Read My Lips: Twitter Lists Are Meant to be Exclusionary

by Jan Geronimo on November 6, 2009

Twitter lists

Being included in someone’s Twitter list can make your day. What if you are  not?  Should you feel bad? While conceding the usefulness of this new Twitter feature, Chris Brogan decried that Twitter lists can become exclusionary the moment you slot people into categories.  Those who don’t make it would feel left out. Bad feelings all around.

Says  Chris Brogan, “Lists are exclusionary by nature. They’re static. There’s a lot of reasons why they might not be all that pleasant for people.”

Twitter lists are meant to be exclusionary

Well, Mr. Brogan, with all due respect that argument is hogwash.

That’s why they’re called list in the first place.  If you include nearly everybody, where’s the value in that?

If indeed one’s feeling hinges on the inclusion or non-inclusion to anybody’s  list then that person needs to be on a therapist’s couch and not on Twitter.  Twitter lists are meant for ordinary people like us to pass on our recommendations based on interests, passions, friendships, and other shared values no matter how banal or weird they maybe.  It’s not meant to stroke someone’s needy, fragile ego.

Like Mr. Brogan, I’m keeping some of my lists private, but not because I’m afraid to offend anyone who’d feel left out.  I’m keeping some of them private at the moment only because  only a few lonely souls are in there.  The moment I’ve got a good number I’d make them public.

Why?  Simply because I want to promote  people who give good value for my time be it on Twitter or in their blogs.  I approve of them and proud to have crossed their paths.  A handpicked, personal list of recommendation is not meant to be complete at one go.  Who’s got the time to do it in one sitting anyway?  Well, mine certainly is a work in progress.  I can add to it as I discover new people.  I can even delete them and start anew.

Twitter lists are democratic

Uh-oh, I hear what you’re saying.  Just how something exclusionary be democratic?  Well, try comparing that to what we had before:  Twitter’s suggested user list.   Now,  instead of having a  Twitter suggested user list  which only the high and mighty get at a crack at, you and I have the chance to give our recommendations  to our own community. The big guys can make up to 20 lists which they can fill with a maximum of 500 people.

So can you, guys.  Fair enough?

For those who feel slighted by non-inclusion to their buddies list, it’s useful taking stock of your strategies. Perhaps you’re one of those people Dave Doolin despairs of in his post, Twitter Redux – Making Sense of Social Media Madness.  Well, if you talk about teeth whitening stuff in Twitter too much then surely you are.  Or  perhaps you push nothing but your own posts and sales landing page?

The thing is before casting an evil eye on the list maker evaluate first what you’re doing.  Are you sure you’re doing social media right?  Here’s something to keep you on the right track.

Or perhaps you’re all right.  It’s all me, being forgetful and all that.  In which case, you know what to do. You’re allowed to dig your elbow into my ribcage.  I’d take that as a hint – just don’t hex me.

Over to you, guys.  Does it matter to you if you fail to make it to a buddy’s list?  Will making your list private take away the likelihood of offending those you who don’t make it to your list?  Let’s hear it.

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  • When I first tried out the list feature, I used it as a means to catch up with certain segments of people and be kept posted on their updates. Making it to someone else's list is not a priority. I have some private list which are business in nature, therefore can't be shared to the rest.
  • dencios
    its a bonus if u are in someones list but it really doesnt matter for me. my twitter has been hacked. ill get back soon on twitter-riiiing!

  • Now I understand why there's not a tweet from your end. Salbahe naman
    gumawa nun.
  • Twitter has largely passed me by. I just can't get into some of this stuff... I don't get it. It's strange getting old.

    Blogging is cool. Dig that. Twitter? Nah..
  • i like twitter so far...
  • wow twitter is cool for me...hehe
  • Hey Jan, aren't you going to exhale yet? C'mon, we've been waiting for you to write :D
  • anneonline
    I decided to take a bit of your advice and keep some lists private, mainly because I'm not sure they really matter to anyone but me. I do wish there were a simpler way to select those I want for a particular list. Imagine going through thousands of people ~ that just hurt my brain!

    Oh, and I have to admit I was a bit thrilled to see I made Heather's list [a few times] ~ I know, I need therapy. lol
  • Did I make your list? Just joking. It does not bother me if I don't make someones list. I'm just happy if people talk to me on Twitter. ROFL I don't even use my list.
  • Jan,
    I really love you view on this. I understand what Chris Brogan is getting at, but at the end of the day, you can make everyone happy. If you're constantly worried about other people's feelings, you'll end up paralyzed and nonfunctional.

    If you're not on as many lists as you want to be, be more interactive. The more you chat with people, the more likely they are to include you in their list. Provide value and people will follow you.
  • I was pleasantly surprised to find I was already on 27 lists. Way cool. :D Yes, I am shallow like that. Haha!

    But seriously, I haven't made any yet simply because I haven't really paid much attention to it. No, I'm not "hurt" if I see a list that I am not on. Lol. I do not go around checking my friends' profiles to see their lists then interrogate them why I'm not on there. Lol. That's way creepy. :p
  • Hi Jan,

    It's ironic you should mention the Twitter lists as I've just start noticing them and figured out I was on some.

    I can see how some could get upset if they don't make "the list" and I certainly wouldn't want to hurt someone's feelings, so maybe it would be best if I don't even start one. Just thinking....
  • I think twitter list is a way to build, show and recommend helpful peoples to my community and making those list public is always best way to give something back to twitter community.
  • janebenimble
    I'm so glad you posted this! I was feeling a bit guilty about having a public list on Twitter - knowing certain people *not* on the list wouldn't be included. But you nailed it here.

    To keep this short and sweet: YOU ROCK!
    Thanks for hosting your blog - I'm really glad I found you (via your comment at my blog).
    Two thumbs up!
  • I am not a twitter guy so I don't mind if I am excluded in the list.

    If I were a twitter guy, then there was a reason why I have/had the twitter account because I am/was part of the ongoing project that I should be updated regularly.

    After the project, they could exclude me... no problem.
  • I think it'll take a little while for Twitter 'lists' to define itself. There's so much speculation of its potential but no one knows for certain how it's going to play out.

    I'm not thrilled with this filter system since the beauty of Twitter is the simplicity. On the other hand, Twitter had to do something since it has become quite a shout-fest with people having so many "followers".
  • fifi
    well, getting to your list must be one difficult feat, parang exclusionary talaga ha. what are the perks to be in your list, by the way?
  • flamindevil
    i tried my best to like twitter..

    now i don't even remember when i last opened my twitter account.

    and yep, i don't mind whether i'm in somebody's list or not. :D
  • Uhm, seriously I haven't been aware of the list thing as Im not following Twitter closely (although am using it a lot) but I think getting into someones list makes good sense. Well I've read Brogan's post and I think the post I'm agreeing with him
  • Lots of people have low self esteem, this is why they are making this an issue. We are grownups, We don't have to act like children deprived of candy. :-)
  • I am not really bothered as well if I don't make it into someone's list. With Twitter I usually just add that person who also added me. Except for those who I noticed are just there for adverts sake.
  • OMG you're like so mean! :P I'm taking you off my list.

    Seriously, I'm picking up what you're laying down. But you can't discount what Chris Brogan is saying altogether. I've witnessed first hand how the big guns constantly get harassed by people not included on their lists. Whining comes to mind. It always shocks me that somebody's pride would allow them to say, "ProBlogger, I feel I deserved to be on your list. I can't believe Jack Sprat is up there but not me. You're a hack and I'm not following you anymore."

    Are they asking for this by creating lists in the first place? Yes and no. Listing is a wonderful way to organize. Sometimes I want to tweet with my silly peeps. Sometimes my Nano peeps. Sometimes SEO, or my Power 50. Lists have made Twitter tolerable again. But it's hard for me to think of everybody I'd like to include on my list, and specifically their Twitter addresses, when compiling them. And then there are all those understated but very important friends who do not always come to the forefront of our minds. They are not the squeaky wheels & it is probably they who will have the opportunity to have their feelings hurt due to unintentional sleights, but will be more likely to forgive us and be understanding.
  • Eh, I haven't really noticed which lists I'm not on. That would be kind of strange to go around looking for lists to see which ones don't include me.

    What I do feel bad about is slacking and leaving my own lists incomplete - I really should have kept them private until I was done. I'm hoping that my friends realize that they are a work in progress and don't feel hurt or overlooked.
  • I haven't reviewed the new twitter list. Will sched that soonest possible.

  • zorlone
    How long has it been from your previous post to this one? Yikes! Forget that... I thought you are concentrating with your bet at the moment and have taken a back seat in blogging, well, there are back seat drivers too! LOL

    For me it makes me feel good to be listed on anybody's list, there is a sense of belonging and somehow it makes me feel that what I do or say in the twittersphere matter to people, it kinda gives me a voice (singing voice LOL). Just like the birds that twitter seemed to have taken its platform from. There are tweets of birds that sing a particular song in a particular season, we are those birds in this "whatchamacallit" world of the wide web. Thus, our voice belongs somewhere.

    I wont fret or break a (vocal) cord if ever I wasn't included YET in anyone's list, sooner or later, there would be someone who would hear what I am saying and make sense of it, enough to recruit my tweeting voice in their list. A matter of time... so for those who are not included yet, be patient. There are people who are keeping themselves too busy to even make a decent list (like me).

  • Thx Holly for the Hootsuite comment, I've been hearing great things, should I choose to act I am fortunate to have the experience of you and others to follow up on. I see Jan, you make many 'recommendations'. haha Good on ya.
  • This really is a very thought provoking post. The very first thing with me is that I am not so active on Twitter and I really don't care if I made myself into someone's list or not. Very recently I created my first twitter list just to check how it all works. I didn't think about making it public or private as anyways it is not a matter of concern for me. And you are very right in saying that - If you include nearly everybody, where’s the value in that? Why should you do that at anytime? It is totally up to us to decide whom to include and whom to exclude. So, if its a problem for anyone then let it be..
  • Hala! yung previous comment ko for this entry nawala... baka di napost... hahayz... sayang naman... pero ano nga ba yun... basta i don't mind kung ala man ako sa list nila... kahit sa akin nga mas maayos pag may list din kc di naman lahat dun kakilala ko... karamihan inadd lang ako so i add them back... jijijijiji
  • Well, as for me Jan, it really don't matter if I make it to someone's list or not. But, on the other end, if I'm not included in your P50 Twitter list, a mighty elbow might land on your ribcage, LOL!

    I'm not that active much on Twitter, so maybe I'm really not affected much. And I agree with you, tweeple who would be offended not making it on your list might need a session or two with a therapist :D
  • Give Twitter a chance, Madz. That's my advice to you. :)
  • Jan, I can't.... IT'S BLOCKED here at our office, ha ha ha.
  • I prefer this new feature to Tweetdeck groups which are eating my computer resources and not as fast as Twitter. However, this might be a new metric to measure the success of a Twitter user.
  • Yeah, Tweetdeck is a memory hog. That's why I shifted to Hootsuite. It's web based. In so far as being on many lists give you a fair chance at getting more followers, I think that's a fair assessment. For me, it's having an engaging Twitter tribe that's more useful. They visit, support, leave comments, help you promote your posts. Putting them on your lists is one way of rewarding them.
  • i be in 4 list, and it feel totally good.. but i still have no idea whether to create one or not.. one way to make sure that nobody feel hurt if not on the list, simply make it specific, don't even make the people think that "i suppose to be on the list" when actually they don't because the list is too general.
  • That's a nice ploy to prevent unnecessary drama from people who don't make it to the list. You can be specific though. That helps your readers who are looking for specific keywords or categories.
  • Hi Jan,

    I agree and I do see the value in the lists. I'm not getting my panties all twisted because I don't make it onto anyone's particular list. I know that for me, I need time to consider and organize my lists. This is a new app and it will take folks a while to get their lists together. Even so, I'm happy to tweet away and I'll get my lists done at some point. One of them will be: "My favorite bloggers named Jan"

  • Gee wiz, that'd be a short list - I don't think I know any other bloggers named Jan. Or was that meant to be like my, "You're my FAVORITE son!"

    "Mom, I'm you're ONLY son."
  • I'm with George. I understand Chris Brogan's concern about exclusion -- but I am already selective about who I follow. And lists help me organize people into categories so I can quickly get what I need from each one. Everyone will most likely be on one list at some point -- but it will take a while.

    Anyone who doesn't make any of the lists is likely to be someone with tweets worth reading, or someone I followed in the early days before I had defined how I planned to use Twitter.
  • And you'd be on "Writers who wear kilts rock." :)
  • I'm just grateful that Twitter doesn't call it "Top Friends" like so many other sites. I don't RANK my friends. I use the lists for convenient groupings, but I don't call them "A List," "B List," and "Social Pariahs" or anything like that. More like "suspected spammers," "fellow writers who aren't too big for their britches to help promote others," "parents who love to read to their kids," "crazy fun Filipinos," (okay, I made that last one up, but couldn't resist yanking your chain, Jan - imagining you searching for your name on my list made me smile).

    Would I even NOTICE if I'm not on someone's list? Probably not. I barely have time to notice whether I'm on my own, most days.
  • Well, I'd love to be in "crazy fun Filipinos" list, Holly. Most of the lists out there are pretty generic and boring. It's time we created a fun list. What do you think of our friend Heather, for example? Surely there's more fun way than putting her under "Writers" although she's that, too.
  • Heather, hmm...Quirky, Fun, Eccentric Typo Queens? Frenetic Fart Fanatics? Moms Who Do NaNoWriMo Instead of Booze?
  • Well, I WAS thinking of Heather, but I'll definitely add you to that list, Jen! (It's a short list. Most typo queens are not quirky, fun, OR particularly eccentric - they just can't spell. You guys are special.)
  • Are you referring to me with the first label??? he he he . Thanks. Presumptuous of me.
  • I have no idea why I need to use lists. I think I'll have to take a 2nd look at that feature
  • In adding people to your list, you don't have to follow them. You just add them. You can add tech people who are on the cutting edge of technology, the early adopters, tech gurus, etc. Why? Because you need to know first what's making the buzz in your field of interest, the latest trends, the latest news. Twitter beats traditional media in giving you the latest. When you talk of real time nearly everyone will think of Twitter.

    So it's not all about creating lists to listen in on what your friends are doing, although there's value in that, too. You don't want to be left out of the conversation, right?

    Yeah, I'm saying you can make Twitter lists work for your blog. You just have to be creative about using it. Thanks, Rygel. :)
  • Roy
    I really don't mind not being somebody's lists, as long as I'm in on the one's that matter (and I'm glad I am ;) )

    Of course, it does make you feel good to be included on 'the list' and it feels bad not be left out. But that is life.

    It's the list maker's prerogative, so to speak
  • Roy, you're in the the one that resides in my brain. Now, the day I really do succumb to senility, that may not be good enough - but for now, it's the best place to be.
  • List maker's prerogative. Exactly - he made it for his own use. To better organize his people. You know, Roy, there are people who I'd like to hear every tweet they make. But it bothers me a little that they don't follow back. Twitter lists provide a solution for me. I can keep tabs on them without me obsessing I hardly figure in their consciousness.

    It's just me. I take everything personally. :)
  • Jan,

    Nobody is allowed to hex anybody on this. There's definitely needless to put EVERYONE in the list or else what's the point of Twitter Lists (good point on this, by the way). Frankly, I'm not satisfied with mine yet, because the contacts are added up everyday and I don't think the list will ever be 100% complete. Some people I hold them in the private list until I know them better. So no judgment shall be made on this, on anybody.

    Social/Blogging Tracker
  • That's a good idea, not rushing to add people left and right. Less drama when you have to take them off your list for one reason or another. :)
  • Geez. I'm at least a month from even looking at this twitter list stuff. Still need to dig into my Wave goodies. That's tech. Gotta keep the eye on the ball.
  • And I've forgotten my Wave surfboard. Kinda lonely watching the time line when you hardly know a single soul. Will try again tonight.
  • i dont mind not including my name on anybody or somebody else's list... i dont know how it works anyway! hahaha... im so not into twitter's newest offer... im on tweetdeck now! aaaaww! it's much more organized using tweetdeck! aaaww!
  • Yeah, anything is better organized than Twitter homepage... You mean to say, I don't get to figure in any of your lists? Not even in a list like "Guys I'd share my AdSense bonanza with?" Darn. I knew it! I knew it!
  • Well said, Jan. Am I on YOUR list/s? he he he....because YOU are in ALL of my lists....just teasing you.

    Can I sit down now and have a milkshake first? Your blog makes me feel so comfortable and I always come here to "talk" with genuine friends.

    Okay, okay, I'm off topic, but am I? Ang gulo ko...he he he..(I'm in the downside again. "getting older", as the man from the sci-fi world said).

    I don't have complicated reasons for people I include/d in my list. I include/d them because they're my friends.

    A "Friend" though has several meanings for me: someone who reads my posts and gives honest and sincere feedbacks . (Now, don't post that negative comment, email someone who drops by and says ,' hey , what's up? ', someone who could interact with me effectively (can be serious when the occasion calls for it, and can be a clown too, when needed), someone who says: " I need this, could you help me, if you can't, then get out of my sight."

    But after all that is said and done - someone who is still there - no matter.

    Did I describe you?

    I wouldn't mind though if I was not in a particular list, perhaps there are certain criteria that I wasn't able to fulfill. This does not make me a lesser person. For sure I'll be in other people's list, anyhow.

    Have a blessed weekend. I was beginning to is the challenge going?


  • As of last count, you're in five of my lists, Jen. How's that? I'm sorry for being a fugitive from my own blog. That was a long stretch of absence, I know. Just get tired easily just looking at my desktop although I have the energy planting stuff in FB farm. LOL. The challenge sputtered to a dreadful stop. Will start again this weekend. Hayss.
  • Don't feel too bad, Jan. My end of the challenge was going great - up to today. If I can make it through next weekend without eating a ton of greasy, oversalted, but very tasty Boy Scout camp-out food, I'll be back on track. We went to a picnic out in the country - only "picnic" doesn't do it justice. Fresh produce, fresh meat (as in, they saw it live and on the hoof last week, and today it was perfectly roasted on the grill), homemade ice cream made from homegrown melons and pumpkins... just too good to pass up, and now I'm in PAIN. I'm sure I just set myself back a week. It's all good - just dust ourselves off and start again. Just remember: Even WE won't take ourselves seriously unless we get serious.
  • You can do it , Jan. I'm cheering for you , go, go go!
  • I guess there in no argument when the facts are stated as well as you do here. Lists are good to have because they show that you even bother on having one exclusively for people who deserve it. I think of it as my BlogRoll. I like a lot of blogs but I only have a few of them on my page. Is there any difference in that? Maybe if someone would feel left out, I think that this is much worst than worrying about my name being on someone's list on Twitter. Let's face it, there is a limit to whom we interact on a more "regular basis". I say, if you want to make it on my list, then prove me that you should be there, rather than yaking about exclusionary - complicated word:) - BS
  • Twitter list as the new blog roll. There's a new thought. :)

    At the end of the day, it's just a list. A starting point, a tool. A tweeter with a good head sitting on his shoulder - knows how to engage in Twitter, posts valuable stuff, being helpful and all that - reaps the fruits of his labor in the end even if at this point he only figures in his dog's list of great guys.
  • Great post (as always). I just discovered Twitter lists myself, and saw that I was on 12 lists. I believe that Twitter lists are important when it comes to marketing, especially to share your favorites in specific categories. Like you did on your post about your top follow friday people.

    By sharing your lists, people will have access to all your favorite people. I think that's great.
  • Personally, I'm wary of following big shots in Twitter. Only of a few of them are generous to follow back. Now I don't need to follow them and still be able to read interesting stuff they're posting via Twitter lists. That's a good way of keeping tabs on them. And it is an excellent recommendation and discovery tool for anyone who cares to check them out.
  • Thanks for the link!
  • Hi Jan, Excellent argument, logical, and well stated. A couple additional points, one philosophical and one prosaic.

    1. The act of not following someone on Twitter is itself exclusionary. The act of joining Twitter is exclusionary, as it excludes all the people not on Twitter.
    2. As for pigeonholing, keep in mind you can put the same person on any number of lists you create.
  • Aww. Excellent points, Brad. Your comment is a great example of your second observation. You're in my "cream of the crop" list - my catch all list of awesome people - and yet you can very well be on other lists such as writers, SEO, and "people to ask for bail money." Someone in Twitter - forgot who, yay! - tweeted last night that he was listed under this category. Aren't people just so creative and funny at the same time?!
  • Finally occurs to me to wonder which of Jan's lists I'm on... holy crap... running off to Twitter NOW...
  • :) Niiice.

    But you're right, we need some fun lists.
  • Prior to even hearing about the reality of lists (via your initial post), I used to wish, wish, wish for such a feature. My reasoning of course was to quickly see the tweets of those I clicked with most. So, now I have created a few lists... I am not so sure I like it as much as I'd hoped... I have been wrestling with unlisitng everyone and going back to swimming in the stream. Whats happened is that I miss those that I have excluded, plus, I find myself 'having' to access my lists - I dont like it....
    I am appreciative of being included, occasionaly, even flattered, but havent the inclincation to care/worry about the exclusion factor by others.
    So JG, if you notice you appear on one less list, have no fear, I still will strive to see what you have to say :-)
  • That's a bit odd, Trina. I suggest you use Twitter apps like TweetDeck, Seesmic or Hootsuite. These have multi-columns for your groups. You can have one for the Twitter general time line of tweets, one for tweets that directly address you, and several others for your groups or tweeter lists.

    I don't look at my lists every time although of course every time I interact with a tweeter I secretly figure out on what list the user can be added to. Have you already maxed the number of people per list? If you have, why not make a new category for the people you need to keep under your bed at all times? LOL
  • I'm 'odd' now am I, wow, thanks a lot... haha ;-)

    Just great that you suggest yet more apps and such for me. Sure I've seen all you greats using such processes - oddly enough, I seem to like just jumping in the stream where I am at any given moment. Once I had made some lists, I had the dilemna over what to do with new followers - of course there's a way to handle that, but for me it's just one more thing to juggle... and conflicts with keeping my life simple. What!?? someone may scream - nothing simpler than using the tools - to which I respond - use what works best for each of us.

    Should I change my mind, I will follow your advise JG, as that works for me too :-)
  • Hi TrinaMb,

    You're a generous twitter. Kudos to you!
  • I'm loving Hootsuite - and Jan knows what a confession that is, given that he suggested it to me on a day I was seriously cranky about third-party twitter apps and my lack of trust and faith in them.
  • It doesn't bother me if I don't make someone's list because I consider it a bonus if I do. However, I think I could possibly be offended if I was on somebody's list and then they removed me, and the reason wasn't obvious.
  • I agree. It makes no difference if I'm on a list or not... unless I don't get to receive tweets coz i'm not on that list :D
  • It's good for tuning out the unwanted noise in Twitter. Open your list on Twitter apps that has Twitter List integrated and you can tweet to your heart's delight. You only receive tweets from your kind of people. Aside from Seesmic, there's a Twitter app that has Twitter lists integrated. It's called Brizzly. I've been trying it for several days now and it's quite good actually.
  • I must agree too, being on someone's list will beneficial.

    Having information or the other way around - twitter have already serve it's purpose.

    Getting listed on your twitter list is a perk.

    Following you guys on twitter .... I guess it's priceless. ;P
  • That's a levelheaded way of looking at Twitter lists, Steven. Getting on someone's list as a bonus is the way to go... Being stricken off somebody's list when the reason isn't that obvious will bother me, too. We surely can use feedback to better our online presence. Sadly there's no mechanism for that via Twitter lists.
  • Ok sir. I'll accept your gifts as soon as I open my FV. I Invite you to join my giveaway. Thanks.
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