There are mixed views on Twitter lists, many say they are a good thing and help to organise your feed, and others who say they are nothing more than a popularity contest.
So what does the new feature mean for Twitter users and the way they interact with each other?
There are two strands of Twitter List Etiquette as I see it, when you’ve been added and when you’re doing the adding.
When You’ve Been Added
Being added to a list is, to me, very similar to being retweeted. It is the acknowledgement that for one reason or another, another user thinks you are adding value to a particular way in which they use Twitter. This is not to say if you’re not on any lists you’re not adding value. Some people will be on 1500 lists, some people may be on 1. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that you take the time to thankyou for being included and maybe even have a look through that list to see who else is on there that you might like to follow, if not following the whole list. And there is of course no need to follow that list – it’s your user experience after all.
When You’re Doing The Adding
Each user will have their own reason for creating a list, cool folks, fellow workmates etc I think it’s important that each list has a purpose. For example I’ve created a list of the Spook team at Edelman so that I can keep upto date with their latest tweets without always being glued to my feed.
You don’t need to tell people when they’ve been added – I think they’ll probably notice when their lists count has gone and i think that if you do send out 100 “hey you made my Twitter list” messages, those users that follow you and aren’t on that list will get pretty annoyed pretty quickly and unfollow.
I don’t think there is any harm in tweeting “I just created a Twitter List” with a link – I would hope that any list i made was useful and would be of interest to other Twitter users.
Keeping a list private vs. outing it in public is interesitng. If you make your list public, there are bound to be people who may think “why am I not on there”, and I think that for subjective lists, private may be the way to go whereas if a list is ‘factual’, there is no harm at all in making it public.
Personally, I will try to avoid creating “top xxx to follow” type lists – as Chris Brogan so brilliantly points out:
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.
And I tend to agree with him. There is no reason for me to alienate any followers or people I follow – Twitter is, by its nature, an inclusive service, and that is how I want my experience to remain.
This is only the beginning of Twitter Lists and the way they are used is sure to evolve, and hence so are my brief thoughts on etiquette. I hope that these initial ramblings are useful and help to contribute to the place we will get to in 6 month’s time.
UPDATE: Naturally, as always I forgot someone, sorry Jacqui!!