Opinion: Why We're Doing a Twitter House Cleaning

Over the last two years the Macworld UK Twitter feed (@macworlduk) has been one of our favourite web inventions. Many people don't get, or don't like Twitter but we're not those people. We love Twitter.

And to put a face to the account, most of the time we means Mark Hattersley (@markhattersley) and Nick Spence (@nickfromupnorth).

Like most Twitter users we use the @macworlduk twitter account to chat about things that we're interested in, share links with cool things (both on our website on and on the wider web), follow Apple keynotes, and events and all things generally related to happenings in Cupertino.

What's great about Twitter isn't what we post though (we do that in much greater detail and depth on this website) but the responses we get. It's the @macworlduk messages that we really like - the instant feedback we get from Apple fans (and detractors) from around the world. (The recent reaction to The Beatles was particularly entertaining.)

It's the general chat we love.

In that time we've attained a healthy 6,000 followers on Twitter which is not too shabby for a UK outfit, and certainly enough to have a boisterous conversation day in, day out.

As we grew Twitter we generally found it polite to follow most people, and believed that a ratio of roughly 3:1 (followers:following) was a good way to balance things out. Now that we've grown beyond 6,000 users we're starting to think differently.

The problem is that we're now following 2,340 people. And that means the chances of catching what you say are slim. We typically check Twitter two or three times an hour, and all of the tweets displayed are from the last minute.

Some of them are incredibly pertinent, but many are just non-Mac related chatter or links to non Mac related articles. At this moment in time I can see a tweet for a recipe to make crispy onion rings, a special offer for Aloe vera treatment, and something about Harry Potter that we don't understand because it's in Portuguese.

As a blog by Mark Evens points out, Twitter Is Not A Numbers Game. What's happening to us is that we can't find the interesting Tweets (to retweet) in amongst all the chatter.

So we're thinking of unfollowing a large number of people in Twitter. We're going to do it manually so we can check how relevant (not to us personally we quite like crispy onion rings) the tweets are before clicking unfollow. It may be that what you say is interesting, witty, intelligent, and we still unfollow you because it's not Mac or Apple related.

If we do this we increase the chances of spotting, and replying or retweeting to the messages we are following. Making our own feed more relevant to the people who follow it. And we assume they're following @macworlduk due to a love of Apple and Mac, and that's what we should focus on. At least that's the plan.

We want to do this before Twitter grows any larger, because then we'll have to implement a automatic solution, which won't work as well. Moving forward we may only follow people closely involved with the Mac community, or who predominately use Twitter to talk about Apple and Mac. We are also looking to follow the people who actively engage with us in conversation, rather than just using Twitter to push links.

So if we do go ahead and unfollow you, and you're disgruntled, let us know if you think it's out of order. A quick message to @macworlduk usually gets our attention.

And we're open to debate on this. If you think it's a bad idea please let us know, either in the comments or via Twitter itself. Alternatively if it makes sense let us know too. We know a lot of you on this website don't 'get' or use Twitter, and that's fine too. There's always our forums and the chat below these news stories.

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