Twitter has been gradually rolling out a long-awaited new feature to
selected users — Twitter lists! If you can see a Lists section in your
sidebar at Twitter.com, you’ll know all about this, but it
won’t be long now until we all have the ability to create custom
groups of Twitter users.
Twitter did ask its beta testers (selected at random) not to tweet about this new feature yet…
but who really expects to keep a secret on Twitter? The news broke last
night (October 15th) on several high-profile tech blogs and has been widely tweeted — including by
the Twitter team itself — so let’s take a look at Twitter Lists, how they work, and what they can do for you.
Introduction to Twitter Lists
Each Twitter List is like a mini-Twitter stream, composed only of
tweets from the users who are included on that list.
Any user can (or
will be able to) create their own lists —
and at present there doesn’t
seem to be a limit on how many lists you can create up to 20 lists [see updates at the end of this post].
Lists are a useful way to sort out and make sense of the Twitter
“noise” — especially if you’re following many people — and viewing
other people’s lists is a great way to discover new people who share
“Quick Tip Sheet” for Twitter Lists
There are two ways to create a new list:
- Click on the “new list” link at the bottom of the Lists section in your sidebar, or
- Create a new list as an alternative to adding a Twitter user to one of your existing lists.
In either case, you’ll be able to choose a name for your list and
whether you want the list to be public or private — viewable by
everyone, or viewable by nobody but yourself.
Add users to lists
A drop-down menu on your “following” or “followers” pages, or on
the person’s profile page, lets you choose which of your lists you want
to add that user to — or you can create a new list to add them to, on
No matter which methods you choose,
- You can add one user to multiple lists.
- You can add a user to a list even if you are not following them.
Tip: When you’re viewing a Twitter user’s profile page (e.g. http://twitter.com/username), look just below the avatar picture at the top of the page — you'll see links to any lists to which you’ve added that user.
Remove users from lists
To remove a user from a list, it’s a toggle. Simply uncheck the
checkbox beside the list name — just the opposite of how you added that
user to your list in the first place.
While viewing any list you’ve created (the URL format will be http://twitter.com/username/listname), you’ll find an”Edit list” link in the Lists section of the sidebar.
You can change the name of any list you’ve created.
You can change the list’s status between private and public.
You cannot edit someone else’s list, and they cannot edit yours.
While viewing any list you’ve created, you’ll find a “Delete list” link in the Lists section of the sidebar.
Following a list will add it to the Lists section in your sidebar and to the page at http://twitter.com/username/lists (lists you follow).
And you can see what lists you’ve been added to by other Twitter users at http://twitter.com/username/lists/memberships
(lists that follow you) — this is easily accessed from your profile
page. Look at the top of your sidebar, just below your Twitter bio, for
“lists” [updated Oct 17] "listed" link right next to your “following” and “followers” links.
. . .
October 17-18, 2009:
- The "lists" link at the top of the profile page sidebar has been changed to "listed" but still goes to the same page (lists that follow you).
- You may create a maximum of 20 lists.
- List names can be a maximum of 25 characters long.
- No more than 500 people can be on any one list.
- Beta testers were chosen "pretty much at random" according to a Twitter "insider": so, if you have not yet been given access to lists, it is no reflection on who you are or how you're using Twitter! :)
October 23, 2009:
- When you're viewing another user's list, there's now a link in the upper right (below "Username created this list") to "block list owner" -- when Twitter lists are extended to all users, this should be very useful for clearing out spammers!
October 28-29, 2009:
- The "block list owner" link, mentioned in the update above, has been removed again.
- Blocking a Twitter user will remove you from inclusion on any lists the blocked person has created.
- According to the Twitter team's Nick Kallen,
25% of Twitter users now have lists 50% of Twitter users now have lists enabled.
October 30, 2009:
- There's a List for That : Twitter's blog officially introduces Lists, now available to all users.
- List streams do not show @-reply messages directed to one specific Twitter user -- only those tweets that do not begin with the @ symbol.
- Twitter says there's a plan to add a description field to lists -- so we're not totally dependent on a list's name to try to figure out the rationale behind the grouping of users!
Meanwhile, what have I missed here --
and what have you discovered about the new Twitter Lists, so far?