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Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Twitter Block Rate and What It Tells Me



My recent following strategy on Twitter involves following everyone who has been listed in a demographic that I target (usually writers). How do I do this? Easy. I pick one of my recent followers who is in the targeted demographic (bio says they are a writer for example), and I see if they are listed by someone else. If so (and the list is named appropriately), I follow everyone on that list whom I'm not already following.

In doing so, I've found a few people who have blocked me on Twitter. What's the block rate and what does this tell me?

I recently followed everyone on a list that numbered 1,433. I didn't have to follow that many since I was already following quite a few. In any case, out of that number there were four that had blocked me, which gives me a rate of 0.3% — a rate I can easily live with. But actually it's even better than that.

I know why one of them blocked me, and since I don't care about that mean-spirited person, I'm not counting him/her. So, out of 1,432, there were three that blocked me, which is a rate of 0.2%

Why did they block me?

I don't remember having any interaction with them, so my guess is that they either blocked me for something I said or the sheer number of tweets on my feed. If they were offended by something I said, they have no business following me in the first place. Yeah, I don't really like people with thin, cowardly skin.

More than likely they blocked me because they saw my feed as spam. Some idiotic people seem to think that a lot of tweets automatically equates to spam. They don't understand what spam really is. When you follow someone you opt into their tweets, and since you have the option of unfollowing them at any point, standard tweets don't really count as spam in my book, no matter how many of them you tweet out.

What is Twitter Spam?


First of all, some activities that are definitely spam. These activities I don't do, by the way.

  1. Mentioning someone in an ad without prior permission (direct or indirect).
    • @MasqCrew My book just came out. Check it out. http://link.com
  2. Sending an unsolicited ad through a Direct Message
    • Sending someone an automatic Thank You message isn't necessarily spam in my book, just like thanking someone through a tweet isn't either.
    • Most people consider including an invitation to like them on Facebook or check out their book as spam.
    • If the invitation includes cross promotion (example: like me on FB and I'll return the favor), it's slightly more acceptable in my book, but since most people don't do it this way, I don't pay attention to DMs in general.
  3. Listing someone in a Twitter list that has a spammy title.
    • Example of such a list: My new action thriller.
    • Granted, authors don't do this, at least none that I've seen. Mostly it's get-rich-quick schemes and other such spammy things.
    • I've listed people in an organizational way, such as people I followed on a particular day. (List name: Saturday) I don't do this anymore because of some technical issues, not because I thought it was spam. Few if any ever complained about it. Most thanked me for listing them.  And even when someone asked about the nature of my list, almost everyone understood and thought it was a good idea, though perhaps it is where some of my blocks have come from. In any case, I'm not doing it anymore.
    • Regardless, I don't think #3 is strictly spam, which is a good way to introduce the following items.
Just because something is annoying doesn't mean it's spam—or abusive. Twitter has a lot of rules on abuse and spam, but most of their definitions are purposely vague. They say don't do something, but that activity is OK if you don't do it too much or it's even required by most people's opinion. Since they leave so much room for interpretation ...

  1. Following and Unfollowing large number of people, especially with an automated system.
    • When I follow a bunch of people, I do it myself. So, if I follow 500 people, I click the follow button 500 times.
    • Yes, I do unfollow the ones that don't follow back ... but after a very reasonable time, usually more than a week or two later. Would probably be abusive after only a day or so.
    • When I unfollow people, I do it via http://manageflitter.com/, which means I have to click an unfollow button for each person I unfollow. (It's still quick, though)
    • Following people is the number one way of increasing your following, and you have to unfollow people because of Twitter's technical limits.
  2. All or most of your tweets are links.
    • For this one I don't think Twitter actually sees what goes on since there are tons of accounts that only do links. Very few conversations, and yet people love them.
    • How many people would be kicked off Twitter if they were required to have conversations? Yes, I'm talking about those accounts that do just quotes. 
    • There are many legitimate accounts that mainly advertise their blog. Most of their tweets have links (even if they have some personal tweets), so I have no idea how people actually are abusive with this rule.
    • I'm pretty sure some have been suspended for abusing this rule. I think it's extremely rare, though, so I'm not worried about it.
  3. Retweeting or Favoring too much.
    • This one baffles me. How can retweeting or favoring too much be abusive? Yes, I get it. If you follow someone, then retweet or favor every tweet they have tweeted out recently.
    • There are some people who regularly favor or retweet lots of my tweets, and there's one person on FB that likes everything I ever say. I don't consider it abusive or spammy. I'm flattered, actually.
    • I've been accused of not retweeting people enough in the past, and now that I'm retweeting a lot more, people are thanking me more and more.
    • Retweeting more increases the number of people retweeting me, so I don't understand how to abuse this one either, except maybe by retweeting 50 people every minute of the day. Actually, you'd reach a technical tweet limit before you get there.

What does my Twitter block rate tell me?


Though I do some of the things Twitter might consider abusive, I'm loved a whole lot more than I'm hated—landslide numbers actually. My goal is to help as many authors as I can, and that means reaching as many people as possible. A few will block me along the way. That's fine. 

There are truly abusive, spammish accounts that probably have a much higher Block Rate and still are around and maybe even have loyal fans, but since my block rate is much less than 1%, I don't feel bad about my status. 

And true spam is a matter of consent. Don't like my tweets? Don't follow me.

What do you think?


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