Twitter Tip — Paring Down a Following List

Wow. What great people! I am not kidding.

I think almost everyone on Twitter is great with some obvious exceptions that need not be mentioned.

So why have I zapped going on 7000 great people from my following list? Because I want to follow mainly people who gather and post content, news, cultural things, etc. People who provide references for their tweets. People who Tweet at least once a day.


So I can reach my followers with the most salient information, including retweets from the folk I follow. The ironical result of this activity will be to improve service to folk who follow me!

Just this morning, going by hand through profiles, I found some great things to retweet. Check out today’s tweets.

If everyone on Twitter observed the Twitter advice to follow no more than 2000 (a manageable number) there would be considerably more sharing among members of useful things. And those who did the most effective sharing would have more and more followers.

And I would still be in contact — better contact — with the great people I am no longer following. Vis @ messaging and RTs. And the provision of better content.

How does one “get” followers when one is paring down to a smaller follower group? When you reduce the number you follow, you clear space to send invitations (follows) to an increasingly targeted group. If you have a good profile and produce good content, you will add followers who are interested in what you are tweeting about.

I intend to invite people regularly to increase my “following”.

How do you actually pare down a list. I go into my follower list and enlarge it with control + and read the latest tweets — if they are personal or clearly business related I unfollow. I also tend not to follow quotations or maxims. If I think the tweet suggests content I open the profile and if the person is regularly posting interesting content with references, I continue to follow that person.

I now use one bit of automation. to clear out those who are not following me back. This means that I will never exceed any ratios imposed by Twitter. There is a valuable thing huitter does — it shows you who you have unfollowed. I go through this carefully and reinvite anyone I think will be interested in my content.

Fortunately I now have enough follows from content providers, that there is no real need to follow anyone who does not follow back.


Twitter’s Follow Policy — When All The Bugs Get Fixed

UPDATE, July 21 — People are still having a problem. I seem to have escaped the worst. I have radically pared down my following list — aiming at a max of 2000 as recommended by Twitter. And I daily ensure that everyone I am following is following me.

The following note was posted here. It reiterates the Twitter policy but makes it clear that the system is presently broken — aka there are apparently bugs aplenty. When they are fixed, the policy will presumably be in effect.

However I feel it needs to be stated with more precision so that people know exactly what they can and cannot do. In what amounts and when.

crystal said:

Guys, I’ve udpated this page to include information on Twitter’s follow rules, and I’ll add the same comments below.  You’re not able to follow because of a bug– I had marked it as fixed but it’s still broken.  Here is the info I posted in the main thread as well:

What are the follow limits?

Twitter enforces a following limit of 2000 people per account, unless you have more than 2,000 followers yourself.  If you have more than 2,000 followers, you’re able to follow a number that is different for every account, based on the number of people who follow you.  You can always follow 2,000 people– if more than 2,000 follow you, you can follow a number higher than 2,000 that is determined by the number of people following you.

Then why am I being limited?

If you’re not following 2,000 people yet, and you’re still unable to follow, you’re experiencing a bug.  Twitter is experiencing several bugs right now, including:

  • Tweets from people you block show up in your timeline
  • Tweets from people you never followed show up in your timeline
  • Can’t un-follow someone
  • Can’t follow someone

We are working on all of these issues, not being able to follow is but one of them.  While we have these bugs, all of the numbers for followings, followers, direct messages, and more will be incorrect.  Thanks for your patience.


Twitter Needs to State its Follow Policy

There is enough confusion and frustration on these many pages of complaints that Twitter needs to state its follow policy.


Here are the questions that need to be resolved with a few suggestions appended.

1. What daily limits are there on the number you can follow if you are following less than 2000?

I think Twitter should limit the number you follow to 2000.

2. What are the current limits on the number that someone can follow over 2000?

I think Twitter should limit the number to 2000. If this is not done, I think that, above 2000, Twitter should not allow users to follow more than are following them.

These would be simple rules rather than obscure notions about ratios and a lack of communication.


Twitter Not Addressing Follow Glitch

Twitter Not Addressing Follow Glitch

UPDATE 8/10/09 Seems obvious from increasing notes to the link below that the problem is widespread still and, worse, that Twitter has either closed tickets submitted with no action or simply not responded. Going into a weekend, that is not too swift. Though Twitter is free it clearly depends heavily on its users for its full value. I am tempted to suggest that people send messages @ev (the CEO of Twitter, perhaps with a copy @ your most favored news outlet).

UPDATE 8/9/09 AM Randall’s long comment below should be read as context for this post. I have not yet tried to follow today, but I am definitely not convinced that the problem is solved. As to what Twitter is or is not doing to address it, I am also at a loss. Please add comments that indicate if you are having success or to offer insight on the problem.

EARLIER UPDATE: Still able to follow but people are still reporting a problem.

EARLIEST UPDATE: Just followed ONE person successfully. Please report your experience in a comment. When I get reports from a total of three I will take the “not” out of the title.

Twitter has been receiving complaints from many users that they are unable to follow persons whose updates they wish to include among those they regularly read.


It is hard to imagine all the problems Twitter would have as a fundamentally user-driven utility with milions and millions of members. That it has taken more than a week for Twitter to address this problem is probably symptomatic of growing pains.

In any case I am among those who plays by the rules and cannot perform this basic action. I figure the best I can do is flag the problem and see if the Web can work some magic and elicit a response. I will happily update when that moment comes.


Twitter Tip: New Twitter Following/Follower Page Changes

Twitter Tip: New Twitter Following/Follower Page Changes

It is too early to assess the changes that Twitter has made on its following and follower pages.

Here are some initial thoughts.

On your Following page (folk you have chosen to follow) you have three or four options in the drop down menu on the right. You can mention that person in a @ reply message that will be displayed on your profile page and broadcast to all your followers. You can unfollow that person. And you can block that person.

If the person is following you back a fourth option appears — you can also Drect Message that person.

The uncollapsed page shows the following information about those you are following.

Their username and screen name. Their location. And their latest Tweet with the time it was posted.

Here is the writing on the wall I currently take from these changes.

1. Think before you invite someone. If you are mass inviting you will end up with a long process to rid your list of folk you do not want to be following long term.

2. It is much slower now to unfollow someone. Instead of whipping down the page and unfollowing, you have to do it by opening the drop down and clicking the unfollow option. This triples the time involved.

(I have no idea if these changes will work to defeat or otherwise hamper the mass unfollow software scripts out there. If so, I approve. All this does is underline the need for care in inviting people in the first place.)

3. What this “forces” me to do, if I want to build my follower list, is to selectively follow those on the lists of persons I follow with care, hoping they will follow me back. The reward is a potentially much more responsive following.

4. On your follower list (those who follow you), there are four options on the right hand drop down menu. @ mention, direct message, follow/unfollow and block. There is an additional button enabling you to click to follow someone who is following you.

My own opinion is that Twitter should consider entirely eliminating the Direct Message option. I doubt many read direct messages as they are automated in most cases and either pro forma or pitching something.

This leaves the @ mention or reply function as the most likely to get through to someone else. I have used it very selectively recently to mention someone I am following. I wonder if the Follow Friday mode will now become a daily follow fest.

All told, I think the newly refurbished follow and follower pages will force a more thoughtful approach to following. Whether it will also open up new forms of abuse remains to be seen.

The only abuse I have seen recently is the use of @ replies to spam users including me. My response is to block those who do this.

By making the block function more prominent, I think Twitter is upping the ante in the fight against spam.

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Twitter Tip: A Radical Approach to Spam Follows

Twitter Tip: A Radical Approach to Spam Follows

If you invite someone by following them, you are ALREADY following them, whether or not they reply with a “following you” email.

This means you do NOT need to fear deleting ALL your “following you” email. Acceptance emails complete the loop. The rest of your “following you” email is spam or prospecting for followers.

If you want to go completely radical on this and pare your list of followers down, then post something like the following as needed.

SPAM follows. I now delete all following email.If I miss you, send me a @ reply with FOLLOW. I will check these. Thanks. S

To rephrase this, I believe if someone you want to follow gets missed, he or she should be invited to send you a @ reply with FOLLOW as the message. This means I can check the profile again and follow the person.

Naturally if you get mail from someone you follow and recognize it, you can and should keep it. But if you are getting tens and even hundreds of spam and prospecting follows each day,an approach like this may help.

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