I don’t understand Twitter

So, a genuine question about Twitter and why I fundamentally don't get it. When something like the below (actually, the below) pops up in your RSS reader, what do you click on? I am "following" @CrimeFiction. I see the below, I click on #FF Pt. 2 and get a load of rubbish – i.e. nothing except a picture of a smiling woman. No message, on any topic. Is this TwitterSpam? If so, what's in it for the spammer? I click on @CrimeFiction in this chain and just see the last thing he/she did (31 May). What has happened that is new or interesting about crime fiction? What has even happened at all? I just don't get it. Unless the answer is that Twitter is just on some kind of global autopilot and therefore irrelevant and/or annoying. I would appreciate anyone's expertise on this question – what's the point, if what I "follow" results in this?

#FF Pt. 2 @DakotaCassidy @NicolePeeler @preyforhuntress @michelebardsley @ScifiWatch @CrimeFiction

16 thoughts on “I don’t understand Twitter

  1. Maxine, It’s not Twitter as much as this use of Twitter that’s the cause for your concern. I think the poster is writing about the new people she has started following. Since you follow CrimeFiction you got a copy of the post that included Crimefiction. Her previous post was FollowFriday Pt. 1 and if you followed thrillerwriters you would have received that post. Not twitter spam just zero information.

  2. I am not the best to respond to this, at all. Having lost my Twitter virginity recently, I remain a Twitter novice. It’s only yesterday that I read a tweet which led me to querying something with vintage twitter (in comparison to moi) @Duddy.
    I hate spam of all sorts and would love a more simplified world, especially on the net. Alas, we seem to have to get used to its quirks and lackings through inefficiencies and play ball with deletions when possible.
    My monthly blog email spam has now reached 1,500 plus and I hate to think of what might have happened if I’d chosen not to create a separate and new email account.
    I think we all live in hope of rescue from our various service providers who, in turn, have to catch up with and resolve the crap the net allows.
    Clearly, I am not the best person to comment on this, given my current circumstances. I hope you find resolution, Maxine!

  3. Follow Friday is this thing where on Fridays people recommend other Twitter users to follow. So this person (Jeannie) recommends following CrimeFiction and a bunch of others.
    But how did you see it? Oh, you’re subscribed to every post on Twitter than mentions CrimeFiction?

  4. The #FF refers to Follow Friday – it’s kind of a meme that people use to let other people know the interesting people they find to follow on Twitter. Whenever you see “#” it’s basically a link to a search of all the tweets that use that #. Sometimes it can be useful, often it’s not at all, so I rarely click on those. I normally just click on interesting tiny urls that come by, jump into conversations that sound interesting, and don’t angst about much else on Twitter, including stuff I haven’t read. Once I decided to do that, I started actually enjoying my time on Twitter.

  5. Think of #ff as a sort of name dropping Maxine. You’ll occasionally recognise one of the people being recommended and think that the others might be worth a look. I hate the way these fill up my Twitter box

  6. I’ve stopped. I just can’t think of anything I’d want to say to a lot of strangers in 140 characters unless it had to do with just having been dropped out of an airplane and would someone please hurry with the net. Or, you know, “choking, meat, call 911 in 319 area code, countertop heimlich n/work, address =____”. And I’m too slow for the conversational pingpong that does manage to stagger along for a while before it turns into ads and namedropping again.

  7. If it’s any consolation, Maxine, I don’t get it either. After becoming a Facebook addict, I jumped aboard twitter only to find I couldn’t find a way of easily connecting with like minded souls. Like you I briefly used a rss feed and got nowhere. So as far as my twitter account is concerned, the lights are on but no one is ever home. I’ll stick with Facebook.

  8. Twitter is actually hard to ‘get’. I’ve been on it for two and a half years, and still wonder about it🙂
    RSS feeds are not the way to use twitter, you need a dedicated client program running on your desktop.
    I’m on Windows and use Twhirl (http://www.twhirl.org/), but have heard good things about Tweetdeck (http://tweetdeck.com/beta/). Other are available, and for Macs/Linux.
    So when I’m at my desk, the ‘tweets’ from people I follow pop up during the day, and I can see what my friends are getting up to (or Stephen Fry, of course).
    HTH
    /Robert

  9. Can’t really add to this, Petrona – merely confirm what others, notably Belle and Eva, have said. The message you got would certainly have been result of the ‘follow Friday’ meme, with the Crime Fiction rubric being flagged up for potential followers.
    Gave up Twitter, as it strikes me more as a marketing tool (properly used, an effective one) than a social medium. You could use it to get more traffic to your very good site, though …

  10. Thanks for all this great help, everyone! I did join Twitter on the day it launched, but only started using it properly a few months ago in light of so many enthusiastic bloggers. This particular post popped up because I am following someone called “@crime fiction”. I understand what the hash tags are supposed to do – but, at the end of the day, most of what I am seeing in my RSS reader is, as Mack says, “zero information”. @crimefiction wrote some good posts (or rather, pointed to some good links) in May, but seems to have gone quiet since.
    I think that, like some others here, Twitter is not really “me”, compared with blogging, Friend Feed and Nature Network.
    Thanks again for all the brilliant comments! I’m very grateful.

  11. Sorry I’m coming to this a little late – I was on Twitter. Heh.
    I’m afraid after a little perseverance I have to report that I am now a sad addict. It took a while. At first I didn’t get it, then I dipped in a little while longer, and now I have trouble keeping away.
    As in anything I think there is a lot of baloney and you have to filter. For example when people mention me in their Friday Follow list I thank them, shrug, and move on because I have come to the conclusion that who follows you not the point of Twitter.
    Just as I don’t really care how many people read my blog – it is the process of blogging that is important to me – I don’t really care how many people follow me in Twitter. It is who *I* follow that is important – and in that I am selective.
    I avoid celebrities (in the main). Instead I follow people who are of interest to me and have the same interests as me. They provide me with links to fascinating pieces and I can dip in and out as I please.
    I’ve never been any good with RSS feeds and the like but find I can cope with Twitter because it leads me by the nose. There’s Times Science, Guardian Science, the Bookseller, my favourite publishers, various Natures, SciAm, BBC Newsnight, interesting individuals (including present company:-)) all with links to their blog post and articles. They’re there waiting for me every time I dip in. I suppose Twitter is the RSS feed of choice for the very lazy…That’s how I use it any way.
    The only trouble with it now, I find is that it is too addictive.

  12. I’ve started Twittering recently, so I’ve been trying to understand just what it’s for. Here are a few things I’ve found:
    1) Following Neil Gaiman through his day.
    2) Following people I’ve encountered blogging, such as Ed Champion, Lee Goldberg, Wil Wheaton.
    3) Posting my own stuff when I feel like it. As for what, I just came across a great article that might help (hint: it’s about self-promotion).
    http://www.melissaclouthier.com/2009/06/12/the-five-is-to-twitter-success/
    As for how to use it, I find TweetDeck to be far superior to the main site. It allows me to sort those I’m following into different classes, it updates in real time and allows me to retweet posts, post entries to Facebook and to shorten URLs. (You have to download Adobe’s AIR software first to use TweetDeck.)

  13. Thanks, Bill and Clare. I agree about following, Clare, I seem to have vast quantities of followers, which is nice, but I quickly learned only to follow a few myself. It is more the activities of the people I *do* follow that I was wondering about in this post – I now realise that the excerpt had nothing to do with crime fiction (which does seem remarkably absent on Twitter as I am also following Kerrie’s #crimefiction tag, but nothing ever seems to pop up using that).
    Thanks for the tip about Tweetdeck, Bill – if it is usable on a PC/IE, then I’ll give it a try, maybe (my computer seems to be on its last legs in terms of downloading things and being slow). I did look at Twitterfox once but you couldn’t use that with my set-up.

  14. Thanks, Robert, I’ve installed thwirl (as I’m on Windows/PC) and will give it a try. Thanks for the advice on not using the RSS reader.

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