Sunday, 16 September 2012

Why Twitter Makes Me Smile

I'm finding Twitter very entertaining . . . and perhaps not for the reasons you might expect.  Sometimes it reminds me of a busy market - or a Middle Eastern bazaar - with all the stallholders shouting their wares.  Not "Buy my lovely juicy oranges" or "Best quality spices" or even "Carpets handmade by my family" but "If you need capital for your business - we have it", "Check our pet sitting services" and "Have a look at our training course".  So you have to look for the tweets of real interest, because there's a danger of them not being heard above the street-cries of all the vendors. 

A lot of these advertisements come in the form of direct messages (that is, messages sent to an individual rather than tweeted to all one's followers).  And, occasionally, some abuse comes that way as well.  When someone follows me on Twitter, I send them a direct message offering them four free ebooks on internet marketing (the same books that I offer on this blog).  The other day I had a message from a young man who said "F**k your book with your weird hair due!! Im not her for promotions of others to promote too I provide the wise words to live by".  (I should point out that the asterisks are mine.)  I couldn't resist replying that he might be more successful in providing wise words if he were to refrain from abusive language and learn to spell!

A while back, I wrote about some of the possibly virus-related messages that were turning up - such as "this user is saying horrible things about you..."  Interestingly, these don't seem to turn up so frequently now but new messages have appeared which purport to lead to a Facebook link and which suggest that something the message recipient has done has been covertly filmed.  These have a more amateurish feeling about them - I don't think I've yet seen one whose spelling is correct - and include statements such as "your in this" and "heh u didnt see them tapping".  And I can't help wondering whether anyone is fooled by any of these - or, indeed, whether the original writer truly thought that they would be.

Also as direct messages come the requests to validate oneself through TrueTwit, which I've written about before.  I continue to do this, although the jury's still out as to whether it makes any difference to who follows me and who doesn't.  But I do find TrueTwit itself interesting.  It's not the straightforward captcha code that you find on other sites.  They used to present a picture which was in two sections and you had to move a slider to align them.  Then (after a couple of episodes when the captcha supplier sent them the wrong codes and nothing was being validated) they changed to words.  Sometimes you're asked a question and are told what answer to put in the box.  Other captchas consist of a question such as "which is hottest" and there's a drop-down box with possible answers such as "ice cream", "frozen yoghurt" and "hot soup"!  My favourite is the one that asks you to describe a certain brand of which they show the trademark.  The first few times this came up, I didn't have a clue because I'd never heard of the brands.  But then I discovered that the actual brand is immaterial and one can put "ok" or "rubbish" and it's accepted.  Most of the time, though, the captcha just asks you to copy a phrase or saying.  But I've noticed that in recent weeks these seem to be getting longer and longer - regularly up to five or six words.  I'm wondering how long it will be before one is asked to copy out the Gettysburg Address!

I suppose the reason why all these things increase my enjoyment of Twitter, rather than diminishing it, is because it takes Twitter away from being a regular forum where people are polite and advertising isn't allowed and turns it into something that frequently resembles a madhouse.  But there are some very nice people there as well as those who take your breath away with abuse.  And there are some very interesting tweets as well as those which are pure advertising (and to be perfectly honest, I do tweet the occasional ad myself!).  Twitter is unpredictable and eccentric - you never know what's going to turn up.  And that's what I like!

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