I tweet A LOT @cncx. The short version of my “Twitter policy” is that I don’t have one. Still, please keep the following points in mind:
1. The one thing I hate on Twitter above all things are people whose philosophy is “I only follow you if you are a prominent blogger who has at least 1000 followers and are on 100 lists and I want to look all deep and stuff when people actually go to my page to click on the little list and I only want to follow people who tweet exactly what I tweet.” Go back to Social Media 101.
2. I follow people I like and my TL is as diverse as my interests. That means a little bit of social media, a little bit of Dutch and French, a little bit of Swiss stuff, a little bit of pro-choice stuff, a little bit of Islam, a little bit of New Orleans, a little bit of Algeria and Morocco, a little bit Ole Miss and so on. I’m a “life tweeter” and sometimes I talk about the weather and what I had for breakfast but I do think I have a good balance of life tweets, useful links and carefully chosen RTs. I don’t curate for popularity and don’t like people who do. That means I am not going to get offended if you don’t follow me back, either.
3. Unless I know you in real life, or have been a devoted reader of your site, I don’t automatically follow back. I need to take time to go back and read your stuff, make sure you aren’t a bot or a follow whore, and sometimes that takes until the next weekend. If you have only tweeted a dozen times, it makes the matter much easier for me to decide if you have a link to your site in your profile. Common Twitter courtesy peeps: make it easy for people to know what you are about, either by tweeting often or providing links to information about you.
4. (Update July 2012) I only unfollow or block for specific, discrete reasons: Curation (of my tweets), Bullying and Drama. Twitter is about interaction. Twitter is not about a) telling me what to tweet (curation); b) bullying me (by implying I am stupid, getting your troll friends to subtweet me, or stalking my timeline to call me out on hours-old tweets); or c) causing drama (pretending something is a debate when it really is just dogging me out for disagreeing with you). I don’t block people who are genuinely interested in intellectual interaction and don’t have a priori about either my intelligence or my religion.
5.(Update January 2011) I LOVE Twitter. But I don’t think Twitter is the revolution. A RT is not the same as someone dying on the street for what he believes in. Don’t confuse the two. The social media era is still in its infancy (even if people are getting tired of hearing Web 2.0) and all the things we are doing with Twitter (and FB and YouTube) when it comes to politics and activism is still part of a learning process, like all online activities. We don’t have all the answers. But keep tweeting!
6. (Update April 2013) Forcing me to read your side conversations with people I don’t follow by not using “@” responsibly, e.g. by putting the handle of the person you are replying to at the end of the tweet, is just bad form and gets you unfollowed. It’s the written equivalent of hearing someone talk on a cell phone. If you are replying to someone, have common sense and make the @ at the front of the tweet. If you are outing a troll to your TL, making a point or the like, a few “.@” or @ at the end are fine. But not every damn tweet for three hours. Merci.