This post is about the @WordPress Twitter account, so if you don’t use Twitter, or don’t care about Twitter, then feel free to take the time you might have spent reading this post to go play outside (or an equivalent) instead.
Okay, so, Twitter! When all those apps started popping up using the Twitter API, things like automatically following anyone who followed you and sending an automatic Direct Message seemed like good ideas. We’re all friends, right? Wrong. That auto-follow bit us hard, and the huge amount of spam the account gets means that it’s been nearly impossible to monitor legitimate messages from WordPress users and developers who need to be pointed to a help resource. We’re sorry! Just as we needed to get the Ideas Forum under control* so that it could become a more useful resource for the community, we needed to get rid of the spam clogging our Twitter arteries. Except there was no easy way to do it.
We had wound up following over 50,000 people. If someone went to the @WordPress profile page on Twitter to see the stream of updates from people we followed, almost none of it had anything to do with WordPress or the community. Diet pills, Twitter scams, and multi-posted spam messages were the norm. Yuck! Who else wishes there was Akismet for Twitter? Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to clear this stuff out quickly (mass unfollows trigger their TOS alert, so it’s not surprising). I even contacted Twitter directly to see what the options might be, and it was suggested we use a script to clear the account. To be clear: Twitter flagged our account so that when the script was run they wouldn’t mark us as spammers for violating the TOS with a mass unfollow. We communicated with them beforehand, and the use of scripts to do this is not encouraged. Twitter was doing us a nice favor to help us get our house in order. Thanks, Twitter! Last night I ran the script and removed everyone. Extreme, but in good cause, right?
We’re now starting to re-follow real people from the WordPress community. There will be no more auto-follow. If you are a WordPress developer, designer, blogger, fan site, whatever — and think your tweets should appear in the @WordPress updates stream, then send an @ reply to us and we can add you to the new list (assuming you’re not hawking diet pills, free iPads or ways to get a million followers). This way, people who are new to WordPress and go to check us out on Twitter will (hopefully) get a sense of the vibrant community that we have. People who send @ messages to us won’t (hopefully) wonder indefinitely why they were ignored, because without all the spam, maybe we can use Twitter as it was intended to be used, as another channel of communication.
And for anyone who uses Qwitter and thinks @WordPress stopped loving them because of the last tweet they posted before the script ran… sorry! It wasn’t like that, we swear! It would be nice if the script could have done a bulk DM before the removal, but nope (otherwise we’d have included a message about this). So trust us, we still like you! And if you haven’t already been re-followed, please don’t take it personally… just send an @reply to @WordPress (tell us how you use WordPress!) and we’ll try to get you re-added soon. Later today (hopefully) you’ll find out what’s been keeping us so busy!
*Have you noticed? We cleared out thousands of old threads, added categorization, and will try to keep it to under a hundred open idea threads at a time so that they can be managed in a timely fashion. Check it out and rate some of the new ideas today!