Twitter Spam

So I've been noticing recently an increase in the number of spam accounts adding me on twitter. I won't link the accounts here, mostly out of a desire not to give them any google juice. These accounts are generally, obviously spam (all posts are related to stocks, "that certain part of the male body", selling die cast cars, etc, etc) and link to some product or service. Some twitter spam-y accounts I do subscribe to (The twitupdates account springs to mind), because I find value in them, it's providing a service I like so it's more bacon like then spam.

All that is fine; I have always held that twitter is a pretty spam resistant platform, because I don't have to follow folks who aren't providing content I want. You see this a lot with the spam account Although an interesting thing happened today that rather annoyed me. Someone new followed me. I did my standard due diligence. Take a look at the content of his tweets which looked at least mildly interesting. His follower to followee ratio was way out of whack but I decided to give him a follow back. The first thing he DMs me a few mins after the follow is:

Thanks for the follow. Are you a registered user on <the site he works for>?

Now, I have no problem with self promotion on twitter, I tweet every one my blog posts for example, but I also provide a lot of content as I feel that it's all OK (as long as I don't have malfunctions like the other night). But the there's something rather spammy about plugging your site via a direct message, especially in your first contact. I think it's only been once or twice that I've ever send someone a link via DM and in those cases it was in the middle of a conversation where the story would be used to illustrate a point.

I was able to stop following that person to prevent future spams which goes back to my point about things like auctioning off twitter accounts. Twitter is good for exactly one spam. Once you lose that trust you people stop following you, period.

  Posted: Apr 17, 2008

A note about last night's tweet-mashap (Drupal +Twitter + Activity Stream)

First off, I'd like to make things perfectly clear, I use both my blog and twitter as a place to test technologies. There's always a possibility that something I do will cause a minor explosion. It happens rarely, but every now and then it's going to and I apologize in advance for this. This is a bit of a playground for me.

As is painfully obvious to my twitter-peeps last night there was a bit of a mishap involving twitter and my blog. In a period of a minute I basically retweeted my last hundred tweets or so. I'm posting what happened here so folks having similar issues can see what went on and how I'm handing it in the future and possibly some changes I'm making to the drupal modules in question.

So... on to my story. A few days ago I posted an entry about making my blog the center of my web presence basically adding friendfeed style features into my blog and using as hub to access my online content.. While doing some research I found a drupal module named activity stream which grabs content from a number of services, creates drupal nodes for them and creates a stream for your site. It also accepts RSS and has a plugin system that allows you to create interfaces for services that it currently doesn't support. So, last night, being the curious person I am, I decide to install the module on's drupal install and check it out.

A couple of minutes after the update I realize that something has gone terribly wrong I start getting twitter DMs and @s like mad (and by upset folks). It appears that I'm tweeting my entire activity stream for the past few days including tweets that I had already sent out. I shut stuff off.

A while back I had installed the twitter module onto my blog. It sends a tweet whenever I add a new story to It's a nice little module that I don't give much thought to. I always assumed that it sends a tweet when a front page node of type story was created, this is not the case, anytime a node is created, regardless of whether it's a front pager or not; a tweet is sent. As it just works I've never needed to look at the code to see what it was doing, my bad. So as activity stream is creating all these nodes for my past tweets, photos, bookmarks, etc they are being tweeted.

In addition, it seems that activity stream doesn't work fully, yet. For some reason most of my activity was dated 12/31/1969 (I assume that's a plug date for content it can't figure out a date for). So, here is my todo for these modules to get things working

  1. Update the twitter module so you can select which node types you want tweeted (I might want to tweet the handful of bookmarks I set through the day tweeted as well).
  2. Fix the date issue on the activity stream module. If a date isn't accessible, use the current date instead of the past date. (date issue fixed here
  3. Consider rolling twitter module functionality into activity stream. This might be a good idea. As you're coding the api here, it should be possible to code and outbound as well. This would allow auto notification to multiple services (twitter, pounce, etc).
  4. If I do 3, look at baking in XLM-RPC type functionality allowing me syndicate my info to LJ, etc. I am unhappy with the way the LJ crossposting module currently works, and would lok to change it out.

As I get these thing done I'll post them over at the lab and submit patches to the module owners.

  Posted: Apr 16, 2008

Reorganing My Web 2.0 Information Flow

Last night, there was a discussion amongst my tweeps (an aside... should a discussion on twitter be a twitscussion) about andy shuttworth's online info flow diagram mention in this article which got me to thinking that I should create a simpler one for how some of the content I'm using is flowing around the web. My first draft, which isn't complete, looks something like this.

(Colors: Cynan = content created; gray = aggregation, yellow = sites where I'm bookmarking (favorites and sharing are bookmarks as far as I'm concerned), and green = sites where content I've created is hosted or syndicated)
I was a little surprised at how much I've spread around my content. Actually I noticed that I noticed that be best place to follow me is, not Also it occurs to me that any of the life stream sites I'm using are subject to "social network rot" as I move between services. For example, if I decide to leave flickr for smugmug tomorrow I'd have to remember to update friendfeed, tumblr, etc. This is the reason why tumblr isn't complete is that I haven't been maintaining it. It occurs to me that what I should be looking to do is create a RSS abstraction layer between my content and any of these sites so when I move around, I update in one place and my content continues to be aggregated everywhere like this.

Where this is not going to happen perfectly (for example facebook's status auto-update required communication between fb and twitter). I can ensure that all my content is available in some form on . It is something I can start moving towards rather quickly and should make setting things up in the future easier as long as the service excepts RSS.

  Posted: Apr 12, 2008

Friendfeed vs. Twitter - a valid comparison?

Last night, Warren Whitlock tweeted

Is FriendFeed going to replace Twitter? Follow me on

That might be a good way to get your current followers to subscribe to your FriendFeed but it got me to thinking about if FF could replace twitter as the prominent messaging social network. My initial reaction, which Warren retweeted was:

@WarrenWhitlock twitter is to friendfeed as baseball is to espn

For those that asked why I had him plug my blog at the same time, when he said he was going to quote me on it, I thought he was blogging it, so I was giving him where to point the attribution. If I knew we was re-tweeting I would've handled if differently

The more I think about it the more that analogy holds water, at least the way I use the tools. FF is the way I see all my friends activity in the web 2.0 space I find I am more and more going to FF instead of Youtube, Flickr, Blogs to see who updates when and then I drill into content from there. Since the person controls what their feeds are it's a more complete picture then subscribing to someone's RSS feed. It's the presence aggregator I have been looking for. Twitter, on the other hand, I use for status updates, inspiration and banter. The same way ESPN carries baseball as content, FF carries Twitter. When I'm away from baseball for a while, I turn on sports center, when I'm "catching up" from a period away from twitter, I use FF to get a sense of where people are and what they have been.

  Posted: Apr 10, 2008

The Twitter Equation

On the heels of Rachel Clarke's Twitter Frustrations, and a dinner with a friend last night I've gotten to think who I follow. I know I've blogged on some of this before but the way we use these tools changes as time goes on so I thought an update was in order.

When Rachel posted her article, she and I had a back and forth on twitter on the topic of twitter overload (tweeting about twitter is so meta yet so popular). How, if she followed everyone back who was following her, she wouldn't keep up the the flow and how this was actually a hindrance to her using the tool. During this conversation it occurred to me that where I don't care if someone follows me back and I'm pretty liberal on who I follow back (more on that below) that my ratio of followers:followed is generally around 1 to 1 (at this moment I'm following 290 folks and am being followed by 288). This was not the result of a conscious plan the keep those numbers close, it just happened organically. Rachel, being an A-Lister gets followed by most folks then I do.

Where I believe that part of Scoble's secret to twitter is correct, the fact that the value in twitter is in who you follow, not in who's following you, I disagree that sheer numbers is the solution. Driving his arguement to its logical conclusion we should all just follow the public timeline, like a giant IRC channel because that's how we see the most information and hence get the most value out of twitter. Where he once told me that all his followers are quailty twitter users, I don't think everyone out there is quality.

So... now the math kicks in.... It is sloppy math.. more like random thoughts on the topic.
So, what is a quality twitter user? I think that might vary from person to person since there are so many ways to use this tool. I think we can all agree the ratio of a person's tweets you like vs. tweets you don't like would be a first stab at doping out their quality scopre. Similarly, the value of all your followers could be expressed as the ratio of quality tweeters scores vs non-qualtiy tweeter scores (where non-quality is defined as a quality score less then one).
So...For a User's Quality

Q = Tpos / (Tneg + 1)

The value an end user can figure out the value twitter is basicly like this:

V = Sum(Q pos) / (Sum(Qneg) + 1)

I'll think more about this in the days to come but that's a first stab.

  Posted: Apr 9, 2008

Catholic Chuch Retroactively Invalidates Baptisms

OK... after a conversation with a friend I found this article about the Catholic Church retroactively invaliding Baptisms. It's a problem of language

Words make a difference -- so much of a difference that they can make a sacrament invalid, according to a declaration from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published Feb. 29. The congregation said gender-neutral language makes baptisms null. Formulas used by some Christian churches to replace the phrase “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” are not valid in Catholicism, the Vatican ruled.
The official note, approved by Pope Benedict XVI, said those baptized with alternative Trinitarian formulas, such as in the name “of the Creator, and of the Redeemer and of the Sanctifier” or “of the Creator, and of the Liberator and of the Sustainer” must be rebaptized if they wish to remain Catholic or to convert to Catholicism.

The extension of this is that if the Baptism is invalid; any sacraments received afterwards are invalid. So people who have been married will have to be remarried (That's all in the article).

I'm not sure how far this extends, if both of someone's Godparents have invalid Baptisms is his Baptism invalid as well? Is a couple has their marriage invalidated, have they been having sex outside of wedlock? Are their children technically (or actually) bastards?

Has the church given the divorce loophole. Instead of a length and costly annulment process, one person "discovers" that their baptism was invalid... and they go their separate ways.

  Posted: Apr 9, 2008

One last test before bed

Looks like everything is working... maybe over the weekend I'll consider moving to Drupal 6 if all my modules are compatible.
Need to test a break <-> cut for the crossposter.

  Posted: Apr 9, 2008

Test - New Design

In Theory this post should got pushed from Quanma to the new blog; be autoposted to livejournal and send a tweet. Here Goes...

  Posted: Apr 9, 2008