Baby Got Follow-Back

Yeah, another unscheduled, unstructured post.

This one is because I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile and the lovely Susan Reynolds [@susanreynolds] spurred me on to doing it. She has a knack of doing that!

Okay, so it’s another Twitter-centric post here. (surprise!)

Basically, since I go to Twitter for the conversation, the stimulus, and the ideas it generates within me, my policy has been to follow back almost everyone that follows me… and to follow new and interesting folk whenever I find them. But there are exceptions. There are accounts I look at and don’t immediately ban, but don’t follow back. Here’s the list of reasons why:

Reasons I’m not following you on Twitter:

1. You have only 2 or 3 posts, are following hundreds of people and have only a handful following you. – You aren’t contributing to the conversation, you are listening to it. Come back when you have something to say. Otherwise you’re being kind of creepy.

2. You are followed by hundreds or thousands, but only follow a couple dozen people yourself.* – You aren’t there for the conversation, you’re there for the audience. If I wanted to be your audience, I’d go to your blog.
*exception: there are a couple (by couple I mean can count on one hand) of folks I follow right now who do this that aren’t following me as well, mostly, it’s because it’s someone who has information I want, if that stops, I will remove them.

3.You don’t really exist. Just a pseudonym, no bio info, no blog link, no photo.** – Sorry, if I’m going to put myself out there publicly and say ‘I stand behind this – so when you Google me 10 years from now, I won’t be ashamed you found this’ I expect the same level of trust from someone I’m interacting with.
**exception: I do realize there are reasons for having an online persona… if you have a blog, and a history, and are a real person using a pseudonym to avoid losing your job, being stalked, or something legitimate, that’s another story. But just a Twitter account and an ID is not enough.

4. You tend to swear like a sailor, only post dirty jokes, links to adult sites, or use Twitter like a singles pick-up bar. – That is *so* your right! Twitter is different things to different people – that’s just not my cup of tea. I’m surprised you followed me in the first place. I’m kind of boring in that regard.

5. You mangle the English language. – Now, I don’t mean the occasional omission of a word or obvious abbreviation to make that tweet fit into the arbitrary 140 character limit. I mean every post of yours uses things like LOLspeak (No, you canz not haz my attention) or text-speak (ur gr8 bt /thx! btdt) or l33tsp34k (omgwtfbbq! that suxxorz!) and you think I’m going to take the time to translate? Nope.

6. You don’t actually write your feed. – Sorry, if your timestream consists solely of links to your blog, your seesmics, your qiks, your utterz, or other external sites, no thanks. That’s not conversation, that’s link spam.

7. You’re a bot or a ‘project’. – Thanks, but I don’t care which political candidate you are working for… and no, I’m not going to prove to your friend that if you write a script to auto-follow thousands of people on twitter, several hundred will follow you back.

8. You only follow the opposite gender. – Sorry, I’m happily married. Not interested in providing you with another photo for your harem. I won’t just not follow you – I’ll block you on that one. Ew.

9. You’re trying to sell me something. – Okay, realistically, a lot of the Social Media folk are always selling something… whether it’s trust, or pushing a conversation toward a goal, or delivering traffic to new startups… that’s to be expected. But if you’ve got a retail website and the only reason you followed me and 2,000 other people is to send links about your latest sale/deal/bargain? No dice.

10. You never use the @ symbol. – Sure, it takes a bit for people to get how the @ functions in Twitter… but if you’ve been on there for awhile, and you have more than a couple dozen people on your lists, then you know that @ is the heart of the conversation on Twitter. No, you don’t have to use it every tweet. But if you don’t use it at all, then you’re basically just standing in the middle of the room shouting and hoping that someone realizes you are talking to them.

I’m sure there’s more. I’m also sure there are exceptions. I’ll probably edit this list as we go along – and if you happen to have any you think I should add, please speak up! Or if you post your own list, I’d love to see it – leave me a link in the comments.

There are about a dozen people following me that I have never followed back, and won’t, no matter how many times they ‘re-add’ me to get my attention. But in every case, the reason can be found above.

So – next I guess we go with figuring out the list of ‘why I add people before they add me.’ Yeah, I’ll get right on that. With my usual alacrity.


~ by Lucretia on March 13, 2008.

47 Responses to “Baby Got Follow-Back”

  1. Excellent topic Lucretia, I agree with all your points whole heartedly. Twitter is in the news more and more and we are seeing people coming in to see how they can take advantage of it. So long as they don’t look creepy, I regularly drop a comment to new followers that are are following 10 X the number of people following them saying: “slow down, this isn’t MySpace. The point is not to see how many followers you can get but to form actual relationships. You can always reach me with an @”.
    On adding people before they add me…. I’ll catch a glimpse of an interesting reference from someone I am already following. I always check their profile and their blog before following. Sometimes, I’m not sure. I casually keep a Twitter document on file with notes and profiles to come back and check later. Your loving TwitterPal.

  2. Great post! Just gave it a stumble. I’m relatively new to Twitter, and I tend to follow most people that deign to follow me. However, as I read your post, I realised that, when I decide not to follow, that it’s precisely because of the reasons you state here.
    Oh, and I agree with Linda on why I choose to add someone before they add me: it’s generally because I’ve seen a reference to them by someone whose opinion I respect. Occasionally I’ll go on a Twitter surf, scanning through lists of those others are following, clicking on anyone with an eyecatching pic and a cleverly succinct bio. Sometimes I’ll even find someone new to follow through reading their blog – in fact, I guess you would fall into that category, GeekMommy! I’m off to follow you now :-)

  3. Great list, and I totally agree. I like to think of Twitter as a cocktail party where I get to choose every guest.

  4. @amypalko – that’s pretty much exactly how I find new follows too… if interesting people think you’re interesting, well, who am I not to check you out? :)
    Oh! and very nice to meet you! I followed you back as well!

    @the slackmistress – I’m with you on the cocktail party metaphor… but I know I didn’t invite that one guy talking to himself and gesturing wildly in the corner – do you know him? ;)

  5. this is a great post. i’ve been thinking i may need to cull my list of twitters a bit. there may be a few creepies on it. ;)

  6. I hear what you are saying– I wish there were a reasonable FAQ more like a quick facts about how to use twitter– and the ins & outs of what to do.
    I pretty much always follow people who follow me,
    I try to follow conversations.. but typically it’s people that I really know.
    Also– given that a lot of my twits are from my blog– it’s partly because those are my conversations that other people have been waiting on– I tend to respond more in this venue– then on twitter because as oft happens in 140 characters, one might misunderstand what someone is saying or who/what they are talking about.

    but I do take your “list” seriously.. and realize that I should contribute more to the conversation.. just that some of those people don’t know WHO I am….. and when I do comment back, I might have missed their reply or they miss mine because of the speed of which the twits post and the applicable ones move out of range.

  7. Great post. I agree with you. I have added people and then un-added people when I’ve found their conversations, although not offensive, just not going in the direction I thought they would. I’ve also been guilty of trying to get someone to add me so that I can participate in their conversations. It really is like a party, where you listen in on conversations and sometimes want to join in. Sometimes you get to and sometimes you don’t. And sometimes others want to join you. And that’s really fun. Twitter: TeachaKidd.

  8. There’s really no “hard and fast rules” for me… these are just the predominant reasons I don’t follow back.

    I mean, obviously the likelihood that @WilWheaton is going to follow me back is pretty slim… but I like following him.
    I’ve unfollowed a couple of people because the direction their Twittering took was offensive to me or I just couldn’t relate.

    But I do appreciate the feedback here – I do know that a lot of people don’t agree with me at all… or there wouldn’t be so many few-to-many twitter relationships out there… :)

  9. Great post. @dougsymington sent it to me. I follow more than follow me, so I always wonder why. I always wonder what motivates people to follow others.

    I add people that my “friends” talk with. That is the most logical way for me.


  10. The list of people that I follow is an eternal work in progress. I dropped someone just this evening for language I deemed to colorful for “my network.” I was on twitter for several moments before I really took to it. I finally realized that one’s twitter experience is what one makes it. The customization and the engagement are the key factors.

    Thanks for posting this list. I’ll be sharing it in my classes.

  11. @jethro – agree with you… the dynamics of Twitter is more a study of the dynamics of Twitterers… it’s the people that make it interesting, and the people that make it worthwhile! Nice to meet you – see you on Twitter! :)

    @Clif – it actually took me a couple of months to find the allure of Twitter – because I was just following a couple of friends who didn’t tweet all that often. Then I stumbled across a few of the folks who were part of the conversation… but hearing only one side of it made me curious, so I started following the other sides of their @’s – and slowly but surely I started hearing more and more of it – then ‘getting’ it.

    These 2 previous blogs of mine explain it better (altho in way too many words!)

  12. Hi there… New to you… Came to your site because of something Queen of Spain twittered. I’ve only been on Twitter a couple days, and I added all the people who’s blogs I normally follow, that I could find – ’cause I’m familiar with them. I’ve tried joining in, but I’ve a lot to learn.

  13. Oh, this is fab. Totally referencing this in my “twitter ho’s” blog post. Thanks to @lindasherman for pointing me here!! (-anniemal on twitter!)

  14. @Michele – if you haven’t already, please add me on twitter and I’ll add you back – I love people who are starting to get into the conversation… don’t worry, you’ll get the swing pretty quickly!

    @anniemal – I saw @lindasherman’s tweet and followed it back – can’t wait to read your post! :)

  15. Interesting experience last night and this seems the perfect place to share. I’ve been exchanging tweets with this interesting person for a few weeks now and only recently realized that she does not follow me. Checked out her profile and see that she follows 59 people and 327 people follow her. Yet, I send her tweets, she responds immediately, she reads my blog, I’ve even referenced her in my blog and she has referenced mine in hers. Last night, I sent her a tweet asking how she responds so quickly if she doesn’t follow me. Her response was that she checks her replies often ” ;) ” Well, you know what? To me, that falls into the category that you describe in #2 of your post, wouldn’t you say? I totally expected her to add me as one of those she follows. This morning I decided to unfollow her. I hate to be petty, but I think I found my first Twitter Politician! :(

  16. Lee:

    You know, it’s a tough call – but I don’t know on that one either… I had one like that whom I quit following – and I have a friend who has that level of disparity in her follower/ing lists, but who follows me and I follow her.
    I don’t think I’ve ever asked her why she follows so few folks compared to the number that follow her – but I always get the impression that she approaches the whole thing differently than I do.

    I’m not sure what that means… but I think if I thought I had a relationship with someone like the one you mentioned (blog references etc) I’d be a little offended if they chose not to follow me back as well.
    How strange :(

  17. Grins–
    Smiles — I am the one referred to in Comment 15 — so I thought I might comment too!

    It is true that I follow 59 — and for right now, it works for me — it goes up and it goes down — but for today it is 59.

    And smiles — I do check my replies quite often — because there are a few (very few) that do @ at me and I like to respond back as quick as I can. (smiles, I thought I was one of the few that remembered to check replies!)

    It has nothing to do with politics — probably a lot more to do just with personal weirdness. And how I deal with twitter.

    JLWagner on Twitter.

  18. This is a great post, and I agree with you. I am very new to Twitter, but already have a few followers I’m thinking “how did they find me”…

    Only thing that I quite don’t agree is the people “trying to sell” something. I follow a few just to know their latest news and/or products – so I can blog about them to my readers.


  19. @JenWagner – thanks for the clarification… I don’t think there’s any “rules” for Twitter – someone criticized me for this list saying that I was trying to impose rules… and the only thing I could say was “well, no, these are the reasons *I’m* not following someone on Twitter – by no means does everyone or should anyone use it the same way I do just because I post a blog list!”

    We all use it in our own way – and we drift toward others who use it that same way, I think!

    @Katja – thanks! I’m always wishing there was a notification option that sent us a message or allowed us to send a message when we add someone that says “how did you find me?” :)

  20. i agree with your sentiments on reasons to nearly every single degree…
    i know for myself, i want to read as many opinions, news-es (not a word) and ramblings as i can, so, to that end, i’ve followed darn near everyone i possibly can, except, with a few noted exceptions, all of which are on your list (bot, associated with only a politician (exceptions to that exception rule tho, too) and lack of bio info). In fact, lack of bio info or valid link is basically the only reason (other than spammerbots) that I won’t follow someone, because, i want them to follow me and be my audience as I document and change social justice as we know it (and of course, take over the known universe) but, I also want to see everything everyone else has to say.
    I even follow those that have unfollowed me b/c they think I’m…well…not to speak for them, but, it seems, because I believe in free speech and in freedom of expression and in the open exchange of ideas, discourse and discussion.
    You see, I believe in and honor everyone and their opinion, beliefs and moral and ethical ways of life, even if I don’t agree with them or share their ideology/morals/beliefs/etc.
    Of course, any skinhead or racist or sexist persons who appeal only to a prurient interest would not only not be followed, but reported, as I hate hate-crime and racism.
    But, to me, religious ideology in the fundamentalist extreme, is just as much a form of hate-crime as any other cult…I have personally seen lives ruined by Christ. How does that feel? Not so great.
    Is every Christian doing that? No, obviously, but Christians need to step up and stop those fundamentalists who are out there today, as I type, ruining lives.
    I won’t go on to share the whole of my personal experience, but it does happen, and happens way to often.
    I actually don’t share my actual spiritual beliefs because of a desire to distance myself from contemporary Christian fundamentalists…and that, my friends and fellow humans, is sad.
    That has been blogged on my site, though.
    Why can’t we all just get along?

  21. I’m having an issue with folks with private updates cluttering my stream, though.
    I hesitate to block anyone, never have, probably, unless they spew hate or similar, won’t ever.
    Blocking just isn’t my thing…first of all, since i’m right (by right I mean i have data to back up my claims-not i’m always right just because i’m smarter or etc…if i’m discussing something and am adament about it, I usually have my facts down, otherwise i’m just not adament, so the point is moot in those cases) more than I am wrong, I rarely lose arguments or discussions-typically the other person just resigns themselves to “their” way…we agree to disagree…which is fine…there are a lot of close-minded (which is too bad) and simple people (simple is not a bad thing to me!) that just give up when faced with facts that take them beyond their comfort zones.
    Then, there are times when i’m wrong, too, it happens…yet still…i’d admit it and still follow the person i had an argument with…
    i just dont block.
    Ok but, whenever you follow someone with protected updates, then they unfollow you, you get a message whenever they update saying that they only give updates to friends, and to add them, but when you try to add them, it says they are already on your list. and you can’t un-add them if their updates are protected…it’s circular and needs fixed but i have had a really hard time writing it, as you can tell by how awful this is…it’s hard to explain…if i had time to use screen shots as examples you’d get it immediately, i’m sure…
    I got four of these, “my updates are only given to friends-add me” updates in a row the other day, and other than blocking the person (but what if we became friends later and I wouldn’t even see a direct @because I blocked them only to clear the automatic “only to friends” updates…?)…i don’t wanna block someone-i just want to unfollow only those that have protected updates that don’t/won’t follow me…otherwise i’ll follow even if not followed back…i love to see what people have to say!!!
    hard to explain in a hurry…
    one person with protected updates added me so i could un-add them so then they could then un-add me again, which did the trick but that was only because that person didn’t have me blocked so saw a direct @ from me to them explaining what was happening and asking to have them add me so i could un-add them…whew…
    if twitter could fix this issue that would be great.
    the workaround takes a lot of cooperation from someone that has already unfollowed you…for whatever reason…
    and…those are the ones, mostly, who i directed my snobs of twitter/elitism post to…because those are the ones that have hundreds of followers but only unfollow me because, I assume, I challenge their comfort zones with my advocacy…they are the snobs i refer to, and there are only a few…very very few…

  22. @jesse – I get it. I’ve been in the follow/unfollow/protected issue myself. You’d be surprised by those who did it I suspect – as they have reputations for being such friendly people!

    But we all use Twitter in our own way.

    Like I said above – these are just MY reasons – not anything I think anyone else should adhere to or would need to. It’s kind of a ‘how I do it’ post, not a ‘and you should too!’ post :)

  23. My point was lost here, so please let me clarify. The issue was not # followed vs # following. I totally understand how one might follow less than followers for many reasons (too much noise, too hard to keep up with, etc.) The surprise was that there was a conversation going but apparently the interest was only in conversations that included “@myname.” That was the surprise to me. Note to self… learning experiences are everywhere.

    People do use Twitter in their own ways (as they should) and nothing personal to anyone. Everyone shall do what they need to do to develop their own PLN. I’m still learning. Mostly learning to keep my mouth shut. :)

    Forgive me for being abrupt. Posting only sweet nothings is so not interesting though, don’t you think? :)

  24. @Lee – I totally get that. It’s the same as @ing someone dozens of times and never having them reply, even if they are following you.

    I think we’re all still feeling out this Twitter Etiquette thing and it’s got a lot of landmines in it.

    I just got told I lived under a rock because I disagreed with someone today about Twitter! Seriously, it’s kind of a ‘huh? what? oh… right! excuse me… wait a minute! hey! oh… huh? what?’ experience where we are all trying our best but are sure to offend someone! :P

    Please don’t “keep your mouth shut” – that’s no way to have a conversation!! I do understand the inclination – especially when you find yourself defending a statement as if your entire reputation depended on it, when in fact, it’s just the internet – because nothing is worth that level of stress.
    But I find honesty and candor refreshing! It’s when it’s laced with ‘and anyone who disagrees with me is xxxxxxx’ that it gets off for me.
    Haven’t seen you do that! :)

  25. I’d like to direct you to a DM I wrote to Lucretia, which says the same thing I’m saying now about her last comment…it’s consistent, and reasonable…you are in “the right” so to speak on not being “wrong.”
    very well done, as a communicator and author.

  26. Crums! I left out lee. very well said each time lee. as lucretia says, each is allowed an opinion and each learns separately and collectively, and, also, those that do the unfollow/follow/protected don’t say anything, that’s where they go wrong, and diverge from being right.
    Hidden, secretive and manipulative and cowardly and, harboring evil, and…well…gas chambers, riot gear…I can go on.
    She, @geekmommy, says, ” It’s kind of a ‘how I do it’ post, not a ‘and you should too!’ post :)”
    that’s how I approach conversation. I only give straight directives after having proven success, and only then when warranted.
    Further-my insinuations are not directed at a specific person, and are often directed at myself, unless I specify a person by a name or, in the case of the Pink Ribbon group, by a general delineation. And in that case, I do not include all persons, so in fact, that kind of generalization does not label any one person.
    I say, it’s up to each person to judge for themselves whether they fit a group or not. I only offer a suggestion of a group a person could fit into, and then ask them whether they do or not. They choose, not me.

  27. @jesse – well said… Especially the part where you said:

    “I say, it’s up to each person to judge for themselves whether they fit a group or not. I only offer a suggestion of a group a person could fit into, and then ask them whether they do or not. They choose, not me.”

    I’m going to keep that one in mind. Thanks again for your input!!

  28. What is intriguing to me the most is that Twitter can create such conversations to elicit 27 – no 28 — and probably more comments in a very short period of time.

    I do not mean to offend when I limit my friends — yet, I have been told “I need to follow more!” Grins, and I wonder “who wrote that rule?”

    But if I have offended you because I do not follow — please don’t judge me too quickly. I do follow @ and @ and @ from other conversations and keep up on a lot of twitter chat. My limit of 61 (right now) is just how I handle it. I used to have over 500 — now the pendulum has swung the other way and eventually it might even out.

    Twitter is still confusing to me — how it can bring such emotion still stuns me.

    This conversation is exceptional — thank you for starting it Geekmommy!!

  29. […] the way — stirred up some more twitter reflections when she posted a blogpost called “Baby Got Follow Back“  (28 comments thus far) where she lists some reasons for “Not Following People on […]

  30. excellent post. I could not agree more. I have recently removed some of my followers b/c of seriously inappropriate posting habits. Who wants to read five pages of “I have to get milk at the store” and “I need a haircut” and miss all the good stuff? Not me.

    I also just recently learned the value of “blocking” on twitter. People can get a little too comfortable on Twitter.. I’m not down with that..

    Oh and thanks for deeming me cool enough to “follow” *wink*

  31. Thanks for posting this. It explains why I don’t follow many people that follow me.

  32. Good read.
    I agree with these for sure.


  33. You are really funny. You call it alacrity. I call it spunk. It’s late and I can hardly keep my eyes open but I kept them open long enough to get some good laughs(that’s good for immune system). Your honesty is great!

    Back tomorrow to read more. You’re fun to read. I am obsessed about twitter. There’s just so much good stuff here.

  34. I do try to follow as many folks who follow me, as well. But your #2 really bugs me. Those who don’t follow anyone but just keep collecting their own followers are just using Twitter as another marketing channel, which I find annoying and contrary to its intent.

  35. Great post! A comment about #6- it gets a little tricky. Now that all the blogs and sites such as utterz have the plug ins to automatically post to twitter, you could be an active blogger and that could be the majority of posts you see on twitter.

    Sure, you can choose not to follow it, but you might be missing out on connecting with someone great if you restrict yourself *too* much! :)

    Again, wonderful post! I refuse to join harems too!

  36. I agree about #6 – but it’s when it’s *only* those that I don’t follow.
    if Twitter is just a means for linking elsewhere, I’m not interested.
    If it’s a part of your conversation, then it’s a different story. :)

  37. Great post! :) #5 cracks me up.

  38. […] Geek Mommy’s post on why she doesn’t follow you Twitter. Share the Blog: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and […]

  39. Found this post – guess where?
    One of big Twitter bonuses – for me – is finding people like you!

    My Twitter tip for today?
    Only have one Twitter window open at a time. That’s how I posted the same message twice this afternoon – about 15 minutes apart. Maybe I should start listening to my IT husband who keeps telling me I really can only work on one thing [window?] at once.

    This week makes number four on Twitter – so much easier to meet and talk with new and current contacts than it is on Facebook or LinkedIn.

    Thanks for the insights – keep ’em coming.
    My twitter guide:
    Feel free to add resources!

  40. […] Reasons I’m not following you on Twitter […]

  41. great post! as one of those ‘social media’ folk i love reading these posts. it really helps when people are clear about what it is that they want and accept.

    the thing i love most about the tools we have in this space (twitter, blogs etc) is that they are so very personal. what works for you is so different than what works for someone else – and it’s okay! more than okay, it’s accepted and it’s what makes these spaces so interesting.


  42. great post. makes me a little sad, thinking about the people that aren’t following me. but also makes me want to work harder to contribute more to the conversation, so that people find me worth following.

  43. I’m relatively new to Twitter but I’ve really enjoyed it. I have been a little reluctant to use the @ feature. It seemed strange to point a conversation at someone that everyone else can see – almost like being rude to the others who aren’t part of the conversation.

    But, the more I’ve done it, the more I enjoy that connection.

    Good list!

  44. I totally agree with this. I’ve been unfollowing people who do things like this. I do auto-post through Utterz and my blog, but I hope there’s more signal than noise. Nobody’s told me to shut up yet. :)

  45. @Childsplayx2 – I totally understand, I was weird about the @ at first too… then I realized that I was using it to tune into who the folks I was following also found worth following – and realized it’s more just like saying “this is in response to something X said” rather than “I’m saying this where you can overhear it” Thanks for the feedback! :)

    @Stephen – yeah, it’s not really a comprehensive list – and I’m sure there are people who disagree with most of it – it’s just how I use Twitter. :)

  46. […] radically over the past couple of months… and while I’ve been pretty faithful to the self-imposed guidelines I listed here – I wrote those when I had maybe 2/3 the number of follows/following that I do […]

  47. Thanks for giving me a chance. I have no idea if I can prove myself worthy of being followed or not. I can tell you that for now I have to be anonymous. I think that I would have more freedom in what I want to say, and I’m not talking about politically. I just know if my family ~ my parents or siblings ~ found my blog I would be questioned about it. I would feel very stifled in what I could write. I also want the freedom to write about my husband and kids without them getting their feelings hurt. I certainly don’t plan on saying anything to hurt them, but for now I just think it is better this way. And as far as twitter goes I will just have to learn the ropes. And I will mostly be on during the day. After 4pm or so my family will be home so I won’t have the freedom to just hang out online. Even if I am dying to know what is going on with people!

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