Twitter Lists 101

UPDATE: A year and a half later my follower list has grown enormously – more about Twitter than me I suspect – however I now have a real reason to organise my people into appropriate lists since they come from a range of ‘communities’ of contacts. This way I can be selective about who gets messages. I don’t even need to be following these folks in order to allocate them to appropriate lists.

I got an invitation during the week from the Twitter birds to try out their new Lists feature.  It’s still in testing stage obviously, so I was prepared for a few bugs.  Whilst there don’t appear to be any, apart from a really clunky interface and a slooow setting up process, it’s been relatively painless.I took the new feature for a spin by setting up an initial list which contained my theatre and performer contacts.  To set up a list, you have to go through your contacts one by one and, using a drop-down check list, assign individuals to whatever category or list you have created.  I follow only 363 people, and setting up my list took long enough to do.  As a result, I have only 3 lists at the time of writing, but I guess I will set up a few more when I have the time.  I hate to think how you’d manage too many more than this – maybe you wouldn’t.  Maybe this is one of the drawbacks of the feature, especially if you follow thousands.  There are also limits to the feature: you can’t have more than 20 lists, and you are limited to 500 per list – phew!

If you use Twitter’s web interface, I can understand how lists would work nicely as a way to read focussed contributions from a particular list of contacts; I tend not to, however.   Aside from this, and as far as the usefulness of lists on Twitter is concerned, the key thing is that your public lists are visible in the sidebar on your Twitter homepage and each list has its own individual page, so each list has its own individual URL.  By the way, you can also create private, and therefore invisible listings if you wish.  The number of lists you appear in is also shown on your home page – I see I’m a member of 16150 lists as of today, so naturally I had to see who had listed me, and under what category – no surprises so far!

Now what’s really useful I think, is that people can subscribe to or add your public lists to their own, just as you can add theirs to yours; this is a smart way to share contacts, as they have been filtered by presumably trusted sources.  With the URL link to individual Twitter lists, and another separate URL to the compendium of all of your lists and those on which you appear i.e., your membership of lists, you can publish to Facebook or to your blog (as I’ve done in this post), or really anywhere that takes URL links, thus further extending the reach to and from your blog hub.  That’s the way I’ll be using lists … at least for now.

This is the way Twitter assigns URLs to the various kinds of List pages:

  • Individual lists: http://twitter.com/username/name of list
  • Lists following you: http://twitter.com/username/lists/memberships
  • Lists you follow: http://twitter.com/username/lists

Author: Kate Wilson

Actor, director, teacher, dabbler with paint, serial traveller.