Twitterscaping: Why I’m Abandoning Follow Friday and Writer Wednesday Hashtags

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Twitterscaping (verb) – to manicure one’s Twitter feed so as to enhance genuine relationships and remove unwelcome detritus.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with certain practices on Twitter from the beginning, most notably the rituals of Writer Wednesday (#WW) and Follow Friday (#FF). I understand their purpose. I applaud any measure which allows people to recognize one another from a place of authenticity. However:

  • It feels too much like picking teams for school gym, where even if all players are equal, they can’t all be chosen first. (And let’s face it, not everyone is equal.)
  • By picking everyone, you pick no one, but merely contribute to the Twitter noise.
  • Even if I were meticulous about my lists, I would eventually make a mistake. Then look out. People feel dissed when they know you’re meticulous and forget them, except this time they feel humiliated before an audience of hundreds.

Because of all these issues, I ceased the #WW and #FF practice long ago and made it a blanket practice. Everyone could feel equally offended, if they were so-inclined. I know people don’t always understand, but I believe they see my consistency as fair. Also, I take the time to publicly acknowledge people who recognize me in this way with a “Thank you for the #WW” statement.

I may have to reconsider this too.

Have you checked out TwitterBFF? It analyzes your Twitter conversations to determine your most frequent contacts. (Please note it doesn’t show you the results. Once you authorize the analysis, it posts directly to your feed without opportunity to edit or recall.)

In addition, with Twitter’s new suggestion list adding to my followers and followees on a daily basis, I’ve had a fresh onslaught of bots and followers who recommend me, but don’t bother to follow me. I can only assume this is an attempt to boost their Twitter rank.Anyway, I did this last night and frankly was shocked by one of the names on my lists and the inadvertent message I’m giving my Tweeps. I am not BFF with this person. It would be a stretch to describe them as an acquaintance. Aside from the #WW and #FF acknowledgements we exchange with regimental frequency, we’ve had no meaningful conversations I can recall during the past year.

I’m not interested in playing games. Since I don’t have time to sort out who’s sincere, and who’s not, I will stop replying to #WW and #FF as a blanket rule. If people want to say something nice about me in a personalized tweet, that’s different. Those efforts I’ll acknowledge. That’s a relationship. I yearn for authentic relationships.

As for my responsibility to take care of my community, I hope people can read between the lines.

Respect is a verb.If I’m having conversations with individuals; if they are specifically mentioned here; if I hyperlink to their article; if they have a place in my blogroll, then you know these are people I recommend.

So those are my thoughts. But what say you all? How do you feel about #WW and #FF? What compromise have you worked out with yourself? Is there a dimension to this conversation I’m overlooking?


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30 thoughts on “Twitterscaping: Why I’m Abandoning Follow Friday and Writer Wednesday Hashtags

  1. You make good points here. I actually don’t do FF or WW but I do respond to all who mention me. That said, I have on occasion done a ff or ww for friends that are new to Twitter, etc. Thing is, I’m not sure it actually makes anyone follow anyone anymore, and wasn’t that the initial point?

  2. I’ve been backing away from it – first, I am, too, afraid I’ll leave someone out – but, mainly it’s the time involved. As it is, I feel as if I’m running like the cliche’d chicken (etc etc etc) . . . and #WW & #FF are just two more things to worry about. If I continue to let social networking suck of too much of my time, my book(s) will not be written, and, the Rose & Thorn work will not be done.

    Other than thanking people for their kind #WW and #FF, I’ve not done it myself this week at all – other than an apologetic “oh, I haven’t had time to do it” – but I’ve also noticed more people are backing away from it – it’s twitter fatigue!

  3. Kim, that’s it exactly.

    Jenn, I’m not a great one for rituals as it is, but I figure a spontaneous recommendation means more, anyway. I know when people mention something *specific* about me, I glow. Otherwise, their attention is the gift.

    Kat, that’s it exactly. We all have only so much time and I want to spend it on the people and pursuits that are meaningful. That said, my door is *always* open to new people.

  4. I don’t participate in it, either. Nor do I read other people’s FF or WW tweets. Does anyone actually follow someone based on a huge FF listing?

  5. I felt bad at first for not participating in #FF, but I didn’t understand what it was! Now I might send out one or two, but it says something specific that I like about the person. The tweets that are chock full of names are too hard to read, so I skip over them. I am also more likely to follow someone new because they have an interesting conversation exchange with someone I’m already following — so I don’t really need to be instructed to follow them. LOL

    In a similar vein. . .there are some people I won’t follow, simply because EVERYONE re-tweets them, so I know I’m gonna see what they had to say. . .over and over and over. LOL

    There’s a lot of noise in the Twitterverse. LOL It takes some practice to get to the good stuff. :)

  6. Though I really appreciate the folks who mention me in # groups, I don’t have the time or the energy to do it. That simple. I do try and reply to all @ because I love a good conversation, but that’s something that actually engages me.

  7. Totally agree. I stopped the FF stuff long ago, and never even got into the WW. And I could add more here, but I’d just be agreeing with everyone else. ;-)

  8. I do try to use Twitter to network with other authors, so I find some value in the #WW and #FF trends. It’s how I ended up linking to the digital publisher I just signed with. And it helps me find authors I relate to. I’ll probably use Twitter to find readers as well when my publication date approaches.

    It’s an interesting form of social networking, one I’m still trying to figure out. I may drop some practices or add some practices along the way. I do agree with your points here, though. I don’t expect return mentions or thank yous or acknowledgments because man, that’s a lot of work. I have writing to do. It’s silly to assign forced etiquette rules to your computer screen.

    My problem is that I’m more of a Twitter reader than a uh, tweeter? I’m trying to break out of that rut and tweet more, but I’m pretty obsessed with my WIP so I don’t have time to create blogs that muse about the industry or collect links to share with my followers. So I’m reduced to mentioning what the cat does because well, it’s at the foot of my bed where I write.

    As for the hashtag recommendations, I’ll do one or two tweets and leave it at that. My real pet peeve? People you never see tweeting all week, but come Wednesday and Friday, they spend hours spewing out line after line after line of recommendations. Oy. If I see a pattern like that develop, I will unfollow because it’s reached an absurd level of wasted space. I unfollowed one person after I accidentally left my Tweetdeck open and they went on a fifty tweet recommendation spree that rendered my Tweetdeck comatose.

    Oh, that Twitter BFF? I broke down and peeked once, without retweeting the results. All it did was amplify the reality that it’s time for me to move on from friendships that have been beyond repair for quite some time. But hey. At least Amazon Kindle still loves me, right?

    Your reasoning is very fair. And don’t worry. I’m too worried about things in the real world to come after you or anybody else for violating some inane rule that I didn’t agree to in the first place. Great post!

  9. Lisa, yes, I love a conversation too!

    Tracey, but did you do the ZZ? Hee.

    JM Kelley, thank you for the visit, and for taking the time to comment. Especially since we’ve only just met. Congrats on the signing. :) Social media is an interesting model, that’s for sure. To negotiate it, I do make certain rules for myself which I end up needing to change. Like today, for instance. And yes, your pet peeve is exactly mine.

  10. I’ve never done #WW because I’ve never felt I had to thank an acquaintance – and especially not friends – for conversation. Though if someone wants to acknowledge me, I try to say thanks. As for #FF, I only do it for new followers. Eventually, I may have to back away from it, but for now I can without too much hassle. For me, it’s like saying thanks to people who show up at my party. :)

  11. Cathyrn, I like your analogy, but I’m Canadian. ;) No, seriously, unless I really know someone and they’ve taken time to connect on the phone or at a party, it wouldn’t be unusual for me to thank them for the conversation. But, it sounds like you’re happy with what you’re doing, which in the end, is the point. :) Thanks for visiting and commenting. You’ve given me some thinking to do.

  12. Jan,
    Nice post. I don’t do either one because of the time and clutter issue. I resisted Twitter for so long, but now I enjoy it for the contact with other people around the country. For me, it’s great to be able to see a snapshot of a moment in time of what bloggers, writers, librarians, teachers and parents are thinking and doing. I don’t want to spend my time on something that doesn’t make sense to me. I already spend too much time in the real world doing that.

  13. I used to participate a lot, but now I do very few #FF and #WW mentions. Mostly I just thank people for the mentions. It used to seem fun and new, but the novelty has worn off and now it seems time-consuming.

  14. Dee, Twitter is a great networking opportunity, no doubt. It’s most fun when it can be kept informal. Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

    Medeia, you are such a busy lady, I’ve often wondered how you do it all. I’m glad you’re letting go of “the rules.” :)

  15. I have never sent any of those out. I thank everyone who has included me in one, but I won’t send my own.

  16. Since my Internet access time is limited my tweets are too. The first several months I barely even used Twitter but after more or less figuring it out (and deciding what to tweet about) the number of people following me started to increase. Since then I’ve done a blog about ‘selling your dad on Twitter,’ ie, explaining how it could be beneficial. Finding resource people and the links they post to relevant material is kind of a search shortcut for me. I also appreciate how you can find appropriate entertainment. I love Dr. Who, for example, and now follow several profiles that offer great leads.
    As for hashtags, I use them to post in or find specific topics…never could commit to #FF everybody.

  17. Jan,

    Without turning this into a therapy session and sharing TMI about my painful high school days, I’ll just say that I too have backed off on trying to write out my own #WW’s and #FF’s. I can’t keep up, and there’s nothing worse than feeling like a failure over Twitter.

    I won’t lie, though. I love being included in a group, (*shakes her head at her sick need for attention*), and I acknowledge them in return. But, like you, I much more prefer the one-on-one interactions on Twitter.

  18. I am TOTALLY aligned, sister Tart. I, frankly, have not learned what I needed to participate in these things, but they’ve always struck me as a little ‘kissass’ (something tarts like in the literal, but not the metaphorical, yes?) So I’ve NEVER participated. If someone who impresses me INCLUDES me I thank them… (a couple ‘real’ authors have–real, meaning published) but mostly I use twitter for blog promotion and tweeting really great stuff I run across (yes, an odd convo here and there, but those are flukes)

    In other words, totally support your decision. Networking DOES need authenticity to be actually useful.

  19. I completely agree with your entire post! I tend to use Twitter less on Fridays because the feed reads like a commercial. I’ve found that Wednesdays are less cluttered the # stuff now. Am I imagining things?

  20. Laura, thanks for the virtual knuckle bump.

    Phyllis, Twitter is amazing for it’s immediacy and research potential. That blog sounds like fun. :)

    Christi, ah yes, like any form of social media, it’s possible to feel “less than” on Twitter. (Though please know you’re not “less than” in my eyes at all. *respect*) As for the neuroses, is there anyone who escaped high school without a period of intense loneliness? I wonder.

    Hart, you make me uncomfortable with your discussion of sexual proclivities. Not. Bwahaha. Darlin’, do you have any setting lower than “bounce”?

    Nina, I’ve wondered about Writer Wednesdays too! Also, in a wee bit of self-interest, I hoped to get some hive mind going about this issue. Would make it easier for everyone, IMHO.

  21. I really symmpathise with this argument, although i recently blogged for newbie writing tweeters re how to use #Followfriday. I think it works at first and then becomes less useful and more demanding and irritating, for all the reasons you say. And I TOTALLY agree about the BFF thing – I was also appalled at the meaninglessness and downright misleading aspects of the list that came up the only time I did it.

  22. Nicola, it’s probably a good thing for your students to understand what the practice of #FF involves as a first step. More nuanced use — or in this case, non-use — can evolve from there. Thanks for your coment. :)

  23. Pingback: The Internet Giveth and the Internet Taketh Away « Tartitude

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