WAMU is No Longer Welcome in my Twitterverse

I was an early skeptic of Twitter, but I’ve become a convert to the 140 character way of life. I follow several different crowds of friends on Twitter, and have even started to follow some Twitter identities that aren’t human beings. These vary from the Mars Phoenix to CNN Breaking News and tend to deliver news up-to-the-minute and in small chunks, the way I like to consume it. Some assume an anthropomorphic identity, but others just write concise, less-than-140 character posts that give me an idea of what’s going on in the world.

When I saw that WAMU 88.5, DC’s public radio station, had a Twitter account, I signed on right away. I was hopeful they’d engage with other users, and provide great local tidbits. Instead, every now and then they post a bunch of unintelligible links with truncated first sentences from the same stuff they put on their website. There’s virtually no readable content, no idea what the link is to, and 5-10 of these useless posts all in a row.

This isn’t the way Twitter works. At the very least, they need to write 140 character summaries with a short link to the article. Ideally, they’d let their reporters post from their cell phones throughout the day as they report on DC, MD, and VA. They’d allow followers to reply and engage with them. Twitter is not just a place to republish an RSS feed (poorly). It’s an ecosystem that encourages conversations and interaction, and until WAMU learns how to do that, they’re no longer welcome on my follow list.

A decade ago, Ben Stanfield found himself at the intersection of politics and technology as he wandered nomadically around the country managing congressional races. But when he moved to DC 6 years ago, he found that the intersection had become, in the grand tradition of L’Enfant, a circle where politics and technology were joined by science, photography and a host of smaller side streets of interest. These days, he works as a Macintosh Server Administrator for a large governmental health institute in Bethesda. In his spare time, he’s an avid photographer, charter member at HacDC, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Columbia Heights Youth Club. In 2005 he founded of Draft Obama, a national grassroots movement to convince Barack Obama to run for President. Everything he writes here speaks for itself and not on behalf of any other group, organization, person, or any of his other personalities.

4 thoughts on “WAMU is No Longer Welcome in my Twitterverse

  1. I think that a lot of companies have heard of the “potential” of Twitter, but they still don’t get it. Many people are flooded every day by “corporate accounts” requesting invites and when you look at their Twitter feed, it’s all short headlines with a link to their site. There’s no real online presence except to, as you say, use Twitter as a surrogate RSS feed.

  2. I wouldn’t even mind headlines and links. What WAMU does that makes me nuts is send out a flurry of these things all in a burst and then nothing the rest of the day. How does doing that in twitter add any value?

    If you send me something in twitter it either needs to be time-sensitive – the CNN breaking news twits are good examples of that – or it needs to have some real usable content all by itself.

  3. How receptive was WAMU to your feedback about this? I assume if you had the time to blog about this, then you must’ve contacted them about it.

  4. Hi-

    WAMU here. Did you sign up for @wamu885 or @wamu885news? Because they are very different.

    Also, we have @drshow (Diane Rehm Show), @kojoshow (Kojo Nnamdi Show), and @frontdeskamy (Amy, our receptionist). If you want to engage on the issues, tweets to @drshow and @kojoshow seem to create more discussion among followers and also frequently make it to air. If you’re looking for behind-the-scenes tidbits about the station and show guests, follow @frontdeskamy. Hope this helps improve your experience.