Evan – Twitter needs a better policy on Usernames

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DearWTFChuck

Evan,

I have a bunch of Twitter usernames — I gobbled them up in March 2007. I’d consider them some of the “quality” ones. Almost like the domain game of 1995, I grabbed some of the best Twitter usernames, because I could see value in their use in the future.

I’ve been working and investing my own money in developing services to help make Twitter a better place. I came up with the first Twitter bots and have written extensively about Twitter on my blog. I’ve also helped with bugs and features via Al3x since SXSW ’07.

18 months later and I’ve slowly been getting various accounts pulled from me. You claim that I’m in violation of your terms of service, specifically: “You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.”

Well, I’m calling bullshit on you right now. Just say it, the Boston Celtics called and they want you to pull rank to get them in the front-row seats of the game (Twitter), when I’ve been holding those seats (username:celtics) for 18 months.

Last night, “celtics” was pulled from me. You moved my account to “bc_fan_news“. I’m running a fan account with news on the Boston ‘Celtics’. I’m not trying to impersonate them — my username’s profile clearly states it is a fan account, run by a fan, and not officially affiliated at all. In prior weeks, I lost ‘stanford’ and ‘bostoncollege’. Why not give them [The Boston Celtics] the username ‘bostonceltics’ instead? Why was my ‘celtics’ one swiped? Why was anyone’s username swiped?

I’m just wondering, when does it end? My personal twitter account is ‘STP‘ — are you going to pull that from me when STP (motor oil company) or Stone Temple Pilots comes to you guys and claims trademark infringement? My initials are STP — as in, “Steven Thomas Poland.”

This is a slippery slope you guys are going down.

StockTwits just raised nearly $1 million — their business is based off Twitter. Definitely one of their assumptions is that they’ll be keeping their username ‘StockTwits’.

There are other Twitter accounts out there providing sports headlines and info about teams — so it’s obviously not a problem that I have many usernames. 

The point here is, you just made up an excuse as to why you pulled my username — and that’s not good policy. How does that make anyone feel comfortable investing in services/business on top of your platform, when it could all disappear at any moment for them?

Keep up the good work on Twitter, but please put a better policy in place here. I feel as though you’re allowing yourself to get bullied, likely because you don’t want to deal with any lawsuits — but how can anyone sue you — these are privately-owned usernames; not publicly-available domains. If a user is trying to impersonate, then I agree, pull their username from them. Otherwise, don’t give into these corporate and celebrity bullies that are just now, 18+ months later, jumping on the Twitter bandwagon.

Sincerely,

Steve Poland

Update: Allen Stern at CenterNetworks brings up the question, “Will Twitter need to setup a dispute-resolution process and review board?”

Update 2: Chris Lockwood makes another good point, which is what can be the case with any username/acronym/word: “The funny thing is that “celtics” is not automatically a reference to a sports team. There is an entire ethnic group of people who had that name long before basketball was invented.”

Update 3: I did know the Terms of Service when I signed up, but still the question is how do they determine who should keep the username they’ve been using: “We reserve the right to reclaim usernames on behalf of businesses or individuals that hold legal claim or trademark on those usernames.”

Update 4: If you were an $800K investor in StockTwits, wouldn’t you want a written letter from Twitter stating that the username ‘stocktwits’ was no longer bound to the line above regarding the Terms of Service? Maybe there needs to be a process in place where companies/individuals can ensure that clause doesn’t apply to them?

Update 5: Some additional 1-liner comments by Dave Winer, Huffington Post, StockTwits investor Howard Lindzon

Update 6: Former TechCrunch writer Nick Gonzalez chimes in with a post of “Who Owns Your Social Media Accounts?” I reply with a post of my own, “It’s Time for Twitter Premium Accounts

Update 7: How did Evan deal with this at Blogger? There’s only one unique subdomain for ‘blogspot.com’ — so if the Boston Celtics had wanted to take away ‘celtics.blogspot.com’, would he have let them without warning to the current user of that blog?

Dear Rackspace: You Pissed Me Off

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DearWTFChuck

Update: Rackspace got realistic about this situation and reduced my overages charge to 1/3 of the original amount. That’s much more fair. Overall it’s been a good relationship – there have been downs, but overall they have done well for me.

Dear Rackspace,

No need to split this $1,600 payment over 3 months, just send me the bill for the overages. Talk to your management and tell them it’s fucking bullshit too. And yes, word spreads. And yes, when I’m thinking about the next 2 servers needed for my startup, I will remember this.

I take responsibility for this — but I think you share equally in this. My expectations must be out-of-whack. When my bandwidth doubles on Sept 27 [roughly that day], I’d think you’d let me know, “Steve, wtf just happened — you’re using twice the bandwidth you have been using the past 6 months of being our customer.” This is managed services I’m paying for. I’m not asking you to wipe my ass, but tell me if my bandwidth or storage amounts go out of whack. Lesson learned, I’ll be checking bandwidth reports — but it was a simple thing to correct for me; I would have corrected it back on Sept 27, instead of having 800GB in overages at your RAPE RATE of $2/GB.

Pardon the fury in this email and the language — I’m typically composed and professional. But this is disgusting. As mentioned on the phone, I feel like when I have gone over on minutes with a cell phone and then they take full advantage of you [because you signed a contract at some ass-raping number]. You replied with, “yeah, but the cell phone company doesn’t alert you either” — well is that really the standard you want to uphold yourself to?

Amazon S3 offers the same bandwidth for $0.17/gb — I have now shifted things over to them, to ensure I don’t get above my bandwidth with you each month. Don’t you think that’s a bit fucked up? I shouldn’t have to do that, especially when I’m paying 3x what I normally would for a server — because I want your “managed” services (aka “take care of shit for me; alert me to problems”). We’ll see if Amazon has any other products that might work better for me — EC2, etc. You’re making me have to look at other companies now. I really hope you lose my thousands of dollars per year account because you are greedy.

If you charged me even $0.25/GB for that 800GB overage, I’d feel better. This was a mistake and will not happen again — if it does, I’ll shut the fuck up and pay my $2/GB.

Anyhow, I have no say here what so ever. You’re not willing to be reasonable on this 1st instance of a problem. So, bill me.

Not fanatical at all. Bad taste in my mouth — and unfortunately will likely tell everyone I know in the tech world about this distaste.

Regards,
Steve Poland

Dear WTF Chuck – Twitter has $5M, why can’t they hire a Sys Admin?

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DearWTFChuck

Dear WTF Chuck,

Why is Twitter always down, despite them being flush with cash ($5mm), and all of their users whining for the past year about how much downtime they experience? Yet, we the users, go with the flow and don’t punish them (by leaving their service), because some of us are addicted to their service!

Go buy some servers and scale your operation! Hopefully moving hosts yesterday will better things.

FRUSTRATED TWITTER ADDICT IN BUFFALO, NY

This is a new type of post on my Site called ‘Dear WTF Chuck‘. This is a spoof on ‘Dear Abby’ and is for you to rant to the world (or at least readers of my blog) on topics relating to web tech, affiliate marketing, etc. Feel free to submit your own rant using my contact form (select ‘Dear WTF Chuck Post Submission’ as the subject of your email) and use the above post as an example of the proper format (title, question/rant, possible solution, signature that includes or does not include a link to your website).

Dear WTF Chuck – Still Using Cash & Checks to Pay Friends “Fee Free”

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DearWTFChuck

Dear WTF Chuck,

My friend just reserved our campsite for May — my share is $26, as he just told me via IM. In order to pay him, I’ll have to give him cash or a check. Why can’t I just send him $26 via PayPal, which would withdraw (exactly) $26 from my checking account, and deposit (exactly) $26 into his checking account? Why must PayPal charge fees for that?

I think any money exchanges via PayPal below $50 should be free — and heck, show me ads on the 4 screens I must go through when sending out a payment like this. In this digital age, I shouldn’t have to give my buddy cash or check — I should be able to click a button on my computer and transfer money into his account (without fees!).

LIVING IN THE 18TH CENTURY AGAINST MY WILL IN BUFFALO, NY

This is a new type of post on my Site called ‘Dear WTF Chuck‘. This is a spoof on ‘Dear Abby’ and is for you to rant to the world (or at least readers of my blog) on topics relating to web tech, affiliate marketing, etc. Feel free to submit your own rant using my contact form (select ‘Dear WTF Chuck Post Submission’ as the subject of your email) and use the above post as an example of the proper format (title, question/rant, possible solution, signature that includes or does not include a link to your website).