Twitter

Open Letter To Twitter Users

To all those who use Twitter:

Please stop filling my public timeline with your automatically generated content. I don’t want to know your exact location. I don’t want to know what you just listened to on Last.FM. I don’t want to see what you just listened to or downloaded on iTunes. I don’t want to know what you just purchased. I don’t want to see your automatic welcome Tweets to new followers.

Have a nice day and thank you 🙂

Really, all of that information is what I consider to be crap if nothing else, noise. At this point, I follow 615 people on Twitter. The stream of information that is manually submitted to Twitter by these end users is what I am interested in the most. But you might be one of those people who thinks that streaming your Last.FM recently played tracks to Twitter would be an acceptable social thing to do so those who follow you can know the type of music you’re interested in. However, I am seriously wondering if Twitter is the appropriate place for people to be aggregating this information?

Why do I follow someone? It’s because of what the individual says in 140 characters or less. I could very well just block people or unfollow them to clean up my stream but in some aspects, it would be a shame to do so because these same people have very interesting things to say. I can’t control what they decide to aggregate through their account but I would like to see people aggregate that information to somewhere other than Twitter. Perhaps on a blog or an entirely separate Twitter account.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

Author: jeffc

23 thoughts on “Open Letter To Twitter Users

  1. I’m not the biggest fan of twitter by a long shot, but if you don’t like the stream stop following. Twitter is like the matrix in a linear format. If you are Neo and can keep up with the stream its cool. If you are just your average schmuck in the matrix, it gets a little over done, but if someone is pushing the stream to fast then stop following them. Preaching to people about their online behavior patterns is a little over the top imho (ok, I’ll stop preaching now. 😉 )

  2. Jeff, I usually like your posts, but I am somewhat bothered by this one. Twitter asks “What are you doing right now?” If I am listening or reading something, then announcing that is simply replying to Twitter’s principle question.

    Don’t get me wrong. I see plenty of unexciting tweets from people I follow. But quite often, the guy who tweets what he had for breakfast follows up with something really interesting later in the day. I have also gleaned some helpful information from tweets that others might find boring.

    So who has the right to dictate what an acceptable tweet should be? If you don’t like what someone has to say, just unfollow them.

    I was somewhat disturbed by your question about Twitter being the right place for discussions about what you were listening to at the moment. Twitter was designed to be a social exchange. The fact that many users (including myself) have found the service extraordinarily helpful for promoting causes, websites and business activities shouldn’t eliminate the base premise: Telling others what you are doing, so they can follow your activities throughout the day.

    It seems like you are attempting to bend Twitter to your own ends. because you don’t like how other people are using the service. To me, this is like someone coming over to my house and telling me which television program I should watch and what I should eat for dinner.

    I know that sometimes Twitter noise is overwhelming and it can be annoying to find nonsense n your Twitter stream. Still those posting what they are doing at the moment, including what they are listening to, are using the service the way it was designed to be used. We who use the service for business and PR need to be mindful of the fact that it is foremost a social medium and we must be respectful to those who are using the service to actually…socialize.

    —————————————————————

    Tom Bonner is the author of the Sony Alpha DSLR-A300/A350 Digital Field Guide from Wiley press. He blogs regularly at http://alphatracks.com.

  3. No but really I do agree with HART and on principle also. The point of ‘social media’ and ‘social networking’ and ‘user generated content’ is that its by the people for the people which means i tweet what i want. Now I dont personally do any of the annoying things you mentioned but I reserve the right to if the mood strikes, and all my followers reserve the right to ditch my feed immediately. Perhaps instead of complaining you could spend some time cleaning up your twitter subscriptions. Or if, as you mentioned, the decision is too agonizing because some of these people say things you’re interested in sometimes then… well… decide. Stick with it and put up with it or drop it. Pretty simple really. Otherwise I think you’re at risk of sounding like an old out-of-touch fuddy duddy, my friend.

    I don’t mean to offend with this direct sounding comment but yeah it just seems to me your post goes against the spirit of the whole Web 2.0 phenomenon thingy…

  4. Please stop filling my public timeline with your automatically generated content. I don’t want to know your exact location. I don’t want to know what you just listened to on Last.FM.
    Yes Its cheesed to receive the unimportant updates from other followers.
    Also ??dont want to public what i have done recently.

  5. What I do is unfollow them. I really enjoy when people create twitter accounts solely to push out other information. Then if I want to see their music stream, I can. You can make more than one Twitter account, so please do if you want to push information out.

  6. I totally agree, and I’m not saying I don’t want to know about that new band you found, or the great indie movie you just watched, but do I really need to know every track on every album you’re listening too?

  7. .. is that I have to log in everyhwere on non-twitter applications that use the Twitter API and give my username and password up everytime.

    (while I was here reading the rest of the comments)

  8. I agree with you Jeff, I can’t stand the music tweets. My answer is to simply unfollow them. I only follow people I have some connection with. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the 1,000 or so who follow me, but there’s just no way I can follow every one of them back. I’d miss the stuff I really want to read because of all the noise.

  9. I wished twitter has a filtration system where i could filter messages with links from a certain website in that way i could filter manually created contents that are reliable and authorative.

  10. Furthermore, if you continue to follow people whose behavior irks you so much you’re just encouraging them to continue that behavior. If people just stop following the obnoxious they’ll get the message and the twitter market will work itself out.

  11. I agree 100% with HART. If you can’t find the value in spite of the noise, you’re going to have to find some other service. Or find some better way to filter.

    Some Tweeple can be too much, but when I find someone whose Tweets are of value, I don’t mind their tidbits about food, the weather, music, etc. I even follow a couple of people who only Tweet about these things because I find those people interesting.

  12. How many would be interested in a service that included custom search and filters allowing you to “clean up” your stream.

  13. Why do I follow someone? It’s because of what the individual says in 140 characters or less. I could very well just block people or unfollow them to clean up my stream but in some aspects, it would be a shame to do so because these same people have very interesting things to say

    I don’t understand how someone you follow can be interesting and have very interesting things to say – but their choice of music is uninteresting or the posts they promote are not interesting either.

    He didn’t say anything about the posts they promote (and hopefully, you’re talking about posts from their own blog, and not just the people that twitter every single cool link they find online). Stuff like what music people like is interesting, but only in context. If a person wouldn’t phone me up to tell me when the song on their iTunes changes, why would they spread that info just “because they can”? It makes no sense.

    Their choice of music itself is interesting, their favourite band of the week is interesting – but every single song they listen to all day every day is not.

    I much prefer typed messages, because they are things that the people I follow would say to me if we were sitting next to each other in real life. I agree with everything Paul (from CraneFactory) said. It’s all about context and a modicum of restraint.

  14. I’m not too concerned about this, myself. Firstly, my Twitter mostly serves as a “pull” mechanism for messaging rather than “push.” I chose not to let Twitter control my life (at least after some time!) by not letting it alert me of new tweets, such as thru SMS or instant messaging, or some Twitter client. I mostly access Twitter either through the Web interface or through mobile Web. So I just check every once in a while, and re-tweets, and blog post notifications don’t bother me, since I just skip through those that I don’t find interesting.

    At any rate, I only follow a few folks (about a hundred), so I’m not so worried about my Twitter homepage being flooded.

    Still, I do find human-written tweets more interesting than ones that are automatically generated.

  15. … the automatic Welcome tweets are extremely annoying ..

    But – if you can’t stand the heat .. get out of the kitchen – meaning, I disagree with everything else you said and if it bothers you having these type of tweets in your public timeline – either unfollow people or get off of twitter and use Google Talk or MSN messenger and keep it to yourself! :Ptfftttf

    It’s really sad that people with iPhones are complaining about reading too many tweets on the bus or train or during their lunch hour or during business meetings when they are pretending to listen and at least I hope not doing this while driving or doing their make-up in the car … but I digress …//

    I sometimes spend a lot of time on twitter and very little time on other days. When I do spend time, a lot of it is in lurk mode, and it’s nice to see some songs from last.fm and other songs people are listening to – because I have over 3500 .mp3’s on my computer and sometimes a song inspires a playlist I can play.

    I don’t mind the weather and location tweets, because it is fascinating being able to talk to anybody around the world – we never had that years ago – and the world is getting smaller and smaller every day. It’s winter friggin ice age here and heat wave down under. It’s almost time for bed here and some other friends are just about to have lunch.

    The RT’s are curious and sad, because sometimes – the most RT’s you see are from the popular people, Probl, Scoble, GuyK, etc who each have thousands of followers, so there’s a good chance that you will see the same tweet RT’ed over and over again. But – I try to RT the ones that are not one the “A” lists – because I’ve got over 1200 followers and if I see something interesting – I do like to pass it on and there is a great chance the RT’s of myself – are not seen by the people that I see because not everybody is following 1200 people like me either!

    Automated twitterfeed and posts from your blog is the whole idea of sharing in my opinion and good for the economy because people (hobbyists) and owners (small business) can effectively market their product, service or promote their thoughts, ideas and tips to a vast amount of people without spending and overspending on advertising ie. adwords, yahoo ads, etc.

    Why do I follow someone? It’s because of what the individual says in 140 characters or less. I could very well just block people or unfollow them to clean up my stream but in some aspects, it would be a shame to do so because these same people have very interesting things to say

    I don’t understand how someone you follow can be interesting and have very interesting things to say – but their choice of music is uninteresting or the posts they promote are not interesting either.

    Anyway .. I’m just trying to give the flip side of the coin – food for thought

    HART

  16. LastFM is too much, unless its maybe a single tweet once per week to say “My top artist/group this week was XYZ”.

    Location stuff gets annoying when its not in any way relevant. “I’m at 123 Boring St” is irrelevant, whereas “I’m at Time Square taking panoramas with my new Canon Superdooper MK47 Whazoo camera” is more interesting.

    I do agree with people feeding their blog RSS into Twitter, but not them feeding high volume stuff like Starred Items in Google Read or every single thing they bookmark on Delicious.

  17. I don’t say anything about the generated tweets, but it’s truly a pain to have to click and scroll through (esp. on my iPhone) tens if not hundreds of generated tweets to look for the ones hand-typed by people I follow who tweet less often. I follow less than 200 users, but already at least a third of my timeline is contributed by scripts, not hands.

    A few of the people I follow piss me off with all those welcomes; I mean, I’m following someone for his tweets, not to know who the hell also follows him.

    I’m perfectly OK with blog feeds because I do read the posts they link to often. It only starts to get on my nerves once more than one person tweets (or retweets) the links almost seemingly automatically, but that’s not within my control…

    I hate to say it, but Twitter is certainly beginning to lose its purpose of answering the question, “What are you doing?” I mean, seriously – does “Nice to meet [names of 8 users]” look like it answers that question? Not to me!

  18. Even as a new Twitterer, I must agree. Just after Neil RT’d the notification for this post I found two retweets by a bot. It could very much kill the idea of hashtags much too soon.

    Jaiku was fairly good at integrating a large number of scrobbles into one, but I can easily see how even that would become annoying if you follow more than a few people (and they listen to music actively).

    I’ve even been really conservative in the links I tweet, figuring most will have noticed them through other channels as well.

  19. I agree whole-heartedly. The only exception to the auto-generated tweets that I’m happy with, are those generated by a service that posts the twitterers own new blog post notifications. Generally these are infrequent, on topic, and of interest to me, as I already follow the author. If the post notification wasn’t made by a bot, it would certainly be written manually by the twitterer anyway.

    The bots that annoy me the MOST however, are a relatively new type I’ve seen more often lately. I suppose you could call them “aggregator bots” and they’re the bane of users of hashtags. The people running these bots think they are being helpful by monitoring a keyword, such as “how to”, and then retweeting every post with those keywords. If the monitored keyword is a hashtag, then people following that hashtag get the same message twice. Some of these bots even spread the tweet over two messages if it’s too long once they’ve added the “retweeting” message.

    The solution to this is to tell the bot to remove the hashtag, which I have seen at least one honorable bot author do. I hope others will follow that example, or the extremely useful hashtag idea could soon be overwhelmed in a sea of retweets.

  20. I agree about music, lately quite a few people keep tweeting bursts of music tracks I have completely no interest in. Automatic welcomes are completely sick.

    I am fine with agregating links, I think sharing those is good part of twitter. At moment I am twiterfeeding my posts and thinking about adding my stumbles (at low rate, maybe one per hour or something).

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