Image by ViaMoi via Flickr
Qwitter, the recently launched service that notifies twitter users who is unfollowing them, has created tremors in the blogosphere. Most posts I have read consider qwitter an unnecessary nuisance or even plainly harmful (to the peace of mind at least).
I beg to differ and I’ll try to explain why.
When one has a few thousands of followers on twitter, he probably really knows only a few dozens of them. He ignores who and why follows him (he probably does not even care), while he rarely engages in a spammer cleanup activity.
Before Qwitter one would look at the total number of his followers and if a notable difference was observed, he might wonder why, but never go to looking who actually started or discontinued following him.
But getting emails that say: “such and such xxxstopped following you on Twitter after you posted this tweet … (implying that there might be a relationship between the two facts), then these emails have an alarming effect. They become personal. They stir emotions. They upset. Justifiably? Well, no. Unless one has a fair idea who is unfollowing him. But for a big number of followers this is impossible.
Now, in my case, my current number of followers allows me to be able to distinguish whether someone is a spammer, or a true follower. And qwitter has been helpful in making me recognize certain patterns of behavior among true followers and spammers.
I don’t follow back any spammer so they have no reason to follow me for a long time. They do not have any kind of relationship to retain with me, so after adding up for a while in the number of people they are following, they have to get rid of me, to bring their follower/following ratio down to a more ‘acceptable’ level. And this is precisely what they do: after a while spammers unfollow those who follow.
When receiving a qwitter notification, I can immediately recognize whether the ‘person’ unfollowing me is a spammer or not, because, as I said, I know all my true followers by name.
In the past few weeks that I use qwitter only one non spammer has unfollowed me. But then again wasn’t he? Because along with the obvious spammers there is a category of aggressive twitters who want to attract followers by all means. So what they do is practically the same with what spammers do, only more clever: they follow others in the hope the others will follow back, but they do it while keeping all the time their following/follower ratio balanced in order not to be considered as spammers, and follow people with whom they had a light interaction before, so that they are not considered completely strangers.
These are the things that qwitter helped me realize. Maybe too obious, maybe trivial. But from a hunch to a proof, there is always a distance to cover. And, for this distance, qwitter has been my vehicle.