People who first sign on to Twitter have in the past been directed to a suggested list of users to follow on Twitter. Similarly, at some points in time, brand new users found that their new Twitter account was created with a pre-populated list of suggested users that they were already following, right out of the box. And of course you can always find the “suggested users” list under the “Find People” option on Twitter. But that all may change.
According to Twitter CEO Evan “Ev” Williams, he wants to retire (or at least change) that suggested users list, in fact, he wants to do it “desperately.”
Back in March of this year, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone explained the suggested users list thusly:
“About a month or so ago we noticed a certain percentage of new users were signing up and then not following anyone. When you don’t follow any other accounts on Twitter the product is not as relevant as it could be. To improve the user experience, we started suggesting some accounts to follow. As a result, new users are much more engaged and active. However, Mark Glaser, a journalist from PBS has asked me for more transparency into how we are creating the list so I’ll assume others are interested as well.”
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Stone goes on to explain the way that they choose those on the suggested users list:
“We’ve explained that the Suggested Users list is a bit like your local book store’s staff picks but there’s a little more to it than that. Our Chief Scientist developed a program that scans active Twitter accounts for a bunch of key ingredients such as how much of the profile is filled out, certain indications that the account is interesting to others in some respects, and a few other signals.”
Being on the suggested users list has been a huge boon to many Twitter elite, and some have even offered big money to be on the list (no word on whether that tactic has worked).
Put another way, it has evolved into something that is, as Williams puts it, “controversial”, and Williams says that it’s time for it to be retired. Or replaced.
And with what would it be replaced?
A mechanism to allow users to build their own list of suggested users.
That way, instead of Twitter being offered money to add someone to their list of suggested users, the influential Twitter elite can offer that same money to each other to be put on each others lists of suggested users. Making the lists of suggested users less credible, but at least no longer Twitter’s headache.
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