An experiment in Twitter carpet following

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    I created a new Twitter account that specifically tells people what it's for and not to follow it. I then followed 6000 Twitter feeds over 48 hrs to see who would reciprocate without reading. At last count, it had 137 followers. Interestingly, an additional 83 people initially followed me back, but then read the account description and changed their mind (good!). I also had to block 8 idiots that admitted following RU4Real even though they knew that it was an experiment.

    There is no need for you to block the account, it will be deleted once the experiment is over.

    Phase 2 officially began once it reached 100 followers. During this period, I won't add anybody else until the weekend to see if I can attract those spam followers that have been annoying everyone.

    Finally, I have received some requests to post my real Twitter account. Just don't expect me to blindly follow you back ;-)

    [update] I was hoping to close down the account and the experiment this weekend but I have decided to extent it by a week. The main reason is that I haven't been picked up by Twitterholic yet. The other reason is that I am still gathering followers even though I haven't followed anybody since Monday.

    [update2] This is nuts, the account has had no activity and no links for months and yet it is still accumulating followers at a rate of 2-6 per day. About to hit the big 500. The 3-month statistics are here.

    [update 3] After reaching 1001 follower notification in December 2008, I now want to unfollow everyone and see if the account still accumulates followers. I need to find a way of doing this without clicking the remove link >5100 times.

    [update 4] The experiment has been completed. Final statistics are here.

    justinsfpics, ll_browneyes_ll, and 1 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 16 more comments

    1. davebarger 105 months ago | reply

      This is great! Very interesting. I recognize a good number of people as well. Some, I thought "yea, it figures". Others, were a bummer to see there.
      I ran into an A-Lister at SxSW and I knew who he was because his spouse is a friend, but he has no idea how I am. He looks at my badge, and says, "oh yea, Dave! Good to finally meet you." It was a small insult, and I had previously thought more of the guy.

    2. 2nihon [deleted] 105 months ago | reply

      LOL. For the record, I didn't follow. :)

    3. illtillwillkillbill 105 months ago | reply

      Nantel :P

      I was wondering who followed me there. Are you those other 10 people per week who follow me and I have never heard of? ;-)

      (Well, at least I know who you are!)

    4. BarbaraKB 105 months ago | reply

      yeah - thanX!

    5. mobatalk 105 months ago | reply

      I follow everyone - it's no big deal.
      The bots all grow silent after a little while (well, except for that @br3ndabot) ;^)

    6. ACME-Nollmeyer 105 months ago | reply

      YOU didn't fool ACMEPhoto!

      I'm smarter than that! (but we're not sure how much smarter!)

    7. Steven Ray 105 months ago | reply

      I could never follow any one with the handle RU4Real... Haha.

      One note: RTM is a service, you actually want it to follow you back.
      Interesting project non the less.

    8. Ponzarelli 105 months ago | reply

      I never thought of "following" in this way. I like twitter because of the "discovery" I find through other cool people doing awesome stuff. I do try to read a bit about each person before following. Though I must confess if it happens to be a busy day and I have to choose "follow" back or delete the request I will follow first then delete them later if I find them not real or rude in the "stream of thoughts." I know my husband Chris is on auto follow and uses twitter almost as a replacement for RSS feeds when he's busy. I hadn't thought about the bots, until one attacked me. I had to kill the link between my blog and twitter, someone stole my account and made it twitter tons of blog links. I still haven't figured out either how I accidently did that or someone else did it. Until i do, I won't twitter back to the blog. Interesting experiment on both sides! Good luck!

    9. sotonrich 105 months ago | reply

      OK honesty added me to twitter and I only checked out your page because the thumbnail was of an attractive looking woman.....if you had a male thumbnail....I probably wouldn't have looked.

      There I was honest. *half hangs head in shame* ;P

      Maybe this could be a good idea for your your next experiment?

    10. nantel 105 months ago | reply

      Actually she may be a tad too young for that, she's my15 year old daughter.

    11. LEMills 105 months ago | reply

      Brilliant use of putting real sociology in the now-trite phrase "social media."

      Your secret is safe with me, but after looking at that list, I feel oh-so not special!


    12. Anant Jain 105 months ago | reply

      Good experiment. I always check the pages of those who follow me before I follow them (Unless I know the person personally)

    13. noinput 105 months ago | reply

      i've been on the instant-follow kick for about a week, i usually roll through all the follows then open profiles in new tabs to check people out. a bit twisted but im all about GTD when i can do it.

      amazing timing.. after i followed you, i removed the follow once i read the tweet about the experiment, and i noticed twitter went down. however it didn't take.


      im on your list of bots, yet i'm a real boy.

    14. Agitproper 105 months ago | reply

      I've been pretty good about checking too... VERY cool work!

    15. Frank Jonen 105 months ago | reply

      you also hide your twitter url from the public. only the link to this flickr is visible in 3rd party apps.

      Is there a reason that you don't play fair in this?

    16. Frank Jonen 105 months ago | reply

      but thanks for the google juice anyway :)

    17. nantel 105 months ago | reply

      > you also hide your twitter url from the public. only the link to this flickr is visible in 3rd party apps.

      Actually I didn't know that since I don't use 3rd party apps to read Twitter, I get interrupted often enough as it is. I don't know if you noticed but the only favorite on the RU4Real account takes you to my own Tweet announcing the experiment. Finally, my own Twitter feed is linked in the image description on Flickr.

    18. losangelestimes 98 months ago | reply

      Congrats nantel on creating a mini web meme. Instead of getting Rickrolled, folks now can get RU4Real-rolled.

      Sounds like a phenomena our Web Scout blog would report on.

      - LAT

    19. LEMills 95 months ago | reply

      During the recent dust-up about blocking people who send "thanks for the follow" by auto-DM, I wandered back to this picture to see if complainers are auto-followers.... Wouldn't that be interesting.... -Linda

    20. WillowBear 95 months ago | reply

      And more: I suspect there's some way to game Twitter. Not often, even rarely, I've seen accounts that have neither name nor URL and yet ... get ready ... have many thousands of followers. I mean it. The one that comes to mind had over 7K. *shrug*

      May the spirit of RU4Real live long!

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