Steve O’Grady and I have been talking recently about Twitter, social networks, friends, followers and the feeling of responsibility for what you post/tweet.1
Of course it isn’t realistic, but I wonder if people would be more likely to absorb good Twitter behavior if they had to follow people for a week before they could post.
I self-censor in Twitter at times because what I’m writing will be distributed to 1000+ people. I’m sure I still post crap from time to time, but I do make an effort. 😉
It’s similar to the mailing list warnings I’ve seen. I remember one that would tell you something like:
Your words will be sent to n people and approximately x man hours will be spent reading them. Are you sure you want to send this?
Steve and I have similar tastes in Twitter behavior. After much chit-chat, we have come to the conclusion that Twitter could be vastly improved if they simply changed the question from:
What are you doing?
Say something interesting.
Only somewhat snarkily submitted for your review. 😉
One other thing we’ve been discussing is how we react to “friending” activities in various social networks. I’ve gone so far as to set up a filter to auto-delete e-mail from Facebook, but similar e-mails from Twitter don’t seem to bother me. The difference is that the Facebook e-mails all come with a request for me to do something (log in, hit some buttons, etc.) while Twitter’s are just notifications that I can ignore or delete at my preference.
After discussing several different social networks, I’ve got a new postulate: the more a social network asks from me, the less likely I am to embrace it.
Agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments.
Changing the question as you suggest might make people think twice about what they tweet, but it is not a mailing list, so other standards apply here. You are not obliged to follow people either. If they tweet rubbish, just drop them. Unsubscribing from a mailing list would deprive you off all the emails from other people. Not so in Twitter.
I fully agree to your statement regarding the social networks. You should be in charge of your level of involvement with it, not the other way around.
Oh, and how can you only read NNW once a week!?! 🙂
I think you’re point about being forced to ‘do something’ in other networks is truly the difference. As someone who routinely brain-dumps in twitter I have to say, it’s a passive outlet for my readers. They are more than welcome to stop following etc. I feel much more ‘responsible’ for what I post to my blog, where I’ve worked harder to cultivate a readership and feel I owe them something more. Twitter – in my mind – is a ‘disposable’ flow, one that I fully expect readers to jump on and off of from time to time.
Hmm, the difference to me is that Twitter has a widely used push mechanism (SMS), while blogs don’t.
[…] â€œImprovingâ€ Twitter | alexking.org obviously i agree. as i’ve written before, i wish more Twitterers were less verbose in their communication, but Twitter still encourages the opposite. (tags: twitter mevthee alexking) […]
It’s funny to see that in The Netherlands there is a core usergroup of Twitter who don’t use Twitter as a micro-bloggin tool but more as a chatroom. Although this might be seen as a bothersome if you use it as it was suppose to it does ad something extra to the communicationmix.
It’s become like an elite chatroom where you need to be accepted by many individuals before you really can join in on the fun. Most people who use Twitter in The Netherlands are either marketeers or have a strong affiliation with internet or media.
It functions very well. People dicuss topics, put documents up for review, ask for help with their Mac or PC and discuss new websites or webapplications. Even company names have been made-up using Twitter. And whenever there is a big soccer match or Dragon’s Den is on TV people discuss it via Twitter making it a social TV app.
Is this happening just in The Netherlands or do you spot the same behavior in other parts of the world?
This is one of the interesting things about Twitter. Since it started somewhat as a platform, a wide variety of usages popped up. And they can’t very well turn that off now.
Groups might be an interested way to mitigate this, but I completely understand why they have to be very careful in rolling out a feature like that.
Why don’t you go to Facebook’s account page and turn off email notifications? That way you save a lot of everyone’s precious global bandwidth.
It’s a nice tactic by Facebook- email you so you never forget it’s there, but make you click to find out what is happening- that way they get the ad revenue.
I tried twitter when it first came out and was absolutely disgusted by how utterly awful it was. Never mind wasting time reading stupid comments, it took 2 minutes to post an update. It’s hopefully come of age (hired some decent staff and bought some hardware) now, so I’m giving it another go… http://twitter.com/alexanderhowell
I agree whole-heartedly. I am tired of feeling the minutes of my life slip away with every tweet that reads, “So-and-so is sleeping.”
I hate those rascally tweets
[…] Alex puts it: Twitter could be vastly improved if they simply changed the question from: What are you […]
I disagree. “Say something interesting” is subjective. If people get bored or overwhelmed, they’re free to un-follow – temporarily or permanently.
The SMS push you mentioned is, again, voluntary, and opt-in. They’re free to turn it off, just like they’re free to unsubscribe from a blog’s RSS feed.
Interesting thoughts on social networks requiring actions, but as pointed out, you can turn all of that off in the settings.
Mental note never to follow gRegor on any social sites. 😉
haha, well I do try to keep things interesting, but I can’t guarantee it will be interesting to everyone. 🙂
I’m a fairly n00b tweeter. I am currently following too many people and trying to sort out who to drop. The fact I find a broad range of things to be interesting does not make it easy.
The people who generate 20 tweets every half hour may be interesting but not more so than the people who generate one or two tweets a day (or less frequently). The infrequent-yet-interesting tweeters’ tweets get lost in the deluge.
I would like a couple of features: (1) a page that aggregates the most recent tweets of all those I follow, like Facebook aggregates status updates of my friends in order of recency, and (2) a way to bookmark interesting tweeters that I don’t want to follow for a while but don’t want to forget about. Yes, I could use a bookmarking app to do that but I want it to be a Twitter-based feature.
On the whole I am loving Twitter. I liken it to permitted eavesdropping although that’s just a start to what’s great about it. I’ve done this with email lists where I lurk but email lists have their deficiencies.
[…] to the bank,” “Eating ice cream,” “Going to sleep.” Alex King suggests that the “what are you doing” question be replaced with the imperative, “Say […]
I couldn’t agree with you more regarding the greater demand, the lower my interest sentiment.
I signed up to Facebook (just to see what the fuss was about some time ago), used it for about a week and then became frustrated with it essentially demanding my attention all the time.
I now login in periodically to check things, maybe once every six to eight weeks.