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Nielsen: You're doing it wrong
May 1, 2009 9:14 AM   Subscribe

A recent Nielsen study which has been circulating the web indicated that 60% of Twitter users quit the social networking site after just one month--music to many Mefite's ears. But as one reporter noted, the study didn't take into account any of the third-party applications, (like Tweetdeck) through which many users access their Twitter feeds. Just three days later, Nielsen responds with a revised study purportedly them into account.
posted by misha (86 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
i signed up and have never twitted or followed anyone....
posted by HuronBob at 9:17 AM on May 1, 2009


Clearly, this exercise illustrates the power, passion, and influence of the Twitter community.

Aren't they arguing the exact opposite? The revised numbers the same as that of Twitter, that is to say lower than other similar social network sites at analogous times. Which would imply that the Twitter community is not very passionate.

Unless, of course, they're talking about the vocal minority, and this is a straight-faced rejection of the complaints that they received. Which is probably more likely.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:19 AM on May 1, 2009


i signed up and have never twitted or followed anyone....

Ditto.
posted by ericb at 9:24 AM on May 1, 2009


Which would imply that the Twitter community is not very passionate.
Further to that, I'm pretty sure that Twitterers are most likely to approve of tweeture.
posted by isopraxis at 9:26 AM on May 1, 2009


*including Twatterboarding
posted by isopraxis at 9:28 AM on May 1, 2009


i signed up and have never twitted or followed anyone....

Ditto.


I only tweet ironically.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:28 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Freakley, who heads the Army command that oversees recruiting, says social networking sites offer another way to reach tomorrow's soldiers.

"They live in the virtual world," Freakley said. He cited Facebook as a key component in targeting 18-to 24-year-olds. "You could friend your recruiter, and then he could talk to your friends." ...

The Army isn't the only branch of the military with Facebook friends or that has a following on Twitter. The Air Force has also established a Facebook page, Twitter feeds and a blog, while the Marine Corps is using various networking sites mainly for recruiting purposes. The Navy is "experimenting" with several forms of online media, and some of its commands are using Twitter, a spokesman said. Even the Coast Guard commandant regularly updates his Facebook status while traveling.
- AP
posted by Joe Beese at 9:30 AM on May 1, 2009


The instant Twitter becomes yet another way for marketer to spam...er, target specific demographics is the instant it dies as a useful medium. (To wit: Usenet, e-mail, SEO blogs.) That moment may have already arrived, but it will assuredly arrive within the next six months.
posted by briank at 9:34 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do use Tweetdeck - it runs on the Adobe Air platform and it's a sweet tool - gives twitter updates, facebook updates and some other items all in one very nice, streamlined dash board. But I also use blip.fm -if you blip a song, it will feed your twitter status update, which in turn can feed your facebook status update. Tweeting blips! It's all crazy out there! I don't publish many manual updates via Twitter, but I love some of the people I'm following. I'm an information junkie, so I like to be able to gather links from as many sources as possible as easily as possible.
posted by PuppyCat at 9:34 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm one of the Luddites who sees little of interest in Twitter. I'm so disinterested, in fact, that I'm barely motivated enough to even post this -- I stopped writing it, and forced myself to come back and finish.

Why on earth would anyone want minute-to-minute updates on other people's lives? What possible use could that serve? It strikes me that you'd have to be monumentally egocentric to even open an account there, convinced that You Are A Special Snowflake and that everyone should pay attention to your stream of consciousness.

I read Lawrence Lessig's feed once. He's one of the smartest men in technology, passionately convinced that words are going away and that everyone will be communicating with video and short-form text only. He may be right, but his Twitter feed, when I looked at it, was almost completely devoid of actual content. He's a remarkable man, but Twitter reduces him almost to incoherence.

Maybe he's seen the future -- but if we're going to start thinking by telegram, we're done as a society.
posted by Malor at 9:38 AM on May 1, 2009 [15 favorites]


Thanks for the post; I remembered about the Twitter account I signed up for 6 months ago and never used once. Promptly deleted. Whew; another bullshit website I don't want in my life.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 9:41 AM on May 1, 2009


Twitter doesn't have to be about minute-to-minute updates on people's lives. It is a nice way to get info out there though about things that are happening. I find that I find links to items that are later posted here. I follow one guy, he's a sometimes-writer for Vanity Fair- he's just funny to read. I follow some of my favorite musicians (James McMurtry) so I don't miss tour dates. I follow Rachel Maddow who posts links to good articles and pieces of information. But I don't follow many of my friends that I goof with on Facebook, because there's no point. So I get fed a lot of information that I might otherwise miss, but I don't wade through a bunch of tweets about whether the coffee is warm or cold, or how long it took the socks to dry.
posted by PuppyCat at 9:43 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I use it to post stuff I see and hear in the field as a social worker. I'm actually amazed at how much I can capture considering the brief format. I imagine there are other people finding interesting uses for it, not that there's anything wrong with just chatting.
posted by The Straightener at 9:43 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry- wrote that last post with one eye. Multitasking. Atrocious syntax/grammar, what have you.
posted by PuppyCat at 9:43 AM on May 1, 2009


The instant Twitter becomes yet another way for marketer to spam...er, target specific demographics is the instant it dies as a useful medium. (To wit: Usenet, e-mail, SEO blogs.) That moment may have already arrived, but it will assuredly arrive within the next six months

Unlike email, you can always turn on the setting that blocks everyone but those you choose to follow. If anything will kill Twitter, it is the seeming inability of its creator to come up with a good way to monetize it (i.e. push ads through it).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:44 AM on May 1, 2009


smackfu's last status posted to Twitter
Blah blah blah.
5 months ago by smackfu
posted by smackfu at 9:46 AM on May 1, 2009


I like twitter. I find things to laugh at, decent links, have made offline friends there, pretty much the same as here without discussion.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:49 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Twitter's pretty great. It's Facebook that I couldn't quit fast enough.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:50 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why on earth would anyone want minute-to-minute updates on other people's lives?

Fuck it, I'll bite: This is not the only way to use Twitter.

I would've said exactly this a month ago: Who cares? What's the point? Get over yourselves. And suchlike. But then I got involved in organizing this civic action initiative and at some point one ot the co-organizers set up a Twitter account for it, and I started checking it just to see what it was doing for the big plenary session thing we had organized.

Since the plenary thing, I've watched attendee after attendee start following our (which has essentially become my) Twitter feed. I post group updates, links to important bits of local news, open calls for participation. Plus I started following likeminded local bloggers and the City Hall and local news feeds, and I've found that the thing has totally supplanted all other platforms as my go-to source for local news. It's a kick-ass aggregator if you follow the right mix of sources.

I'm a couple weeks into it now, and I've still never once read about anyone's sandwich selection, which makes me feel kinda like I came too late to the party. But so it goes.

I still refuse, however, to refer to what I do over there as "tweeting," because my four-year-old brings plenty of preschool nonsense into my life already, thanks.
posted by gompa at 9:52 AM on May 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


The only thing that keeps me on Facebook are photos of hot girls. The rest of it is a massive orgy of self-absorption and vapidity.
posted by autodidact at 9:53 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've had the same CB handle since 1975.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:53 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've dropped off Twitter a bit since I first started using, simply because I don't have time at work to keep up with it and you can start to feel swamped/passed by quite quickly.

I think you need two things to get a lot out of Twitter: time and access during the day to keep reading and updating plus large group of friends/acquaintances/people of a similar disposition to talk to.

I found Twitter quite easy to get into because I live in London and work in PR. London has a HUGE PR/marketing/journalist/advertising/writing/design community just sitting there tweeting all day. Once you've started following the people you work with and all the people who have similar jobs/interests in their profiles, you're up to hundreds and you're away.

I can imagine if you were in a less communications-friendly job it would be more difficult.

I have Twitter to thank for a lot of things - putting me in touch with an illustrator for a story I wrote, introducing me to some people who may want me to write on their blog network and setting me up with an online publication that I write for now.

I feel there's still a lot more that I could be doing with Twitter. Unfortunately I'm quite a snappy, sarcastic kind of person and that doesn't translate that well over Twitter, but I've found a lot of people who I like and who I talk to regularly.

Still - I'm not surprised most people find it difficult. It doesn't matter. It's niche, it's for the chattering classes. I don't see anything wrong with that.
posted by Summer at 9:54 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Interesting statistic: "Research firm ComScore recently found that Twitter is most popular among those ages 45 to 54."*

Now punks, get offa my twawn!
posted by ericb at 9:56 AM on May 1, 2009


The only thing that keeps me on Facebook are photos of hot girls. The rest of it is a massive orgy of self-absorption and vapidity.

rimshot?
posted by doobiedoo at 9:57 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's Facebook that I couldn't quit fast enough.

From today's New York Times: The ‘Face Book Fad’ Is More Than a Century Old.
posted by ericb at 9:58 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


They purportedly the whole thing?
posted by Kattullus at 10:01 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


10-4 good buddy.
posted by GuyZero at 10:04 AM on May 1, 2009


I went back to Facebook just recently to see if I could get more out of it, since all I ever did was sign up. My password didn't work, even though it is saved (I use 1password precisely so I don't have to remember these things). That seemed odd, but I went through the steps to have them email me a new temp password. I never got an email back.

As for Twitter, I had never used it before a conference I went to last year. Some very patient people showed me how they made the best use out of it to dissemble information, check real-time status of projects and sites I am interested in, ask questions (like a mini AskMe) of specific users (I have a friend, for example, who is an Apple genius).

These days, I don't visit Twitter all the time, or even on a daily basis, but after this story I went and checked in via Tweetdeck. Right now, I am playing the Terminator Salvation game over Twitter, and enjoying Darth Vader's tweets.

I was honestly more interested in the fact that the firm known for research screwed up the initial study by not even considering third-party apps. It makes me wonder if even now they are tracking the mobile phone apps like Twitterfon.
posted by misha at 10:07 AM on May 1, 2009


Ugh. Purportedly taking them into account, obviously. Thanks, Kattullus, now I know how Meatbomb feels.
posted by misha at 10:15 AM on May 1, 2009


@MISHA - YAH RIGHT! LUV TWITTER 4REAL LOL FUN 4EVA!!! <3
posted by orville sash at 10:16 AM on May 1, 2009


Twitter's pretty great. It's Facebook that I couldn't quit fast enough.

Exactly. Exactly, exactly, exactly. I'm on twitter at least three or four times a day and I love it - hell, I found two people to follow in this thread (James McMurtry has a twitter feed? Be still my beating, lovesick heart!) but what's really impressed me over the last couple months is how useful twitter is as a conduit for local news. There are a bunch of active Asheville twitterers pointing out traffic jams, parties, political gatherings and what have you, from bears in people's yards to short restaurant reviews. It's really handy. Facebook, on the other hand, I hate with the passion of 1000 suns. But I don't quit - it's just too ubiquitous for me to leave, alas.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:18 AM on May 1, 2009


Hey, let's have a conversation about twitter that doesn't derail into a hatefest.

Read this.
posted by flatluigi at 10:23 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't do Twitter. But I don't see any problem with other people doing it.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:28 AM on May 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I didn't mind the one-line updates as a sort of top-layer aspect of facebook, and I was pretty annoyed by the site redesign that has made the whole thing a confusion of dumb quizzes and other people's exchanges, but I can't be bothered to go to twitter just to read those updates very often. I follow stephen colbert and rainn wilson on twitter along with a bunch of people I know, but even with that, it's not interesting enough to check on regularly. When it was the top layer of facebook, i could go to the site to chat on IM, or play scrabble, or because someone had posted new photos, (etc) and sort of on the way to whatever activity, pass by the updates and have a little "neat" moment seeing what was going on in the lives of friends, possibly getting some useful info along the way (someone in town, etc).

But since it's usually not important, going to twitter with no other purpose but to look at updates feels pretty pointless. I waste enough time online as it is, and when I waste a few seconds at twitter I just feel all the more vapid. At least at metafilter or facebook it's possible to get into real conversations. I'm certainly not saying every conversation has to be deep or anything, but it's weird when a mode demands that you remain twittery, or a twit, or whatever...
posted by mdn at 10:29 AM on May 1, 2009


A couple of years ago I got a Twitter invite from a friend of mine. At that point I'd never even heard of Twitter, but I clicked on the link and signed up just to see what it was all about. Once I'd done so I had a look at a feature wherein you could view a map of the world and random updates would pop up, thereby (I guess) giving you an idea of what the peoples of the world were up to at any given moment. The first one was "______ from Dublin is eating a grilled cheese sandwich."

I haven't been back since.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:30 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find Twitter to be a great way to revisit my own past and see what the past few months or year have brought. For instance, without Twitter, I am not sure I could have remembered exactly the chaos that followed my purchased of a leather biker's cap.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:41 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why on earth would anyone want minute-to-minute updates on other people's lives? What possible use could that serve? It strikes me that you'd have to be monumentally egocentric to even open an account there, convinced that You Are A Special Snowflake and that everyone should pay attention to your stream of consciousness.
posted by Malor


The same could be said about a blog.

The first one was "______ from Dublin is eating a grilled cheese sandwich."

I haven't been back since.
posted by The Card Cheat


Wow, could this meme ever die? Could your response be any more brain dead? You used it once, didn't go back, and this means what?

Kottke had a good response to this drivel not too long ago.

I have no problem with people hating twitter, but it's amazing to read comments like these from people that have no idea what twitter does, or how it can be used. If you're response is that "I don't want to know what you're having for lunch" then you're an idiot and twitter is better off without you.

Complain about it on metafilter, because THAT is a much more productive way to spend your time. Oh sweet irony.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 10:42 AM on May 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oddly I mostly follow MeFites on Twitter and I visit both sites about five times a day. My Internet world isn't a series of tubes. Its just a tube.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:51 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let Me Twitter Dat
posted by vronsky at 10:53 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I found two people on twitter that I ended up guest posting on their blogs. I walked a woman in Canada through a plumbing problem using twitter updates and twitpic. I found out about the Mumbai bombings, got reports and photos from the scene 20 minutes before it hit the mainstream news sites. I heard about the New York plane crash in the harbor (and saw the first pic of same) 20 minutes before it was on any news site. I've doubled the traffic to one of my websites. I found an illustrator for a project I've been working on.

I could go on. If people don't find value in it I can understand that. I've never understood the point of MySpace or Facebook, think I am too old to learn txting on cell phones, and pretty much get board with any site I've ever spent time on. Ask me again in a year.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:54 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I like knowing what people ate for dinner.
posted by gaspode at 10:57 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


> You used it once, didn't go back, and this means what?

It means it's not for me. That's all. But feel free to insult me again if it makes you feel better about Twitter.

The problem in the world today is communication. Too much communication.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:59 AM on May 1, 2009


Facebook is a couple of useful tools made utterly unusable by scores of pointless tools and lousy design. Twitter is just one very useful tool: an open online notebook. You can use it to update minute-by-minute what you're doing all day but only one or two of the 150 people I follow do that - so less than 2%. The rest post links, snips of gossip, tips, questions and requests for help, answers and help, and notifications on what's new on their site. It has proved a constant source of inspiration and assistance; it is also a far more powerful networking tool than Facebook.

To suggest that it's only used for inane updates on what flavour sandwich the Twitterer is eating offers as much insight into the service as "bloggers are just a bunch of nobodies in pyjamas in their parents' basements". It's mystifying that a site as tech-friendly as Metafilter could be home to so many people who don't "get" Twitter. Twitter is very easy to ignore if you don't like it.

Geoff Manaugh also wrote a pretty good defence of it.
posted by WPW at 11:05 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why on earth would anyone want minute-to-minute updates on other people's lives?

I'm guessing nobody really gives a shit about someone else sipping a latte and curling up with a Grisham.

What possible use could that serve?

None

It strikes me that you'd have to be monumentally egocentric to even open an account there, convinced that You Are A Special Snowflake and that everyone should pay attention to your stream of consciousness.

Pretty much

I hate Twitter more than Hamas hates Israel yet I do have an account which I use from time to time. I'm strangely attracted to it because of the Attentionmus Whorimus aspect. Outwardly I express a great disdain for popular trends while inwardly my soul screams out to be noticed. It is for these reason I have a Metafilter account, a MySpace account, a Flickr account, a blog, a.......

Guilty as charged.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:09 AM on May 1, 2009


Alright, I forget where I heard this comment, but I'm going to steal it:

Yes, of course you don't want to know what some guy in Washington is having for breakfast. But do you want to know what your best friend is eating?
posted by flatluigi at 11:10 AM on May 1, 2009


I used to belong to FB and Twitter...for a while I was pretty close to what I'd call obsessed with both of them, and really enjoyed checking them hourly (at least), mainly (in FB's case) to read up on people's status updates. I really did feel like the main value of both of them was drawing me closer to my relatives and circle of friends. However, after a while I realized that I was spending less and less time actually interacting with said friends (even on the phone) because I felt like just checking up on them online was "enough". It started to feel alienating, so I quit both of them, a decision I sometimes regret but ultimately think was for the best because I can't be half-way about these things.

I think social networking sites definitely have their uses, and in a lot of ways they're amazing applications of technology with profound implications for the way society relates and organizes itself, but ultimately I think they serve to pull people farther apart rather than closer together, despite illusions to the contrary.

YMMV
posted by you just lost the game at 11:12 AM on May 1, 2009


Then again, reading about how Molly Hutchins practically invented the concept of being angry at bad drivers and Tweeting about it on the internet, makes me want to light the internet on fire and bury it in my back yard.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:18 AM on May 1, 2009


PS - I realize I'm not the first person to point the above out. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind, it's just how I reacted to this stuff.
posted by you just lost the game at 11:19 AM on May 1, 2009


Why on earth would anyone want minute-to-minute updates on other people's lives? What possible use could that serve? It strikes me that you'd have to be monumentally egocentric to even open an account there, convinced that You Are A Special Snowflake and that everyone should pay attention to your stream of consciousness.

As much as I dislike twitter, it seems like it could be useful for people who have very active social lives. You send a tweet to let people know you are going to bar X, and people who want to hang out with you can meet up with you. People seem to use twitter

Interesting statistic: "Research firm ComScore recently found that Twitter is most popular among those ages 45 to 54."*

That makes a lot of sense. People in the media who seem to love it are in that age group: Oprah, Karl Rove, Martha Stewart, etc. Maybe facebook is just too complicated for them. Older people who havn't grown up with computers seem to have trouble understanding the 'visual language' of modern GUIs. Jakob Nelson used to say people couldn't understand scrolling. Twitter is almost entirely textual.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 AM on May 1, 2009


From within Dennis Murphy's Kottke link:

Kafka would have had a Twitter feed! And so would have Hemingway, and so would have Virgil, and so would have Sappho. It's a tool for writing. Heraclitus would have had a f***ing Twitter feed.

Well they're not around so we don't know, but it's fun to speculate. I think many feminist writers and activists would've gotten alot of use out of Twitter. Marry Wollstonecraft prolly would've had a Twitter feed.

In the same blog post, he talks about how Twitter threatens people's notion of 'writer' and the status of being a writer. ("In many ways, I'm reminded of Truman Capote's infamous put-down of Jack Kerouac: 'That's not writing, it's typing.'") Very interesting reading, don't be put off by the "get over it" if you happen to scroll to the end (as I sometimes do when I'm skimming).
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:29 AM on May 1, 2009


(Oh yes - here we go.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:31 AM on May 1, 2009


And a lot of assumptions here are that when one posts to the service it's for someone else.

I have a protected account that I use. I send txts to it about projects I am working on. Minutia that don't really require an actual ticket. Or that will remind me to enter in a ticket later. Obviously this is tech support speak, but the feed isn't for anyone but myself.

And I'm not ashamed to admit I have 5 accounts, two of which I update frequently.

I also have a horrible grasp of dates/months/years. I mean I'd miss Christmas if the stores didn't change color, can't recall how many years I lived in MN, can't remember what year I started college, can't tell you how many months I been dating my girlfriend (I'm good to know it's 3 years, but she can rattle of the months and probably days as well), etc. It's like dyslexia, but for dates.

So a "Went to DM Art Center to see the Automat and American Gothic. Wish my Bacon was back!" is actually useful to me. It's nice to occasionally go back and see when something happened.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:35 AM on May 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why on earth would anyone want minute-to-minute updates on other people's lives?

Maureen Dowd interviews Alexander Graham Bell.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:35 AM on May 1, 2009


> Kafka would have had a Twitter feed! And so would have Hemingway, and so would have Virgil, and so would have Sappho. It's a tool for writing. Heraclitus would have had a f***ing Twitter feed.

Oh God, I really hope not. Not to get all Peggy-fucking-Noonan on y'all, but I prefer my artists with a dash of mystery. Are your favourite albums improved by deluxe editions with dozens of rejected takes? Would your favourite books have been improved by constant updates on how they're coming along? Personally, all I want is what the artist considers the finished product, much the same as when I eat a sausage I don't need to know everything about how it arrived on my plate.
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 11:42 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is the @ tag really welcome in MetaFilter?
posted by cjorgensen at 11:53 AM on May 1, 2009


I've decided to give it a serious try in the process of launching a new project, but I have the feeling that I'm not quite getting it yet or I'm not making correct use of the platform. I see people who are interesting to follow, and then I eventually think I'd like to actually interact with them, but it feels rude to tweet at them as a relative (or sometimes total) stranger, so my mutually interconnected network on twitter ends up being a small subset of my network on other social sites. As a result, many tweets I see are things I've already read, others are things I would enjoy responding to but don't feel close enough to the twitterer to do so, and the remaining chunk are often perfectly interesting but still don't quite bring it into focus for me why people are passionate about it. Am I doing it wrong?
posted by Halle at 11:57 AM on May 1, 2009


Well, I'm self-employed in a weird, niche-y industry, and if anything, Twitter (which I initially wrote off as a OH GOD, WHO CARES ABOUT YOUR SANDWICH site) serves as a virtual watercooler for me and the other people in our weird, niche-y industry. If I was in a cube farm, I could yell "hey, what's the WPI on Malabrigo sockweight" over the wall and someone would yell it back to me, maybe even that weird guy from accounting that no one talks to. So for us, with Twitter -- I can do a virtual ARGH WHAT IS THIS THING I AM TRYING TO FIGURE OUT? question and get back 10 responses in 2 minutes, and possibly find out something else cool in the process.

YMMV, but for some of us, it comes in handy.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:57 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I use Twitter all the time. Because folks need to know that I'm craving fried chicken or that I'm on my way to the store to buy cat food. But all it's really for, I've determined, is to make the rest of the world envious of Stephen Fry. All his tweets are like "Dining in Bali before a long evening of drinks in the cabana" and "Preparing to address an assembly of people so important you've never heard of them".
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:07 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Am I doing it wrong?," Halle.

You can question if your own use is correct, but man I hate it when other people are telling people they are using twitter incorrectly.

Halle, I can pretty much say for certain that no one will feel offended or that you are interrupting them with a reply. You may get ignored, but many people get on there to interact with others. I make it a personal policy to respond to every "mention" I get unless I have nothing to add. But questions, comments, etc. I always reply to. I've also had a great success getting replies from anyone I care about. That said I don't follow celebrities, but even most of them will actually respond.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:07 PM on May 1, 2009


People, it's mind-boggling simple: if you don't want to hear about somebody's lunch, don't follow that person. It's like blogging: don't like that Lawyers Guns and Money talk about battleships? Either deal with it or don't read them.

Me, I don't give a fig about the NHL, but I still follow @wilw because he will twitter about things I do care about at other times. If he gets too much with the NHL stuff, or not enough with the other stuff, I'll drop him. It's simple.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:17 PM on May 1, 2009


The people who tried the "those 60% are using applications" argument are really delusional if they think that many people are going to switch to desktop applications in the first month of twittering. That's not how average users think. They use what's in front of them, or they give up and go home. Desktop applications are what a person switches to after becoming a power-user of a service.

Has anybody tried adding up the estimated users of all those applications? I bet all of them together (by number of users, not number of tweets) wouldn't even account for a quarter of the dropoff.

Also, if these numbers are so wrong, why haven't we seen Twitter publically disagree with them? Twitter has direct access to the necessary data (first and last login time for each account). IF Nielsen is wrong, crunching the numbers to prove it is such a trivial exercise that I could probably do it in perl, and a seriously amateurish programmer. I think Twitter's silence is telling.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 12:28 PM on May 1, 2009


Is the @ tag really welcome in MetaFilter?

Hell no.
posted by delmoi at 12:46 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


misha: Ugh. Purportedly taking them into account, obviously. Thanks, Kattullus, now I know how Meatbomb feels.

Nah... I was just making a "I accidentally the whole thing" joke. It just happens that I think the word "purportedly" sounds funny, much like capable or extrinsically.
posted by Kattullus at 12:54 PM on May 1, 2009


My work blocks facebook, but not twitter (in fact, my company has its own account). That's most of my reason for using it--that and my hatred of the insipid cutesyness of facebook (Bob has sent you some flair buttons!) that makes my eyes bleed. I reserve Facebook for all my family-friendly posts (kid did something cute, going on vacation) and Twitter for the rest of my life.

Like others say, it's good for local stuff; using Twuzzer to find other posters in my area, I have found out quite a bit about the local arts scene that never makes it into the papers. We're about to have a local election; one of the candidates started following me, so I went and checked him out, which is more effective than seeing a sign on my corner and remembering when I get home to look him up. I also follow a Dem politician who is struggling to break into the legislature and getting an interesting peek at the process of building a political career by reading posts about her activities. So it's an RSS feed for me, plus a texting/IM tool, plus a crowdsourcing/research tool. In one place.

I can see why so many drop off if they prefer to have those things the way they've already set them up, or don't need them period. But yes, let's drop the "narcissistic" theme, it's not an accurate criticism.
posted by emjaybee at 1:35 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can question if your own use is correct, but man I hate it when other people are telling people they are using twitter incorrectly.

Certainly, just in case it's unclear, I'm only wondering if my hesitation to reply to tweets and my lukewarmness to the platform so far are connected. I figure that anyone who is using it and enjoying it without reducing others' enjoyment in it is doing it right by definition.
posted by Halle at 1:36 PM on May 1, 2009


Having just found a wonderful flat via Twitter, I can assure you that twitter is not only about minute-to-minute updates on other people's lives.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of people new to Twitter use it mostly as an IM tool, something Twitter is not particularly good at. You can tell because these people follow mainly friends and co-workers, i.e. people they actually know as opposed to 'strangers' with whom they share special interests. Unsurprisingly, they give up after a while and go back to better suited apps/sites.
posted by blogenstock at 1:55 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I found out about the Mumbai bombings, got reports and photos from the scene 20 minutes before it hit the mainstream news sites. I heard about the New York plane crash in the harbor (and saw the first pic of same) 20 minutes before it was on any news site.

And how was this useful?

I'm serious. Did you ring India and offer assistance with coordinating relief efforts or with valuable information about the perpetrators? Did you rush out to the harbor with blankets?

How is finding out about a major but remote new event 20 minutes early a killer feature? It's not as if we were lacking for news coverage of either event, 20 minutes (1800 seconds) later on not. Did it cause you to cat in any way different? Did it alter your plans for the day? Or did it just give you the warm and fuzzy impression of being better informed?
posted by outlier at 2:19 PM on May 1, 2009


Real Life Twitter
posted by P.o.B. at 2:20 PM on May 1, 2009


Aside from instant updating from wherever with the cell, I still don't grasp how this is a step-up over other apps that do this except in longer form.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:27 PM on May 1, 2009


I guess what I don't understand is that Facebook (seems) to accomplish the exact same thing as Twitter with its status updates, but then also has other features.

I am a "10 minutes per day" facebook user, almost exclusively on my iPhone, with only like 100 friends and even I am anxiously awaiting the update to get rid of all the quiz spam. For power users with 2000 friends it must be infuriating.

But, doesn't the exact same thing happen on Twitter? If you have 2000 in your list you're going to be buried by even more, due to the frequency of tweets.

Right? No?

*sigh*

I have mentioned on here several times that I don't "get" Twitter... and I'm beginning to believe I'm just overthinking it.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:35 PM on May 1, 2009


How is finding out about a major but remote new event 20 minutes early a killer feature?

You might as well ask how knowing about a major but remote event is useful at any time. I mean, have you changed anything in your life as a result of the Mumbai bombings? I sure as hell haven't.
posted by Ritchie at 3:15 PM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


"makes me want to light the internet on fire and bury it in my back yard."

You know, of course, if you bury it, it won't burn.... fwiw...
posted by HuronBob at 3:33 PM on May 1, 2009


For somebody like me--who moved away from home at 18 to go to a college 2000+ miles away and therewith lost touch, by and by, with pretty much every who ever mattered to me, and subsequently moved again, and again, and then EMIGRATED to another COUNTRY, and then moved AGAIN--whose social orbit has been so disrupted so many times that I've been depressed to the point of contemplating suicide because I feel so alone and socially disconnected, facebook (I know this wasn't about fb, but as it's been brought up here, I wanted to respond) has been a balm, a veritable salvation.

There are dozens of people among my fb "friends" whom I never expected to hear from again- I feel almost like Celie at the end of The Color Purple. I know that sounds melodramatic (and maybe a little pathetic), but this is, honestly, a sort of thing I'd resigned myself to being impossible. I'm thousands of miles and another country away from most of these people and we've RECONNECTED. I count facebook among my blessings, and if you don't find use for it, you're lucky. Or you never moved out of your home town, or you just graduated from college and your friends are still a cab ride away. That's not the case for me, not remotely.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:49 PM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


outlier, I'm fine with the warm and fuzzy feeling, but by your logic why have news on the internet at all? Why not just delivered to your door once a week, or even once a year?

And another example, the recent Italy earthquakes. Found out about that one almost right away. Again, an hour before the major news outlets had it. And considering the girlfriend knew people over there she wasn't going to go to bed until she knew they were alright, so by extension I wasn't going to go to bed until we knew. So yeah, 40 minutes actually mattered.

I'm not really interested in yesterday's news.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:59 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Twitter is humanity's first step towards a world-wide singular consciousness. I'm surprised humanity is so willingly giving itself to it.

But it wont be like the Borg, it'll be mostly useless and only good if you really know how to leverage it because the s/n ratio will be crap.
posted by SirOmega at 9:35 PM on May 1, 2009


Unlike email, you can always turn on the setting that blocks everyone but those you choose to follow.

You can do that with email. It's called a whitelist. It's trivial.
posted by NortonDC at 11:18 PM on May 1, 2009


I'd assumed that the 60% of people who left after a month were people who'd signed up because Oprah or Ashton Kutcher or Rove McManus mentioned it, not because it was the kind of app that they actually had a use for.

If you're one of the people who tried it but doesn't get it*, think of it this way: Twitter is a news and links app, not a hang-out-with-friends app the way Facebook is. It's not good for chat/IM (and I unfollow anyone who uses it that way, I'm not interested in your personal conversations), and it's not good for organising a project (email) or making plans with friends (phone/Facebook again).

I keep up to date with my niche industry. I get/send links to wonk-ish reports on my subject that never show up in Google because they're obscure or have crap SEO. I find out about the new hotness, whatever it is this week. I exchange info about great restaurants in my city, or if there's a free gig on tonight. I read one-liner jokes about swine flu or get linked to the latest Maru the Box Cat video.

I don't post about my breakfast, except for that one time I was telling people about a great restaurant they should check out because it was tasty, affordable and eco-friendly.

Maybe it's misleading because the prompt question is "What are you doing?". If you answer that literally, all tweets would be "typing on my computer/phone". But the people who get followed most are those who answer with what they're doing in their work or social life.

*Assuming you'd like to get it, even if you choose not to use it; rather than being the kind of person who doesn't get it, doesn't want to get it, but reserves the right to interrupt every conversation about it to share your pride in not getting it.
posted by harriet vane at 12:27 AM on May 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now come on. This is utterly ridiculous...

Mom on Twitter, Having Baby: Shares Details of Birth
"Contractions are five minutes apart, lMAO! In a move that many will call the height of oversharing, pregnant mommy blogger Melissa Skabich of Cedar Grove planned to be on Twitter today, giving updates about her induced labor and delivery at mommyblogger76. She was scheduled to be induced at 8 a.m today. But the induction was postponed until Sunday, according to her Tweets. So stay tuned."
posted by ericb at 9:14 AM on May 2, 2009


ericb, that is "utterly ridiculous," but I think on any service you can find people that are using it in stupid ways. From godawful geocities/myspace webpages to to shaken baby apps for you iphone. That doesn't mean the internet sucks or that I am giving up my iphone.

And I, like harriet vane, wonder how many of the quitters are Oprah sign ups? I worked in a bookstore during the start/height of her book club craze. I sold hundred of those books personally, but never found one person who ever read a previous book.

I also wonder what the quit rate is on metafilter? How many readers never come back after a month? I'm not talking about the people who shell out the $5, but just people who find the site and say, "Kinda ugly, no pictures, and filled with intellectual, christian hating, snobs," why should I sign up?

I would think a 40% retention rate would be seen as a good thing.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:26 AM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Isn't it the rule rather than the exception that people generally use this app for pointless things? The "Hey everybody, I'm pooping!" is much more common than "Breaking world news right now that you should know!" So having to wade through a bunch of crap to find something good is not exactly a priority for me and I don't think the adversity shown towards Twitter isn't exactly surprising either.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:17 PM on May 2, 2009


"Isn't it the rule rather than the exception that people generally use this app for pointless things? The "Hey everybody, I'm pooping!" is much more common than "Breaking world news right now that you should know!"

Not in my experience. Of course, it depends on who you follow, what columns you keep active in your window, what you search for, etc.
posted by misha at 1:30 PM on May 2, 2009


And, P.o.B., you only see the "hey, I'm pooping" comments if you choose to follow people that make scat references.

One of my accounts has nearly 5,000 followers and I follow nearly the same with it, and I don't think I have seen one sandwich, or poop, or even poop sandwich reference.

Honestly, you're actually just as likely to read that stuff here, especially since I just made such a reference, but unlike twitter, on metafilter you have no unfollow or block option.

I get tired as fuck over the bacon meme and a few dozen other annoying as fuck comments. The whole I heard your like stupid memes so I'm in your stupid meme pimping your stupid meme shit gets annoying. Here, I have to filter past, promise myself I'll try to pay attention to who is saying insipid crap, and scan bylines to figure out if I want to read the comment.

There someone does that *poof* I never see them again. So, in short, if you are seeing pooping references, I'd have to say it's because you like them, seek them out, and choose to follow them.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:27 PM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


'sup cjorgensen, I heard you like killfiles so I put a killfile in your Metafilter so you can killfile while you Metafilter.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:23 PM on May 2, 2009


I'd have to say it's because you like them, seek them out, and choose to follow them.

It was a jokey reference to the whole "I just did this, that, and the other thing" that seems to be abundant with twitterers. I thought that would have been obvious and I wouldn't need to explain this...unless you really want to know if I have a scat preference...or is this where I should just say your mom likes scat!!!
posted by P.o.B. at 9:09 PM on May 2, 2009


cjorgensen: I consider it impossible that you have a twitter account that follows 5,000 active users (or are only 40% of them active? 20%? 5%?) and you don't encounter any forms of banality.

You are being overly rosy to attempt to make a point.

With 5000 people you are following, it is all but certain you have received "I had a cream cheese bagel for breakfast!" tweet.

In fact, you likely receive several of these every day. Dozens if not hundreds.

I imagine you've just gotten very good at weeding these posts out mentally/visually.

Also, 5,000??? If each user only tweeted once per week, that's over 700 tweets per day to read.

Really? Or do they only tweet once per quarter?
posted by Ynoxas at 9:58 AM on May 3, 2009


Ynoxas, you're probably right on the filter. I skip past a lot of my feed. I kind of scan from avatar to avatar, and stop on the ones that consistently post decent things. I also tend to look for links, see what they are linking to, and move on.

I also make no attempt to read every tweet. I dip in and out, and some users I click on to see what all they have said, but for the most part I let the majority go.

I also use twitter karma to shed myself of followers that having updating in the last 2 weeks or so.

I have another account that I refuse to follow people on unless I have built up some kind of other relationship with, like I know them in real life. I don't intend to follow more than 100 on that account.

And P.o.B., totally missed your joke. Sorry I took you seriously. It won't happened again!
posted by cjorgensen at 6:48 AM on May 4, 2009


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