Please don’t list me

I’m not comfortable with auto-list programs such as “conversationalist” or “Formulist.” I’m still trying to figure out what their purpose really is. Most of the programs I see have you list someone for a specific amount of time (24-hours seems common) and then if you don’t engage with them in that time frame, you are subsequently unlisted. I know this, because I see when I’m listed and then I see when I’m unlisted. I also see myself going right back on the same lists and then off of them again. Great circle game, really, but what’s the point?

I have lists. They are horribly outdated, and frankly I’ve forgotten they’re there, but I have lists. When I started creating lists, I had less than 300 followers. It was much easier to manage them back then. I added every person to those lists by hand, not program. I haven’t touched them since. I’m sure some folks don’t follow me anymore and I’m sure I have unfollowed a few.

I remember when I was added to my first list, I was so excited. Someone thought enough of me to add me to a list. I even remember that it was a list of local, regional people (thank you @goodlaura). I was “someone.”  It made me feel that I had arrived on Twitter. When I noticed that I was on more than five lists, I was just over the moon. Sounds silly, but at that time I was still new to Twitter (actually it was my second try). I had finally jumped in and started to engage with people. At that time, it meant a lot to be listed; it did to me, anyway. I’m not sure if there were list programs a couple of years ago, so honestly, I can’t say if I was listed by a person or program. I do believe I’m still listed on some of those original lists.

When I started noticing that I was being added to lists by people who I follow (and some can be considered “top social media and business folks”), I was reminded what it felt like to be listed initially. That was until I saw that I was later “unlisted” by the same people 24-hours later. To be honest being unlisted took a bit of wind out of my sails.

It was also something that I was seeing frequently with some of my regular Twitter friends and I started to wonder what the deal was. Why did they unlist me? Then I realized that “they” didn’t add me or unlist me, a program did. (My “aha” moment if you will.)

As an experiment, I went to conversationlist to see what it was about. I even created a list. What I didn’t do was create a “specific” list, for instance… “people who have re-tweeted me.” I created a list of my followers. Probably not a smart move on my part as 24-hours later, I received the shock of my life.

The list program started to unfollow everyone I had not spoken to on Twitter within the set timeframe. I literally watched hundreds of names fly by as “unlisted.”  I was appalled (and horribly embarrassed).  I stopped/unauthorized the program and then sent the following tweet out – yes, I really did:


My thought was for the newer folks on Twitter who may not understand how programmed lists work. If someone like me (a little bit experienced with all of this) could feel a bit deflated at being unlisted, I wondered how they might feel. That little post made the rounds through quite a few re-tweets, much to my surprise.

Honestly (and no offense to all of you that use it), I can’t find the value in using programmed lists. Who are they for?  What do you use them for? Lists used to be a great way to find new followers.  If a list is constantly changing, why would I want to follow that list?

If I were to ask you now, “Do you know who’s on your ‘list of people that re-tweeted me?'” – would you be able to answer?  Perhaps you’d answer my question with another question: “Does it matter?”  I don’t think it does matter.  It just seems a bit impersonal to me.

That being said, I kindly ask to please not list me.  It won’t change the way I feel about or engage with you.


  11 comments for “Please don’t list me

  1. June 4, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    It is highly annoying. I still thank people for listing me (@Biebert), but I don’t bother with forumlists or generic ones like that.

    I hope it doesn’t ruin the list function like auto DM’s ruined the DM function.

    Great topic!


    • June 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Thanks Aaron for your comment.

      Unfortunately, I think the list function has been ruined and made impersonal by automating it. This goes along with scheduling tweets, in my opinion. I understand it, but I don’t have to like it. Sadly, this is what alot of people want.

      Glad you stopped by!


  2. June 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Great post Sherree!

    I agree with Redge that there’s definitely some value with lists, and like “following” someone thought, ‘Hey, why don’t I automate this stuff!’

    Lists make it a lot easier to consume content as you’d like, as well as to go through a “dating” period with users you don’t want to follow right away, but want to see if they’re saying something you want to engage in. It’s a lot better than following and deciding they weren’t a good fit.

    Like anything else, Twitter lists have to be practiced with a sense of humanity, and it can’t be all about “business” and making lists for the sake of making lists.

    Looking forward to your next post!

    • June 5, 2011 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks Chase for bringing another good point to the forefront. I never looked at lists as a “dating” period. I like that idea, but I don’t see how automated lists can do that.

      If I subscribe to your list “people I’m interested in,” and it changes tomorrow, I may miss out on someone who was there yesterday. Static lists that you add to and rarely remove people from makes much more sense for this.

      Still – you make a good argument and I respect that.


      (p.s. your comment was stuck in spam. Is there something about your website that Askimet might not like?)

  3. June 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    While I can see a value to lists, I find them hard to keep up with as I follow more and more people.

    But those auto-lists? Not sure what the value is there, although I suppose it gives a quick lift to those who interact with you. Just not sure it’s worth the risk of the inevitable letdown when those same people and valuable connections are dropped.

    • June 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      Woo hoo! Another one who’s not sure about the automated lists.

      On a more serious note, I agree Paul – it’s the letdown when you’re “unlisted” with no explanation per se, that bugs me. If a person who is new to all of this continually sees this, what message does that send? I like you..oh wait, no I don’t?

      Not a gracious way to engage in my opinion.


  4. May 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Sherree!

    I don’t make a big deal out of lists either. I, like you, used to get REALLY excited when I would show up on lists. I even went through a phase where I thought, “Oh man, I’d better thank people who are listing me! That’s so nice of them!”

    But then I started noticing lists like, “Friends my friends talk to,” and I even got listed on a list called “People who don’t follow me back.” That started me scratching my head a bit.

    I know a lot of people use lists for good reasons, but the automated ones – I’m just not a fan.

    Glad to know Im not alone :)

    • June 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm


      You had me laughing at the “people who don’t follow me back” list. I particularly like the “people my friends follow.” Really?

      I’m so glad I’m not alone on this automated list thing. It just doesn’t make sense to me.


      (p.s. for some reason I just saw your post and your reference to it from your blog post today. My apologies for not acknowledging you sooner).

  5. May 20, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Hi Sherree, great post! I can appreciate the concerns you mention regarding lists, specifically regarding those created by automated tools. After a little research, I have learned that lists can serve a very valuable purpose.

    The default twitter timeline can quickly become an overwhelming stream of tweets that will only continue to grow as the number of followers increases. Lists can be used to control or minimize the “chaotic” flow of tweets.

    As you know, twitter allows you to create specific lists and assign followers to them accordingly. Few people realize that when you select that list, the tweet stream will change to only show tweets exclusive to the members of that list.

    For example, let’s assume you created a list called “Friends and Family” and assigned only immediate family and your closest friends to that list. When you select the list “Friends and Family”, your tweet stream will change to show tweets exclusive to people on that list! All the other tweets will be ignored!

    Similarly, you can choose a list that was built by someone else. Again, only the tweets from that list will appear in your tweet stream.

    So, lists can help you “manage” your tweet stream and avoid the bombardment of “noise” that may accompany the tweets that really matter to you most! From this perspective, you may begin to appreciate the value of lists for business contacts, or other topical areas of interest.

    I can now appreciate the option / ability to make lists public or private for a number of reasons.

    I’m sure there are other uses for lists but this is one that works for me.

    • June 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm


      My problem is with automated lists. They really don’t serve a purpose to me.

      On the other hand, lists that are created for a specific topic that don’t constantly turnover have a good purpose. I don’t mind those as much and I agree, they are awesome for specific topics/groups and for reducing noise in your stream.

      You’re not going to get me to change my mind though on the others :)

      Thank you for such an awesome comment.


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