Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Weird Twitter Triggers

As an avid user of Twitter, I am sometimes surprised at who chooses to 'follow' me. Most people following me are colleagues who are also using twitter, and people I follow too. I also follow some other people whose tweets I find interesting, but what really puzzled me was a set of seemingly random people (or rather, accounts) that turned up on my list of followers.

One (fairly predictable, with hindsight) set are 'females' with more or less revealing avatars, typically with a large set of people they follow, very few followers, and very few updates. Their tweets are usually bait to click on links which lead you off to dubious web-sites. It seems that these accounts are run automatically, and randomly pick the people they follow. Or whatever.

More interesting is another category, the 'trigger followers'. I first noticed that when I tweeted that my scooter was in the garage. Promptly I acquired a follower 'scooterscoop'. Other terms which have had a similar effect are exam/essay (websites selling essays being triggered), 'paperless office', and 'giants'. When you tweet about going to the theatre to see the BFG, and mention that 'the giants are scary', you are suddenly followed by an account linked to a San Francisco baseball team.

The latter example shows how useless isolated words are for conveying meaning. If you read the full sentence, it is pretty clear that 'giants' here refers to actual scary creatures, and you would need a lot of extra context to make that apply to a baseball team (though it is not impossible).

A lot of these random followers have since unfollowed me (or have been removed in the case of the dubious females), perhaps bored to death with the utter trivialities of my life. I am not sure whether that is a good or a bad thing...

1 comment:

  1. It can be annoying and may just overwhelm the service if they not careful - i just mentioned google wave and got somebody wanting to follow me, so I had to click on their profile, decide that they rubbish, come back out of their profile, go delete their email. It doesn't sound like much, but quite honestly I could easily live without it!