Tag Archives: followers

Don’t worry about numbers

Rather than New Year’s resolutions, Aleen Simms has a list of liberations for 2018: things to let go of and not worry about. In particular I like this one about not looking at numbers:

Twitter followers, podcast download stats, blog post views, the scale, whatever. Life isn’t a video game. Happiness doesn’t have a numerical value attached to it.

It mirrors a philosophy we have with Micro.blog to launch without follower counts or public likes. Follower counts are not very useful for a new platform. They add anxiety and unavoidably lead to value judgements when considering whether to follow someone, instead of letting the quality of someone’s writing and photos speak for itself.

Andy Flisher posted to his microblog about how Facebook takes the opposite approach, encouraging the numbers game:

Facebook has genuinely ‘encouraged’ me to get more likes for my birthday than I did last year! 🤯 No wonder the youngsters are growing up so needy for likes and follows, not healthy 🙁

A social network doesn’t have to be like this. Micro.blog is a way to post to a web site that you control, and a place to discover and talk with other members of the community. Micro.blog is not a popularity contest.

Ignoring follower counts

I’ve said before that there’s something about the 140-character limit that brings out both the best and worst in people. Nick Harris hints at this while writing about taking a break from Twitter:

“But largely ignoring the Twitter Noise Machine – particularly when my timeline becomes the Twitter Hate Machine – is going to be good for me.”

He also talks about the obsession with stats and follower counts, which Brent Simmons picks up on and carries further:

“I did have Google Analytics for a few months in 2014 when I was doing sponsorships. I spent too much time looking at the numbers and trying to make them go up. But no amount of going-up is ever satisfying: I just wanted more.”

When designing my new microblogging platform, I made a conscious decision to not even show follower counts. You can get the followers from the API, but I didn’t want to have the numbers right in your face when viewing someone’s profile. It’s too easy for us to make a judgement based on how many followers they have, and so miss out on whatever they have to say.