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Reflections on Twitter etiquette April 28, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Twitter.

I have only been on Twitter for a *very* short period of time, and I’ve already been followed and un-followed, both by simple strangers *and* people I know. Strange world we live in. Anyways, I was going to write a primer on Twitter etiquette, but realized that it would be such a useless waste of my time, I just decided to read, think and reflect on it.

For me, at the beginning, Twitter was a way to broadcast my newest posts. You follow me? Neat! I can reach you instantaneously (but chances are, you already read my blog through your RSS feed, so maybe I’m Twitter-spam to you). Then, numerous people followed me who I consider friends or with whom I want to become friends in real life. Even more neat! I began following them. We can now have Twitter conversations.

Then two weird phenomena happened. First, I got random people who started following me to un-follow me. Since I didn’t know them at all, I didn’t care all that much. Then I got people whom I actually know and like personally (and whose blogs I read) to follow me AND THEN un-follow me. So what am I now, chopped liver? Hehehe. Admittedly, it did sting for all of 24 seconds. But then I realized that they might have had their reasons to un-follow me, and that un-following me didn’t mean that (a) they liked me any less as a person (b) they liked my blog any less or (c) they thought I was Twitter-spam. Maybe they needed to pare-down their tweets, and I wasn’t part of the Twitterers whom they needed/wanted to read. Maybe they needed a break from my tweets. The reasons are countless, and most likely, nothing to do with me.

I have read all sorts of descriptions by other bloggers of the rules they have for following and un-following, for reading blogs and for commenting on blogs. I don’t really want to have any steadfast rules. Quite frankly, I’ve decided that, since my blog is about my random thoughts, my follows and unfollows should be just as random. One thing though – IF I follow you reciprocally, THEN it means that I DO want to have a conversation with you. So that means, if we are reciprocal in our follows, then I do expect to be able to engage with you in a meaningful way. If for some reason the conversation isn’t going the way we both would like to, then we ought to talk about it 😉

If there is no symmetry in our follows, (e.g. if I only follow you), then the conversation on Twitter isn’t all that relevant to me. Maybe we already talk over email, or comment on each other’s blogs. Or maybe we don’t even know each other! For example, there are a very small handful of people whom I follow and they don’t follow me. I haven’t unfollowed them because I think they got stuff I want to hear about. There are like four people who follow me and whom I don’t follow back. I just don’t know them well enough to reciprocate just yet. The rest, happily for me, is reciprocal follows, so all is good in the universe.

So, regardless of whether or not you follow me or I follow you, if I find what you read in your blog interesting, I’ll continue reading. And if you find mine interesting, I hope you will continue reading. That’s the nature of the beast. Adapting one of the best lines in the movie “Gossip”… “people are people, we do what we do… and then we Tweet about it“.



1. Keira-Anne - April 28, 2008

You will never get me on Twitter! Never, I say!

2. Raul - April 28, 2008

That’s ok … the best conversations I have with you are in person and through our blogs 🙂 You *are* a gem, you know that!

3. nancy (aka money coach) - April 28, 2008

yeah, Twitter’s a funny thing to figure out. I started following people who had stuff I wanted to hear, knowing they’d not bother following me. And I continue to follow them – they give out bleeding edge intel, so I feel ‘in the know’. Then I started following people I kinda/sorta knew. And Canadians. And the occasional non-cdn who seems like they’ve got fun/interesting tweets. I’m now following 150 people or so, and I’m saturated. I don’t have the heart to unfollow anyone (and would never unfollow you for the record!) yet have a dilemma when I discover another person who engages/interests me … can I handle yet another in the mix? And does it ‘dilute’ the people I truly want to be in tune with? What a weird dilemma to have.

As far as being unfollowed, I don’t really care, unless it’s someone with whom I’ve interacted, in which case I’d feel hurt. I know I’ve been unfollowed, but can’t figure out how to tell who left, and prefer not to know, actually.

Ah, these sensitive skins of ours.

4. Raul - April 28, 2008


I’ve been unfollowed by people I have interacted with, but have tried to not make anything of it. The thing is, for me, Twitter allows me to engage in conversations. For example, were it not for Twitter, I would *never* know what you’re up to, and sometimes I *might* be able to join you (except this past Sunday, for example). That’s the great value of Twitter for me. It allows me to keep an eye on those people whom I care for, and that are simultaneously on there. If they’re not Twittering, I try to create other avenues to keep in touch.

See you on Wednesday!!!!

5. isabella mori - April 28, 2008

well, raul, i’m delighted to follow you, and grateful for our little tweets back and forth.

i don’t know if i’ve ever been un-followed – i must have, since i’ve been on twitter for over a year, and sometimes i tweet quite a bit, as you know. i also have quite a few people who follow me out of the blue – but honestly, when i look at their (often non-existing) bio and (often non-existing) web site/blog and i don’t find what they have to say interesting, i don’t follow them. i find it hard enough to at least try to keep up with what people are tweeting who i am really interested in. maybe i’m a slow reader?

6. Raul - April 28, 2008

Thank you Isabella. You were one of those people I was referring to in my post, because I really enjoy that we tweet back and forth. Same with Nancy, same with lots of my other friends. The conversation is back and forth, not unilateral 🙂 That’s what makes Twitter… priceless!

Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

7. Sarah - April 30, 2008

Twitter sounds exhuasting! I will never join. Never! 🙂

8. Raul - April 30, 2008

🙂 I said the same thing about Facebook, Sarah, and now I’m seriously considering it!

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