Open letter #1

I just received an email that I thought would be of interest to everyone. I have removed people’s names for reasons of privacy, but I have left the spelling mistakes in for a sense of realism. My open reply to the author follows at the bottom.

Hello Tim,

I’m glad to see you have changed the Twitblock site as it appears it may do the job that you initialy wanted it do & the bleeding seems to have stopped with me at 93 blocks. However – have you thought of ways of how you can reverse the damage your site did to other legitimate accounts like mine, @<screen_name> (71 blocks) & other larger accounts who were majorly affected by your site with account blocks due to being mislabled as spammers/nuisances? All of those blocks damage reputations.

There is no question that a “lot of damage” was done. As I had said – on Friday night I did not sleep a single second as I had watched that evening my account blocks starting to increase & increase. I have no idea of exactly how many acount blocks I had before your site came into existence but I am pretty sure my numbers were similar to @<screen_name> and “snowball effect” blocking due to your site rapidly increased the #s.

Personally I feel that your system should reverse all account blocks that you were responsible for and have people start over again fresh with your current site status. I also think you should apoligize to the many people that Twitblock affected negatively. <name> (@<screen_name>) is one of the sweetest ladies & you saw how she was affected which is similar to my feelings – I felt awful & it got worse as I saw the #s increase. Most accounts probably have no idea how they were affected by being mislabeled.

Anyway – I ask you to find a way to correct things. I do not want those account blocks on my Twitter account which damages my reputation & potentially my account with Twitter. I look forward to your response.

My reply

The reason the blocks appeared to increase is that every time a Twitter user authenticates with TwitBlock we get access to more blocks. i.e. most of the blocks on these people’s accounts probably already existed. The incremental nature of them is largely an illusion.

It is physically impossible for me to ascertain which blocks were performed via TwitBlock as opposed to those performed on or another third party application.

To log into the Twitter API with one of my users’ access keys and unblock a user from their account would be an abuse of TwitBlock’s privacy policy, not to mention thoroughly immoral.

To establish which blocks on your account were performed via TwitBlock, you would have to contact Twitter. I don’t know whether they record this information or whether they would give it out – My guess would be “maybe” and “probably not”.

As to what I shall be doing to “correct things”:

I shall be doing nothing to reverse the alleged and spurious damage for the reasons stated above. I have already spent my weekend altering the application in favour of a very small contingent of people, i.e. the author of this letter plus one or two more, who incidentally were far more polite.

I have also had one aggrieved “customer” succeed in getting two of my IP addresses black listed by an SPF provider meaning I cannot send emails to some ISPs from the TwitBlock servers. This act of aggression makes me very unlikely to bow to further pressure and less inclined to apologise to anyone.

I suspect the aggressor is one of the few people who have made contact with me already, and I shall also be exercising my own right to block Twitter users who direct aggression at me, or continually make unreasonable demands.

My focus continues to be making an application that works well for as many people as possible.