Home Twitter Sidesteps Its Own Rules on Lists Feature

Twitter Sidesteps Its Own Rules on Lists Feature

Twitter Lists are a beautiful thing, but the company limits what users can do with them. Presumably because of scaling challenges and a perceived lack of user interest, users who want to group together Twitter accounts into topical lists are only allowed to create 20 lists per account and each list can contain no more than 500 members.

Unless you are Twitter itself, that is. We wrote one month ago that Twitter’s own staff list had hit the maximum number of members, 500. (It’s not an unpopular list, either, almost 77K people are subscribed to it.) What would happen if Twitter hired more people, we asked? Would these limits be lifted for other users as well? Well, it turns out that the Twitter staff list is now at 545, another incredible growth of 10% in 30 days, and the list feature’s limit appears not to apply in this case. Think these limits aren’t important? Try making a list of employees at any large company, or of Women in Tech, or of People in Portland, Oregon.

For what it’s worth, Google Plus has a limit of 5,000 users per Circle. That there are any limits on these kinds of functionality, instead of programmatically writable methods of unlimited categorization, seems like an architectural shortcoming of both systems.

A very small number of Twitter accounts has been allowed to create lists larger than 500 for some time, but we don’t know anyone who has been allowed to create more than 20 lists in a single account. We’ve heard from a number of people on Twitter than this is a real annoyance, but the only person on Twitter’s whole staff to have hit the limit himself was just testing the error message when doing so.

It’s really nice to be able to read tweets from all the people who work at Twitter, or any other large group of people, in one place. Twitter, could the rest of us please use Lists like you’re using them? With all the people on them that ought to be? (Twitter hasn’t responded to our request for comment on their passing 500 list members yet.)

Below, a visualization showing Twitter HQ’s embrace of its own powerful feature, Lists. Most people who work at Twitter follow at least one list, about half follow the official list and almost none of them make extensive use of list creation.

Thanks to data viz pro Michael J. Rubillo for creating the infographic above. For a more in-depth discussion of Twitter lists, their power and unappreciated potential, see our post Twitter’s Staff is Growing Fast, But Has a Dangerous Shortage of Power Users (Infographics).

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