WeFollow doesn’t do it for me

WeFollow doesn’t do it for me

we-follow-logoEveryone’s abuzz about Digg founder Kevin Rose’s new project, WeFollow. It’s essentially a Twitter directory that allows users to add themselves by category/keywords/tags. It then displays all users in that tag, sorting them by putting the users with the most followers up top.

This is where I breathe a heavy, dramatic sigh.

The problem with systems like this is that it reinforces an exponential curve of people whose cups already runneth over with followers. Why is this a drag? Well, because it doesn’t teach the avid Twitter user anything new. Take a look at the social media tag in the directory, for example. Gee whiz, there’s something called Mashable? And they’ve got 3 bazillion followers? Do tell me more.

While I love Mashable and read it daily, I already knew that they were on Twitter, and I’m already following them. Same goes for most of the other keywords I checked out. If I’m going to branch out my Twitter stream with new sources, I want to be surprised– I want the woman no one’s ever heard of tweeting interesting, valuable information.

This is where the kicker is, isn’t it? How does a developer design a system to provide value to sets of users with wildly different needs? It’s not impossible; Flickr does it with photographs. It can’t be that hard to deconstruct interestingness from text, based on some of the factors discussed in this blog post on the Flickr algorithm: favorites, who references it, how often it’s referenced, where it’s referenced.

I encourage people to find followers organically when they reach the point that they’re ready to branch out: look at who you’re already following is replying to, and check out their feed. Mr Tweet simulates this to a certain degree and makes recommendations (but still reinforces the many-followers problem of WeFollow).

In my mind, there’s nothing (yet) to replace the organic chemistry of interestingness in the human brain.

  • Tara
    Posted at 15:17h, 25 March

    I ran into this problem when I made the jump from tweeting into a black hole as a newbie to joining the planet’s largest ongoing conversation. I found a few friends, started interacting, and I was hooked. I searched around for lists of recommended people to follow and came up with people like Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble, and Jason Calcanis. They’re all fine for what they are, but you’re much likely to get broadcast messages than a real conversation — which is (I believe) the beauty of Twitter.

    My most valuable resource for finding interesting people who are interested in a two-way dialogue has been the WIPT list. I also (as you suggest) organically follow the branches of who my friends are talking to. Follow Friday is a great idea, but should evolve as one tweet per suggested followee with a few words as to why that person is interesting, not simply lists of names.

  • Rich Ord
    Posted at 18:42h, 25 March

    Hi Deanna,

    You might try Twellow.com, which was the first directory of Twitter. Twellow was designed to be more granular by associating interests and geography with each Twitter user. This allows you to follow people that match your very niche interests. You can also use the Twellowhood feature to find people near your location.

    Twellow has over 2.3 million Twitter users indexed and is growing by thousands per day.

    Once you are logged in to Twellow.com you can actually follow and unfollow without leaving Twellow. It makes it much more efficient!

    Rich Ord
    CEO, iEntry Network (which owns Twellow)