I’m obsessed with Qwitter. Just not in the same way a lot of people seem to be.
Qwitter emails you when someone following you on the microblogging tool Twitter stops following you. It tells you who quit and what your last tweet was before they quit. Simple.
The response is not simple. I’ve seen a trend of Twitterers ‘announcing’ their unfollows. ‘Farewell, @personx, I daresay I shan’t miss you’ read a recent one. Why do they announce it? And why do they even CARE?
I asked the second question on Twitter and got three good answers:
- To ensure bidirectional communication. These people use Twitter as a conversational tool and don’t want to shout at someone across the room who isn’t listening. Good etiquette online or off
- To manage the stream of information. I use Twitter as ambient text radio. Information and links scroll by. I unfollow folks who don’t contribute content of interest to me. It’s very pragmatic
- As a feedback loop. A spike of unfollows might indicate that you’ve offended people or are tweeting too much or too little. Numbers speak here; it’s not about any one person, but a change in volume
I’ve never seen a Qwitter attributed to politeness or pragmatism. Instead, it’s personal. ‘@personx can’t handle my politics/religion/sense of humor.’ Anything can be twisted to fit this. Someone unfollowed me after a tweet to @DeepEddy about George Burns and Gracie Allen. Let me make it fit each of those scenarios:
- Politics: Gracie Allen ran for President in 1940. True. You qwit because you hate my politics!
- Religion: George Burns played God in the 1977 movie Oh, God! Enough said
- Sense of humor: @DeepEddy and I are probably guilty as charged, although I don’t quote Firesign Theatre as relentlessly as he does
Their reason for qwitting had nothing to do with the tweet. The last words in a relationship are rarely about proximate cause. They’re about divvying up the Marley CD’s, where to send the last paycheck or refund of the security deposit. You can’t analyze them and hope to understand what led to disaffection, job change or a move. Don’t try.
I’m not the only one trying to understand Qwitter. @astrout did an uttercast here, and @TWalk covered it in a blog post here. If listeners are leaving in droves (whether you’re on Twitter or speaking at a conference), that’s feedback from the universe. Use it, but don’t overanalyze or overpersonalize it.
Update: Forgot to include the Twimerick (coined right here as far as I know) that started this:
There once was a fellow on Twitter
Tracked his unfollows w/Qwitter
Thought the last twit
Was why they’d quit
It made him not better, but bitter