Stop Twitter Spam PLEASE!

Very small introduction to twitter: Twitter is a broadcast service, and everyone who follows you can read your updates. You follow people who you think twitter about interesting stuff, whose tweets amuse you or who post interesting links. If you use an @username, you are referring to someone on twitter, but still everyone can read this update. Look at the following problematic screenshot from @the_gman, this is also a nice example how to design a twitter ppearance… but thats not the point here:

The gman twitter page

Here you can see a successful twitterer (in terms of followers) broadcast private messages all the day. This makes him have an incredible number of updates, but it seems that he didn’t understand the @username-command.

Again, the @username is only to be used if you want to refer to somebody, but only if you want to world to read that update too. If you tweet “Nice blogpost by @ithoughts_de, go and read it everyone http://tinyurl/somechars”, you tell the world about my nice blogpost and that you recommend it. If you tweet “@AustinPrime You’re welcome”, you tell all of your 14,150 followers … guess what? Nothing! You spam their timeline! Listen @the_gman and all other spammers out there: I’m following you because you sometimes have interesting stuff to say or you tweet interesting links. But I’m not following you to read your public conversations, and I guess no one does that.

The UNIX "talk" command shown in the...Image via Wikipedia

Twitter has a feature thats specific for you. This is called direct messages. You can tweet “d AustinPrime You’re welcome”, and AustinPrime will read your answer and maybe reply. This is a email or IM-like feature, and it should be used MUCH MORE to make twitter useful. In fact @guykawasaki used to twitter his direct messages via @username for a week or so and I thought about unfollowing him for cluttering my timeline.

, Posted Thursday, March 12th, 2009 under Tipps.


  1. While I don’t exactly agree with your definition of spam here but that’s ok. @username replies are not always going to make sense as you are getting on part of the conversation. If you are using tweet deck you can use the search feature to make sense if you are caught in the middle of a partial conversation.

    Nonetheless thanks for posting about me here. ;-) see you on Twitter.

  2. @the_gman is not the biggest spammer. You probably have not faced @holdemtalkradio which retweets everything, participates in mass #hashtags activities etc.

  3. I’m not sure if that would qualify as spam. Mr Weber—the G man—who began following me today, referred to this blog post, and many of us would have seen it. I glanced at his previous Tweets—your screen shot is representative—and thought that I wouldn’t mind seeing this personal approach. I decided I would follow him back, but I do it with my free will and full awareness of what I am getting myself in to. If I tire of this, then I would find it just as easy to stop following him. It’s not like real spam where an opt-out is usually to a false address and the tide is never stemmed.

    My point is everyone has a different reason for using Twitter. I have gone from using it to write fairly clever things that would be beneficial to my work, to less clever trivialities that reflect my everyday life. Some might welcome this. Others will find it tiresome. But at the end of the day I think we get the followers we deserve and follow the people who can give something to us in return.

  4. Doug Radar says:

    I’m following the_gman…and quite honestly, this is the first post I’ve actually read of his. I see his head shot 100+ times a day but never read his comments…nor do I read anyone’s comments. We all know why the_gman is on twitter…to get people clicking on links. Period. He doesn’t care who he offends in the process….nor should you. Twitter has become just another abused network where the masses have no real use other than to let guys like the_gman spam their twitter-base. Does anyone really read anything on Twitter? C’mon!

  5. Hi – I don’t know @g_man personally but it should be pointed out that tweets beginning with an @reply are only seen in your timeline if you follow both the sender and recipient. If you don’t follow the latter, the only way you would see that reply it via the person you follow’s direct timeline.

    I would agree that it is kind of annoying when two or more people keep publicly replying to each other but I don’t think I would call it spam. What would really be spam is if a twitter user followed the exact same people you followed and then kept sending pointless replies to your friends’ updates (thanks, good job, etc etc). Just my opinion.

  6. I have to disagree with the assessment, but it’s not your fault.

    The problem that Twitter is having right now is that it is different things to different people. Many people use it as a publc IM – basically, you communicate with different people with the intention of having that conversation seen by others who are following both parties.

    I personally use Twitter for many reasons, but that is definitely one of them. If I’m having a conversation on Twitter and the recipient is okay with having it in public as well (by using @ replies instead of DMs) it can enhance the value of the conversation through others joining in. If it needs to be private, DMs or proper IM clients are easy to use as well.

    You will find that, while it clutters the stream for many, the overall benefits of such conversations outweigh the negatives. Twitter is an open community that allows us to see who we want to see and not see those who we don’t. If anyone is a problem, it is definitely easy to not follow them anymore.

  7. Twitter is being built on the voyeurism of being able to view what could easily be a private conversation. Twitter is about engaging and connecting with people, as well as broadcasting the latest hot story or topic, which for me in certain moments can be as mundanely prolific as “I want chocolate.”

    All Twitter conversations are important to someone…and if Twitter Person “A” doesn’t enjoy reading Twitter Person “B”’s updates – for whatever reason – then they simply click “unfollow.” And…. if Twitter Person “C”’s twitter stream brightens Twitter Person “D”’s day and/or enlightens the mind and occasionally makes them laugh out loud, even when they are not directly being tweeted to, I see value in that.

    We all should really just worry about what we like and stop worrying about anyone else Follow what you like, Don’t pay attention to what you don’t like occasionally in your stream and unfollow if you find you consistently don’t like or agree with a certain tweet stream. I love that about Twitter.

    Now…honoring your opinion because everyone’s opinion is valuable and important, I envisioning my Twitter life as you have directed us to conduct ourselves in this blog post and for me…if the “rule” was that all personal conversations, discussions, debates, discoveries and interaction should go internal to DM, then Twitter would be a very boring place for me. In addition 90% of my entire outgoing tweet stream would disappear. I might as well just go back to email. Hmmm. Nah.

    So…. if engaging with my friends and followers publicly on Twitter is your personal definition of SPAM , then I am proud to be Spamalicious in your book! I know you would never enjoy following me, while I might love following you – and that’s what is awesome about Twitter ~ you can be who you are and I can be who I am…both happy on Twitter.


  8. I agree with JD, one of the aspects of Twitter I enjoy is the ability to jump into the conversation. I think we all have different expectations and goals with Twitter and it’s fine to unfollow anyone who is not your style.

    It would be great if we could each mold Twitter to be what we desire but like anything else on the web that is free for all to use, it will be the community that shapes how it is used.

  9. I think you’re totally missing the boat about Twitter and said person’s use of it. It’s about conversation and sure it may be a small message that many people will see but the small things don’t have to be DMd and really is up to that person and how they use it. Really, there are no set rules and basically what you’re trying to say is “this is what you should be doing”, but it doesn’t work that way.

    In the end, it’s your opinion and if you feel it’s spam then you should just unfollow the person. Don’t see @the_gman’s use of Twitter as spam.

  10. I wouldn’t consider this spam. Maybe excessive noise…. but definitely not spam

  11. Whoa! Impressive response!

    1.) I don’t think you can see the @username-tweets only if you follow both, the one who tweeted it and the recipient. The would be wonderful, as I wouldn’t have needed to write this post then. Can we make twitter do this or is it just not working for me?

    2.) I made a big mistake thinking you could DM people that don’t follow you. It would be nice though. If you somehow can fight spam ;-)

    3.) This seems to be a problem of my use of twitter. I in fact read the updates and I love the stumpble-upon-factor that people often tweet links to articles they like.

    4.) Thanks for the response!

  12. I don’t think there is much point in trying to dictate how social media should work. @replies can be used no matter how both the sides agree on that. That’s the essence of user-generated content. If you don’t like, you can unfollow :)

  13. Twitter, for me, is first and foremost a place for me to interact with a wide variety of fabulous individuals from all walks of life. When I visit a page and all I see are links posted or statements made without @replies, then I assume that individual is not interested in making a connection. I respond to @replies with an @reply simply because it may be helpful to someone in my stream. DM’s are reserved for private messages, in my opinion and that’s just what it is, my opinion.

  14. If everyone DM’ed instead of replied @so&so, Twitter would be lackluster and lose it’s appeal.

    Dropping in on others conversations can be entertaining, and it’s how you get the low-down on people hence the point of Twitter.

  15. Hm … I begin to see your points. Seems there are VERY different approaches to use twitter.

  16. I follow The_Gman on Twitter and Stumbleupon too He is my friend. I enjoy his Tweets and links. Go The_Gman.
    He has helped me understand ‘RT’ when I was new to Twitter—answered my DM.
    I think Twitter is many things to many people, Cool.
    We’re ALL different, come from different backgrounds, cultures, parts of the world too. And have different physical/mental abilities–I am physically limited with brain damage too–it’s a lot easier for me to @someone than to DM them.
    But my Twitter friends ARE my Friends. Bet you have a relative or friend that doesn’t do things like you. Oh Well….that’s the way life is.
    But, you have a right to your style as The_Gman does..
    Twitter is for EVERY Style–Yea Twitter.
    Thanks for letting me share.
    Janet Rose-Bartlett ‘Lola’ LOLAsFeedAnFuel on Twitter

  17. I think the assumption of the author of this article is that everyone is on Twitter just to find links or get pitched by sales people. I will normally unfollow anyone who clogs up my feed with too many links. I use Twitter for social networking, to connect with likeminded people around the world. And I love @replies! I like tracing back conversations to see what the other person said, and it helps to find new people to follow as well. Without @replies Twitter would just be the latest “internet marketing expert” waffling on, and people talking to themselves. Which doesn’t sound very interesting to me….

  18. Twitter is just about done in my opinion. Too easy for anyone to get thousands of followers using Twollow or a number of autofollow tools.

    But if the_Gman wants to retweet blog posts all day, or @reply everything, let him…just unfollow him if you don’t like it. I’ve known him for years, and he’s not a spammer. That’s Just his style…he’s a good guy.

  19. The the_gman is no spam. he maybe a super freak but a spam… definitely no.

    He chose to use Twitter as he likes it and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Twitter has no rules that say u cannot use @replies to thank someone or chat with a specific person or post links every other tweet or welcome a new follower.

    That is the magic of Twitter…. its an open game for everyone.. no holds barred..

    You dont like his tweets cluttering your public timeline.. unfollow him… and also others whom u don’t fancy reading their tweets. I myself had found out that not all people i followed are ”cool” so i had unfollowed many. Its not forbidden….promise.

    I’m not the ”u follow me, i follow u” or “i follow back when u follow me” kind.

    Í go for quality tweeps not quantity, but …that is me….that is how i like to use Twitter..and that is why I enjoy it. I can set my own standards.. so can you….. so can the_gman. To each his copying…..everyone’s happy.

  20. I’m not sure why everyone get’s all worked up about “Twitter Spam”…if somebody is tweeting something that you don’t want in your timeline, and they are doing it so often you consider it spam, just click that “unfollow” button and move on. Trying to get the_gman to twitter the way you’d like him too just isn’t going to work, and is not the way Twitter is designed. If the_gman spams too much (based on your interpretation), just don’t follow.

    That’s the cool part of Twitter, we control the messages we want to receive nothing is mandatory.

    Just my two cents,


  21. First of all, there are no “rules” to using Twitter, so I’d encourage you to hop down off your high horse and refrain from stating that someone doesn’t understand the use of the @reply command. I’d also discourage you from making an accusation of “spamming” when you’re clearly not familiar with what constitutes genuine “Twitter spam”.

    As Derek pointed out above, you only see an @reply if you are following both the person sending the reply and the one receiving it. You also have complete control over which @replies appear within your Twitterstream in the “Notices” section of your Twitter settings. You can eliminate @replies from your Twitterstream entirely, if you so desire.

    I would submit to you that @replies are NOT “Twitter spam” and referring to it as such speaks a great deal to your lack of experience using Twitter.

  22. I hate spam as much as the next person, but what you’re describing isn’t spam. It’s how Twitter is supposed to be used (which is to say that each individual can choose how to engage his followers however he wants to). I think @the_gman understands the @username-command just fine; if he’s spamming, then so is nearly EVERYONE who uses Twitter (except those who don’t engage their followers at all). If you don’t like seeing @replies, simply go into your settings and turn them off or limit them to just people you’re also following; or unfollow people who you find to be too “chatty”.

    To turn off @replies to people you aren’t following, go to: Setting > Notices > @replies and select “Show me @replies to the people I’m following”. This will limit responses only to mutual friends.

  23. I definitely wouldn’t consider “You’re welcome!” as spam. One of the main points of Twitter is to share interesting content with your followers, and that’s exactly what the_gman does. I’ve been following him for a very long time on Twitter, and I’ve never considered him a spammer. I consider a spammer someone who continually tweets the same links to the same products repeatedly without contributing RT’s, @ replies, or any valuable interaction. I recently covered the topic of spammers on my blog: Then you can learn the true definition of a spammer. :-)

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