March 2, 2009

442 words 3 mins read

Twitter Blocklist

All in all, I think Twitter is a cool idea once you get into it. The main problem for most is getting “into” Twitter. Whats the point? Why should I bother? 140 characters, Pah. So on and so forth. But like all services, once you are in, you enjoy it and are irritated by people who try to ruin it. In online video games, they are called griefers. For emails and on Twitter, we call them spammers (and they are a worse problem then a can of the same name gone bad).

Twitter seems to specialize in a more insidious subspecies of spammer: the marketing droid. These are “people” who sign up for the service, make a couple of generally pointless Tweets, then start following hundreds if not thousands of people. Most of their Tweets that aren’t benign and are some form of advertising. They’ll even go as far as responding to random users with something useful, but then including their spam link also. These are the most frustrating type of users because A) They follow a lot of people and generally spam me with their follows and B) They don’t get blocked because they aren’t blatant.

Well I am currently aiming to try and fix the latter issue. If enough people block a user, they will be flagged for Twitter to review. If even more people block a user, their account can be suspended. I want to try and facilitate the removal of as many of these marketing droids as possible, so I’ve started up @BlockList. The premise is simple enough, if people report the droids they see, and block the ones that are noted… they’ll be taken out of Twitter. It might not “Solve” the problem, but it will help reduce it. Plus it will give the Twitter more data to work with on how to block them in the future (IE Train the spam filters).

Steps you can take to help the Twitter Community:

  • Follow @BlockList
  • When you see a marketing droid, Tweet #blocklist, their username, and why they should be blocked. Example: “#blocklist @SweetnessTweets — 1800 followers, 9 updates and her website is “getgirlseasy dot net”
  • When you see Blocklist tweet about a user, click through, check them out and block them. Example: “By @ShakataGaNai #-blocklist @SweetnessTweets — 1800 followers, 9 updates and her website is “getgirlseasy dot net”
Hopefully this little idea is useful and helps people. If nothing else, a preemptive block means that you won’t get the follow email (GenericSpammer is now following you on Twitter!) about these annoying users. I’ll also keep an eye on things to make sure people don’t abuse the service.