you want on twitter. But if you do something annoying directly at me, then I get to tell you to cut it out and stop annoying me. For the sake of the poor kittens.

Kitten image used with permission under Creative Commons Attribution License. To see more images from Crumley, please visit his page on flickr.

Originally posted on Behind the Screen. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.

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One Response to “Things I need people to stop doing to me on twitter”

  1. Born27 on July 16th, 2012 9:35 am

    Hmmm.. sometimes I don’t open my twitter account because of some nonsense questions thrown by people whose following me.. It bugs me too! Maybe there’s really people who doesn’t use their common sense.
    Born27´s last [type] ..iphone conference call


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