I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings…

I had no idea you could tweet too much. I had no idea you could get banned from Twitter. Turns out you can. Who knew?

I found out the hard way, as I was busy tweeting a workshop during the OR2012 conference. It had been going so well. We had a few technical difficulties at the start of the session, meaning that the first speaker had to give his talk without slides. No problem – as the official tweeter, I tweeted the links he had planned on using, along with the workshop hashtag. Delegates followed the tag and opened the links on their laptops. The talk continued with everyone following via the links. I continued to tweet. We had around seven of eight speakers during the afternoon. The sessions were intense and interesting. I tweeted summaries, links to project sites, links to papers mentioned by speakers. I was in my stride, on fire, riding the wave of information like the ultimate workshop surfer!

Then, during the fifth talk,  disaster struck. I couldn’t tweet. I got an error message. I didn’t understand it. I tried to tweet again. And again. I tried tweeting in a different client. I tried tweeting via the native Twitter site. No success. I tried to breath deeply and finally read the message. It said…  “User is over daily status update limit.” I passed the tweeting over to a colleague and started trying to work out what had happened.

Apparently there is a daily limit not only for updates, but for direct messaging and following. For updates, the limit is a thousand tweets. Although I tweet a lot, and on that day I had tweeted more than usual, there was no WAY I had anything even close to a thousand. Not even including my knitting, cocktails, chocolate and shoe tweets as well as my workshop coverage. The devil, as ever, was in the detail.

According to Twitter guidelines, “The daily update limit is further broken down into smaller limits for semi-hourly intervals.” And,  “Retweets are counted as updates.”.  In short, I had tweeted and re-tweeted too much in a “semi-hourly interval”. The penalty was swift and severe. Banned. Thrown into outer darkness. There was no reprieve. I just had to do my time. Around 11.30pm that night, after being banned since about 4pm, I was able to tweet again. The world was no longer isolated! It was a long, lonely few hours.

On the upside, my sudden silence, followed by a brief explanation from a colleague on my ban,  hit the main conference Twitter stream.  I might’ve been unable to tweet, but I was famous! At the social event that evening, everyone was pointing out the woman who had been banned from Twitter. I enjoyed my brief notoriety but, having done my time, I learned my lesson. My tweets will be more moderate in volume if not in content from now on.

Leave a comment


  1. Despite the cruel ban your tweeting was heroic Steph!

  1. Text mining workshop at #or2012 | @annindk's CPD
  2. Live Tweeting – Go With The Flow « CriticalSteph

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