Alan Davies, Michael Jackson, iJustine And Mikeyy – The Top 10 Most Popular Twittercism Posts Of 2009

I plan to do a couple of ‘best of’ posts before the year is out, but first I’d like to have a look at the top ten most popular posts on Twittercism this year, and why.

So, in reverse order, here’s the countdown…

10. CHART: @iJustine’s Plateau Reveals The True Benefits Of Being On The Twitter Suggested User List

Written back in June, this article is one of those ‘long tail’ posts that keeps getting return interest from visitors to this blog, search engines and Twitter itself. And perhaps rightly so, as it (in my opinion) clearly illustrates the benefits of being added to Twitter’s controversial suggested users list (SUL).

The debate in the comments thread was fairly heated, involving noted tech gurus Tim Reilly, Robert Scoble and Dave Winer, as well as the Guardian’s technology editor Charles Arthur, and many others. What’s of interest is, I think, that it really seems to be those on the list who defend it, and tend to describe its benefits as negligible. (This of course works both ways.)

It’s worth noting that not too long after this article was written, iJustine was re-added to the SUL, and now boasts over one million followers.

There’s been talk that there are plans to scrap the list in the new year, and I for one welcome this move, as long as it isn’t replaced by something that is even more insular and contrived.

9. Alan Davies And Stephen Fry: When Celebrities Fail At Twitter

I wrote this article in November after watching Alan Davies go completely off the deep-end when Stephen Fry announced, somewhat foolishly, that he was going to ‘give up on Twitter’, after another user dared to suggest that he might be a little bit boring.

Davies, in turn, went ballistic, once again proving how the nice-but-dim character he likes to play on TV is very different from who he is in real life:

Alan Davies

He subsequently deleted most of these posts but the damage was done. In the aftermath, Stephen Fry actually blocked me, the silly old sausage. And while I can forgive him, because he’s such a British institution, I have a hard time watching QI now, all because of Alan Davies’ smug, and evidently false, persona.

All-told, this was yet another example of celebrities being very, very daft on public networks.

8. Why Everybody Needs A Follow Policy On Twitter

This is another one of those ‘long tail’ posts that keeps getting return traffic, and it’s one of the best articles I think I’ve written. The point, essentially, is that Twitter only works if you follow the right people – and by ‘right’, I mean right for you. You don’t and shouldn’t follow everybody who follows you, and you shouldn’t follow somebody just because everybody else is. The moment this clicks – and it’s a moment for everybody, even the big guys – Twitter suddenly becomes a much, much better place to be.

7. HOWTO: Remove Mikeyy From Your Twitter Profile

Back in April, Twitter was hit hard by a couple of fairly lightweight but wide-spreading XSS exploits – StalkDaily, and Mikeyy.

The latter was the most aggressive, returning several times, but the ‘cure’ I outlined above helped a lot of folks remove the hack.

6. How To Configure TweetDeck To Save API Drain And Engage With Your Followers

Another post from April. While I’ve subsequently switched over to Seesmic Desktop and HootSuite, I used to be a huge fan of TweetDeck. This article, which despite being a little dated still gets retweets each and every week, showed TweetDeck users how to best configure the app so that they used the minimum amount of API drain, and also provided tips on how to use the software to best engage and interact with their network.

I’m happy with my choice of Twitter clients at the moment, but I may return to TweetDeck in the future, and revise this article.

5. Twitter 101

This is actually not an article, but a page on Twittercism. Twitter 101 attempts to provide newcomers to the service – which includes all of these who ‘don’t get it’ – with easy access to beginners tips and tutorials, as well as advice on etiquette, finding followers, using statistics and data, and software.

If you have friends who have just signed up to Twitter, the two most popular posts in Twitter 101 might be of some benefit:

4. How The Internet Died With Michael Jackson

This article, which I wrote the day after Michael Jackson’s death in June, addressed the impact that the ‘king of pop’s demise had on the internet as a whole. The traffic to various news publications and portals, as well as Twitter, Facebook and Google, was so huge that many of these sites either shut down completely or experienced prolonged periods of slowness and downtime. Google actually thought the initial waves of traffic were some kind of orchestrated attack.

The rest of the article wonders if the internet will cope the next time an event bigger than Jackson’s death occurs, and asks: if the internet doesn’t cope, can we?

3. A Block On Twitter Isn’t A Block At All

This is another one of those posts that gets consistent traffic and retweets, and it’s completely valid over six months after it was written. The block system on Twitter is still extremely suspect, and no attempt has been made by Twitter to rectify this.

As I write in the piece, when you block somebody on Twitter they can still:

  • Read your timeline
  • Send you @replies, which are still visible to everybody else, and remain within Twitter search, and will be delivered to you if you have a search for your replies configured on Seesmic Desktop or TweetDeck
  • Re-tweet your messages, which can give the impression to others that you are ‘friends’

I’ve had problems with this myself. As Twitter continues to grow in popularity, like the internet it has begun to attract trolls, stalkers, nasty people and good old-fashioned weirdos. The block should be just that – a block, and people should not be able to get around it.

You know, like how it works on Facebook.

2. 69 People Who Work At Twitter (And What They Do)

This popular article has been through several drafts and revisions, initially beginning its life as (I believe), “47 People Who Work At Twitter (And What They Do)”, last being updated back in September.

To be honest, the need for a piece like this has been slightly superseded by Twitter lists, and the official Twitter employee list, but at the time it was a useful resource.

(Incidentally, and if I can just pander my own ego for a moment, the retweet count on this article is misleading – it’s actually had hundreds of retweets, but back when Twittercism was hacked I had to remove and re-write a few posts that were infected to a point where the exploit could not be successfully removed. It also impacted the #1 article in this list!)

1. HOWTO: Remove From Your Infected Twitter Profile

As already mentioned back at number seven, in April Twitter was hit by multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) exploit hacks, the first being the now infamous StalkDaily, which spread across the network in a frighteningly rapid fashion.

It was easily dealt with, and this article helped stem some of the panic, but what alarmed me the most about these incidents was how so many of the big players on Twitter were tweeting and retweeting misleading, false and at times damaging information, which ultimately made the event appear more serious than it actually was, causing hundreds of thousands of folk to panic and retweet this bad advice themselves.

Subsequently, I’ve written several articles about security on Twitter, and I always, always make the point that sharing false information is often as (or more) damaging than the exploit itself.

Of course, this is only the icing on the cake – it’s inevitable that future hacks will be far more malicious, which reminds us again of the importance of being able to backup and restore our profiles – so it pays to learn to be safe now, before it’s far too late.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at the most popular posts on Twittercism in 2009. Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting a piece when I look back at events on Twitter over the last year, and what Twittercism had to say about it! 🙂