Twitter Declares Checkmate on Twitter Gamers

TwitterJust recently Twitter began the much-needed stance to suspend users practicing the controversial “Twitter Game” (as I call it).  On the Twitter developers mailing list, Twitter developer Doug Williams told me yesterday that users who “use software to constantly churn followers in a repeated pattern of following and unfollowing will … risk suspension.”  This new rule was confirmed to me by several other Twitter users that Twitter customer support is also confirming that this is happening.

The “Twitter Game” was the topic of a podcast I participated in a few months back with Lucretia Pruitt and Jim Turner hosting. The practice centers around following as many people as you can (up to the 1,000 users per day limit that Twitter has imposed), continuing such practice until the ratio of following 10-20% more than those following you is reached.  Then users would unfollow the users that don’t follow them back.  This practice increases the number of followers of any particular user, theoretically providing a much larger reach for the user or brand doing such.  Other similar techniques involve using tools such as Twollo and Hummingbird to find new people to follow that might follow back, and share links under multiple accounts with those individuals.

With Twitter taking a stance against this practice, this means no longer will users be able to quickly inflate their numbers and get around the ratios Twitter has put in place to keep this “gaming” from happening.  From users I have talked to, some over major brands, some are not happy.  The threat of suspension will come welcome to those getting tired of meaningless followers however.  While not a welcome sight to some, it is simply a change in “Game”.  Users will need to adapt and use more effective methods of gaining new followers, such as maybe, providing good content?  Regardless, I expect people to continue to find new ways to game the system.  We’ll see if Twitter can win this “Rat Race”.

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49 thoughts on “Twitter Declares Checkmate on Twitter Gamers

  1. Problem is that Twitter is the *worst* offender here with the Suggested User List. I'm watching a NY Times columnist, who was added to the list last week, leapfrog all his competition. It's changed the way he posts (he openly says that).

    How long before these gamers privately start paying people who are on the SUL to point to them?

    What are the editorial guidelines for people on the SUL?

    And why would Twitter want to enter this space? (They will eventually have to publish guidelines for SUL members.)

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  2. I have never been one to follow “The Game”, but I do auto-follow people who follow me. In the last few months I have amassed nearly 500 followers through casual tweeting of good content (I've posted less then 200 updates in a few months). I personally feel that it's about time Twitter took this stand.

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  3. Dave, while I see the SUL as an unfair feature of Twitter, I don't quite see
    how this is the same thing. What Twitter did in this case is they're
    now starting to suspend accounts that rapidly follow and unfollow
    numerous accounts in a short period of time.
    I don't see how the SUL fits into this.

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  4. I agree with you on the SUL.

    In the very early days of Twitter, the SUL idea could have made sense to help catalyze Twitter adoption. But that is not longer necessary. Now the SUL is nothing more than a significant playing-field-un-leveler. It is analogous to Google displaying a “Suggested Web Sites” that points to a fixed list of hand picked web sites with no particular relevance to what people are searching for.

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  5. If they get on top of this, we might not need to have an auto-block service (along the lines of a spam look-up/UBL for e-mail). I am getting tired of blocking all these “social media gurus” and MLM douchebags that seem to follow based only on some brain dead keyword script.

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  6. Very good move by Twitter and about time. These people are not interested in the social side of social media and I will be quite happy to see their accounts banned.

    People collecting followers this way are just spammers as far as I'm concerned – I have no interest in this nonsense. It is always obvious who they are and anyone that follows them back is crazy.

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  7. Dave, I just read the post on your blog, as well as the news on ReadWriteWeb.

    Isn't it obvious why Twitter would want to enter the SUL space? It's obvious PR for them and the timing of the presentation to new Twitter users who sign up is critical – The majority of the users who are on the SUL are celebrities, so people who are “figuring out” Twitter are immediately presented with celebrity endorsement of the platform (even though it's disguised as Twitter's endorsement of celebrities). Am I wrong? I thought this was an obvious marketing ploy?

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  8. This will make marketing with Twitter more difficult, but still possible. With such a great opportunity for outreach who wouldn't want to use twitter to gain exposure?

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  9. Nice post Jesse,

    After reading your post, I checked and the two best known 'twitter gamers' still have active accounts and seem to be adding new followers (according to twitterholic and twittercounter.com.

    What exactly are Twitter doing to stop them gaming the system?

    Jim Connolly

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  10. Jim, you can always report them to @spam and I'm sure they'll be looked
    at. In the end it's Twitter's decision. Also, the more people that
    block them the more chances their accounts will be flagged.

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  11. Glad to hear this. For a while there, I kept getting notification that one guy was following me; I must have received 20 e-mails alerting me to the fact that he was following me.

    Unfortunately, you're probably right: there will always be people who find ways to manipulate and abuse.

    By the way, in the name of your blog, “Stay N' Alive,” what is the N' short for? “No” is the only word I can come up with …. Just curious. 🙂

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  12. I assumed it was meant to be Stayin' Alive, “stay and alive” doesn't make sense does it…?

    Just being pedantic sorry. On the subject of your post, very interesting reading that's going to have quite an impact on users of some of the tools you mention. They don't come cheap either. I think that used with care, things like Hummingbird can be very beneficial, but too many people want “a gazillion followers right now” so they can bombard them with futile sales messages and they just end up upsetting the apple cart.

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  13. I 100% disagree that Twitter is in the wrong for the SUL. They are in the biz of expanding their company. This is no difference than Dell choosing to raise it's prices in order to keep the doors open. Twitter has investors, deadlines, risks, challenges. Wooing high profile users would and should be high on their list. Just like Facebook giving vanity URL's to news organizations, etc before you got yours.

    I am very interested in Twitter being successful and don't really care that some NYT reporter has more followers than me. Remember, Twitter was not created as a business tool, but rather a way for people to stay in touch. If Twitter's rules don't create the perfect business environment, how have they lost? Will you stop using Twitter? Doubt it.

    On the flip side, sure… if I was a reporter, and I was competing against the NYT reporter it might make me a little frustrated… but then when I look out my window I see a world filled with frustrating turns. Not having more followers than the next guy, isn't one of the daily grinds I am going to let ruffle my feathers.

    There are tons of people on Twitter who never have received the red carpet treatment. Why? Content content content. Shaq had his following a long time ago because he tweets and tweets often, interesting material. I think that most people who are upset at the SUL program are simply looking for a get rich quick scheme through Twitter and are only upset because their Gravitar isn't on that list. My .02 cents. (sorry for the ramble, guess I have just heard enough grips on the SUL finally.) Bravo Blair for providing great content! What is your Twitter addy so I can follow you?

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  14. Okay, cool. Got it. So it's … ” Stay and Alive.”

    But in that case, I think you mean 'n' (apostrophe before and after the n) — not N' (an apostrophe just after the n).

    An apostrophe indicates the omission of a letter. One letter.

    Also, since “and” is a conjunction in your title, no need to capitalize it.

    (Sorry. It's the uncontrollable grammar geek in me.)

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  15. I'm a twitter developer– have a white listed IP– but can't figure out where to find and how to join the twitter developers mailing list you refer to? Can you let me know? Thanks.

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  16. Hmmm…

    Interesting but heart breaking at the same time. If you've already built a large number of followers then I guess it's lucky you cos you hardly need worry about this. If you haven't, like me, then we may have to find another way to get fast followers or use the snail method – one follower at a time – and hope it happens fast enough. I bet some of us saw this coming…

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  17. What are some dishonest or misleading methods for padding your Twitter follower count?…

    A couple of the methods previously used have been closed off when those whose platforms were part of the equation were notified of how their sites were being used to game the system. Personally, I am familiar with one very specific instance a couple of…

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  18. […] Tagged articles, cold caller, follower, game, hacker, method, mistakes, motor vehicle callers, poop throwing monkeys, ratio, ridiculous, rules, spammer, twitter, twitter gamer, unfollower, wank This is a post in response to “Twitter declaring checkmate on Twitter Gamers” . […]

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  19. I 100% disagree that Twitter is in the wrong for the SUL. They are in the biz of expanding their company. This is no difference than Dell choosing to raise it's prices in order to keep the doors open. Twitter has investors, deadlines, risks, challenges. Wooing high profile users would and should be high on their list. Just like Facebook giving vanity URL's to news organizations, etc before you got yours.

    I am very interested in Twitter being successful and don't really care that some NYT reporter has more followers than me. Remember, Twitter was not created as a business tool, but rather a way for people to stay in touch. If Twitter's rules don't create the perfect business environment, how have they lost? Will you stop using Twitter? Doubt it.

    On the flip side, sure… if I was a reporter, and I was competing against the NYT reporter it might make me a little frustrated… but then when I look out my window I see a world filled with frustrating turns. Not having more followers than the next guy, isn't one of the daily grinds I am going to let ruffle my feathers.

    There are tons of people on Twitter who never have received the red carpet treatment. Why? Content content content. Shaq had his following a long time ago because he tweets and tweets often, interesting material. I think that most people who are upset at the SUL program are simply looking for a get rich quick scheme through Twitter and are only upset because their Gravitar isn't on that list. My .02 cents. (sorry for the ramble, guess I have just heard enough grips on the SUL finally.) Bravo Blair for providing great content! What is your Twitter addy so I can follow you?

    Like

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