Auto Annoy everyone on Twitter!

Josh Chandler · November 18, 2008 · Short URL:

Jon Wheatley designs the ultimate auto follow tool for Twitter, I am not so convinced! LogoFirst things first I would just like to say I have spoken to Jon on numerous occasions and I do give him praise for his commitment to bringing out new and interesting applications for the web, however his latest product called Twollow hits a new low for Twitter tools (and again this whole post is dedicated to constructive feedback rather then negative).

Personally for me back in the day when I was used Twitter on a regular basis, I used to get continually annoyed to see many people I would follow auto following me back, I only assumed this because their response was absolutely instant.This impersonal approach made me believe that many Twitterers even when I started using back in April 2007 were using the broadcast to everyone approach and not uniquely communicating on a one to one basis.

The idea of Twollow personifies in my opinion this annoyance, with one added bonus the ability to autofollow people mentioning certain keywords! Well, here is the next gen of incorrect usage of Twitter, the amount of people shown in the below video that Jon has been followed by are just people simply following him because he followed them, it's a vicious cycle of events that needs to be stopped:

Quick Demo from jon on Vimeo.




 There needs to be fluid conversation running through the Twitter network, I mean if people really are into collecting as many Twitter followers as possible this may be the tool for them particulary if they use Twitter search to find out the most talked about term and then autofollow people based on that! However, that could in turn lead to a very one sided look to someone's Twitter feed with more people being followed then are following you!

Now if this idea was put into retrospect and the idea of autofollowing was removed then this service could give people a transparent view on the Twittersphere, but that would lead to huge risk of simply being a Twitter Search.

The main thing I would like to see for this service is for the auto follow to be removed and maybe this service to be bought into a more realtime layout, perhaps looking at a Real-Time Friendfeed updating system. This way people can make much more educated guesses about who they want to follow, maybe who will they will respond to and keep more up to date far quicker.


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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.


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