On 8/12/09 6:14 PM, Robert Fishel wrote:
My Twitter Butler falls into the nuclear missile category. I can think
of no legitimate uses for wanting to follow 400 people who input any

Then, you're not very creative or inspired.  Read on ...

You could make the case of a niche market, I mean if you wanted to
connect with people who liked to fly fish in dubai then you could look
for #flyfishingindubai but with the smallness of that group the
twitter web interface and manually following works just fine. At any
scale where you need an app to follow people based on keywords the
uses are only malicious.

The only scenario I can think of that is legitimate is to compare
other tweets of those who are interested in one topic. Ie if people
mention #Dell what other habits do they have? However this behavior
can be achieved by running searches for #Dell, culling the user names
and accessing their streams directly alleviating the need for mass

First, the fact that you can think of even one legitimate scenario means that the tool in question has a legitimate use. This takes it out of the "nuclear or biological weapon" category and puts it squarely in the "guns" category. So, stop suggesting that it isn't, because you're wrong.

Second, anyone here who has polled 1,000+ users' timelines with any reasonable frequency knows that it's a poor solution. Following 1,000 users and polling your own friends timeline is far more efficient and scalable. (Note: The streaming API's "follow" API limits you to 200, which is a non-starter for any non-trivial project. The next level up, "shadow" requires approval and a signed agreement, which may or may not be desirable.)

If there is a use case I haven't thought of please feel free to
enlighten me.

Suppose you're doing competitive analysis and you want to follow anyone who mentions your client or your client's competitors, in order to perform some analysis and produce some reports.

The one thing that computers do well is repetitive tasks. Sure, you can do everything manually using Twitter Search and the web UI, but if you're doing the same repetitive thing over and over, you've failed to fully utilize your computer. Automation of repetitive tasks is inevitable and desirable: let people focus on more value-add activities that cannot be simply automated by a machine.


Many third-party Twitter applications *can* be used to abuse Twitter, not only the one we're actively discussing.

Has Kevin Mesiab received a similar C&D and take-down threat for Hummingbird, which has similar bulk-following capability? If there's ever a tool that's so very well-known for being abused by Twitter spammers, it's Hummingbird.

My guess? Probably not. Why not? I suspect the bulk of the issue here is the fact that "My Twitter Butler" has the name "Twitter" embedded in it. "Hummingbird" has no such issue.

As Twitter continues to mature, I'm sure we'll see a lot more of these kind of things happen. Once the lawyers get their hands on Twitter's money, it'll only get worse, and they'll be grasping harder and harder at whatever reasons they can find to send a letter.

There's that old joke ... "There was a lawyer who moved to a new town. He was the only lawyer in town. For months, he was starving, trying to find work. Then, another lawyer moved into town. Since then, business has never been better."

Dossy Shiobara              | do...@panoptic.com | http://dossy.org/
Panoptic Computer Network   | http://panoptic.com/
  "He realized the fastest way to change is to laugh at your own
    folly -- then you can let go and quickly move on." (p. 70)

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