by smithgifford12/18/09

Twitter and the End of Good Manners

It’s fascinating to see how Twitter has evolved over the past 12 months. A little more than a year ago, fewer than five-hundred thousand people a month used Twitter. Since then, monthly traffic has exploded, and now according to Quantcast, monthly traffic exceeds 20 million unique visitors.

Twitter Traffic Since the Beginning of Time

Twitter Traffic Since the Beginning of Time

Now, I firmly believe that a very high percentage of this meteoric growth was caused by what I call “The Rise of the Bots and Spammers.” For a period of about three to four months (roughly May through August), you couldn’t log into your account without being assaulted by Britney Spears porn videos, ads for teeth whitening, erectile dysfunction and more. Twitter was infected with serial spammers. Mashable wrote a great article about it last August, highlighting the top 20 Twitter spammers. Just a few months ago, your Twitter account was infested with profiles that looked like this:


To its credit, the team at Twitter worked very hard over the next few months to address the problem. Spam on Twitter remains a problem to this day, and it will always be a problem. But, from my perspective, the problem has been greatly reduced.

So, even after taking care of serial spammers, millions of people are now using Twitter who have never used it before. And what has happened? Well, a lot of these Twitter newbies have very bad Twitter manners. Back in the day (a year ago!), Twitter was such a warm and friendly place. If you followed someone, they would almost always follow back. If you re-tweeted something, people would acknowledge you, and thank you for the re-tweet. It was all about connecting, building community, sharing and participating in a grand social experiment.

So, here are a few things that I think everyone should do to make Twitter a nice place to live.

Acknowledge re-tweets. It doesn’t take much. Just a simple “thank you for the RT” will do very nicely. Geez, somebody thought that something that you wrote was worthy enough to pass along to to all of their followers. Thank them for it, for cryin’ out loud!

Engage with your followers. Again, it’s the polite thing to do! Twitter is a contact sport and it’s like going to a big party where you may not know everyone in the room. You can stand alone in the corner and not talk to anyone. But why bother doing that? Re-tweet posts that you think are interesting, funny, thought-provoking. Comment on the tweets of others that you think are interesting. In short, get involved and engage.

Chris Brogan wrote a really good Twitter Etiquette Guide a few months ago. It’s a good start for people new to Twitter.

I’m longing for the good old days — a year ago seems so distant now — when Twitter was a sweet place to be. Hopefully this will help.

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  • When next we meet, make room on your bookshelf. I think you will really enjoy some of my commentary in ALL A TWITTER. ;^)

    Comment by Tee Morris — December 18, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

  • Looking forward to it Tee!

    Comment by fred — December 18, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  • Great article. Also, after you follow someone, send a quick tweet to tell them hello, especially if you don’t know them. It creeps me out when I see people I don’t know show up on the follower list.

    Comment by Alisha — March 8, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

  • That’s a great comment Alicia. Thanks!

    Comment by Fred — March 8, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

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