I don’t believe in the idea that you should follow everyone on Twitter who follows you. This topic is debated quite a bit, but that idea just doesn’t suit me personally. My policy on whom I follow on Twitter is pretty simple:

  • I know you.
  • I know of you.

Beyond that, I can’t say I’m terribly interested. Yes, that flies in the face of the idea of "social media", but anyone who knows me can attest that my sociability has its limits.

I also have some very draconian criteria of whom I allow to follow me. I actually tend to block a lot of people, most of whom seem to gamble on the idea that if they follow me, I will follow them back. Here’s what determines when I block Twitter followers:

  • A following-to-follower ratio more than 2:1. Just now, I blocked a guy who was following more than 900 people but had only 169 followers himself. That rose a flag to me that he was trolling for another follower. I may let you slide if you have a manageable following count of fewer than 100.
  • Following or follower counts in the thousands. I don’t care if you think you can pay attention that many people. You can’t. I’m doing you a favor by blocking you. I cannot in good conscience contribute to your attention deficit disorder. Also, I’m egoistical enough not to want to be lost in a stream of thousands of posts.
  • SPAM. I do have to say Twitter has been very good at targeting mass followers.

Right now, I’m following 40 people, and I’ve got 50 people following me. I didn’t block a few people because their profiles indicated some common interests, and maybe something I say will have some relevance to them. Only they could tell you.

But my stringent following and follower policies pretty much spares me from all the annoyances other Twitter users may experience. In the end, I use Twitter in a way it was probably intended — as a means to communicate with a tight social circle. I like some of the ideas that have bootstrapped on to that premise, but I’m not a true believer.