Twitter has never been my favorite, especially compared to FriendFeed, but I can’t overlook the valuable community built around it. Lists have just made it much better, but there’s still no decent way to manage them that I know of and they come with limitations of their own.
Plus, I have just ran into the inexplicable “You are unable to follow more people at this time. Learn more here.” pop-up, only to discover there is a 2000 follows limit! From http://help.twitter.com/forums/10711/entries/68916:
What are the limits?
We don’t limit the number of followers you can have. However, we do monitor how aggressively users follow other users. We try to make sure that none of our limits restrain reasonable usage, and will not affect most Twitter users.
We monitor all accounts for aggressive following and follow churn (repeatedly following and un-following large numbers of other users). You can read more about these below, but if you don’t follow or un-follow hundreds of users in a single day, and you aren’t using automated methods of following users, you should be fine. Please note that the only automated following behavior that Twitter allows is auto-follow-back (following a user after they have followed you). Automated un-following is also not permitted. Please review our Automation Rules & Best Practices for more information on automating your account.
Additional limits if you are following 2000 or more people:
The rules about aggressive following and follow churn still apply. In addition, every user can follow 2000 people total. Once you’ve followed 2000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users you can follow: this limit is different for every user and is based on your ratio of followers to following. When you hit this limit, we’ll tell you by showing an error message in your browser. You’ll need to wait until you have more followers in order to follow more users—basically, you can’t follow 10,000 people if only 100 people follow you. When you reach a daily or total limit and we show you an error message, you’ve hit a technical limit imposed to limit egregious behavior by spam accounts and to prevent strain on the site. These are just the technical limits for your account; in addition, you are prohibited from aggressive following behaviors. These behaviors may result in account suspension, regardless of your account’s technical ratio.
Limits improve site performance by ensuring that when we send a person’s message to all of their followers, the sending of that message is meaningful. Follow limits cannot be lifted by Twitter, and everyone is subject to them, including verified and developer accounts. Based on current behavior in the Twitter community, we’ve concluded that this is both fair and reasonable.
For the record, my behavior has never fallen into anything described in Twitter’s Following Limits and Best Practices page, except for trying to cross the 2000 limit. It turns out that “… this limit is different for every user and is based on your ratio of followers to following …”. It seems this ratio is a big secret, although online sources like @JanSimpson and “Using Twitter” give it a value around 1.1. Limits seem to be the approach of choice for Twitter to keep their service running. They have another one: you can only have up to 20 Lists, which, of course, you discover only when you try to create the 21st!
I am not happy with adhoc limits, particularly undocumented ones. The 2000 limit is both hidden and its mechanism undocumented by Twitter. Look it up and find that “basically, you can’t follow 10,000 people if only 100 people follow you”; hardly indicative of the ~1.1 actual ratio. Why? They claim this is to prevent spam and overload! Spam, though, can be measured with any number of real (and, preferably, documented) criteria…
I say, Twitter just can’t handle the volume. Arbitrary limits may give easy short-term solutions. Then, what? In the mean time, I have to decide weather to start unfollowing good people, try to “Get More Followers Fast” (oops, this is against the rules), try to get more followers slow (wait, “Remember, Twitter isn’t a race to get the most followers”), leave it be, or quit Twitter and concentrate on FriendFeed. Or put new people in an “over 2000” List…
Did I mention how disappointed I am and how alienated I feel?