In a recent post, you learned a little more about what it’s like to follow me on Twitter, warnings and all. In this post – one that I hope will be the last Twitter-related post for a while – I’m going to tell you why I didn’t – and won’t – follow you back, if I didn’t return-follow.

As I’ve said on Twitter, I ain’t no follow-back girl. Everyone’s follow policy is different. Some people automatically return-follow everyone who follows them. Those people have no standards. Whenever I get a new follower notification, I check out your profile and decide whether to follow back.

Prior to being named one of Wired Magazine’s Top 100 Geeks to Follow on Twitter, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this post – but as my daily follower count continues to climb, I thought it was only fair.

Without any further ado, here are the reasons I didn’t – or won’t – follow you back on Twitter.

Social Media/Affiliate Marketing

The general rule here is that if I sense that you’re a SMD (Social Media Douchebag) or affiliate marketer, I will not follow you back. But because I believe in playing fair, here are the specifics.

If you are following hundreds of people, and have less than 5 posts, I will not follow you back.
The only way by which I can judge whether or not you’re someone I will find interesting enough to follow is by reading what you’ve already posted. If you have nothing posted, I have nothing to go on, and will not be following you back. The fact that you are following hundreds of people but not posting makes me suspicious that you are a douchebag spammer. If you’re not a douchebag spammer,  and are genuinely just new to Twitter, take the time to @reply me and say hello – there’s a good chance I’ll give you a shot once I know you’re a real person.

If you auto-DM me after I follow you back, there is an excellent chance I will immediately unfollow you or possibly block you.
Even if your auto-DM isn’t trying to sell me something (if it is, you will definitely be blocked), DMs go to my cell phone, and it’s annoying to get fifty “thank you” text messages a day, especially when they are robotic, empty sentiments. You don’t know me well enough yet to know whether or not you’re truly glad I’m following you. In fact, my following you might be the worst thing to ever happen to you.

Skip the meaningless DM and convey your thanks by being interesting enough for me to be glad I followed you.

If I see the words “guru”, “social media expert”, “Twitter coach” or “affiliate marketer” ANYWHERE in your bio, I will not be following you back.
In fact, there’s a good chance I will publicly ridicule you. Odds are, you’re just another Social Media Douchebag, and I don’t need anymore of those. Also, please die in a fire. But before you do, check out this site I made just for you. And this one. Your days are numbered.

If I see any tweets about “growing your twitter followers”
or any retweets about how @garymccaffrey (and his spammy, scammy tweetergetter) “has a crazy idea” to increase your followers by eleventy-billion in 3 seconds, I will not be following you on Twitter, and will most likely block you right off the bat. If you don’t actually suck in real life, I’m sorry about that (you may find this site helpful, though.) If you do, than you, too, can die in a fire.

If every one of your tweets ends with with a link back to your own bullshit affiliate marketing website, I will not be following you.
Even if your tweets are not spammy themselves, that’s an asshole thing to do.

In fact, if your website link takes me to an affiliate-anything landing page, or if your twitter username contains the words “cash”, “money”, or “rich”, I will not be following you back.
I’m not buying whatever bullshit you’re selling, and since I know you’re only following me to artificially inflate your follower count with people that follow back and don’t give a damn about anything I’m actually saying, I expect you’ll be unfollowing me soon enough. Maybe that crap works on noobs, but I’ve been working in the tech industry for 15 years. You can suck it. Suck it dry.

If your Twitter avatar is either the default avatar, or some absurdly gorgeous model that obviously isn’t you, I probably won’t be following you back. It just feels suspicious to me. Prove me wrong – show me you’re a real person.

Everyone Else

If your tweet stream is nothing but inspirational quotes (or god forbid, bible verses), I will not be following you back.
No offense – I genuinely appreciate your efforts in trying to make the world and the people in it less miserable, but if your communication is only one-way, that’s not a dialog, and that’s not what I want out of Twitter.

If I see a reference to the #tcot (“top conservatives on twitter”) hashtag, or if I see the word Christian or “conservative” in your bio, I may not follow you back.
My rationale here isn’t that conservatives or Christians have nothing to offer – just that if being a conservative or a Christian is important enough to you for you to use your precious 140 character bio space to identify yourself with it, chances are good that a fair percentage of your tweets will be conservative or religious in nature.

If your tweet stream isn’t all liberal-bashing or bible-thumping, I may actually give you a chance. But if you get preachy, or if I start to see the majority of your posts tagged with #tcot, I’ll probably be unfollowing. I am a bra-burning, liberal democrat and am damned proud of it. I will generally keep my religious and political beliefs off Twitter, and if you can too, we can still be friends. I will forgive you the occasional exception, and I expect to forgive mine – and understand that no one’s political or religious views will be changed on Twitter, so spare me the arguing.

If your website link takes me to a MySpace page… ’nuff said.

If you never, ever reply to people, I will probably not follow you back. As I’ve said before, Twitter is about conversation. Unless you are one of the extremely rare people (like @ainsleyofattack) who don’t ever reply but are just that damned entertaining, you’re not cultivating the spirit of connections in Twitter, so I’ll pass.  You don’t even need to reply to me personally – but I expect to see a few @replies somewhere in your tweet stream.

Conversely, if all you do is post links and/or retweet other people’s links, I won’t be following you back. If you’re not capable of forming an original thought once in a while, I’m just not interested. I already have my news sources, and I don’t need another one.

If none of your tweets are in English (or another language I can at least read, if not speak fluently), I will probably not follow you back. No offense intended – I’m not being an elitist American jackhole. There’s just not much point to following someone if I can’t understand anything they say. If you @reply to me in English, I’ll happily chat with you, though.

So, why should you care?

Honestly? You probably shouldn’t lose a lot of sleep if I don’t follow you back. Who the hell am I, anyway? These are just my personal criteria, and in the big scheme of things, I’m utterly unimportant. But if someone as morally questionable as myself won’t follow you back, you might want to re-evaluate your tactics. It probably means there are a lot of people with far higher standards that think you’re a dick as well.

The Caveat

If you’re not actually a wanker and I haven’t followed you back, there is always the chance that your follow got lost in the shuffle, or I might not have been sure based on what I saw on your profile. It happens. 🙂 Just say hello and I’ll make sure I’m following you.

Oh, and:

Since tweeting this, a few of you have pointed out that I have a “Hire Me” link on my blog, which (somehow?) seems hypocritical to you. Big difference between what I’m talking about here and having a contact/hire link. My content doesn’t pitch my services, and never will.  I’m a professional web developer, and my personal blog (this one) does occasionally inspire people to ask if I’m available for contract work. Truth is, I don’t really have much time for it these days anyway, but the real issue is that the content of my tweets and the content of my blog are not designed to sell you anything.

Anyway:

I think that’s all of them. Bear in mind, me not following you back doesn’t mean I’ve written you off entirely. It just means I don’t have enough information about you to bother with. If you reach out to me, I just might change my mind. Assuming you care enough about me following you to bother, which is weird and sad in its own way.

Did I miss any? Leave your own in the comments. And I promise to blog about something other than Twitter again soon.

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I’m a tech geek/dev/infosec-nerd/scuba diver/blacksmith/sword-fighter/crime fighter/ENTP/warcrafter/activist. I'm the CTO at Mass Mosaic and the CEO of Grokability, Inc. in San Diego, CA. Tweet at me @snipeyhead or read more...

  • fjfonseca

    Great post!
    In my opinion there is no reason why people should follow back just out of courtesy. There are people that follow me, that find my content interesting but that, on the other hand, give me no added value by following their twitter stream. Twitter is not Facebook 😉

  • Awesome list, most of which are my unofficial criteria as well. Especially the part about the social media douchebags. Rock on.

  • Couldn't agree more. Twitter is not Facebook. I've said it 100 times and will probably say it 100 more. They serve two very different (but valid) purposes.

  • fjfonseca

    Some months ago I wrote this post regarding the following policy:
    http://thezargon.org/2009/07/follow-me-and-i-wi

    I think you might enjoy it 🙂

  • Excellent post! Especially good that you mention how not following back but being ready to answer questions is a good approach. I often do that, since there are a lot of people who follow me that either tweet in languages other than English, or with whom I generally have very little in common. I'm happy to chat with them and help when I can, but following them wouldn't be a good use of my time.

  • Also, could I have possibly used the word 'good' any more in that reply? Oy… lol.. Me here talk good.

  • fjfonseca

    😀 Good is good, innit? 😉

  • anthonymendez

    Internet marketing: Been there. Tried it. Didn't fit my personality or match by business ethics. Threw it out. Have since been in unfollowing hell going through my list. Should've read this early on. Bravo!

  • “Didn't fit my personality or match by business ethics” – by that I assume that you mean that you have a soul? lol

    Honestly, I didn't bother to go back and unfollow many of the people I followed out of knee-jerk reaction early on. If they start stinking up my stream, I'll unfollow them on a case by case basis. Sort of a Twitter amnesty. Someone might have been a jackhole before, but sas long as they're not now, I'll skip unfollowing them.

  • anthonymendez

    Hi,

    I’m usually in the vocal booth or at a remote studio, but should be able to get back to you fairly quickly. However, if you need my attention immediately, you can reach me here:

    https://awayfind.com/anthonyvo

    Be sure to store this link with my contact information in case of an emergency.

    Thank you!
    Anthony Mendez

    https://awayfind.com/anthonyvo

    Opt out of future auto-replies: http://orchant.awayfind.com/oo?h=1ddee033&e=a48

  • anthonymendez

    Pretty much. The twitter amnesty “program” is a good idea. I think it will save me lots of frustration.

  • Excellent post! Hey, if eric_andersen points to something, I read it. (Even if he is the spitting image of Gerard Butler! :))

  • Heh – hilariously, I went to school with Eric, from Prekindergarten to high school. I didn't know he was on Twitter until he RT'd this link, which he got from someone who isn't even following me, and whom I don't know at all. Small freaking world… lol

  • Loved this blog post. You are totally on the money. thanks for putting into a concise article.