Notes For New (and Potential) Twitter Followers


Update: 7/24/23: The current owner has changed the name of the site from “Twitter” to “X” and that seems like a good time to mostly walk away. I’ll be using the site mostly for career news/updates now, with occasional cat pictures. If you want to see other things from me, here’s where else you can find me online.

Dear New (and Potential!) Twitter Followers:

Hi there, I’m John Scalzi, and if you’re reading this, you may have just decided to follow me on Twitter, or may be thinking about doing so. If this does in fact describe you, here is what you should know before clicking the “follow” button.

1. If you have no idea who I am besides some guy on Twitter, here’s a brief bio. Verification that I am who I say I am on Twitter is found here (which I have also linked to in my Twitter bio).

2. I post on Twitter a lot. 40 to 60 times a day is not unusual, and some days I can put up more than a hundred tweets. Many of those are replies to people, so you might not see all of them. Nevertheless, I am a high volume tweeter. If you’re not prepared for me stuffing your tweet feed full of my silliness, it’s okay to bail out. I don’t mind!

3. I’ve written a bit about how I use Twitter, and how I interact with followers, and why I happily mute and/or block people who want to start fights with me on Twitter. That piece is here. It’s worth the read. Short version: I often use Twitter as a performance space; I respond to tweets from followers but not all of them because of time and other factors; I’m not on Twitter to debate, or “debate,” take your pick; I’ll mute and/or block you if I think you’re obnoxious, and I may snark at you before I do so.

(Incidentally, if you see me snark at someone on Twitter, or otherwise decide someone is being a jerk to me, DO NOT decide this means I want you to saddle up and join a Twitter mob against them. I don’t. Twitter mobs are awful and also I can fight my own battles online. Please never be an asshole on my behalf.)

Please note I reserve to right to curate my own timeline in whatever way I see fit (and that Twitter allows); aside from blocking/muting people, this may include hiding specific comments, and limiting who may respond to posts. Also be aware that since the change on Twitter management in October 2022, I have become rather more proactive in muting and blocking, simply as a matter of basic management. These days, I may not see your replies unless you follow me. Sorry, I hate this too. But here we are.

4. When people tweet at me and I respond, sometimes I respond by “quote tweeting” — quoting the entire tweet and responding to my feed at large. I do this mostly when I think the answer will be interesting and useful to my entire followership, and occasionally when I want to make a point, and someone’s tweet serves that point. Also, in rare cases, if someone is being a jerk to me, I may quote tweet them for the purpose of snarking on them. If you tweet at me, there is a chance I will respond with a quote tweet, which will air your tweet to my full followership. If you are not comfortable with that possibility, I would suggest not tweeting at me.

5. I very often tweet about politics and social issues. In the US, I am considered a liberal, and everywhere else in the English speaking world I suspect I am middle-of-the-road and maybe leaning ever-so-slightly to the right. Also, I do not have particularly kind thoughts about the Republican party in the United States right about now. If you get annoyed with these sorts of politics, my Twitter feed may also annoy you. Fair warning.

Note that not everyone I follow on Twitter shares my own political and social positions. I sometimes disagree with (and sometimes vehemently so) the political and social positions of some of the people I follow — and vice versa, if they follow me. Me following someone should not be seen as an endorsement, implicit or explicit, of their positions. If my following any particular person(s) on Twitter is something you find disagreeable, for whatever reason, that’s valid, and also, it’s probably best not to follow me.

From time to time my political/social issue posts get trolled, by individuals or groups. These are usually pretty obvious. I will usually mute and/or block those accounts, and may snark at them before I do so. I recommend you avoid engaging them; making other people angry is their goal.

If you follow/respond me and it becomes clear to me by your comments and/or quote tweets that my politics, positions or general existence annoy and vex you, I may go ahead and block you in order to make your Twitter experience more congenial without me. You’re welcome.

6. I have been on Twitter since 2008 and have written 170,000+ tweets. As with any person who has been writing in public that long, it’s possible to see my opinions, attitudes and concerns change over time, and it’s possible to see tweets written with a certain lack of thought. It is inevitable that some of my tweets have not aged well, for whatever criteria is important to you, and if you want to go looking for them, you will probably find them.

I make no excuses or rationalizations for bad tweets; we all show our ass online, me no less than any other. I’ve done my share of apologies for things I’ve said from ignorance and thoughtlessness, and I try to be a better person as I go along. If you find an objectionable tweet from my past, it’s worth checking to see if that is an attitude/opinion I currently hold. I’m not shy in my opinions; you can usually find something newer on the same subject (or, you know, just ask).

7. Aside from politics/social issues, common tweet subjects include: Writing and publishing, food, pets, travel, family and various things I think are funny. I retweet a lot of cool stuff my friends are doing so you can find out about it too. I will very often have conversations with these friends, on matters both snarky and serious. Feel free to follow along.

8. If you see me tweeting in ALL CAPS, it is very likely that the portion of the tweet in all caps is meant to be sarcastic and/or sardonic and/or silly. I tweet in all caps a lot. Do not be alarmed. I am not having a stroke.

9. I am often asked for retweets, enough so that I have an official policy on retweets. Here it is. Also, if you’re an official Twitter account of a business, or someone trying to sell/promote things on Twitter, you should look at this.

Likewise, I don’t automatically follow everyone who follows me, so if that’s your hope or expectation you will probably be disappointed. Please don’t ask me to follow you or ask me to follow you in order to send me a Direct Message. If I don’t follow you and there’s something you want to ask me privately, you can send me an email.

10. If eventually you find me an exhausting and/or annoying part of your tweetstream, please unfollow me! I will not be in the least offended. I want my presence in your Twitterverse to be a fun and enjoyable one, and if it isn’t, then I’m okay with you taking your leave of me. There will be no hard feelings.

And now you know what you need to know! I hope you enjoy my presence on your Twitter feed, and thanks for following me.

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