twitter lists and why I’m not playing

The nonconformist in me hates lists for the simple reason that everyone else is ga ga over them. ditto for google wave.

But for lists there’s a bigger reason, and Chris Brogan hits the nail on the head, They’re exclusionary. They’re the new “hottest kid in school” list posted in the locker bay. Those on it feel more self important, and those not on it, feel like less than people, and in the end, they’re completely meaningless and 100% arbitrary.

There’s few things I hate more than internet popularity contests.

Lists aren’t opt in or opt out, they’re not merit based, or anything like that. They’re lists of people that some one else thinks are worth listing. You must ask to be on the list, you must be “approved”, and if the list maker decides you’re not worthy, that’s that.

Lists are are for clique making. “Hey I’m on 30 lists” as if that somehow indicates importance. I see the number of lists a person is on, being the new “follower count”, a metric few care about, and most deride as a sign of being some sort of twitter spammer, or twitter whore.

Will it become the same bad juju if you’re on 50 lists, and have made none?

Of all the things twitter could of released, it’s sad they chose lists. They’ve already got their “most influential user” list or whatever. I’d rather see twitter add more useful features than popularity contests. To name a few. Polls, photo/video/audio (sorry third parties), maybe a suggestion system like Netflix? “You should look at these guys, because they’re similar to this guy that you follow.” That’d be WAY more valuable than “Here’s my bestest friends, who are cooler than you, but you should follow” list, by someone whom I’m not sure I care about their opinion on such things.

Sorry list makers, and list whores. I won’t be making lists, nor will I care if I’m on yours. There’s more important things out there.

3 Responses to “twitter lists and why I’m not playing”

  1. Owen Goss says:

    Although I don't like the clique aspect of lists, I am excited about them for a few reasons, and here's why:

    1) One of the things I like about Twitter is social discovery. Back when the people I followed only followed a few people, it was neat to go through follow lists and find other people I might like to follow. As Twitter has grown, this has become impossible. If I follow iPhone developer X, he/she might be following lots of interesting devs I don't know about, but I don't want to wade through their 800 follows and try to pick out the devs. However, if they create an iPhone dev list, I can browse that list and find the people I'm interested in directly.

    2) Once I started following more than about 50 people it became impossible to read every since tweet that passed by. Apps like TweetDeck attempted to solve this problem with groups, but it was a hack around the APIs at the time. Let's be honest, I care more about some peoples' tweets than others. I want to read every tweet that my brother tweets, but I don't care if I miss a tweet from random marketing dude I've never met but read his blog sometimes. This is where private lists are great. I can create private lists based on what I want to know about: family, friends, iphone devs, etc. The private lists don't factor into a popularity contest, since no one but me can follow them.

    I think lists are about making Twitter into more of a network. Before, there were two ways to connect to people: following and follower. With lists, it's creating new connections between people that would have been impossible to see before.

    I agree that it comes with downsides, and I kind of wish that you couldn't see how many lists a person appeared on, but anything that helps me spend less time on Twitter to get the information I want is a good thing in my books.


    • John Wilker says:

      I meant to update my post, having just last night made a list. LOL. One aspect of lists that appeals to me, continued connection. I made a Denver 2009 list in the 360|iDev acct. that way 1. people who were there can connect, and 2. people who weren't can see who was there.

      It's not exact since I only had the IDs of those who provided them, but still, as I made the list, I saw a benefit.

      You're right. following hundreds of people makes it really hard to pay attention. A great deal of my time is managing the twitter accounts for the events, and responding and helping, plus my own ID.

      Yeah I think if "On how many lists" was hidden it'd be more enjoyable, and less susceptible to ego.

      Already I've seen tweets, "Im on 500 lists…" blah blah blah. As if those types needed more ego boosting, LOL

      I think especially for events, lists have some merit, i think they'll help the event and the attendees.

      I wonder how many lists Scoble is on, LOL.

      • Owen Goss says:

        I hadn't thought about the usefulness to things like conferences, but you're totally right. That's a great way to connect with people at a common event, as long as someone creates a list for it. :)

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