No one actually “follows” 2,000 people

There’s plenty of discussion out there (and I use that term loosely) about Twitter imposing limits on the number of people users can follow. This seems to have gotten started by a post from Brent Csutoras saying he ran into a 2,000-follower limit and was surprised by it, even though co-founder Evan Williams described the rationale for the limits on the Twitter blog in a post last week — including the fact that there is no hard-and-fast number for how many followers you can have, something he expanded on in a comment on GigaOm.

When I first saw these reports, I wondered the same thing that Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch does in his post: namely, who the heck can follow 2,000 (or more) people on Twitter? I realize that Loic LeMeur of Seesmic and the Scobleizer and others have tens of thousands of people they follow, and claim that this enriches their lives greatly, but I don’t think they mean the same thing by “follow” that any rational person would (and Loic’s argument seems to boil down to the fact that it’s polite to follow people back if they follow you).

If I recall correctly, Scoble has said that with 20,000 people on his follow list, he gets a tweet every second, or more. I would argue that’s just white noise at best — like having the radio on while you’re doing something else. It’s certainly not actually paying attention to someone. Twitter’s limits seem like a sensible response to “follow spam,” which has been on the increase, and I hope they don’t cave in just because some people want to brag about how many people they’re following.

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