Sunday, January 5, 2014

Twitter as a geek party

Why do I follow close to 2000 people?
Why do I keep complaining about the Twitter following limit (2000)?
Why am I active on Twitter?
Why did I just unfollow 150 people?

[UPDATE February, 2017]

This blogpost was written when Twitter was a great place for developers who were mostly interested in dev content. This was great for many years. As of late 2016, this has changed a lot. Even if you follow developers, you'll see mostly current politics content, usually US-centric. This means the technique described in this blogpost doesn't make sense anymore. Twitter is no longer an inspiring place for developers, who prefer to read about politics elsewhere or who prefer to stay out of politics.

Twitter is an ongoing, very inspiring geek party

I use Twitter in a bit of unusual way. Twitter to me is an ongoing, very inspiring geek party. It’s like a huge, virtual room (Snow Crash anyone?) , which I can enter, whenever I want. I do it every now and then for short moments. I click some links, I see the pics. Conversations are most interesting - I focus on those. What do people talk about? Is it interesting to me? Is it interesting to my work?

Because the topics of their discussions inspire me

I’m mostly connected to the Ruby/Rails community. Why do I follow PHP, Java, .NET people? Because the topics of their discussions inspire me. Why do they keep talking about DDD, when it’s a completely unknown concept in the Ruby community? Is it worth researching it? Can I join the conversation and explain how this problem is solved with Ruby?

I read about 10-20% of the tweets

2000 people is much, but not much if you want to get inspired from many different directions. I hate the Twitter limit - for anti-bot reasons, they put this limit of 2000, probably with the assumption that no one sane, would want to follow so many people. There’s a problem with this assumption. I do want to follow thousands of people, but I don’t want to read all of the tweets. That would be insane. Twitter is not my email - I don’t read everything. I estimate that I read about 10-20% of the tweets. I want to have this mix of people in my timeline. Ruby is a lovely community, but the discussions don’t cover all of the interesting programming topics.

t followings -l --sort=tweeted | head -10 | awk '{print $1}' | xargs t unfollow -i

There’s one thing about the Twitter limit. It gets bigger if I get more followers. In short, I need to have about the same number of followers as the number of people who follow me. I’m not far from that - there’s about 1500 people following me right now, but it’s still not enough. That’s why from time to time I need to clean up the list of people I follow. I unfollow the most silent ones, who didn’t tweet for the last year or so. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about them. If not the limit, I’d be fine. Given, my Twitter usage, though, that makes most sense. I can always follow someone again, if they get more active.

I can’t even describe how much value I get from Twitter

I’m so grateful to the people I follow. I learnt so much, I get inspired so often.

I want to give the value back to my followers. I try to be active, tweet interesting links, engage in good conversations. Teach someone. Actively listen to other people problems. Try helping.

I recommend you to try this approach. Follow more people (use Twitter search to find interesting people). Treat is a geek party. Get inspired. Engage more. Don't read everything.

If you're a programmer, you may enjoy following me - I tweet mostly about programming, JavaScript, Ruby and working from home.

(Photo credits: )

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