Sunday 2 January 2011

Some random Twitter 'rules'

The first thing about Twitter is; there are no rules. No user guides to agree to on sign up. You can report someone for spamming you (sending repeated unsoliciticed messages, whether you're following the account or not), but you cannot report someone for being rude, obnoxious, irritating or having a bad day.

This is my very personal top 10 of things which wind me up on Twitter. I'm allowed a negative post every now and again, and I think we're running on a ratio of 1:9 at the moment. There's a mix of business and personal account gripes here. Not everyone will feel this way. (I think I've slapped enough disclaimer stickers on this now).

If you follow me, I expect you to at least make a passing attempt at 'engaging'. Because you followed me. Not the other way around. I didn't go looking for you, for some reason, unbeknown to me, you decided I might be an interesting person to have on your stream. So, when I talk to you, please don't act like I've committed some heinous offence. It's rude. I don't care how many followers you already have. I don't care how busy you are. I don't care that this account is a work account and I am not making you money so I am not worth talking to. You followed me. Talk to me, at least once, engage, just once and I will tolerate you. I might even like you. But everyone gets 2 chances. Then they get unfollowed. And I don't care who you are.

I don't expect you to care. I don't expect you to read everything. But please please please understand this is a two way transaction/relationship in the same way real life interactions/transactions/relationships are. Talk back. Don't broadcast at me. A certain comic shop - I am looking at you. You could learn much, very much, from the lovely, personably, charismatic @danacea who singlehandedly ensures I will shop at Forbidden Planet for the rest of my adult life. Also, don't say you get social media and do nothing but broadcast. This is not about bloody broadcasting. This is about engagement. If you're going to talk the talk you'd better walk the walk too. Or I will not trust your judgements nor your recommendations.

I will help you promote your business to the death if I believe in it and I wont if I don't because I just can't, I'm sorry. And don't expect me to retweet your stuff automatically, all the time and don't get annoyed when I don't. Something didn't hit a note with me. I'm picky as hell about what I retweet, if I weren't I'd ended up spamming (see above) everyone elses streams with things which didn't resonate with them. Which simply isn't the way Twitter works. Twitter is turning into many things it wasn't designed to be and peer reviewed content is one of those things. If I say something is fantastic or awesome, I mean it. I really do. Some of the people I follow, I click on every link they retweet for exactly the same reason - I trust them. They're my filters. I am grateful to them, not spiky with them.

Don't spam me. Human or bot, don't spam me. Filling my entire Tweetdeck column with tweets from the same account repeatedly, a tweet per second for however long, is going to make me cross. If it's coding which is the issue, please ask someone how to sort it so that the tweets which are scraping whatever site you're pointing Twitter at have intervals. 10 minutes would be good, 5 minutes tolerable. Ditto, if you've linked your Facebook page to Twitter to auto-tweet content, then please bear this in mind when posting multiple seperate updates to your Facebook page. I will unfollow even if I really want to read the content.

If you end up as part of a massive rolling conversation, it's okay to cut some people out and take the content off into a side conversation. Don't be bitchy/cruel/horrid to other people who were part of the conversation. They can still see what you're typing, because everyone who follows both of you can still see everything that you're typing. And it will upset people, people will call you on it and people will lose respect for you. It's okay to be you on Twitter, absolutely, but humiliating other people in public is just as uncool on Twitter as it would be in person, and the outcomes might be a little different to what you expect.

 I don't care who you are. I respect who you are. I am not talking to you because of who you are, I am talking to you because you are interesting or fun, fascinating or smart. I'm going to talk to you the same way everyone talks to everyone else on Twitter, which is possibly a little more informal than you are used to. If you want to join in the conversation, get used to it. Don't take offence. It's not disrespect, because chances are, one we've chatted a bit, I'll actually read your bio, process who I've just been speaking to, gulp a bit, and then carry on talking to you in exactly the same way. Because what you do in your day job does not define you and should not define you. You are more, you bring more to the table than just that. If you only want to talk about work, that's okay, but don't get annoyed at other people for personalising their streams.

Delicate one this, said elsewhere, but I'll say it again with a little more restraint. I am a girl. I like talking to people. I've been talking to people this way for a very long time. I am at home here. Don't ruin my happy space by hitting on me. If you insist on hitting on me, please do it by Direct Message where I can gently and politely explain that I have a boyfriend. Because I'm not having that conversation, any kind of that conversation, in a public stream. Conversely, I talk to people in a friendly way. I call people 'hon'. I am not hitting on you. It's just how I am with everyone I like and am comfortable with. Same goes for other girls - or rather I imagine same goes for other girls, but the DM rule still applies.

Other times you should take it to DM (direct message) include getting down to the nitty gritty of business transactions, asking someone to telephone you or to ask them if you may telephone them, to exchange phone numbers or Skype contact names or, indeed, any kind of personal information which you might not want your whole stream to know or see. That's the obvious stuff out of the way. The not to so obvious stuff is harder to quantify, but if you're getting into long conversations with just one person, and it's not something other people are going to learn from, take it to DM - for example if you're asking for tech support and it's getting complicated and involved.

It's okay to not be relentlessly positive. In fact, relentless positivity just makes me wonder if you're a bot. But relentless negativitiy is quite difficult to deal with when it is in your stream all day every day. Eventually, I'm going to unfollow you, no matter how sympathetic I am to your plight because it's winter and I hate winter and frankly, I am trying my hardest to stay cheerful as it is.

Scheduled tweets. You might think you're being incredibly clever. But when I respond to an auto-tweet of yours and you don't answer back once or twice, I will forgive you. If it becomes clear that every single one of your tweets is auto-tweeted, then I'm unfollowing. I want to engage with you - and if you want to sell me things, I suggest you hang around to answer any questions I might have about your new spangly product. Because if you're not there to answer questions, I will simply go and buy it from someone else who is around to tell me what I want to know about their products. Be quick, or be dead (get off the stream).



  1. like it. very much and agree.

  2. How do you come up with cracking posts every time! Agree with them all!

  3. Thank you guys!
    watford> If I knew where they came from...

  4. Enjoyed reading it & spreading it on my networks. Thanks!


  5. Overindulgent, noisy, trivial and wrong - just like your tweets, hence I do not follow you.

  6. Anonymous> Thanks for the feedback.

  7. Anonymous> Would you like to reveal who you are so the whole of Twitter can hunt you down and show you how absolutely, completely, wrong you are?

  8. Always good to see the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory proven:

  9. I like that Anonymous doesn't follow you, but does seek out your blog posts and take the time to comment. That takes real effort, that does ;-)

  10. Excellent and well put, I love it. I can relate to some of those. And how can you be wrong when it's your 'very personal Top 10'?

  11. @john :O)
    @dave you have wise words for _everything_ :O)
    @andy I LOL'd sorry ;O)
    @Phil I am now starting to wonder HOW MANY disclaimers I need to put at the start of a post.

  12. An excellent set of rules, I am sure that I will be referring people to it in the future!

  13. @LouLouK please ignore that rude Anonymous person, they obviously have some issues... what a way to contribute to the world, honestly....

    Enjoyed the post, not all are my rules, but as with anything on the internet treating people as you would like to be treated in the real world will always be the way forward...

    Hey maybe it shows your blog is popular if trolls start to arrive? :) However perhaps disabling that anonymous comment option might stop the occasional nasty?

  14. Anonymous: you are a cock of epic proportions. Please continue not following. The world will be a *much* better place.

    (Did I mention that you are a cock?)

  15. Really nice list; well thought out and well written and very enjoyable. And if you manage to annoy someone that much, you really are doing something right!

  16. Shaz (TarionDragon)7 January 2011 at 12:05

    How eloquently put! Loved it, thank you for voicing what I have been thinking and doing (with the unfollowing rude and repetative tweeters,) for some time now. I'm still fairly new to Twitter and was starting to think it was just me who thought this way!
    As for Anonymous, I find if someone isn't grown-up enough to put their name to their posts then they really aren't worth worrying about as they're just an ADHD oxygen stealer!

  17. Good points but as to 1) & 2) ... it depends on time and place and reason for membership, surely? Not everyone tweets 24:7, and some are just business accounts. I think it is more a case of honesty: I do follow some accounts that I know full well are just there to send out useful links and updates. It's just quicker than visiting the website.

    For me, it's more a case of honesty. Someone called @bobsmith with a human bio implies a personal level of interaction, whereas a business might be called @bobsmithphotography and have a link and some official bumf.

    Spammers are a pain in the bottom and I don't know why they don't get unfollowed every time: my pet hate is repeated messages that just say 'follow me, I have xyz followers'- no reason why or what they are about! I wouldn't stand in the street and yell 'talk to me', why think it doesn't seem odd online?