TwitBlock trialling whitelist feature

– or – “I told you it was in Alpha”

I’ve rolled out an experimental TwitBlock feature designed to reduce “false positives” for legitimate accounts that are being blocked. Whitelist entries are now subtracted from blocks. i.e. accounts marked as “not spam” will have their blocks counteracted on a 1:1 basis. If this feature is abused, it will be removed. It survives on the premise that the spam bots are not capable of whitelisting each other.

Here’s the full story:

As well as trying to work on TwitBlock in my “spare” time, I’ve also been manning the Customer Service department (i.e. Twitter) and the Press Office (with the help of my personal press officer @adamvincenzini). Monitoring a Twitter search for TwitBlock shows that most people are pleased with the service. Amongst the tweets there is some valuable feedback and feature requests, but also quite a few vocal complaints, mostly directed at me personally.

The number one complaint is that legitimate accounts are getting spam scores due to being blocked. In relative terms an account with a lot of blocks is more likely to be spam than an account with a few or none. But in reality people get blocked for various reasons – sometimes out of animosity, whether for their political or religious views, or just because they don’t like the person. Worst of all, and somewhat ironic, is that TwitBlock encourages blocking – that’s its MO – and I have been worrying that this may aggravate the situation, especially if people are too trigger happy and accept the spam scores blindly.

One of TwitBlock’s competitors has been arguing that blocks are a poor indicator of spam, and I think they have a point. I’d supply a link to said competitor except for the fact that they are a commercial enterprise. (TwitBlock is not a business, a spam-free life should be free).

So every time you click “not spam” on an account this will be used to counter every person that clicked “block”. This is an experiment, because it could be abused. That’s just the nature of what we’re doing here. Try it out, I look forward to more quality feedback.