My followers on Twitter: Ignore, block, or #unfollowfriday?

I need some help with this.  I can’t figure out what all the hubbub is all about.

Twitter can be used for one-way and multi-way communication/conversation.  You can talk publicly to everyone  or privately to someone.  Some of the rules for how you can communicate are determined by who you follow and who is following you.

When someone decides to follow me, I have a couple of choices in how to respond:

  • I could follow them back so we are mutually following each other (both my following and follower count are now +1)
  • I can ignore them so they follow me and I don’t follow back (my following count remains unchanged, my followers are +1)
  • I can block them so that they will not get my updates (neither my following or follower counts change)

Regardless of the relationships anyone can talk to or about someone publicly using @username. However, only mutually followed people can talk privately using direct messaging (dm).

This is what I can’t figure out: why block anyone?  

I’ve only heard rumor (not first-hand) that it keeps them from communicating directly with me with either @ or dm. Not allowing dm is a given because we’re not following each other. But does this mean they can’t even use @myusername ever in a tweet? Does twitter look at blocked profiles and do something about it?

I’m asking because it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to block anyone.  Even if they are a spammer, so what?  They can listen to me but I don’t listen to them.

The same goes with a semi-popular event on Friday’s called Unfollow Friday where people encourage those that are following them to stop following them using #unfollowfriday.  I don’t get it (I do understand it’s a silly game for wome). If you’re not following someone following you, all that means is they can’t send you a direct message. If they stop following you, the only thing that changes is your followers stat by -1.  So?  Ironically, as I’ve seen this go on for a while, many times the criteria to ask someone to unfollow you is because the asker doesn’t like that the follower focuses on their twitter ranking and/or stats, yet the only practical change to an unfollow is stats.  The other occasion I see this used is to try and ‘gang up’ on someone like a celebrity and encourage people to unfollow just to get the celeb’s numbers down.  

Regardless, the bottom line question for me is why worry about who follows you?  From a stats perspective, it effets the follow/following ratio (which I don’t think is as important as it used to be). From a communications perspective, not following back keeps them from privately messaging you. 

So help me out, why worry about who’s following you?

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  • You shouldn’t worry about who follows you and who doesn’t. With the right tools, you can follow an unlimited number of people and still listen effectively. The *only* consideration is that little observed, seldom referenced spam clause in the Twitter TOS that says following a lot of people with very few people following you may deem you a spammer. In that regard, I guess having *some* followers is important.

  • @Kevin – yeah, that’s the way I see it also. Why worry about who follows me? I just wonder what blocking someone actually accomplishes. As for who I follow, that’s a different conversation but in short, I follow who I currently find or think I’ll find interesting based on their bio, etc.

  • imagineagent

    When a user with an offensive image or username follows me, and I don’t want these images/words on my follow lists, I block them.