Friday, August 14

Twitter Continues Trademark Push

In addition to some C&D letters sent to various application developers who use the name "Twitter" or "Twit" in their app name or URL, I've noticed Twitter now calls "updates" "Tweets" on user pages. "Tweet" is a term that we USERS created and made popular. Twitter has trademarked it. If they do anything to enforce that trademark that negatively impacts users or developers, then let me say it now: SHAME ON THEM.

Thursday, August 13

The Bambibots Cometh

OK, so what exactly is the deal with bambibots? You know, that subset of spambots that haunt social networks, post a sexy photo and spew out lascivious crap like "I hate my [boy/girl]friend you need to cum f*ck me now" ???

Do people really click on this crap? I guess they must, because like the slew of email spam that clogs my pipes, someone puts an awful lot of effort into creating these spambots to drive these Bambi/Amber/Monik/Jezabelle/Irinia53530/so on and so forth accounts, and if there weren't a financial incentive, it simply wouldn't make sense. I wish there were a better way of blocking them.

A few weeks back I'd posted a suggestion on the Twitter development list about tunable anti-spam measures -- like the kind of utility that GMail gives you. Once I start blocking accounts, there ought to be some intelligent algorithms working behind the scenes to understand stuff like:

1. if someone is following hundreds or thousands and is followed by a handful, ignore,
2. if someone has had no conversational interaction with any other account, ignore,
3. if the "person's" photo is of them in a bikini, ignore,
4. if there's a link to any known porn site, off a list, or as recongized by other users, ignore!
5. if the words "SEO" or "empowerment" or "money" or "cash" or "prizes" or "smoke up my butt" is found anywhere on their page, IGNORE!!

I mean c'mon ... Twitter's made some strides in spam control, but they're far from where they need to be. I'm tried of waking to find my inbox filled with followspam. Aren't you?

Wednesday, August 12

Is GMail filtering spam Twitter account notifications?

This would be incredibly slick, and so totally Google, if true. Overnight some, but not all, Twitter notifications to my GMail account started going into the Spam folder, which has never happened before, not in the 2.5+ years I've been using Twitter. Each of the notifications that got marked as spam turned out to be for bambibot/spambot accounts with few or no followers, following a ton of people, sending out lots of spammy links.

That would be a pretty freaking cool process, if Google were in fact able to distinguish those accounts ... and if so, maybe they could/should share their algorithms with Twitter and help defeat these spammers at the source.

Edit: may have to scratch that GMail theory, I'm getting more spam follow notifications in my Inbox ...

Saturday, August 8

Quoted in Computerworld article re: Twitter DDoS

First off, I would like to say, I think the Twitter support team tries very hard, and is generally forthcoming and supportive when it comes to working with we Twitter app developers. Every now and then, they drop the ball, and that was unfortunately the case with the (Russian based?) distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that caused problems earlier this week (Thursday/Friday the 6th and 7th of August) and continues to cause issues with throttling today.

App developers stung by Twitter's DOS woes

I think my input on the matter was a little more balanced than the parts quoted indicate:

Twitter could have done a much better job of communicating with the developer community, said Andrew Badera, president and CEO of Higher Efficiency, an IT consulting and software development company that has built several Twitter applications.

"The outreach was fair to poor," he said in an e-mail interview. While Twitter focused on providing updates about the performance problems affecting end-users, it was late in addressing specific issues with its developer platform, Badera said.

"Twitter worried about their infrastructure first, as was proper, then the media, before ever bothering to talk to the developer community in any fashion. And if it weren't for the third party ecosystem that has sprung up around Twitter, Twitter wouldn't have blown up the way it did, and the media wouldn't care about Twitter to begin with," Badera said.'

Part of the "interview email" that didn't make it into the published article:

-- At a more general level, what has been your level of satisfaction with the Twitter developer program overall? How could they improve it?

My response: 'Decent to excellent, especially since they brought on Doug Williams, and now Chad Etzel, (API support plucked from the developer community) but in general it's always been pretty good. Twitter and its engineers have always been pretty friendly to the community, and until recently, there have been no concerns about trademark issues, making it easy to create fun apps that fit well with Twitter. Whitelisting has always been a fairly painless process, especially now that they've cleared the backlog there. In general Twitter has been kind to developers, if not always as inclusive or informative as we'd like. They seem to be making genuine efforts to get better at these things, taking our criticism and suggestions in stride.'

My faith was shaken, however, when Twitter's head of the platform team engineer, Ryan Sarver, tweeted that he and other Twitter staff were headed out for sushi last night, while developers were still left without status updated on a lot of critical issues that continue to plague us this weekend. Preserved for posterity:

Headed to umi with @devon and a crew of Twitter peeps"

Now I, of all people, understand -- ya gotta eat! And work doesn't (shouldn't) own you. And I have much love where sushi is involved. However, when you've left your entire ecosystem of third-party developers and their apps hanging, when some of us have livelihoods in the balance, maybe you should be a little less public about your non-troubleshooting activities.

Friday, August 7

Not much of a 'quiz' guy, but ...

This one seemed pretty accurate, thought I'd share.

My Political Views
I am a center-left moderate social libertarian
Left: 1.64, Libertarian: 2.86

Political Spectrum Quiz

Thursday, August 6

The Twitter Denial of Service attack

We're all pretty familiar with (D)DoS attacks by now ... and the two major motivations are a) hacker cred and b) financial. So ... did Biz and Ev receive a ransom note amongst all this mess? Or is this retribution from Iran ... or China?

Wednesday, August 5

Leaving FriendFeed behind

Sorry, Paul Bucheit, Ben Golub and the rest of the FriendFeed crew, but I'm just not compelled anymore.

I don't like the feel of the realtime flow, and Google Reader offers me everything else I'm looking for in a social news discovery application. I know more active users, more intimately, on Facebook than I do on FriendFeed. Unfortunately for you, Facebook and Google definitely "stole" a lot of your momentum and innovation. The rest of what FriendFeed offers I already have through Twitter.

RIP FriendFeed, I see nothing that differentiates you or offers unique value anymore. I met a lot of interesting people early on -- which I think is one of the greatest experiences you have during early public betas of social network sites -- but these days it's loud, crowded, fragmented and just doesn't grab me like it once did.

I'll leave my feeds posting in, and I'll respond to interesting comments, (thanks to email notification) but that will be, and for some time really has been, the extent of my participation in FriendFeed.