Those Who Give Twitter *Get* Twitter

June 6, 2009
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Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb wrote a post arguing that the people working at Twitter aren’t using the service the way its power users do, and that this bodes ill for Twitter. His main arguments:

  • Twitter’s employees don’t twitter very much: an average of 2 to 3 tweets per person per day.
  • Twitter employees don’t follow very many other people: only 2 out of 49 Twitter team members follow more than 500 people and no one was over 1k.
  • Twitter staff members aren’t following top Twitter developers in the community.

I can’t really address the third point, but the first two–and especially the second–are hardly helpful to Kirkpatrick’s case. To the contrary, they argue that the people who work at Twitter get it. And, to make sure Kirkpatrick got it, Twitter CEO Ev Williams even wrote him a letter, in which he said:

Many people fall into the trap that you should follow all or most people back out of a sense of politeness or so-called engagement with the community… At a certain point, you’re not actually reading any more tweets by following more people — you’re just dipping into the stream somewhat

Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb wrote a post arguing that the people working at Twitter aren’t using the service the way its power users do, and that this bodes ill for Twitter. His main arguments:

  • Twitter’s employees don’t twitter very much: an average of 2 to 3 tweets per person per day.
  • Twitter employees don’t follow very many other people: only 2 out of 49 Twitter team members follow more than 500 people and no one was over 1k.
  • Twitter staff members aren’t following top Twitter developers in the community.

I can’t really address the third point, but the first two–and especially the second–are hardly helpful to Kirkpatrick’s case. To the contrary, they argue that the people who work at Twitter get it. And, to make sure Kirkpatrick got it, Twitter CEO Ev Williams even wrote him a letter, in which he said:

Many people fall into the trap that you should follow all or most people back out of a sense of politeness or so-called engagement with the community… At a certain point, you’re not actually reading any more tweets by following more people — you’re just dipping into the stream somewhat randomly and missing a whole lot of what people say. That’s fine, but I believe people will generally get more value out of Twitter by dropping the symmetrical relationship expectation and simply curating their following list based on the information and people they want to tune in to.

Amen! I’ve been hammering this point here in most of my posts about Twitter, but here is a handful of examples for newer readers:

And of course the whole point of TunkRank is to discourage the vicious circle of reciprocity and fake following. That’s baked into the the measure which, like PageRank, divides the voting power by the number of out-links.

The comments on Kirkpatrick’s post suggest that a lot of regular Twitter users also get it. I find that reassuring, especially given the hype around Twitter in the last several weeks. Twitter can be a useful tool but it will help if people don’t devalue it by imposing cultural norms that devalue the social network. I’m glad the folks who have given us Twitter realize that.

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