The One Twitter List You Need to Separate Signal from Noise

I’ve written previously about imposing limits on the number of people I follow on Twitter. Since that post I’ve raised the limit from 100 to around 150. This is still a relatively low number, especially compared to some in my Tweetstream who follow thousands, or even tens of thousands, of others.

But if you’re like me, and aren’t logged into Twitter during every waking moment (according to I am an “Explorer”), it can still be difficult to separate signal from noise no matter how selective you are about whom you follow. On weekends, or when a deadline looms, I avoid social media altogether. Sometimes—gasp!—I go two whole days without turning on a computer. When I do log back in, there is always catching up to do.

Since Twitter introduced Lists—which allow you to create custom categories of followees, such as “New Yorkers,” “entertainers,” athletes,” etc.—in late 2009, catching up has become easier. I have a handful of Lists, but there is one that I check constantly to be sure not to miss anything. I call it “Offline Friends” and it comprises all the people I follow on Twitter who I also know personally. (I’m sure a snazzier title could be conceived.) After a long social-media fast, these are the people whose updates I want to see. In some ways, it’s my Twitter alternative to Facebook, and it works.

If I were allowed only one Twitter List, this is the one I would keep. I’m sure this is obvious to some, but this simple list has had major impact on my enjoyment of Twitter, so I figured I’d share.

Are you following me on Twitter? I’m @noahvail. Stop on by.

Update 8/3/10: An interesting feature of Twitter Lists is that you do not have to follow the people you put into your lists. So, if you had a particularly annoying family member in your stream, you could unfollow them and move them to your “friends and family” list. If they ask why you’re not following them anymore you could claim that you do, and that they even get special treatment by being a member of this exclusive list. The possibilities are endless!

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