Twitter's Suggested Users List (SUL), a longstanding and much-disputed feature of the popular microblogging app, has finally bitten the dust.
In its place, we have an interesting method for suggesting accounts for new users to follow, this time based on categories of interest instead of a hard-and-fast, limited crew of A-listers and Internet-famous microcelebs. New users will now be given options to select accounts to follow based on their defined interests, their Web-based address books, and via search. It's been a long time coming, but we think this new method will work much better for the general population as the service continues to scale into mainstream use.
Disclosure: @RWW was previously on Twitter's SUL and remains one of the suggested accounts in the new Technology category.
Twitter product staffer Josh Elman writes on the Twitter blog, "We've found that the power of suggestion can be a great thing to help people get started, but it's important that we suggest things relevant to them... Rather than suggesting a random set of 20 users for a new user to follow, now we let users browse into the areas they are interested in and choose who they want to follow from these lists. "
There are now 20 categories of suggested account types, and each category contains a wide variety of users. For example, here's a partial list of suggested accounts in the "Music" category:
Elman continues, "These lists will be refreshed frequently as the algorithms identify new users who should be suggested in these lists and some that are not as engaging to new users will be removed."
As an example, we were checking out the list of suggested accounts for the Technology category, and as we refreshed the page, we saw top results fluctuate to show many different friends and colleagues. The list is also expandable to show more suggested accounts, but this feature still seems a bit buggy as certain accounts were duplicated in the list.
Still, having 30 or so suggestions for a particular category is a lot better than throwing 20 generic suggestions to every new user. Hopefully, this will help boost Twitter's adoption rates and slow attrition of users who can't figure out how or why to use the app.
The full list of categories includes:
- Art & Design
- Staff Picks
- Staff Picks for Haiti
Check out more ReadWriteWeb articles on Twitter's Suggested User List, its history and its problems.