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It’s not me, it’s you – why I don’t follow you on Twitter

Seems like Twitter‘s really starting to hit the mainstream now1 so in the absence of an established etiquette (no, not ‘twettiquette’ or ‘etwiquette’) I’m putting up my very personal reasons for not following you in the first place or not following you any more, even if you are kind enough to follow me on Twitter.

Reasons why I don’t follow you or have stopped following you on Twitter:

  1. Your grammar or spelling is consistently poor.  (For example, not knowing when to use your/you’re or they’re/their/there, comma splicing (usually when using the word ‘however’), incorrect use of the possessive apostrophe.)  I don’t want to get into a discussion about whether it matters if your English is perfect when you’re online.  It’s just that I write and edit for a living, ergo correcting other people’s English is second nature to me, and it’s irritating for me if I find myself constantly mentally putting Word into ‘track changes’ mode.
  2. Your tweet signal-to-noise ratio is low.  This is a difficult one, because what counts as signal to me depends on who you are.  If you’re a mate or even someone I’ve met just once, I’m going to put up with seemingly inane crap or personal rants because the personal connection makes it interesting to me.  If you’re a software house or service provider, I expect your tweets to give me something on top of what I could find out from my RSS subscriptions.  If all you’re doing is tweeting links to press releases or blog posts, then that is Not A Good Thing.
  3. Your tweets mainly consist of links to your blog posts.  If you’re only using Twitter to publicise other online activity then a) I think you’re missing the potential of Twitter and b) it comes across as really needy or narcissistic.  Make your tweets interesting in themselves, and when you tweet the occasional link to your other work, I’ll be infinitely more inclined to click through.
  4. You retweet unthinkingly. RT juter @logorrhoea I have a rule about overuse of re-tweets: it’s such lazy me-tooism.
  5. You put up several tweets about the same subject within a short space of time.  If you need more than 140 characters, may I humbly suggest you write a blog post instead (but bear in mind no.3 and no. 6 of this list).
  6. You’re using Twitter to broadcast, not to interact.  Unless your tweets are really interesting, if I get the feeling that you think Twitter’s just another broadcasting medium rather than an exciting way to interact with people, then I ain’t gonna follow you.
  7. It’s not obvious why you’re following me.  If you start following me, it’s nice to know why, unless the reason’s obvious.  (If it’s obvious that you’re following me to plug your stuff, I definitely won’t be following back.)
  8. You don’t/hardly tweet.  Even if you’re really new to Twitter, or are returning to an old account, it doesn’t do any harm to put up a couple of tweets to show signs of life so that I know that you’re not following me for voyeuristic reasons.
  9. You don’t follow me.  If I follow you and you don’t follow me back, then I’m less inclined to keep following you (unless your tweet SNR is particularly high).  That’s ok, though, because I really don’t take it personally.  Equally, you shouldn’t take it personally if you follow me and I don’t follow you back.

 

I’m deliberately leaving it at 9 reasons, lest anyone think I’ve contrived this blog post.  I’ve written this mainly so I could point people to it if they’re offended by me not following them.

The key point is, if I don’t follow you on Twitter it’s not personal.  Ok, it is personal in the sense that I specifically do not want to follow you, but that doesn’t mean that I think you’re a bad person or even a boring person. It just means that the things you tweet or the way you tweet isn’t my cup of tea.  I may absolutely love your company when we meet in person, though, so don’t let this come between us.  The list above isn’t aimed at any person in particular, so don’t flatter yourself or feed your paranoia that I’ve written something just about you.

  1. or it might be that I just happen to read/listen to the old media that has an obsession with it, a bit like The Observer’s puzzling preoccupation with Second Life []