Friday, June 12, 2009

@ryanbarr doubles his Twitter followers - drives himself insane or bluffs TechCrunch?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

There's a funny story over at TechCrunch. Twitter user @ryanbarr set up the iPhone AT&T petition to demand cheaper upgrade to the iPhone S. We had the same type of petition for 02 here in the UK.

I'm not sure why iPhone users think they should be able to break contract any more easily than the rest of us - but both petitions have done very well and nearly 10,000 have signed up to Ryan's.

Here's the catch. Whenever someone signs the AT&T petition there's an auto tweet. That tweet includes @ryanbarr in it. Ryan's told TechCrunch that he deeply regrets this now - he's spamming himself silly.

Dear TechCrunch,

My name is Ryan Barr, known on Twitter as @ryanbarr . If you may have noticed, I started a petition (or twitition) found here: .

I want out.

When I first started the petition, it was due to a rant I was having about the price of the phone. It didn’t take long for me to truly not care about the prices as much as I had. And it didn’t take much longer for the petition I started to go out of control.

At the time of this e-mail the petition just passed 9200 signatures. For each signature, a message is tweeted as follows:

“Petition: AT&T to offer reasonable iPhone 3GS upgrade prices @ryanbarr”

That’s right, 9200 @ryanbarr’s over the span of two (going on three) days. This does not include the unnecessary retweets people also make. I can no longer stand not being able to see real replies in my timeline. I have AT&T employees following me and saying stuff behind my back when I was just ranting on a site that seemed to have little activity.

I completely, COMPLETELY regret pressing the submit button. As the petition nears the 10000 mark I fear even more. As at that mark, TweetMeme will show me as a TM_10000 (@ … the first, ever.

TechCrunch — you have the power to make businesses grow. You have the power to make or break the reputation of a new device. Please, help me find a way out of this petition. The attention I am receiving is unwanted — I just want to be able to come clear to all the signers and say, “I don’t want in this anymore. I didn’t mean for it to last this long.”

Thanks for anything and for the great reads over the longhaul.

Best Regards,
Ryan Barr

Do you think that's making the matters better or worse? I hadn't noticed him until TechCrunch posted toady. In fact, TechCrunch kick off their blog post by saying;

A Twitter user who has effectively spammed himself senseless reaches out to us for help. And we’re going to oblige. The only trouble is, he’s making yet another error in judgment, because my guess is this is going to make things worse.

Here's the catch. Ryan must have a really low threshold for pain. The auto-tweets are easy to cope with. It's a snap to set up a Gmail filter to route any emails these replies generate elsewhere (or to move his Twitter account to a Gmail address).

So it's just his Twitter feed that's getting spammed - but that won't last long. It's also fairly easy to cope with - many clients will let you watch tweets of people you're following (even if that means ignoring the @ replies in the next column). He could set up a user list in Seesmic Desktop, for example.

My question is - did Ryan just bluff TechCrunch into posting his "plea for help" or was it just a clever tactic to get even more attention? I'd like to suggest Ryan's been sly here. That was my first thought.

However, a look at his history via Twitter Grader suggests he's not really making the most of the situation he finds himself in. He's not following many extra people. He may have increased his followers by a double digit percentage but he has less than 500 of them!

What do you think?

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