Twitter Lists- Im Not Down

lonely in a crowd I just took a look into creating my first ever Twitter list. I’m listed on over 1500 at this writing, so I figured I’d give it a go. Immediately, I realized what I’m not going to like about them: they will exclude people. Sure, on the one hand, they’re a great way to group people and information together. For instance, I might make a list for news feeds. I might make a list about travel, like hotels and airlines.

But the minute you move into the people department, things get sketchy quick.

twitter list In talking with friends about it on Twitter, people immediately started DM-ing me, telling me that they felt left out or even LESS important because they weren’t on any lists. Lists are exclusionary by nature. They’re static. There’s a lot of reasons why they might not be all that pleasant for people.

I think there are some uses that are important, but for the most part, the way I’m going to deal with my listmaking is in private, so that people don’t feel left out or less important, or whatever else they’re going to feel. Man, it stinks feeling left out.

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  • Louis Trapani

    This has been one of the two main reasons I haven’t made many lists yet (the other being the time it takes to make them). Right now, the only lists I made have been very specific to certain projects. The larger your scope, the more likely you may leave someone out who will be offended, even if the omission was simply an oversight.

  • barney1985

    a very well made point!

  • ahawkinson

    You make a good point but the flip side of exclusion is that Twitter Lists also enable more powerful “inclusion”. As I’ve been looking at Lists and thinking about what they mean for our small business platform, my mind chained back to a post a couple of months ago about all business starting with community –

    I think that one of the cool potential uses of Lists by small businesses surrounds the online instantiation of their recommendations of other people and businesses in their community. As long as it’s kept authentic, it could be very powerful indeed.

    Ultimately we’ll need to find a balancing act between unfiltered, totally open flow of information that is all inclusive vs. the filtered views, exclusion, and inferred authority that Twitter Lists will provide.

  • Larissa Fair

    Yeah, I’m not sure what I think about the lists. I can see where there could be value, but overall it seems to add even more confusion to an already too busy “playground”.

    I certainly agree that it can exclude many users and become another popularity contest (how many lists are you on?). Lists don’t necessarily translate to influence, just as followers do not.

    As I said on Twitter…. Twitter lists = noisy, uberfilter, narcissistic^2, streamlined, repetitive, notable…all in one. (IMHO)

  • Joseph Manna

    I’m neutral to the feature. Like anything new and disruptive in social media, there will be people to embrace it and support it and people to are hesitant and resistant. It will depend on the value people generally capture from it.

    I do have a nagging feeling that it, too, will yet be another metric that will be gamed on Twitter. Though, not easily, it can still be gamed. Look at @mashable v. @barackobama to see what I mean.

    Lists are merely another form of engagement, recommendation, respect and validation. Let’s not inflate the impact of this too much. If you’re a good person, you’ll likely land on many people’s lists. If you suck, you won’t land on many people’s lists.


  • Michael Gaines

    Chris, this is a great post and points out some things that online relationships can be just as petty as real ones.

    I started a list called “awesomesauce”. I like that word. I started adding people I really liked to it. Probably most people that post here are on that list. But then I got to thinking “hmmm, person A is on this list, but their friend person B isn’t because I just don’t like person B, so is person A going to get all pissed off?”.

    So I just made the damn list private.

    I can’t wait until twitter list privacy breaks. Won’t that be a fun day.

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  • Venessa

    i made a graphic that shares this sentiment – Twitter Lists Demystified

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  • Ricardo Bueno

    Take Facebook for example, I like that I can create multiple lists and segment my audience to make it easier to filter through people’s content. This works well when I want to check in with say my “Clients” list to see what they’re up to or when I want to check in with old “College Friends” or check in with people in my “People to Meet” list before a conference. Being able to filter through content in this way is great. What’s great too is that people don’t know that they belong to one list or another. Not that I’m trying to be cruel or deceitful or anything. List making just makes it easier for me to filter through content and that’s a good thing.

    Here though (on Twitter), I think it kinda sucks that lists are public for all to see because it excludes people and well, it does suck to feel left out. Like you, I’ll use private lists this way no one feels left out. Then again, I don’t have thousands upon thousands of followers so it’s a little easier for me to filter through content…

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  • Deborah Richmond

    I just tried the lists and I’m liking it. I only follow aroudn 700 people, and far less than that are actually active. So the lists allow me to group people. If I’m interested in reading about business, I have the social media list. If I want to laugh, I have some very funny people I follow. If I’m sewing on a quilt, I can check out what the quilters are doing. Just love it!

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  • Santiago Merea

    I see your point… but think it as a second best solution to the clutter of people…

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  • davidjacobs

    Or looked at another way, being included in someones public list could expose you to even more people and looking at other peoples lists could expose you to other great people to follow. But we’re talking about exclusion. Should you be upset that not everyone that you follow follows you back? Same problem really, just a different format. All of this goes back to not being obsessed with the numbers. If I have done enough to peek your interest to put me on a list, God bless you and I thank you. If not, it’s ok, I’ll keep on keeping on. Get over the ego gratification, do what you do as best as you can and generally good things will follow.

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  • Andrew Swenson

    Couldn't have better stated.

  • Andrew Swenson

    Couldn't have better stated.

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  • jeffvitkun

    I'm experimenting with lists myself. On the one hand it seems limiting to have to put people in groups but sometimes there is something to be gained from structure.

  • maherjimmy

    Thoughtful, link-rich and insightful post. I question whether others assigning us to lists causes us to “self censor” any more than we do already, living as we do in real-time, passing snippets of text, images and video from one to another.
    This I do know to be true: As my followers grew from 6 to 60 to 600 to over 6000, I became more aware of the possibilities for mistakes, whether textual or factual, to reflect poorly upon my professional or personal life. Living so transparently in the public eye holds that possibility for all now.Do the labels of others now mean that we all have to conform to those boundaries? I'm not so sure.Increasingly, we define ourselves by what we talk about, who we connect to and what we consume. Like, say, CJR.

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  • modem

    I am twitter lover. Really nice post about twitter. It is really good. You always shared something new and amazing information. Thanks for that.

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  • marryroy01

    Certainly you've been on other “Top” lists as well — some of which you've likely mentioned or tweeted. Many, many people would probably love to be on those lists, but they're not included for whatever reason (which might make them feel left out, or unsuccessful.)

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  • marryroy01

    Twitter lists are a no or a yes (there's no ranking within the list), and not something anyone has to look at unless they want to click through and check it out. It's opt-in to notice it, unlike a Follow Friday.I am not following and follow them. I also look at list of people as I am really interested in and see who I am missing and I should be following.

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  • marryroy01

    Twitter lists are a no or a yes (there's no ranking within the list), and not something anyone has to look at unless they want to click through and check it out. It's opt-in to notice it, unlike a Follow Friday.There are variety of the technologies being seen in the Twitter and certain add-ons.
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  • Kayseri Web Tasarım

    thanks chris

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  • used cell phones

    To get exactly about twiter parameter I am experimenting with lists myself. On the one hand it seems limiting to have to put people in groups but sometimes there is something to be gained from structure.

  • Medyumlar

    Chris, you can't be serious.

    You're not down with lists because people feel left out?

    a) anyone complaining about feeling left out has issues that have nothing to do with technology

    b) you've never been a part of a list and then proudly talked about it? (Top bloggers, top influentials, etc)?

    Come on man.

  • memory cards

    Web cliques and clubs and is filled with people every day are excluded. Always subjective list of the top bloggers and experts. Twitter itself is exclusionary when you think about it – which they adhere to the following people, or it is good for those who wish to follow, but is not allowed in the rest of their lives. I like lists as they give a peek at my other Tweeters likes and dislikes and I lost all the noise that one can not read Tweets allow.