Twitter Guidelines

date2014-07-21
5 min read

A while back, I wrote about how I use twitter in On Twitter. I recommend it as companion reading for this.

Twitter at 2,000+ followers is very different from twitter at 200 followers. The once rare annoying, upsetting, or downright unacceptable interactions are now legion because so many people follow or retweet me. As a result, I have adjusted my behavior accordingly. Here’s a breakdown.

My policy these days is “block early and block often.”

Below are some general guidelines for my preferences on twitter. Follow them, and you’ll hopefully avoid a block. You certainly don’t have to follow them, but I also don’t have to engage with you on twitter. You are not entitled to my attention. :)

Arguing on twitter

I find long arguments on twitter to frequently be an unproductive use of my time, especially when several people are involved. It’s pretty much impossible to have a nuanced, thoughtful discussion in <100 characters. I will often ask to be removed from conversations when it becomes clear it is approaching this situation, so my mentions don’t become a mess.

Some people get upset about this. Tough shit. You are entitled to your opinions. I may even think they are valid and agree with them. However, you’re not entitled to have me listen to them.

Responding to people harassing me on twitter

I am generally ok with people pointing out that someone’s behavior is problematic if they are harassing me on twitter. However, please only do this if you can avoid the following.

  • DO NOT mention me on these conversations. This is usually worse than you doing nothing at all. I have probably already blocked them, so now I will just see your side of a conversation with them. Don’t do that.
  • DO NOT use oppressive language. Their bad behavior does not justify yours.
  • DO NOT pile on if they have apologized or asked people to stop.

Likely to earn you a block

All of the following are things that indicate you aren’t someone I want to engage with on twitter and will likely earn you a block.

  • Sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, sizeist, etc. comments or language.
  • Calling myself or others “crazy” (or other forms of mentally ill) as an insult or negative.
  • Evopsych arguments (e.g. “Women are bad at math/science/programming because biology”).
  • “Ignore the trolls”, “trolls will be trolls”, “they’re just trolls” or any variant thereof in response to talking about abusive, harassing, or otherwise problematic behavior.
  • Repeatedly disrespecting boundaries (e.g. refusing to end a conversation I have asked to stop, bringing up topics I have asked you not to bring up).
  • Bringing up content in my 101 Off Limits list.
  • Tweeting at me demanding I do something (e.g. stop shopping at Store X, read upsetting article Y and tell me what you think).
  • “Not all men” or other similar style comments.
  • Trolling.
  • You’re blocked by the block bot.

Behavior that may earn you a mute or block

The following behaviors are less serious, but I find to be really annoying or distracting. They are likely to earn a mute and may earn a block.

  • Asking me to change the way I tweet. If you don’t like it, don’t follow me. I sometimes make exceptions for friends who need specific triggering content hashtagged. Also, hopefully obvious exceptions for letting me know I’ve used oppressive language or fucked something up horribly. This is more about people telling me “tweet less” or “don’t tweet about this topic I’m bored by.”
  • Regularly failing to check my feed for context before commenting. We all make this mistake sometimes, myself included. We see a tweet and respond before checking their timeline for other related tweets to get context. However, doing this regularly stops being a mistake and moves into annoyance.
  • Mentioning me to promote your content without permission. Unless I have given you permission to use my name to promote something (e.g. speaking at your conference), you really shouldn’t do this.
  • Really heavy faving and RTing of my content. I don’t mean you read a stream of my tweets and like them and want to share. I’m talking about people who seem to sit down and read my entire stream for the day and fave EVERYTHING all at once, and they seem to do it really regularly. It spams my notifications and is kinda weird.
  • Heavily responding to my tweets with inanities. This isn’t responses when I ask questions — in those cases, I’m happy for responses. These are usually unhelpful, inane responses to tweets that don’t ask for a response. This is mostly for strangers. From friends, they’re not inanities because we’re friends, and we have a context (also, my friends tend to be respectful and do this in moderation). If I don’t follow you, err on the side of moderation. This one sounds petty, but at 2k+ followers, the inanities add up really fast in my mentions.
  • Responding to tweets about an article without reading the article. Tweeting a link means I want to share content, not necessary that I want to argue about it with you. I especially don’t want to do so if you clearly didn’t read the article. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to tweet at me about it.
  • Tweeting at me with triggering content without a warning or a context where I have made it clear it is ok.