How I use Twitter
I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. Here are some ways I make it slightly less of a nightmare to use for myself, some of which I haven't seen many others talking about.
For Twitter to be useful to me, I find I have to curate quite heavily what I see. This means only following accounts that I enjoy seeing content from, and for me personally, trying to keep the focus of my timeline around the world of tech.
The block list I would say is the most well-known way of curating. If you really don't want to ever see that person, brand or bot ever again, it's the most blunt instrument we have.
My block list is easily in the thousands now. A large part of that list are companies - for example, I don’t care what the latest offers from [insert big-box name store] are. If someone I’m following retweets them, then it’s nice to have that not show up.
Then there are just the run-of-the-mill trolls, nasty people, etc that I don't ever want to see anything from again. Unfortunately Twitter seems to have an awful lot of those folk.
My muted accounts list isn’t quite as large as my blocked list, as I approach it slightly differently. When I mute accounts, it's more that I don't want them to know. This is useful in a couple of different contexts.
Firstly, if someone is being abusive or trolling. If they want to do that, I generally let them go ahead - I don't want to give them any satisfaction out of getting blocked.
Secondly there are people that I either follow or don't follow, but I don't want to see them in my feed, but it could potentially cause an issue in one form or another if I were to block them. If you're reading this, and, we communicate often or occasionally; rest assured you're not on this list!
Turn off retweets
Occasionally there are people that I want to follow, but they retweet a lot of other content. That could be a developer that retweets anime all day, or a photographer who retweets content other than their own. I personally love retweeting, and find new accounts all the time from others retweets - but if they're too often on a subject I don't want to see in my feed; I turn off their retweets.
This almost goes without saying, but the Mute Words feature is wonderful, and I utilise it extensively to block anything from terrible reality shows, to the names of disgusting politicians. It's a great way of applying a ban across everything.
Lists for me are golden. They're the newest addition to my approach, and easily the single thing that has proved to be the best bang-for-buck for making Twitter usable for me.
I think lists are a hugely under utilised feature on Twitter, and to be honest, it feels like they’ve been forgotten about by the company themselves. There are a few benefits to using them though that make things more manageable - all of them made possible with Vicariously.
Currently I have three lists:
I have a list of every account that I follow, automatically updated daily by Vicariously. This is mainly useful to take advantage of the fact that Lists don't get any adverts! So I can browse my feed without the bombardment of adverts that the default feed belches up (I just checked, and in the 10 most recent tweets on my default feed, there were 3 adverts). It also appears to stick to the chronological ordering, and doesn't move things around based on if it's a tweet in a thread, or a reply from someone you follow to someone else you follow. Both of which I prefer, but YMMV.
This is by far the most interesting one, and as with all good things, it started with a tweet.
I love this, and am probably on it more than my own feed. I currently have a list (again, updated daily with Vicariously) that follows everyone that Rasmus Anderson follows. The idea is that by following someone elses feed, you get a glimpse into what inputs they're curating for themselves and spend time in their bubble.
This can be great for opening yourself to new perspectives, and gaining a greater and wider understanding of the world. I could also see this being useful for people who want to learn a new skill (for example, find someone who designs typefaces and create a list of everyone they follow).
I have played around, following a few different people and it's been really eye-opening. A*, would recommend.
Finally, I have a list dedicated to colleagues, both that I follow already, and those that I don't. I find this super useful to be able to have a dedicated feed, so I can easier keep up with those in different timezone to myself.
One final thing I wanted to note was that I don't generally get much abuse on Twitter (perks of being a straight white guy), but if you do and need a way of filtering out trash & abuse in your mentions, I would recommend BlockParty. Whilst I haven't used it myself, I've heard very positive things about it from the people who use it, and negative things about it from assholes - which feels like a good ratio.
I hope this has been helpful, or at the very least interesting. These techniques have worked for me in my circumstance, and I feel could be helpful for many others!