Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Great Twitter Unfollow Purge

It's becoming harder and harder to keep up with my Twitter stream. Too many posts. Not enough time. So I decided to do a little research and unfollow those who tend to post a high volume of tweets that aren't in an area of my interest. I planned to start off with, but I didn't see a way to run a batch and generate a ranked list. I ended up doing it the old fashioned way and clicked through a name at a time on the Twitter web site. That isn't a very efficient way to go through hundreds of names, so after an hour I'm not even halfway through. But I have learned a lot about what I don't find useful. For instance, a constant stream of:
  • Personal information from people I don't have personal relationships with.
    • foursquare check-ins
    • meal reports
    • running statistics
    • general emo
    • weather reports
  • Commercial announcements for events or products I'm not interested in
  • Links to favorited videos or music
  • References to god or political opinion
Now none of the categories I mentioned are bad in themselves. If you habitually post in one of the categories above, I will assume that most of your followers (or at least your mom) are waiting with bated breath to know things like the temperature in your home town, your breakfast menu each morning or the dozen videos you favorited today. But since I personally don't have much use for such information, I hope those I've unfollowed (who notice) won't take it personally.

I also ended up unfollowing people I didn't recognize who hadn't posted in over three months. Although they don't clutter my Twitter stream, I think its a bit disingenuous to keep following people who aren't active just because some of them will unfollow me eventually out of spite and hurt my rankings on Crap's list of top Second Life tweeps.

So that's my story. The purge continues. I feel so clean!


Sean Kleefeld said...

Wohoo! I've made it past Round 1!

Either that, or you just haven't gotten to my name yet.

I'll assume the former since that's a more pleasant thought. :)

Ari Blackthorne™ said...

I would say that "Crap's List" even mattering at all is a reason to unfollow someone. Blogging and Tweeting, the way I see it shouldn't be a race or ranking game.

I personally cow
Dn't care any less about who actually follows me. What is important is who I choose to follow... For the exact reasons you state in this post.

I like Crap... Read his blog sometimes, but for me, too negative all the time to follow in Twitter. LOL I have a friend who mentioned that to him. He banned them in Twitter! LOL

Onyx Plutonian said...

good for you for clearing out the clutter. I've found @twitcleaner works pretty well and even splits up your follow list into degrees of annoying.

Botgirl Questi said...

Sean: You're one of my comics tweeps! It's a good example of a niche subject that people either love or could care less about.

Ari: I use Twitter in many ways, so both followers and followed matter to me. One way I use Twitter is as a platform for micro-blogging and as a virtual stage for performance-art. I also use it to announce new blog posts, videos, etc. As a writer/performer, I have to admit that I like an audience. That's why I post publicly instead of sticking to a private diary on my hard drive.

Followers also matter to me because I like to share links I think will be interesting to many of those who follow me.

That said, the raw number of followers doesn't matter because many or most of them don't pay attention. It's really easy to run up a huge number of followers if you follow back everyone. Some people even habitually follow new people every week and then unfollow those who don't follow back.

I personally try to be conscientious of what I post since I view Twitter as a public commons. I've written before that use as a way to evaluate how good a job I'm doing in estimating the interests of my followers by reviewing the click rates.

Onxy: Thanks. I actually ended up using @twitcleaner towards the end of the process, but still viewed each person's last couple of pages of tweets on the Twitter site before making a decision. If someone is posting stuff I find interesting, the more tweets the merrier as far as I'm concerned. And even if someone only posts a couple tweets a day, if they are never of interest there's really no point in following them (unless we have some sort of outside relationship.)

iliveisl said...

how about just using the list feature in twitter? =)

Botgirl Questi said...

I do have a Twitter "short list" with just a handfull of the people I follow most closely. When I don't have time for a full read, that's what I'll view. But if I follow someone, I think it's a statement that I'll read their tweets in the course of my regular stream viewing. Hiding people's posts by only or mostly viewing some select list feels dishonest to me.