Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Blogger vs. Twitter account bans: Observations in communication clarity and confusion

I know I promised a followup to our quarantine story to be posted last week, but an unexpected trip to my homeland for a funeral in addition to a research roadblock (I'm not satisfied that there truly is nothing & am still digging for additional sources before calling it quits) have caused a delay that I am sorry about.

There. I admitted that I didn't deliver on a promise to you as my readers, explained why and apologized. Not such a big deal, right?

On Friday, August 1st, Blogger publicly admitted and apologized for blocking some legitimate users' accounts as spam. On Saturday (not a business day) August 2nd, they publicly apologized again, identified the source of the problem and the solutions in place to both remedy and prevent it from occurring again. I particularly like this excerpt:

At Blogger, we strongly believe that you own and should control your posts and other data. We understand that you trust us to store and serve your blog, and incidents like this one are a betrayal of that trust.

Now, contrast this to a spam-blocking account incident on Twitter that also happened sometime on Friday, August 1st. At least 8 non-spam Twitter accounts were deleted and banned with no notice to the users, including Connie Crosby and P.F. Anderson who are friends of mine (I've met Connie in person and just missed Patricia due to my limited time at MLA in Chicago).

Eight may not be many accounts, but the fact of the matter it is still some... and a very visible some considering each of these two both followed and had well over 1,200 followers!

Did Twitter publicly admit, apologize for, identify the source of the account problems or the solutions in place to both fix and keep it from happening again?

No. On Twitter's blog they promoted their iPhone apps and a video August 3rd and 4th, and the Twitter Status only notes problems with their search engine on August 2nd and 4th.

I do not count the Get Satisfaction thread about the account bans as an official Twitter presence because Get Satisfaction is a designated "neutral space to support customers, exchange ideas, and get feedback about their products and services." (source)

While I certainly agree that Twitter will never be the be-all end-all of online communication forums, I have been thinking about the role of data preservation in online discussion formats in part due to a conference plenary I crashed today (a post for Wednesday, honest!) and how much I take health information access for granted (tied with the quarantine experience where I had practically none).

With libraries' focus on emergency preparedness for our users' information needs in a disaster, there are certainly areas for improvement regarding proactive communication with them. Positive steps include openness, such as Blogger's proactive example and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region (NN/LM SCR) posting in listservs and their webpage that they are closed today due to an approaching tropical storm and featuring disaster management database sources on the front page. I am thinking of and wish the area well!

One drawback is that SCR did not specify in the announcement where to call if their member organizations have any urgent disaster-related information needs, which is 1-800-DEV-ROCKS for all NN/LM members. Locating that information required two clicks in from the SCR front page to obtain it from the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness page that also requires prior knowledge of both the fact that there is an emergency number and where to look for it. In a true emergency these steps may be difficult to recall.

More on communication with users and making library information more accessible in both everyday reference situations and emergencies tomorrow with my plenary recap!


Anonymous said...

FYI, the DEV-ROKS number only kicks in when "emergency status" has been decided. Since that 800 number is normally answered according to the caller's location by their regional office of NN/LM, AT&T has to switch the number to the "buddy" regional office for it to be answered elsewhere. If people in the SCR had called the number, which hadn't been switched, it would only have rung in an empty office. The RML Emergency Procedure isn't designed to kick in for short RML office closures. -- Pat Devine

The Eagle Dawg said...

Thanks for the clarification, Pat!

If Eduardo had suddenly turned into Katrina-level destruction, however, I think it still would have been helpful to provide that information ahead of time about the emergency status procedure on the front page.

Patricia F. Anderson said...

HI, EagleDawg :) I feel like we did meet in MLA! We twittered back and forth so extensively during the keynote! Thank you for this blogpost. I admire the cogent and respectful way you have described the specific situation and concerns, and connected them with broader issues.

I agree with you about Eduardo - too late to shut the barn door after the horse escapes. How do we be proactive with disaster management?

I agree with you about pretty near everything else, too. Good job. :)