All posts in “Twitter”

Unfollowing 400,000 People on Twitter

About nine months ago, I was near the magical 1.1 ratio when I suddenly could no longer follow anyone. I unfollowed to about a 1.0 ratio, but this didn’t help and of course no word back from Twitter. I also noticed that my followers were still growing even though I wasn’t following back. This was a bit of a surprise so I let the experiment run…

  • No new friends – I was bound by a bug in Twitter, nothing I could do here (after three months, this was fixed)
  • Unfollow deadbeats – I kept a bot going that unfollowed people that were not reciprocally following
  • Unfollow abandoned accounts – If the account did not tweet for 4 days, unfollow
  • Unfollow bots – keywords in tweets/descriptions and number of total tweets got flagged and unfollowed
  • Unfollow non-English speakers – even Japanese accounts (which I could read), kanji, cyrillic, greek, hangul, and kana. No offense to anyone, I just can’t parse info that fast.
  • Unfollow spammers – keywords would flag my bot and the user unfollowed

This left me with about 20,000 friends which I attempted to weed out manually over the course of a few weeks. I also tightened the screws on the bot params above and caught more in my net. Then I started catching too many false positives. I was at 8k friends by this point so I decided to be indiscriminate and unfollowed everyone. Everybody but Dave McClure (this was purely just a fluke). Twitter shows me following almost 400 people now, but that actually isn’t true – 350 of those users are invisible to me. Invisible users are fine, but I still see their crap in my feed. I’m sure this will get straightened out as my info propagates.

So I pulled a “Scoble” on everyone? I guess, but this was a carefully controlled process over a nine-month period. It was only when I unfollowed everyone the jig was up. Did I lose a ton of followers doing this? No, I’m actually getting more followers now than I ever did.

Why did I do this? I use lists, a lot, but they just were a pain. I also didn’t like the signal I was sending people – I’m not thrilled by the f4f community and all I got in my @ stream was “follow me!” or my favorite, “follow me or i unfollow u”. I don’t want to be part of that community and really just want to user twitter in a new way – to remain informed, to network, and chat with friends.

The last thing is the amount of auto-tweeting I do – I have a ton of feeds from my other networks set up to tweet, the only external source is the Slashdot rss feed (yes, I parse app store information to tweet about iOS app price drops, a huge effort behind the scenes). So I will most likely cut down on the auto-tweets. My first step towards this is a curation of my own Tumblr feed.

If I unfollowed you, don’t be offended, I will get back to following you soon.

Twitter: Fix These Three Things!

I could make this a list of a hundred things, but these three are really getting to me:

1) Get Straight Your Bulk Rules
Sites like Twitter Karma do not allow you to bulk unfollow because it’s against your terms of service, but they are allowed to bulk block! What do you think people are going to do? A) Click on each person, use the pulldown menu, unfollow or B) Bulk block. This does not make sense.

2) State Your Following Rules
The explanation you give for why you “are not allowed to follow more people at this time” is absurd. There is a link to Follow Limits And Best Practices Page, but it’s busted. And anyway, the rules have changed again over the past week and I’m yet to pin it down. The 24hr/1,000/1.1 ratio follow limit is no longer valid. Why do we have to guess at these things?

3) Delete Accounts
If an account is deleted, umm, I probably don’t want to follow it. I also don’t want to see it following other people (check list followers for an example).

Which brings me to another point….

Most people don’t know how to use lists. I get put on these follow-back lists, people follow the list, then message me about why I didn’t follow them back. You’re doing it wrong!

TrueTwit Is The Devil

Update: Seems that TrueTwit has brought out their “premium” paid model where you aren’t forced to TT your potential followers. Sounds more like blackmail than a service.

Update 2: How are you supposed to validate if the fraking site is down? Screenshot at very bottom. FAIL.

There are many great services popping up in the Twitter ecosphere, but there is one that I fail to understand. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I could just ignore it, but it is forced upon me. There is also a viral mechanism in play that is causing this dreadful service to propagate and I can barely stand it anymore. I left a comment on their blog and sent a message to their Twitter account about this negative viral impact. The blog comment was deleted within 24 hours. The service I speak of is TrueTwit (no link for you!).

This is what the service does:

Stop wasting time with spammers on twitter. We will validate your followers so you don’t have to.

Use Case
A bit of head scratching later, I realized this service is catered to those that auto-follow. If you didn’t, you could weed out the spammers/bots yourself.

Flaws In This Model

  • Auto-Followers are most likely to be spammers/bots themselves.
  • Putting up barriers for followers is only going to turn people off.
  • If you don’t auto-follow, what difference does it make that a spammer is following you?

Negative Virality
This is where things really start to suck. According to the site, you can bypass all this CAPTCHA nonsense if you sign up with the service. What isn’t apparent is that when you sign up, you become one of them, now making your potential followers jump through hoops. And on it goes.

Much anecdotal evidence points to these facts:

  1. Using the service will greatly decrease your followers
  2. People aren’t always aware that they have been assimilated

I’ve attempted to discuss these problems with the service, but they are unwilling. I could be wrong about all this and this service could be the best thing since sliced bread, but I don’t see the light.

Please post a comment on your thoughts of this service. I’m very interested in what you have to say.

Follow clatko on Twitter.

Twitter Suspended Me!

twitter_deadUpdate: An interesting thing I noticed about the suspension process is that Twitter literally unfollows ALL your friends. And when you are reinstated, they refollow ALL your friends. I would think there would be some kind of suspended flag somewhere to avoid taxing the server like this, but that isn’t how they roll. With having just followed 93,000 people in a single day, you can imagine how many DMs I got (19k and climbing).

For reasons unknown, Twitter has suspended my main account, @clatko. I have submitted support tickets but have the feeling those are going straight to /dev/null. I’m so lost without my account, I’ve gone and done the most faux paus thing possible, appealed to the Twitter developer list. I don’t expect a response on there until Monday as usually Twitter devs don’t work on weekends.

Come Monday, I’m going to raise the storm of storms to get my account reactivated. I have a pretty strong battle plan and may need to call on my facebook friends and friendfeed subscribers. I’m not going out without a fight.

Oh, look. My account is back. Somebody somewhere must like me.

Thank you!


Twitter is Dying

Follow Like Crazy

Follow Like Crazy

Update: I have confirmed that Twitter is using MySQL (unless the mentioned upgrades are a move to a different DB).

With all due respect, Michael Jackson may have given Twitter the final knockout punch. I’m sure you guys are sick of hearing of Twitter’s problems, and frankly I’m sick of writing about them. This new failure is worse than any failwhale, this is a failure of concurrency. Here is a brief timeline of what has happened so far:

  1. June 3 – Twitter realizes there is a half-hour lag on follow/unfollow that should be resolved WITHIN THE NEXT HOUR OR SO.
  2. June 18 – Twitter states it is making infrastructure upgrades to fix the follow/unfollow delay OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS.
  3. June 23 – Twitter again states there is a lag on follow/unfollow and offers additional info on areas affected – device notification changes and favoriting, BUT WE ALREADY KNEW THIS.
  4. June 23 – Twitter announces additional upgrades for the 24th to fix the problem and says the problem will persist UNTIL LATER IN THE DAY TOMORROW.
  5. June 24 – Twitter says the upgrades were successful and that the catch up period will last FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER 6-12 HOURS.
  6. June 25, 11:26 am – A Twitter employee states “We’re still working on the fix and this is currently the top priority of the services team. It’s a pretty extensive code deployment so it is taking some time.”
  7. June 26 – I’m following fewer people today than I was yesterday and my 1,000 FOLLOWING/DAY LIMIT HAS BEEN HIT.

I can’t talk about the Twitter infrastructure, but I’ve seen this problem before in one of my own companies. With MySQL replication across multiple servers and tons of activity going on, it is almost impossible for the slaves to catch up. In addition, each replicator is generating enormous log files in the event replication fails. These log files can quickly fill up a server especially if you don’t know what you’re doing and have MySQL in a tiny /var partition. Once the log file overruns the server, you cease to replicate until the situation is rectified. I suspect this is what the problem is and with each addition of servers (in the above-mentioned upgrades), those log files get nastier and nastier. There is a fix for this replication problem, but it involves taking all systems offline, rsynching from a master (if there is one) and clearing all logs.

Now MJ steps into the picture and blows the infrastructure away. The search sidebar was removed and later re-added, but this just keeps the failwhale at bay and does nothing but compound the follow/unfollow delays. Now we’re at critical mass with this problem as follow/unfollow basically does not work, or works inconsistently at best. This is going to turn people off in droves as the system is not working as expected. The “I just don’t get it” of Twitter has just been amplified. The image on the above-right show a single person that REALLY wants to follow me, each mail highlighted in blue says “This person has just followed you,” sad thing is, after all this effort they still aren’t following me.

With the failwhale, people got upset but realized that there is so much cool stuff going on here I can hang tight until the system is back. It is sort of like the logic behind the beta-invite. This is entirely different, Twitter isn’t acting as expected.

Also, I’m only taking about one aspect of Twitter in this post. There are the search problems which still aren’t fixed despite the update provided in that link. There was the “all posts coming from the web” problem which occurred over a weekend where, apparently, they take a holiday. This may not sound like a big deal, but it was for a lot of developers and even one business had to SHUT DOWN until the problem was fixed. There are many, many other issues that I’m just not going to bring up.

I’m not giving up on Twitter, but you can find me on FriendFeed.

To Twitter’s credit they have been fairly open on their status blog and their employees are pretty active on the mailing lists.