Twitterquette: Why are you following me?

On Twitter, everyone seems to have a different agenda. @snowvandermore even gives a list to chose from at TwitTip.

It can be tricky, when a random user follows you, to work out what that agenda is; what are they using twitter for, and why are they following you? The two answers can even be completely unrelated if, for example, a user is transmitting with one purpose and then using the account as a way of watching users that fit a completely different set of interests. So, do you block the user as spam, or assume you're doing something genuinely fascinating?

Personally, I don't tend to bother blocking users, but I was still pretty suspicious of @BN4WO08UUJ and @XTK1TLW55 (fairly enough as they now seem to have been suspended). Those were easy. What about @100MegsAskMe? Apparently a human, but the name's a mystery. @isevens is a complete mystery, as is @superiorcarcare. Is this last hoping I'll bring my Tesla to them for cleaning? I doubt it, I'm on the wrong side of the Atlantic and don't own a car. Are they fascinated by my blog posts? I've no idea. PHP developers and photographers are more understandable, but I'm a little more baffled by @scandicemorgan and @cindyreese, apparently two attractive young ladies who presumably want me to buy cameras from their "superpriceshop.com" sites.

I suppose it's also possible that I'm just far more witty and interesting than I'd realised?


On Twitter, no-one knows you're a dog, unless your profile pic is a dead giveaway. No-one can tell if you're a "Networking Expert" or "SEO guru" who operates by following everyone in sight as a substitute to providing interesting content.

So how do you guess?

Well, there are a few points I go by when deciding whether to follow someone back.

- Does your name (real or @handle) look like a human?
- Are you providing useful and/or readable content?
- Have you bothered to fill in your bio with something interesting?
- Have you provided a link to your site or blog? Is there evidence of a human there?

I don't want to be asocial and decide that people aren't "good enough" to follow, but I have a limited amount of time to read blogs. More critically, I don't want to feel like I'm being played as a sucker by advertisers, people who aren't "playing the game" of twitter - whatever that game is.

So - why do you follow people? What draws you in or puts you off? Do you bother blocking people?
Posted by parsingphase, 2008-12-15 21:19

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