Feb 27, 2008
OR a list of social faux pas that are likely to get you removed from my follow list
(From my perspective: you may disagree. In fact, you probably will. Life’s rich tapestry and all that…)
- Using Twitter instead of (or as well as) an RSS feed.
Most web publishing services these days have RSS built in as standard. If you’ve got an RSS feed and I want to know when you’ve updated, I’ve already subscribed to it. If I haven’t, then I don’t, and you endlessly publishing links to your most recent blog output – constantly pushing your links at me – looks a little needy and interruptive.
- This is a bit like: having a child who tells you every time they do a poo.
- Not respecting the privacy of closed communication.
Twitter is based on trust and overlapping social graphs. If someone tweets something to their protected group, and you reply in public, everyone knows. I’ve seen people’s pregnancies, redundancies and job woes “announced” on twitter by well meaning friends responding publically to private news. Just because it feels intimate and private doesn’t mean it is.
- This is a bit like: hearing the loud end of an intimate conversation on a packed bus – “so Jeremy’s sleeping with Julie – it’s a secret though, don’t tell anyone!” Apart from the whole bus, that is.
- Being one-sided.
Twitter is a social transaction based on mutual curiosity – if I feel that you’re only interested in telling me about you, your life, your activities and your world, but not reading what I’m saying, then why are we linked in this service?
- This is a bit like: going out and your date only talks about themselves throughout the entire evening, and doesn’t even realise when you slip away through the back door halfway through the night.
- Engaging in constant, subtle self-promotion or aggrandisment.
Constructing tweets which look on the surface like status updates, but which are actually intended to show how popular/clever/important/influential the author is gets awfy wearing after a while.
- This is a bit like: hanging out with someone who wears their swimming proficiency badges twenty years on, name-drops at every opportunity and constantly twirls the keys to their Jaguar in front of your face. OR having a child who tells you every time they do a poo, and expects you to applaud.
- Being overtly conversational.
For me (and many others), Twitter isn’t a chat room. When I’m checking out people to add to my twitter list, I often look at their recent twitters. If more than half of the updates on the most recent page begin with @, there’s probably too much chat for my tastes.
- This is a bit like: people talking in the cinema around you. Even if you know and like them, you still wish they’d shhhhh, or go outside and have the conversation where no-one else can hear them.
- Being lopsided.
Twitter is a transaction, so if you never update, and I’m doing all the talking in our two-way relationship, it feels a little exposing and can lead to paranoia.
- This is a bit like: that bit in a job interview or on a date when you realise that you’ve been prattling on and the person on the other side of the desk has been sitting there looking at you, staring and silently judging.
- Following hundreds of people.
Since Twitter is a transaction, about relationships, about trust, the more people you follow the more unlikely it is that you’re able to genuinely follow everyone on your list. That means that there’s no personal connection anymore, and that you’re probably using the service as a broadcast medium – pushing content to an audience, rather than a way to aggregate and consume news and updates from your friends.
- This is a bit like: realising that someone who says they love you has also declared their affections for several hundred others. Feel special now? Thought not.
(Inspired in part by some of the questions (and answers) in Thayer’s Twitter Survey)