The original gently rising path that marked the growth of my Twitter followers has recently taken a sharp upward path, due in part no doubt to my (cut short) discussion of Twitter on the Jonathan Ross show on BBC television, broadcast in the UK in the third week of January.

Thank you 80,000 Followers © Samfry Ltd 2009

I cannot tell you how touched and pleased I am to have so many loyally following of my tweets. It won’t need much imagination on your part to understand that with the number reaching 100,000 it is very easy to miss the twitterings that come in. They come in from all parts of the world at a great rate and – even if I were to sit in front of a giant Tweetdeck screen all day long it is unlikely I would see everything, let alone be able to respond to each tweet.

However, I love to see your tweets: I love your wit, your kindness, your observation, your occasional mean streaks of bitchiness, remorseless logic and your long memories that pounce on my all too frequent inconsistencies and rashly made promises. I love how Twitter confirms my all too often assaulted belief that most humans are kind, curious, knowledgeable, tolerant and funny. The absurd constraints of the 140 character tweet seem oddly to bring out the best in wit, insight and observation.

There are just one or two suggestions I would offer to make life easier. By no means are these house rules or commandments, the spirit of Twitter should reflect the spirit of the internet which has always been – to some of us at least, one of openness and freedom.

1. If you are mystified by a reference, it’s best not immediately to post a “WTF?” “Please explain” tweet, but rather to look back along the timeline ( or even to use good old Google or your search engine of choice to chase down the reference. It’s a little tiresome for everyone if I have to keep repeating what project I’m embarked on, where I am and so forth. This is not exactly an RTFM suggestion, but it’s close to it.

2. I am afraid I cannot respond to any professional/speaking/interview/public appearance requests through Twitter. I would ask you to go through the usual channels if there are any enquiries you want to make. You can find out who my agents are from this site. It’s important to me that Twitter is a friendly, sociable entity and the followers and followed should constitute a cheery sodality where business and PR are excluded.


3. While I will certainly let you know of a new audiobook I’ve recorded, or the release of website t-shirts or whatever, I am absolutely not looking to use Twitter as a market stall. I will mention but not push new ‘products’, just as most Twitterers do and just as we all do when we announce any posting to our websites or blog spaces. For me Twittering is not a commercial or PR activity, it’s a fun and fascinating way to interact with all kinds of people who have so much to say. Since the primary function of Twitter is to answer the question “what you are doing?” my tweets will sometimes, obviously, involve news of publications or openings or events. Just be assured I am not using Twitter to advertise!

4. Please don’t be offended if you Tweet or DM me with a direct question and hear nothing back: as you can imagine it is very easy for me to miss the traffic of tweets. Incidentally, while I like to be DM-ed, public tweeting and replies are the default and preferred way to use the service: save DMs for genuinely private or personal messages. Although I will often myself respond to a public tweet with a private DM, you can choose to reply through either channel.

5. I like to follow as much as be followed, but I am afraid the numbers are getting so high that it is almost impossible to follow each of you individually. Have you any idea the RSI risked by pressing that damned follow button a hundred times, let alone fifty thousand?! If you ask me and I catch you asking and I am using a Twitter app that allows me to (or a web browser) then I will probably consent and follow you, but don’t be offended if your request passes me by.

I think that’s it. Be assured, these are not rules. It is absolutely not my place to lay down anything other than vague suggestions as to how “your twitter experience might be enhanced” … To sum up: a) if confused by a reference try and find out first, b) no appearance/interview requests c) don’t be offended by a lack of response. I might be busy and have missed you.

Most of all. Welcome to my twitterworld, I am delighted to have you as a follower. Let’s enjoy ourselves and to hell with those who don’t get it.

Love from @stephenfry