A Bunch of Twits and Evolutionary Game Theory

This is an unnecessary, petty and frivolous post.


I shared this advice with someone who had built up a following before jettisoning most of those following him so that his follower numbers were a factor of many times higher than those he follows.

There is a (roughly) 5000 follower limit on Twitter unless there's a balance in numbers between those who follow you, and those you follow. At the original time of writing, it was 2000 but it's subject to change and the whims of the Twitter folk.

If you have more followers than accounts you follow, you can follow more people. But if you have, say, 4850 followers, and you try to follow more than 5000, Twitter will warn you that you can't follow any more accounts.


There are sometimes similar limits thereafter, at say, 10000 or whatever. 

Perhaps Twitter arbitrarily assigns these limits at intervals to keep people on their toesies, as is their wont.

Many of the accounts I follow are owned by genuine people or businesses I've engaged with. I know if I follow them, there's a strong possibility they'll follow back. And I may have been in touch with them, and retweeted and messaged them.

But it reaches the stage where sometimes I will unfollow Bernie or Hillary or Kylie or Kylie, or Britney or Bradley or Whitney, or Bradford Whitley, or Whitley Britney, or whoever else, temporarily, as I need those spots to follow others who interest me.


It would be bad form to unfollow them if they follow back, because I understand the time and overhead involved in doing this organically. 

I'll occasionally drop accounts after a week or three if they don't follow back. And perhaps I've made errors, inadvertently unfollowing people I thought had dropped me, because Twitter is a frickin' buggy beast.

You can buy fake followers if you choose. But the fake accounts will be unrepresentative of popularity. I am lucky if I get an unsolicited retweet or fave now and then. Fake followers are unlikely to retweet unless you pay for them. 

Marketers will advise that if someone has 25,000 followers and they only follow 200 accounts, and their activity and retweet metrics are similar to others' accounts with 500 to 5,000 followers, most of those 25,000 followers are probably falsely representative.

If you unfollow real people, these people reach their limits, and look at who they can cut. Seeing that you no longer follow them in a mutually beneficial manner, they'll cut you.
As with my friend above, personally I feel this is a dickish move for anyone in marketing - particularly if you've been tweeting them, and if you're aware that there's a person behind the tweets.

So:
If people unfollow me, I usually unfollow them.

None of it is important, but it reminds me of something.

An example of Game Theory (I believe Dawkins uses it somewhere) discusses a flock, with birds that have a disposition to clean each other, picking fleas from the feathered heads of their fellow flock members.

A second kind of bird in the flock is more self-interested. These selfish birds get groomed and have their feathers cleaned by the groomer birds, who pick the fleas from their feathers.

The selfish birds don't clean back. They have more energy and time to devote to looking for food and finding mates.

The selfish birds have more offspring, the cleaners driven to near extinction because they don't have the time and energy to breed like-minded, courteous chicks.


Gradually, flea- and lice-related diseases start to spread around the flock, quite indiscriminately, as the cleaners don't have enough fellow cleaners to clean all of the heads in the entire flock.
The birds are dying out due to the infestation. The selfish birds have made things unsustainable. What happens next?

Either the flock expires entirely, or it breaks up and its members move off to carry on the same nonsense in the next flock over, or there's a third possibility:

The cleaners make a comeback.
Because if you clean each other, you won't get fleas. The cycle starts over.
But which of these are you:
A nice chick, or a dirty bird?

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