Posts Tagged ‘Block’
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In the aftermath of the UK riots earlier this month, government officials had floated around the idea of blocking access to Twitter and other social media sites next time something similar occurred. The official reasoning was that this would prevent people from using Twitter to incite violence and plan the riots themselves.
An analysis of the tweets actually sent during the riot, however, would suggest that banning people from social networks is a terrible idea.
In a move that runs counter to the open nature of Twitter, Texas Governor Rick Perry has blocked several members of the Texas media from accessing his Twitter account.
Spammers aside, I block relatively few people on Twitter.
In optimising my stream, I’ve found that the comfort network size for me is to follow somewhere between three to five hundred people. Above that number and I feel that there’s too much going on, and everything moves a little too fast, which means I end up filtering out people and following lists or groups, which means I probably shouldn’t be following the excluded people at all. That may seem harsh, but Twitter simply doesn’t work if you follow everybody.
Likewise, if you follow nobody, or very few people, it also doesn’t function properly. I’m looking for information, not solitude. (I can get that at Google Wave.)
Five Reasons Why I Might Unfollow You
My Twitter network fluctuates fairly regularly, although it takes a lot for me to unfollow somebody. I have a few main reasons:
- Inactivity – I don’t and never will see the point of following somebody who hasn’t updated in months. (I use Untweeps to monitor this. I should add that I don’t blindly unfollow everybody who is inactive.)
- Inconsistency – If I’ve followed somebody for reason X and all of a sudden all they’re tweeting about is subject Y, this often leads to an unfollow. I’m not looking for everybody to ‘stay on target’ all the time, but complete personality changes or the total abandonment of one theme over another means it’s probably time for us to part ways.
- Rudeness – I can’t stand it when people are unnecessarily rude. Please, feel free to disagree with me, stick to your guns and voice your opinion. In fact, I encourage it. Just don’t be an ass about it.
- Crazies – I’ll give you every chance, but if you’re quite clearly a good, old-fashioned weirdo, I’ll move on. (Important note: if you bombard me with tweets, I file this under ‘crazy’, too.)
- Arrogance – I don’t like it when somebody never replies to my tweets. If this happens, I’ll check out their timeline and see if it’s just me, or whether they’re ignoring most of their other messages, too. Either way, if there’s no relationship there, despite my best efforts, eventually I’ll likely think it’s time we started seeing other people. I’m selective here, because I know some very important people are very busy doing very important things, but there has to be a point where there is no point.
Naturally, I’d expect everybody to apply these same guidelines to me, too.
Two Reasons Why I Will Block You
It’s items three and four that are the most serious. Because an unfollow on Twitter doesn’t stop somebody contacting you via an @ reply, rudeness and craziness can still get through, even after an unfollow. Or, more damagingly, if you never even followed at all. If either of these things becomes persistent, that’s when I will block somebody.
It doesn’t help that the block function on the network doesn’t actually work properly. But while blockees can still read my timeline and rant and rave about me to their heart’s content, at least I don’t have to be privy to it.
Just to reiterate – I’m not a fly-by-night follow/unfollower and I always give others a chance to excel. I love it when people surprise me, and bump against my (often flawed) expectations and first impressions. It takes a lot for me to actually block somebody.
If you want to get my attention, please, go crazy – I would absolutely love to hear from you. I really want to know what you think.
Just don’t be crazy. Or rude. Otherwise, I’m sorry to say that we’re done.
Throughout the Twitter week I get lots of rogue messages from spambots and other ne’er-do-wells who I then immediately block. You know, this kind of thing:
What I thought would be a neat implementation from Twitter would be a facility that alerted all the members of my network each time I – or anybody else in that network – blocked somebody, and more importantly why.
This would have to be opt-in, as not everybody cares. But perhaps when you block somebody Twitter should ask you for a reason. It could be a drop down list of choices (spammer, retweet bot, etc) and an ‘other’ option where you could wax a little more lyrically.
When this was completed, everybody who ticked the box within that network would be sent a direct message saying
@username just blocked @troublemaker because reason
@sheamus just blocked @BeverleyBestg because "it's a spambot."
You could then click on the person I’ve blocked, check them out yourself, and block where necessary.
I could do this manually, but sometimes publically stating why you’ve blocked somebody is not always appropriate, and not everybody will care, as said. And publishing a big list of blocked users is of no interest to anybody but the person who created it.
Moreover, by actually asking us for a reason when we block, Twitter could get a rough indication of problem areas within the network. We know spam is already a big issue, but there’s no real indication how much of a problem trolls are on Twitter. Or stalkers. Or good, old-fashioned weirdos. Many of us have had bad experiences with individuals on other networks – that knowledge could be passed over to everybody else.
Of course, it’s all relative. One man’s guru is another man’s con artist. And likely there will be cases where somebody would use the block system to defame another’s good reputation. And that’s why it’s always important that you check these things out yourself before deciding to make what should be a fairly considered decision to block somebody.
In a recent article I wrote about the limitations of the block mechanism on Twitter. This is an issue because as the network grows in popularity it begins to attract more of the same kinds of ‘problem people’ we see elsewhere within the internet – spammers, trolls, nasty folk and good old-fashioned weirdos.
When I first started using Twitter, I rarely blocked anybody – now, for various reasons, I’m blocking several people each day. It’s those reasons that I want to address in this poll.
Specifically, why do YOU block somebody on Twitter?
(Please check as many reasons as apply.)
Please share any reasons personal to you that I have not covered in the comments area below.
In my article “Why Replies On Twitter Are Far More Damaging Than Direct Messages“, I address the limitations of the block feature on Twitter. As Twitter’s help portal states:
Blocking someone means that you (and your pic) will not appear on the blocked party’s profile page, friends time line, badge, or anywhere else. The person will not be notified that they’ve been blocked, and they will be unable to follow you. If your account is public, the blocked party can still view your profile page, but can’t receive your updates in their timeline or on their phone.
This is all well and good, but as a system it’s an extremely casual approach to a much bigger problem. When you block somebody, they can still:
- Read your timeline
- Send you @replies, which are still visible to everybody else, and remain within Twitter search, and will be delivered to you if you have a search for your replies configured on Seesmic Desktop or TweetDeck
- Re-tweet your messages, which can give the impression to others that you are ‘friends’
If you’ve had experience as a bulletin board administrator, you’ll know that when you properly block somebody, you have the facility to stop the person from reading anything on the forum (assuming half-decent, standardised software). With plugins, you have the same powers when you run a blog. Likewise, when you block somebody on Facebook, that’s it for them. They can’t read anything you’ve said. You simply disappear.
Why Is It Different On Twitter?
So, why is it different on Twitter? Why does it need to be? I can’t think of any reason why somebody would think the block system as it stands is acceptable. Twitter’s block is a bit like taking out a restraining order on somebody, and then letting them watch you on a webcam.