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Twollo auto Twitter follow
2010-06-19: Twollo used to provide a free way automatically to follow people on Twitter based on keywords. When I tweeted I was having a problem with web hosting one day, a hosting company immediately followed me, that's the sort of service Twollo provided.
Of course, once that reached thousands of users it turned into a paid service (a common model), but it also seems to have turned non-automatic in that it provides a list of matching tweets for you to work down and follow yourself. They say their users find that more effective.
I say their users find that more effective because the search is insufficiently good. I want Brits who are off to do some gardening. If I search for garden, I don't want beer garden, Covent Garden, or secret garden, and I don't want Americans.
If Twollo provided those capabilities, then auto-follow would work well. As it stands, I may as well use Twitter search.
So Twollo have failed, first of all, to cater for non-Americans, as is the way sadly with many of these funky new online services. Secondly, either they have decided their users won't or can't use negative words in a search, or they've simple pushed the problem to their users by asking them to manually check each matching tweet.
It's possible Twitter closed the accounts of too many of their customers for spamming.
The argument that users can't use negative words in a search is unsustainable because Google provides it. If I want to search 'garden' but not 'Covent' in Google the search is 'Garden -Covent'. If I know it's there I can use it, if I'm a naive user I don't have to worry about it.
So it must just be that they haven't bothered to provide that functionality.
That's understandable if they are making no money at it. Their costs could be quite large if they want to drink in the whole of the Twitterstream.
But .. businesses that make no money close down so that's unsustainable.
So, that just leaves that they either don't know an advanced search is required, which would be really surprising, or they consider usability and internationalisation to be insufficiently important. If it's the latter .. well .. don't waste my time.
I wonder how many clients like me they lose through de-prioritising usability and internationalisation.
As for Twitter auto-follow services, I guess they are being provided to blue chip companies as part of expensive corporate communications tools. Pity, the Internet was supposed to be for the small guys too. I'll have a mooch around.

By John Allsopp
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