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Why I Won't Follow You Back on Twitter

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,Ā  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.Ā  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. šŸ™‚ 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.Ā  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.

  • KC

    WORD! If I had the time to write about things like this, you’ve pretty much covered exactly what I’d say. Were all of Twitterland following these rules, t’would be divine.

  • KC

    WORD! If I had the time to write about things like this, you’ve pretty much covered exactly what I’d say. Were all of Twitterland following these rules, t’would be divine.

  • I know I look like an “absurdly gorgeous model”, but believe me. It’s me.
    8^)

    OH NOES! I recently changed my more-info link to a myspace profile. Why? because i’m too lazy to design myself a personal website. I “hope” you don’t unfollow me over it.

    I totally love your rants… I mean “topical posts of awesome”. I’ll probably try to say some profound tech things in future tweets, just for you.

    -Jon

  • I know I look like an “absurdly gorgeous model”, but believe me. It’s me.
    8^)

    OH NOES! I recently changed my more-info link to a myspace profile. Why? because i’m too lazy to design myself a personal website. I “hope” you don’t unfollow me over it.

    I totally love your rants… I mean “topical posts of awesome”. I’ll probably try to say some profound tech things in future tweets, just for you.

    -Jon

  • You.Are.Hilarious

  • You.Are.Hilarious

  • I love ranty posts! Brilliant.

    -Tita B

    Last blog post: Garfield got it wrong

  • I love ranty posts! Brilliant.

    -Tita B

    Last blog post: Garfield got it wrong

  • Neil S

    Good set of rules. I haven’t taken the time to write it down, but my rules are very similar to yours. Glad you wrote this.

  • Neil S

    Good set of rules. I haven’t taken the time to write it down, but my rules are very similar to yours. Glad you wrote this.

  • Carl

    “Assuming you care enough about me following you to bother, which is weird and sad in its own way”

    Lol, you’re just rubbing it in to the people who really thought you were cool and that you snubbed. Ah, the perks of popularity. (I’m assuming you’re have a high follower count here)

    All the other stuff is spot on. Very similar to my follow back rules, except if I find even on someone’s profile I give them the benefit of the doubt and just unfollow after they get on my nerves.

  • Carl

    “Assuming you care enough about me following you to bother, which is weird and sad in its own way”

    Lol, you’re just rubbing it in to the people who really thought you were cool and that you snubbed. Ah, the perks of popularity. (I’m assuming you’re have a high follower count here)

    All the other stuff is spot on. Very similar to my follow back rules, except if I find even on someone’s profile I give them the benefit of the doubt and just unfollow after they get on my nerves.

  • Carl

    Also, I’m now assuming that anyone who doesn’t follow me back confused me for a fake model picture. It’s all about framing the situation.

  • Carl

    Also, I’m now assuming that anyone who doesn’t follow me back confused me for a fake model picture. It’s all about framing the situation.

  • Haha – that’s the thing though – I really will follow anyone back as long as thy don’t give off a spammy vibe. People who just post quotes or links, or who never talk to other people, aren’t ever actually going to read what I say anyway, so they never thought I was cool. They were just looking for another follower to up their follower count.

    Re: your pic, that’s an excellent way to look at it ;D

  • Haha – that’s the thing though – I really will follow anyone back as long as thy don’t give off a spammy vibe. People who just post quotes or links, or who never talk to other people, aren’t ever actually going to read what I say anyway, so they never thought I was cool. They were just looking for another follower to up their follower count.

    Re: your pic, that’s an excellent way to look at it ;D

  • Mel

    lol, is there really anyone with any intelligence who DOESN’T follow this stuff? hahaha. Your guidelines are most certainly logical, and anyone who would dare disagree, is not! ;D

    Last blog post: Geekdom [or, why I am a geek]

  • lol, is there really anyone with any intelligence who DOESN’T follow this stuff? hahaha. Your guidelines are most certainly logical, and anyone who would dare disagree, is not! ;D

    Last blog post: Geekdom [or, why I am a geek]

  • Alex

    I don’t understand why anyone would care if you follow them on twitter or not.

  • Alex

    I don’t understand why anyone would care if you follow them on twitter or not.

  • Those all sound like good reasons to me. Another one: if someone’s tweets consist entirely of updates from that damned spymaster game. Though that seems to be dying back a bit, finally.

  • Those all sound like good reasons to me. Another one: if someone’s tweets consist entirely of updates from that damned spymaster game. Though that seems to be dying back a bit, finally.

  • Facebook User

    I so needed your Social Media Douchebag page! (and I’m old enough that I cringe a bit typing that word out, lol).

    I look at all of my followers pages (not that many) and decide whether we need each others’ input or not – and you said it very well about people Tweeting their religion. do not want!

  • I so needed your Social Media Douchebag page! (and I’m old enough that I cringe a bit typing that word out, lol).

    I look at all of my followers pages (not that many) and decide whether we need each others’ input or not – and you said it very well about people Tweeting their religion. do not want!

  • SSwati

    Thanks a lot. Those are wonderful tips. I fulfill most criteria basically , yet don have the serious guys in my following list. I guess I gotta have loadsa patience!

  • SSwati

    Thanks a lot. Those are wonderful tips. I fulfill most criteria basically , yet don have the serious guys in my following list. I guess I gotta have loadsa patience!

  • Damn, clicked on that link down there and lost my post. Guess that’s what I get for being too long winded!

    Great post, but did you know the dark red makes people go to the bathroom upon seeing it (research done, no BS here)? I did spend $3000.00 for that little tidbit. I hope you aren’t that expensive…

    OH, I love “YOUR POST TASTES OF FAIL”. I’ll be around, in the shadows…geeking. OK, sails are full!

  • Damn, clicked on that link down there and lost my post. Guess that’s what I get for being too long winded!

    Great post, but did you know the dark red makes people go to the bathroom upon seeing it (research done, no BS here)? I did spend $3000.00 for that little tidbit. I hope you aren’t that expensive…

    OH, I love “YOUR POST TASTES OF FAIL”. I’ll be around, in the shadows…geeking. OK, sails are full!

  • Liz

    You managed to hit everyone of the reasons I won’t follow someone but you don’t mention the main reason people don’t follow me back…I Tweet too much for some people’s tastes. I was even called “overwhelming” (pardon the quotes). Whatcha going to do, you have to be yourself.

    Last blog post: Thoughts on #140Conference

  • Liz

    You managed to hit everyone of the reasons I won’t follow someone but you don’t mention the main reason people don’t follow me back…I Tweet too much for some people’s tastes. I was even called “overwhelming” (pardon the quotes). Whatcha going to do, you have to be yourself.

    Last blog post: Thoughts on #140Conference

  • My Twitter bio includes “affiliate” (part of my company name), but not “affiliate marketer”.

    Shall I also die in a fire?

    Last blog post: Affiliate Fatblogging: Gait Analysis at The Running Company

  • My Twitter bio includes “affiliate” (part of my company name), but not “affiliate marketer”.

    Shall I also die in a fire?

    Last blog post: Affiliate Fatblogging: Gait Analysis at The Running Company

  • OMG thank you for this! I’ve so had it up to HERE with SMD types! This post very clearly articulates how you feel, and I think you speak for thousands of other Twitter users, myself included. I wrote a similar post back in March (http://www.blork.org/blorkblog/2009/03/06/why-i-follow-you-on-twitter-or-not/) but yours trumps mine by a long shot, largely because of how well you single out and slay the Social Media Douchebags. Bravo!

  • OMG thank you for this! I’ve so had it up to HERE with SMD types! This post very clearly articulates how you feel, and I think you speak for thousands of other Twitter users, myself included. I wrote a similar post back in March (http://www.blork.org/blorkblog/2009/03/06/why-i-follow-you-on-twitter-or-not/) but yours trumps mine by a long shot, largely because of how well you single out and slay the Social Media Douchebags. Bravo!

  • I enjoyed your article and gave it a digg. I’m still pretty new to digg and twitter, but thought my two twitter followers seemed a bit suspicious. :p

  • I enjoyed your article and gave it a digg. I’m still pretty new to digg and twitter, but thought my two twitter followers seemed a bit suspicious. :p

  • Requesting feedback on what you think would be the result if I were to blast the SMD website link (should I bit.ly it?) to a huge audience of Internet Marketers (I am there in the middle of ALL of them.)

    Do you think all my websites would be hacked mercilessly (I can’t afford that.) Do you think 95% of them would love me (I need all the love I can get.)
    Do you think that is just too far over the top (so nasty I would lose everything I have built so far to provide me with food on the table.)
    To me it could be the difference between dying in the gutter (I’m too old to get another job) or becoming the greatest Internet Marketer in existence.

    I would like everyone’s honest opinion (because that is all I am is honest) because I am not really in the public limelight (like the sponges at the top of these schemes) but I am a blunt persuader (because no one seems to have common sense out here except the ones that don’t have to care because they have nice two income families.) Caring about people and not being PC has wound me up where I am after slaving my whole life for corporate culture.

    Could be a mistake, don’t you think? But how else do you get the word out to the poor disadvantaged people that don’t know any better, huh? Make a statement to make the world a better place (and make money change hands again just like Treasury Sec. and FR Chairman did last year, same as a banker did to create the Great Depression).

    Is it worth it in my position? Can’t do it anonymously because of the credibility factor.

  • Requesting feedback on what you think would be the result if I were to blast the SMD website link (should I bit.ly it?) to a huge audience of Internet Marketers (I am there in the middle of ALL of them.)

    Do you think all my websites would be hacked mercilessly (I can’t afford that.) Do you think 95% of them would love me (I need all the love I can get.)
    Do you think that is just too far over the top (so nasty I would lose everything I have built so far to provide me with food on the table.)
    To me it could be the difference between dying in the gutter (I’m too old to get another job) or becoming the greatest Internet Marketer in existence.

    I would like everyone’s honest opinion (because that is all I am is honest) because I am not really in the public limelight (like the sponges at the top of these schemes) but I am a blunt persuader (because no one seems to have common sense out here except the ones that don’t have to care because they have nice two income families.) Caring about people and not being PC has wound me up where I am after slaving my whole life for corporate culture.

    Could be a mistake, don’t you think? But how else do you get the word out to the poor disadvantaged people that don’t know any better, huh? Make a statement to make the world a better place (and make money change hands again just like Treasury Sec. and FR Chairman did last year, same as a banker did to create the Great Depression).

    Is it worth it in my position? Can’t do it anonymously because of the credibility factor.

  • 1st Response:
    Alison, I would like to become the exclusive worldwide Affiliate Marketer of your website (pending business discussions) with all rights to create Affiliate Marketers under me of aforementioned SMD TM site. That is the fastest method to get the word out globally. Since you came up with the idea, the IP is yours to assign. If you want to give contributors a portion of your (small) profits that is on your own.

    Remember, creativity is the key and educating the public is the goal (education never comes free).

    Richard E. Byrd
    http://com-Research.org/

  • 1st Response:
    Alison, I would like to become the exclusive worldwide Affiliate Marketer of your website (pending business discussions) with all rights to create Affiliate Marketers under me of aforementioned SMD TM site. That is the fastest method to get the word out globally. Since you came up with the idea, the IP is yours to assign. If you want to give contributors a portion of your (small) profits that is on your own.

    Remember, creativity is the key and educating the public is the goal (education never comes free).

    Richard E. Byrd
    http://com-Research.org/

  • Shovan

    I`m in love with yr “personal criteria”.Those are resonable and seriously that makes u better person.I was searching on google how to make wp theme frm scratch n i found dis one..im writing dis not bcz of yr excellent tutorialz bcz yr really interesting person ( a better person n very practial) ..i wont follow u bak bcz dis r da reasonz..ahh may be i have more to say! but i think dis will enuff to put u off ;)u know u could write even novelz n im sure ppl would love to read em :)..ny wayz da way im talkin seemed lyk i have been a friend of yrs šŸ˜› my bad..but i enjoyed yr site( personal criteria :p) ..hope u do well ..watever yr doing šŸ™‚

    ps: My english is kinda bad ..i hope i have made sum sesne lol!

  • Shovan

    I`m in love with yr “personal criteria”.Those are resonable and seriously that makes u better person.I was searching on google how to make wp theme frm scratch n i found dis one..im writing dis not bcz of yr excellent tutorialz bcz yr really interesting person ( a better person n very practial) ..i wont follow u bak bcz dis r da reasonz..ahh may be i have more to say! but i think dis will enuff to put u off ;)u know u could write even novelz n im sure ppl would love to read em :)..ny wayz da way im talkin seemed lyk i have been a friend of yrs šŸ˜› my bad..but i enjoyed yr site( personal criteria :p) ..hope u do well ..watever yr doing šŸ™‚

    ps: My english is kinda bad ..i hope i have made sum sesne lol!

  • I was one of those who uses some automated follow-back system for Twitter (that sent out a “Thank You” DM to new followers) until I realized that my entire Twitter front page is filled with aff links (repeated ones) selling their wares. It’s crazy! I’m gonna vet each person now on.

    PS: Hmm. I was about to post a message and noticed that I was logged in to someone else’s FB Connect acct (of Shawn Collins).

  • I was one of those who uses some automated follow-back system for Twitter (that sent out a “Thank You” DM to new followers) until I realized that my entire Twitter front page is filled with aff links (repeated ones) selling their wares. It’s crazy! I’m gonna vet each person now on.

    PS: Hmm. I was about to post a message and noticed that I was logged in to someone else’s FB Connect acct (of Shawn Collins).

  • I think this is one of the best Twitter policies I have seen so far. You covered all the reasons not follow someone pretty well. I am annoyed by exactly the same things that you listed and reversed gears some time ago and are much more restrictive on who I follow back.

    Some people might think that there are a lot of no-brainers in your list. I don’t want to go that far as to call Twitter Newbies no-brainers but many of them seem to fall into similar traps right now…

  • I think this is one of the best Twitter policies I have seen so far. You covered all the reasons not follow someone pretty well. I am annoyed by exactly the same things that you listed and reversed gears some time ago and are much more restrictive on who I follow back.

    Some people might think that there are a lot of no-brainers in your list. I don’t want to go that far as to call Twitter Newbies no-brainers but many of them seem to fall into similar traps right now…

  • I didn’t know Wired did a 100 Geeks you should be following. I am checking it out now, but I am glad I followed you, even if you aren’t following me back (though I don’t think I fall into any of the do not follows, especially the Conservative bastards).
    .-= Sean´s last blog ..First Newsletter Out =-.

  • I didn’t know Wired did a 100 Geeks you should be following. I am checking it out now, but I am glad I followed you, even if you aren’t following me back (though I don’t think I fall into any of the do not follows, especially the Conservative bastards).
    .-= Sean´s last blog ..First Newsletter Out =-.

  • Got agree with you on the twitter front regards follow so much twitter like the rest of the web is now spam or commerial links
    .-= Gunnsy´s last blog ..Advertising Pens – why are they so popular? =-.

  • Got agree with you on the twitter front regards follow so much twitter like the rest of the web is now spam or commerial links
    .-= Gunnsy´s last blog ..Advertising Pens – why are they so popular? =-.

  • 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 šŸ˜‰

  • 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 šŸ™‚

  • 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

    šŸ˜€ Good is good, innit? šŸ˜‰

  • 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,

    Iā€™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.