Why Twitter 'autorespond' is dangerous

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Twitter and auto-respond How can a bird like that be evil?

This is just a short rant because I'm supposed to be writing a short story about mean spirited evil robots who travel back in time to the Old West and raise a ruckus. Actually that's not true, but we can dream.

No, this is instead a fairly tame meander around a newly discovered world: Twitter, and one of its clearly evil counterparts: the autorespond.

I've just received an entirely well intentioned autoresponse as a result of my Twitter follow from Scott Sigler (who, by the way, is a legend) and it got me thinking. Now, Scott's autoresponse came with an apology for it - which is cool - and actually I can kind-of-understand the need to put on what seems to be the equivalent of an email "out of office". In fact, there's very little about his autorespond that I dislike - but what I am wary of is the precedent of even having the facility.

Now - autorespond is not a Twitter default function - it's come with one of those fancy tools that enhance your Twitter experience. I use TweetDeck, and even with that I can see a number of add-on functions that are useful but, I think, wrong to have.

Without some thought on behalf of the Tweeter, auto-respond is potentially set to become an extension of a "Your call is important to us." or "Your enquiry has been received. Please be assured that your question is important to us, and will be answered as soon as I've finished my Dianetics class.".

I get that Individuals like Scott Sigler are using it as a polite way to say to their fans: "Shit, you know - I'm really busy right now. But you might be the kind of follower that I really click with - that I can make a difference to, and eventually our hearts and souls will touch." And you know - that's fine, this is not a rant against any individual. It's more of a protest against what Twitter could eventually become.

What is Twitter supposed to be for?

Everyone will have to make their own judgement call on this, but for me it's a way of walking into a conversation that you would never otherwise get opportunity to have. But no-one in a normal conversation ever gets put on hold. No-one in a conversation is given a polite sheet of paper that says 'Come back later - I'll be ready for you then' - and if they did, frankly I'd assume that it was a come-on. Which perhaps wouldn't be so bad.

If you're not ready for the conversation - if you don't have time for the chat - then simply don't do it. I won't be offended - but if you bulk send me a message or give me a pat response, I just might.

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