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One Guy's Thoughts On Technology, Social Media, Internet Marketing, Artificial Intelligence, and more


Tag: Twitter Jail


Contests are a really useful way of drawing traffic and attention to a site. They can be used to launch a product, a site, a television show… You, of course, know all this since so many companies utilize them in order to get subscriptions, feedback, reviews, tweets, whatever. They gain potentially a very large amount of publicity (at times) for a small amount of money.

But let’s disregard that. I think contests are fun. I’ve won a handful during my lifetime and that was always exciting (even if I didn’t want the prize).

The very first ‘modern’ site I created is a book and movie review site (I’m not considering the sites I created in the mid 90s nor the eCommerce-type sites I created for work). This site is still up and running – it’s the site I put the most effort into, but, unfortunately, is practically abandoned. The problem is that even though it has quite a lot of dedicated followers (and a Facebook group), it is simply not worth the time I put into it: no ad or any form of monetization seemed to work and I just couldn’t afford working on it.

At the time I thought of running weekly contests. I never finalized the details, but I thought of sending a book (of choice) to the person who will write the most interesting book review, which I could use. I thought it would be a good way of getting content, even if somewhat expensive, but more importantly, it would be fun! BUT I was too busy so I never did it.

Several conversations I had recently made me feel like running such a contest again. This time, here, on my blog. However, I am still unsure about the details. Nor am I sure I want to go ahead with it.

I figured, why not use the blog itself to get answers to my dilemma? At the moment I’m considering that in order to participate in the contest a person will have to:

  • Sign up to my blog newsletter (he can always unsubscribe later).
  • Tweet about the contest
  • Leave a comment that he’s signed up
  • And that sort of thing. Nothing that requires any effort or commitment.

In exchange, I’ll help the winner get 3,000 followers – actually, almost certainly more – in about 10-12 days (I don’t want to commit myself to a certain number of days because this largely depends on the starting point: a brand new user is definitely harder). If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you probably know I’m pretty good at getting many followers, and quickly too ;)

For some people this might be trivial. For others uninteresting – many people don’t want more followers. However, I know people who both want more followers but don’t know how to get them. Often they are “stuck” at the 2,000 Twitter follower barrier.

A friend of mine said that people might think there’s a catch. No catch. The thing I will gain is potentially more traffic to this blog and have fun. Furthermore, it would involve some work on my end; I wish I could wave a wand and make an account suddenly have 3,000 extra followers – but I’m not Ashton Kutcher, you know (for me he’ll always be the king of Twitter! You hear this, Britney??). Also, obviously I’d need to know the user’s password to arrange this, but he/she can change it every day and let me know, whatever. I truly don’t care.

If people think this is a good idea, I’d also need to determine a way to pick the winner. Could be random, could be another criteria, like, coming up with the funniest Twitter Jail joke (a trend I began at the time!). Frankly, I’m undecided.

Is this ‘prize’ worth it? You tell me. Let me know your thoughts. I really like the idea of running a contest but as I said, still fine-tuning the details. I only want to do this if other people think this could be fun too.


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Before I begin, let me say I’ve written so much about Twitter Jail, this has become a series: here are links to my two other articles about Twitter Jail:

Twitter Jail: Some Suggestions
Twitter Jail: A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma

I think somewhere in Twitter there is a guy whose responsibility is coming up with innovative ideas. In the past few months he has dedicated a large portion of his time to Twitter Jail.


Because it’s a fresh concept: have you heard of Google Buzz Jail? Or Plurk Jail? Don’t think so!

Because it’s clearly something that gets people talking – check my most popular post. Yep, Twitter Jail. Check my other post to see how many people are looking for information about Twitter Jail.

I consider myself an expert on all matters Twitter Jail, so imagine my shock when I discovered yet another type.

Yesterday I tweeted four tweets with links in a rather short amount of time. One is an article criticizing Twitter I found (which I just waited for the opportunity to tweet – as you may know, I tweet every few hours. Best way to avoid addiction). One was a link to my friend’s online seminar. One was a link to my newest blog post.

Immediately after I tweeted the last one I noticed a typo, so I deleted it and tried to repost it – only to be informed I can’t, because I exceeded the rate. What the hell?! I just started using Twitter after several hours, I certainly did not do 100 tweets per hour/1000 per day!

Obviously this was created as a way to stop spammers – which considering the advice I gave in my other post, is not very efficient – there are so many simple ways for Twitter to automatically recognize I’m not a spammer. Besides, what good is it going to do? Assuming this works by limiting the number of links that are sent in a span of time, a spammer would simply space them out. Fewer links, yes – but he/she would still be spamming.

Or maybe it’s just the fact that I posted a link to an article criticizing Twitter..? I doubt that Twitter is capable of tracking so many articles, so that can’t be the case :-P .


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Twitter Jail


Recently I noticed that an increasing number of visitors get to my blog searching for answers about the notorious Twitter Jail. Clearly these resulted from my previous article on the subject.

Quick recap: Twitter Jail is a period of ~1-3 hours where you can’t tweet, and occurs if you exceed more than 100 tweets per hour. Twitter DM Jail takes effect if you send more than 250 DMs a day, and results in you not being able to send DMs for the day.

The following are search phrases that brought people to my blog in the past month. I was surprised how many variations exist. When I took a closer look, I noticed that these can be broken down to four groups.

First: Those who seek answers:

  • twitter jail
  • how long does twitter jail last
  • what’s twitter jail
  • twitter jail limit
  • is there really a twitter jail
  • how to tell if in twitter jail
  • how are you put in twitter jail
  • how do you tell if someone is in twitter jail
  • what happens when you go to twitter jail
  • how many tweets a day to get in twitter jail
  • i can’t post on twitter twitter jail
  • what happens in twitter jail
  • how many tweets to go to twitter jail
  • how to know if your in twitter jail?
  • tweet jail

(Is it just me or some sound almost metaphysical? i.e. “what happens when you go to twitter jail”, “is there really a twitter jail”)

Second: those who are interested in outsmarting the system (…if only I knew a way…)

  • how to get out of twitter jail
  • get around twitter jail
  • What is twitter jail and how can you get out
  • how to get people out of twitter jail
  • how to break out of twitter jail
  • how to get someone out of twitter jail
  • im in twitter jail how do i get out?
  • how to get out twitter jail
  • how do u someome out of twitterjail

Third: this is what made me write the post, are the malicious types, those who want to get someone thrown into Twitter Jail (you fiends ;-) )

  • how to put friend in twitter jail
  • put someone in twitter jail

Fourth: I can only describe the last group as masochistic

  • how to get sent to jail on twitter
  • how to get in twitter jail
  • how to get in twitter jail fast

This just demonstrates that this is a real issue. Come on, Twitter. Stop with the whole jail thing – in my previous article I suggested ways to solve what you’re trying to do without resorting to such ineffective methods. Let my people go!

Edit: after writing this post I actually discovered yet a third type of Twitter Jail: Twitter Jail: Yet Another Type…


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Gaining twitter followers
Click on the image to see it in higher resolution

Everybody knows that interacting on Twitter attracts followers, right? This is the main reason for Twitter’s existence. As a long time active user, I can say: this is, of course, true – you can gain followers based on that alone (as I wrote about very early on).

With that being said, very active users know that if you tweet too much, it really hampers this process. There were periods where I was extremely active and tweeted as many as 400 tweets a day ( …see my article on Twitter Jail… ). I was well aware of the fact that if I tweet less, I will gain more followers. But gaining followers wasn’t what I was after, so I did what I wanted to do. If someone didn’t want to follow me because I talked too much, then there’s nothing I can do about it – I’m not going to change myself.

In the past two months I’ve drastically reduced my Twitter activities. Not to change the subject, but the main reason is that I’m busy and simply can’t afford the time. There is also another big reason, which I may dedicate a post to, but can’t discuss at the moment.

However, watch the above graph (click here to see it in higher resolution) – a new feature, I believe – courtesy of TwitterCounter. It shows my number of tweets and followers over a three month time period. I really like this feature.

As you can see, there is no correlation at all between the number of followers I gained every day and the number of tweets I tweeted. I was aware of it, of course, but it’s nice to see it visualized.

The truth is, while interacting and being active – in moderation – really helps getting followers, it is entirely unnecessary. One does not need to be active at all to gain followers. How? That’s a story for another time. I am aware of several users who don’t tweet at all whose Twitter growth is extremely fast.

Twitter may not like this fact, but that is the case. In fact, in many ways they encourage this by setting artificial limits on tweets and DMs (again I mention my post on Twitter Jail) and other issues. Hopefully this will change in the future.


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Twitter Road

Twitter Road

In this post I continue my earlier discussion of Twitter Milestones: the idea that the Twitter experience changes once you reach a certain number of followers. This post was practically written a month and a half ago. I’ve just been so busy I did not have time to properly edit it.

As you might have read in my earlier post , I defined what I call the “Twitter Milestones“. Here’s a quick recap:


  1. The first milestone occurs at around 150 followers: this is roughly when you first realize that the experience you shared in Facebook is different in Twitter and in order not to be overwhelmed by conversations, you need to find a way to organize people. At the time only external software (such as Tweetdeck) existed, but since then the Twitter Lists feature has been added which greatly assists in this task.


  2. The second milestone occurs at 2,000 followers: this is an artificial limit set by Twitter and getting past it is quite a challenge for many users (read my earlier post for a more detailed explanation).


  3. The third milestone occurs at around 5,000 followers and was the focus of my earlier post: at this stage you really started getting noticed. You pose a question and always get answers. You get offers from SponsoredTweets or You get referenced in conversations and #FollowFridays by people you don’t know.

At the end of the post I theorized that there are more such milestones. Turns out I was right. The fourth milestone, which I’m shortly going to elaborate on, occurs around 14,000 followers. There’s even a fifth milestone, which I’ve just recently surpassed (but can already tell it’s a milestone) and this one seems to take place around 28,000-30,000 followers.

So what changes during the fourth milestone?

The good:

  1. You become even more noticeable. Some people start listing you in “top tweeps”, “Twitter heavyweights”, “Top users” lists and such. And that comes with more attention. Of course, this is unsurprising – but the effect is more than just “double” that of having 7,000 followers. One day I realized that no matter what I say, I get a response, more often from people I don’t know (and have never spoken to) than from people I do know.

    Another time I noticed a user who responded to one of my tweets only so I would respond back (I looked at his profile page and it was filled with mundane comments to users with 20,000+ followers).

    Overall, I find this a fantastic experience – the rate I met great people: friends and business connections dramatically increased. In my opinion, this item alone makes it worth it for people like me, who thrive on interaction.


  2. You start getting people with verified accounts following you. Having a verified account is by no means an indication of being a celebrity. In fact, of those who followed me back then, I did not know even a single person. But still it gave me some indication that I am becoming more noticeable.

The neutral: I’m listing this as a category because it’s hard for me to classify these items as either good or bad (it’s really a matter of perspective).


  1. You get weird retweets: I’ve attended a talk by Peter Shankman who mentioned some people just RT the most mundane things he tweets (the example he gave was “I’ve just jogged and am all sweaty”). I started experiencing it myself roughly at this point. Some times I get RTed for no reason I can imagine – i.e. when I say goodnight (happens often). Sometimes it’s even more arbitrary than that. I suspect some of it is actually automated: there seem to be users who just RT stuff other people say and this is generally random – looks like a relatively easy way of making a bot seem authentic, no? With that being said, I think that’s only a small part of the weird RTs.


  2. You start getting a lot of requests to retweet: personally, if it’s a friend or some good content, I am happy to do so (by all means, be my guests). But if it’s someone I never spoke to who just wants me to retweet something trivial? Then I’m just going to ignore the request. At times these are people who are not even following me – in this case I often block them.


  3. You start getting requests from people to teach them how to get followers. How did one guy phrased it: “Can you be my mentor?”. This happened a few times.


  4. You start getting a lot of requests of people to look at their blogs or websites. Yeah, this happened a bit before, but the rate greatly increased. If a friend asks: sure, I’d be more than happy to. But if I don’t know you, why would I do that? Visit my blog, try to get to know me, and then I’ll happily visit your blog/site/whatever.


  5. Twitter Jail becomes a daily aspect of your life: I mentioned in my earlier post that I make it a point never to ignore any user who addresses me (unless he’s rude or a spammer). Since I’m a fast typist, even now I can easily do this. The problem is that Twitter has a limit of 100 status updates per hour. If you break it, you get thrown to Twitter Jail – can’t update your status for around 30 minutes to 3 hours (see my post on Twitter Jail). Ridiculously low in my opinion. Since I insist on maintaining this policy, I am often in Twitter Jail – sometimes twice a day.


  6. FollowFriday becomes a challenge: with so many people I like, I really feel obligated to mention them all. However, I don’t like sending more than 3 lines of FF – so it’s pretty hard to decide who to include. On top of that, at times I truly forget to include someone: usually it’s simply because we haven’t chatted in 2-3 days (“Ancient history” in Twitter terms).

The bad:

  1. Negative attention: This continues the first point of “the good” list. With more attention also comes some negative attention. So far I’ve been included twice in insulting lists. Strangely, of people I’ve never ever spoken to and have no idea who they are. In both times a simple “block” removed me from those lists (and I even contacted other people, just so they’ll know to do the same). I guess I should consider myself lucky it’s been only two (so far). There is one specific user who has a bunch of derogatory lists in which he includes hundreds of people (he included me too). I find it hard to believe he knows them all (obviously he didn’t know me), most likely he’s just a sad, bitter person who likes venting this way. I’m aware of more than 10 people who blocked him – I don’t understand why he’s not suspended from Twitter. Hopefully he will be at some point.


  2. Stalkers/trolls: I’ve had just one stalker, but that was most definitely unpleasant. He created 8 Twitter accounts to talk to me (all blocked). 3 Facebook accounts (all blocked) and 1 LinkedIn account (ignored). In hindsight, I know it was a guy with a genuine problem (who later apologized for his behavior), but it was definitely unpleasant.

    As a side note, and this affects all Twitter users who use their real names and details: when you put your name publicly there’s always a risk of someone becoming obsessed with you. Some of my friends and family have encountered this – nut jobs intent to tarnish their names and ruin their lives. However, anonymity has its own limitations, and that’s why I reveal much about myself… a professional hazard, I suppose.


  3. An even greater loss of privacy: at times people I don’t know jump into a conversation and seem to know much about me – or at least, much about things I’ve discussed in the past, sometimes weeks before. Normally this wouldn’t bother me at all, however, in one specific incident I know this was not done with good intentions. Won’t elaborate more on that.

This is it. As I said, I believe I’ve just reached the fifth milestone which is proving to be.. interesting. I need a few more weeks to digest this and then I’ll share my experiences.

Edit: TremendousNews has written a post that somewhat reminded me of this one (though funnier): 5 signs people like you on Twitter

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Twitter Jail
Thanks Krishna Sadasivam from pcweenies for drawing this awesome comic!

Lately this term is becoming increasing used within the Twitterverse (at least in my circles). Twitter Jail means you maxed out your status updates for a period of time/a day (I think these are two separate things, though not 100% sure), OR you maxed out your number of Direct Messages (DMs) for the day.

(Edit: as far as I discovered, Twitter Jail occurs when you update your status more than 100 times per hour or 1000 times per day and can last any time between 30 minutes and several hours. For me it’s usually 2 hours).

Once this happens – usually in the midst of a conversation – you find out that you can’t talk anymore. Can happen both using standards tweets or DMs.

I imagine this was created to deal with spammers who would send 15,000 tweets in 10 minutes. I doubt it was meant to limit very talkative users – since what’s to stop someone from just unfollowing them? I see no reason to limit that.

Lately because of my increasing number of friends I find myself almost daily in ‘Twitter Jail’ for a period of time. This is very frustrating, because here I am, chatting to multiple friends, and suddenly I can’t reply – to anyone. From their perspective, I simply vanished. Usually I send them all DMs, but it’s becoming a really annoying daily situation. Sometimes it happens when I’m not even talking that much. I guess Christmas, with all the ‘Merry Xmas’ messages made this temporary worse (for me) and triggered writing this post.

As an ex profsesional software developer and architect I cannot but speculate, again, that this was done mainly to prevent spamming. However, wouldn’t it be best to limit the number of links that are sent, rather than the tweets? Since spammers mainly send URLs, by limiting only the number of tweets that include them it would really just target spammers. Then they can talk as much as they want but won’t get any sales… though I’d still have a limit, just make it much greater (say, 5 times as high).

Furthermore, if it were my system, I would set the limits according to the age of users: clearly a spammer is more likely to be a new user since sooner or later he’d be suspended. Unlike, for example, a user that has been a Twitter user for 2 years who would be far less likely to be a spammer. There’s no reason for the two to be treated the same.

Finally, I also think the limits should be set according to the number of people who follow a user: if someone has a million followers and wanted to respond to each, he’d be thrown very quickly to Twitter jail. Ridiculous in my opinion. If you have more people to talk to, you should be able to converse more. Isn’t that the whole point of Twitter – interaction?

These are just my 2 cents on the subject. If this ever gets to someone in the Twitter team, hopefully they will find it constructive criticism, which is my intent.

edit: I am amazed how searched this topic is. A large percentage of visitors to my blog look for information about Twitter Jail. As a result, I wrote a sequel post which deals with visitors who are interested in Twitter Jail.

edit 2: since writing these two posts I actually discovered yet a third type of Twitter Jail: Twitter Jail: Yet Another Type…. They never stop coming with ideas, do they..


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