Last night I was involved in a fascinating discussion with Robert Scoble and others on Friendfeed about the merits of Twitter’s controversial suggested users list (SUL).

Robert, who has never been on the SUL, shared his hypothesis that the people on the SUL have an inflated follow count that they cannot replicate on other social networks (Friendfeed, Facebook, etc). He used tech guru Tim O’Reilly as an example. Ultimately, O’Reilly arrived and participated in the debate. I encourage you to read the full thread on Friendfeed.

Why does being on the SUL matter? Predominately, it affords the lucky few a huge advantage in building the numbers of followers in their network. At the beginning of March, Tim O’Reilly had just over 40,000 followers on Twitter.

Check out his chart over the past three months:

@timoreilly

For comparative purposes, check out Robert Scoble’s chart for this same period. At the beginning of March, Robert had about 67,000 followers.

@scobleizer

The different here is considerable. Scoble had seen an increase in his follower count of about 23,000 – some 32 per cent. Over the same period, O’Reilly has gained about half a million followers, an increase of almost 400 per cent.

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