Oh Twitter!  I just discovered (or re-discovered) something irksome about Twitter.  You’re limited to following 2000 people!  It’s an anti-spam measure.

I probably knew about this when I started tweeting, but then it seemed unimaginable to me that there might be 2000 accounts worth following and I thought no more of it.  But I’m following 1500 or so with my main professional account @speccollbrad already …

Robot from smaedli's flickr stream (license CC BY 2.0).

Robot from smaedli’s flickr stream (license CC BY 2.0).

Seems to me that this limit is too low given the way Twitter has grown since it was set.  Anyone who like me is actively using Twitter for professional awareness and has interests in several areas will hit this limit at some point.  I don’t believe it’s beyond the wit of Twitter to devise ways of spotting spamming (churn etc) that wouldn’t hinder users who are making the most of the service in legitimate ways.

Now actually I rarely look at my main account stream – I use lists to curate what I really need to see.  But following is part of the reciprocity of Twitter.  If someone follows me and appears to be human* I will follow back – it is polite.  Not to mention that a) a lot of people get offended by people unfollowing them and b) the number of followers is often used as a measure of Twitter success (it isn’t, necessarily, but it’s easy to measure) and a great way to get people to follow you is to follow them.

So what to do?  Well, I will be a little more strategic about following e.g. weeding out dormant accounts from time to time and thinking a little before I follow.  But I don’t want to devote much energy to this.  There is a more positive way forward.  If you get more followers, Twitter ups the limit.

So, the answer, as usual with Twitter and other media really, is to post interesting stuff and engage with people – which will bring its own rewards.  Not just in the numbers, but in the value of sharing information and experience, which is after all why I use Twitter in the first place.

*actually robots, aliens, ghosts, spaceships etc are fine too.  Just not spamsters.

PS Thank you to Diane Shaw @museocat whose recent tweets about hitting the limit prompted me to look into this.  @Citizenwald is also on the 2000 limit.  You might like to follow them both if you’re interested in special collections – both great tweeters.