I'm just back from my four days off the grid, and I was surprised to find quite a few DMs from friends, some saying thanks, others a little puzzled. Looking through my own DM history I was mortified to discover twitter.mailana.com's auto-DM robot had misfired and spammed about 20 of my friends with links to their profiles. I hate, hate, hate getting robot emails or DMs from people I know, and never intended to do the same thing myself. If you expect someone to spend a few minutes of their time reading (and hopefully acting on) your message, the least you can do is take the time to type something unique yourself!
I immediately updated the code so that it won't happen again, and a big apology to everyone who got those messages. Twitter works surprisingly well with few rules, I don't want to be part of the Green-Card-Lotterization of the service.
If you're interested, here's what went wrong:
– If you search for your name on Mailana, and I haven't imported your messages yet, I bump you to the top of the queue. I also offer an option to follow me on Twitter, so that I can send a DM when that import's done.
– When I originally implemented this, import was a one-time thing, and I'd already imported all my real-life friends, and their friends, so I'd only be sending DMs to new followers.
– One of my top feature requests was continuous updating. A couple of weeks ago I added that, triggering an import whenever a profile was viewed that hadn't been updated in a few days. To avoid repeated DMs I track who I've sent messages to, and never send more than one. What I hadn't thought through was that the robot had never sent DMs to my original friends, so when somebody viewed their profile and triggered an import a message would get sent.
If I was starting over I'd create a separate account for twitter.mailana.com and only send DMs and announcements through that.