Friday, February 4, 2011

My Twitter "refollow" policies

The following are my Twitter "refollow" policies:

My primary interest on Twitter is having good conversations with interesting people who care about people, and other living things, other than themselves.

Please do not follow me, as I am not likely to follow you back, if:

1. You describe yourself as wildly successful and completely happy, living a perfect life in total contentment. (You don't need me to screw it all up for you.)

2. Your Twitter account is primarily about selling something, promoting yourself, promoting your religion, or picking fights with people like me.

3. You are a company or a bot.

4. You want to be my "coach", "guru", "visionary", or "thought leader". (I would much rather fail on my own terms).

5. You tweet frequently about how to make money, get more followers, and/or achieve as much success as you. (I will never be as successful as you, and I already am struggling with how to find the time in the day to give, to each of the followers I already have, the attention he or she deserves.)

Also, if I do refollow you, please do not send me automatic DM's suggesting I read something or do something; I already have too much to read and to do. If you do send me an automatic DM, I may send you a pretty "automatic" unfollow.




(Here's a shortened URL to this post:

Creative Commons License
@RayBeckerman's Twitter ReFollow Policies by Ray Beckerman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at


  1. Ray uses Twitter the way it was intended - to share ideas, reflections, goodwill and cheer amongst a group of like-minded citizens of the world. I'm proud to count myself amongst his followers.

  2. I'm not exactly sure it was "intended" to be used that way. Seems like it was intended to be used to "update" your "timeline" to a small group of people who already knew you.

    But we, the users of Twitter, have changed all that, having educated the creators of Twitter as to its proper uses.


  3. I was just perusing my followers and those i follow. Then read RayBeckerman's 'twitter-refollow policies". I feel v 'happy' best way can express excuse poverty of thought, is from AS view, that RayBeckerman followed me.
    ThnkU Ray feel honoured (without mushy sentiment meaning!).
    I really enjoy your tweets, your transparent integrity and your fundamental humanitarian principle.

  4. Great list.

    I'm not sure, though, that the "do not follow me" part makes sense.

    I follow people for whom I have low expectation of following me back. I'm interested in what they have to say and how they say it. They may or may not share the same interest in exactly what I say or how I say it. That's okay.

    I think the big mistake is following people because you expect them to follow you back. Part of twitter is the "cocktail party" model, while other parts are the "conference keynote" part - less interaction but still value in listening.

    I do follow some companies, because part of my job is to know what some companies are saying or doing. I don't follow a lot of companies because most orgs still haven't figured out a good value proposition yet.

    To sum it up: twitter isn't Facebook. Following and being followed are two distinctly separate things. No reciprocity is required to get value out of twitter.

  5. I like the post, but I'm with Karen on the "do not follow me" bit. I suppose that that's one of the limitations of the platform. Perhaps a "premium Twitter" will allow you to more easily screen people aside from manually blocking them.

  6. Karen & Simon, I think you need to re-read what was written. To wit:

    Please do not follow me, as I am not likely to follow you back, if...

    The IF being the operative word.

    ie. "Don't follow me if you are shilling &c"

  7. I have never suggested, and would never suggest, that because someone follows you, you should routinely follow them back.

    Neither would I suggest that normal people like myself, Karen, Phil, peacay, and Winterjazz, should never follow any Twitter user who doesn't follow us back. That is a matter of personal choice. I can certainly say that I am following the New York Times and the Washington Post, without any expectation that they follow me back.

    But generally speaking, the important core of my Twitter experience is the friendships ... the relationships. And those involve mutuality.

    The funny thing about my having written these "refollow guidelines" is that the types of people I want to discourage .... would also never read the guidelines. And the people who do bother to read them, are almost invariably nice people like yourselves, the kind of people with whom I would like to have a relationship.

    But I've got to tell you... it was a lot of fun writing it.

    1. New follower and followed, naturally I read the small print. :) Look forward to sharing ideas.

  8. Just got a nasty comment here from an idiot who tried to pick a fight with me on Twitter, and who got blocked for doing it. As stated in my policy, don't follow me if you're here to pick a fight with me; I don't like to argue on Twitter.

    The reason I called him an idiot is that he apparently thinks men get abortions just like women do.

  9. I am impressed with your follow policy. I haven't seen anything like this before, but then I was late coming to Twitter. I do screen everyone I follow - I don't want the same things you don't want. Although I'd like to build up my followers, I want those who work as a community, in harmony, especially this...

  10. You are so right, Al. You should be gradually building a community of people who genuinely like each other. That's what makes the Twitter experience special.

  11. Ray, you are f-ing awesome and I enjoyed reading your "refollow policies". And, I did get a kick out of your comment about the "idiot" thinking men also get abortions...I would have loved to have read that argument.

    BTW, if you send me one million(1948) pennies, I will guarantee 247 new followers per day. You know I'm kidding... ;) Have fun reading ur comments, JenShultz

  12. Ray,
    I love that you posted this. If you don't mind, I'd love to borrow it and place it on my blog as well!

  13. Sure you may reproduce it, so long as it contains attribution. Thanks for asking. :)

  14. RayBeckerman
    your re following policy is funny and to the point LOL I like your tweets, very real!

  15. Great policy and it gave me a good chuckle. I think I will be adopting your refollow policy from now on. :-)

  16. This is perfect! My policy is fairly much the same, but I have never taken the time to write it down. Thanks for doing so.

  17. You know, I would totally copy and steal this, but there are no swear words in it! LOL! But you nailed it perfectly. You are The Twitter Dude. Nice and Liberal, and dammit - just plain nice. I'm so honored to be one of the ones you pay attention to. I like being one of 12,000! I'm just that shallow! Hugs! @TheDeeView

  18. Thank you very much, DeeDee.

    I could give you some swear words if you like, generated from what I think about all those 'bots' and other self-promotional type Twits.

    And yes, you are definitely someone I pay attention to; when DeeDee talks, people listen. Your tweets are funny, and provocative, and well written, and... just plain fun.

  19. I think phase 1 of twitter was following without discrimination. Then the noise got too great, and phase 2 is the massive unfollowing phase. I used twitter karma to go through and find the people that I wasn't interacting with (i.e. following a one way stream about what's for breakfast) and did shout outs to see if people are awake, and shed hundreds of people I was following. That makes the stream so much more interesting.

  20. Ray, your policy is great. I may have to plagiarize it. Best regards, TAM.

  21. It wouldn't be plagiarizing. It has a Creative Commons license. You can use it so long as you mention me. :)

  22. What if I am a coach... but I don't want to coach you?

    Some people need us, you know. And, not all coaches tweet only about coaching.

  23. Valid point, Jenna.

    Actually it would probably boil down to what your bio, and the first page or two of your tweet stream, tell me about you.

    If, e.g., they say to me that your Twitter account is mainly about giving advice and 'coaching' people... then I'm just not a customer.

  24. Hi Ray! I'm happy I checked out your refollow policy after refollowing you! I started using twitter recently and am having a great time making friends with people who care about refugee emergencies. Half of the staff at UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) are lawyers - shall suggest they follow you to help get started with tweeting themselves!

  25. Thank you so much, Sybella. I am deeply honored.

  26. Well, today you re-tweeted some of my tweets and then I followed you. And now I'm here checking this re-tweeting policy you wrote down and I must say really I agree with it. Very well said, indeed!

  27. You are a twitter touchstone for me. ( AKA rainforestaloha)

  28. No shilling or trolling here Ray :-)

    I never thought about developing a policy like this. It makes you think about how you really want to "BE" on twitter and other social networks as well.

    Personally I have grown to like twitter very much and it's taken me time to learn how things can work for the good of all.

    If somebody follows me I do check them out before even considering following them back. One very GOOD reason for this is because some peeps use auto follow by your #hashtags. Now that's not a bad thing as long as they follow up and then want to genuinely connect.
    If you check their timeline you can see if they are genuinely connecting with others and they are not all me me me.
    If you go ahead and follow them back just because they have auto followed you then you might as well just follow an auto bot without a soul. In which case you might as well just be an auto bot yourself and use auto follows and all the other strange tools that there is to help you do this without ever having to visit twitter at any time at all. Not much good for twitter is it? hmmm

    I can sort of agree however that sometimes we like to follow someone because they have something of interest. And more often don't really expect a follow back. BUT then HEY whoa... can we not find someone who is courteuos and will connect back and make some effort to engage that is tweeting the same things that interest us? I would definitely choose the latter.
    I mentioned in a previous comment that I was just about to follow a great greenblogger who is a big boy in his field ( no mames mentioned) until I checked his timeline and saw he is not who I thought he was... he has caught some virus and turned into a robot...what a shame. And guess what.. an hour or so later I found a few more pople who could tweet on topics just as well as he can and who are engaging with their followers.

    Oh enough of my waffle now my friends

    Good post and great comments. Well done to all

  29. Great standards. I also have an additional rule - I generally avoid any tweeps who use the following words "MML," "free," "easy money." Nothing's free, there's no easy money etc. But it's more than just that, I won't follow back those folks because 90% of the time those are the same folks who unfollow me after a week, since they're just mass following and unfollowing. So why bother?

  30. Oh wow! Even your comments have rules. And I love the fact that your refollow policy is CC licensed. :)

    I dont really have a policy, but I do go through people's tweets and their bio when they follow me. I dont follow back if they are bots etc, as you stated. However, I do follow back some (real) people and give them a few days. If I dont get any interaction or I dont like the way they tweet (rude, offensive,racist etc)I unfollow them. Before I do so, I let them know the reason for unfollowing them.

    Oh, and I might just use these policies on my blog too, attributed to you ofcourse. :)

  31. Thanks Rabab, your reaction gave me a big smile.

  32. I love this and stole a bit from you!

  33. Thanks, Patti. It's licensed under a Creative Commons attribution license, so you're free to use it so long as you give attribution.

  34. Best refollow policy I've seen... Thanks for writing it! May I retweet?

  35. Thank you Mary

    My refollow policy is published under a Creative Commons "attribution" license, which means:

    1. you can use the content to your heart's content,

    2. just so long as you mention me as your source


  36. Seems like it was intended to be used to "update" your "timeline" to a small group of people who already knew you

    Yup. That's changed over the last three years. But yup.

  37. I love your guidelines and share your sentiments. You gave me my first chuckle for the day. Thank you! Now I'm back to Twitter to hit that little ole' follow button, 'cause I can't wait to see what you have to say.

  38. Well thanks Kathryn, but I'm afraid it may be downhill from there. :)

  39. Maybe Ray should add another rule to his list for following back on twitter: No "one-sided campaign(s) against Israel". So, if you support the Palestinians in their cause and believe Israel is in the wrong there is no place for you and Ray will unfollow you without comment as he did me. No room for discussion or debate, you just become a non-person. If I sound angry or bitter over it, I assure everyone I'm not. Just sad at the way things are.

  40. Mark, I don't deliberately follow people who tweet misleading material, and your tweets -- IMHO -- fell into that category. They seemed to be the typical deceptive 'electronic intifada' propaganda that is going around lately, promulgated by antisemites dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and passed along by dupes like yourself.

    Israel in my opinion has been "in the wrong" a lot under the Netanyahu administration, and as you know I have tweeted about that.

    It is one thing to have an opinion.

    It is another thing to be a propagandist.

    I have no use for propagandists, never have, never will.

  41. Why, when I was a Youngster Twitterer back in aught 7...oops! let me be just a bit more serious, Ray...

    More seriously: Since I started using Twitter back in 2007, I've felt essentially the same as you declare in your "refollow policy"...

    Indeed, there's very little I'd change about it other than these brief differences:

    1.) I'd have called it "My Twitter "follow" policies" making it serve both for A.) those who follow me first and B.) those whom I follow first (I've reasoned on your behalf that "refollow" can be legitimized in your post's title if thought of as a conflation of "reciprocal" and "follow", yielding "reciprocal follow" and then, "refollow"...(yes, I*DO* need a bit of evening coffee! :-))and

    2.) I'd add just one more item: "7. Your decision to argue endlessly does not obligate me to oblige you in reciprocating... (I love my peace more than I love Twitter...))

    Ray, thanks kindly for working out these Twitter policies and sharing them with those of us who're paying attention to you and your tweets...

    (By the way: As a former musician, I'm a HUGE fan of the musical references in your tweet stream...)

  42. Thanks, Vincent :) Very much appreciated.

    I didn't 'work them out'; they just came to me one day and I had to get them off my chest :)

  43. Either way, I'm glad you did, Ray!

    By the way: With respect to the abundant music you share on Twitter - is there someplace other than Twitter where you discuss music? If Twitter is your preferred place, that's fine, too...(The reason I ask is that I'd like to make a few recommendations...)

  44. Not really, Vincent, I do have a blog "Liberated Music" where I just post some items, but it's not a highly evolved site.

    You would probably like and @rootnotemusic's blog

  45. love the music you choose - and thanks for posting :) (sorry, 'tweeting') @sheindie

  46. These rules should somehow be incorporated into human interaction in general. Now that would be a TED Talk!!!

  47. Wow. Thank you very much Paulina, I am deeply honored.

    I would love to give that TED Talk :) Let them just try to censor me :)

  48. Ray, I think it is a well thought out Policy. I started on Twitter in 2010 and have never had a Follow Back Policy. Yours is a model I intend to use.

  49. Thanks, Jim, much appreciated.

    To confess: it wasn't really "thought out" at all. One day I just had to get it out on paper, in a burst of anger at the junk I was seeing. I.e., I was 'venting' :)

  50. Shaabash! Learned a lot from so little spoken. Thanks. I am on Twitter because I have a lot to learn in this small blinkered space I occupy. But also, I want to throw light on dark areas where there is a lot of life - mostly under threat that could easily be saved - that people are not aware of. I am looking for those people. Many have solutions, too. If there's something that catches your eye or brain then do take a quick look. Great smile!!! You seem to have more confidence in the world than I do (look at my mug!)! @kirimba is my ID

  51. Trust me, Anonymous, I have no confidence whatsoever.
    I just try to do what little I can, so that, when the Apocalypse comes, I can say I was on the side of the good guys :)

  52. hahaha I'm on the good side too. I enjoyed your Ray's 2.0 and of course your community comments. I'm new to twitterville but I like it already. Thanks for being so welcoming!

  53. I know Cher :) That's why I refollowed you :)


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