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Why is Mashable Obsessed with Twitter?

Posted: January 26th, 2009 | Author: Agitationist | Filed under: social media | Tags: , | 6 Comments »

If you’ve read this blog before, you know I’m no fan of Twitter, the over-hyped tin can on a string of the 21st Century.

But I’ll admit it’s got its place. Yes, I’ve even got an account. I have a handful of friends who post the occasional useful or interesting update – although they would have been better served by emailing or blogging. Still, it is a rapidly-growing part of the current web landscape. As such, Twitter certainly deserves to be covered by a site specializing in the latest developments in social media.

But takes this to a ridiculous extreme. Mashable is one of the most successful blogs around, currently ranking number nine on Technorati’s top 100 blogs, The site’s tagline is “All That’s New on the Web”, and according to their “About” page: “[...] Mashable is the world’s largest blog focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and Social Networking news. With more than 5 million monthly pageviews, Mashable is the most prolific blog reviewing new Web sites and services, publishing breaking news on what’s new on the web.”

As a follower of such things, I duly subscribed to their feed several months ago, and have found a number of useful posts on various new media topics. But over time, I’ve noticed an increasingly specific focus. Take a look at these recent Mashable posts from the last week or so, and see if you can spot the trend:

Twitter Meltdown Not a Hack
How to Destroy Your Twitter Brand in Minutes
Twhirl Updates: Will You Dump TweetDeck?
How Should President Obama Use Twitter?
Do What Twitter Can’t: Cash In On Your Twitter Stream
Twitter API Gets Rate Limit; Will It Hurt App Growth?
40 of the Best Twitter Brands and the People Behind Them
Top FriendFeed Tips for Twitter Users
Another Presidential Transition: @TheWhiteHouse on Twitter
9 Ways Twitter Can Help in the Real World
European Companies Don’t Like Twitter. Should They?
HOW TO: Use Twitter on the Go

I’m expecting “How Twitter Can Achieve Middle East Peace and Make You a Sandwich” any minute now.

For every ten Twitter-related pieces, there is approximately one about Digg, one about Facebook, one about Google, etc.
So what explains the site’s transformation into “All Twitter All the Time“? Twitter is growing at an amazing rate (though it still only claims about 2-3% of the user base of Facebook). Perhaps founder Pete Cashmore and company see their own “monetization” strategy for Twitter, before the service itself has even made a dime?

To his credit, Cashmore did write a post called “Should Tech Blogs Shut Up About Twitter?” on January 11th, even including the self-deprecating Digg screenshot reproduced above. In the post Cashmore asked his readers: “should tech blogs, including this one, shut up about Twitter?”. The poll results sent a clear message:

Should Tech Bloggers Cover Twitter News More, Less or the Same Amount?
More 10% (115 votes)
Less 58% (661 votes)
Same Amount 32% (366 votes)

The commenters on this poll were after my own heart. For example:

“One can only get so much twitter news. its not too hard to figure out how to increase followers or do this or that. Its a 140 characters for crying out loud
“Some team of people or single tweeter came up with a neat integration for the Twitter API… AWESOME! it happens 3 times a day.”
“How about a weekly twitter roundup if you must write about it?”
“YES PLEASE. Make it stop.

Personally, I left Cashmore a comment commending him for noticing the oversaturation and being willing to listen to his audience.

However, in the two weeks since, Mashable’s Twitter noise has only gotten louder and increasingly irrelevant.

So what didn’t Cashmore and company understand about those results? Why ask your readers what they want if you’re going to ignore the results?

Two posts about a single Twitter user cancelling his account, complete with screenshots of his final updates? Come on, Pete. You’ve got a huge platform from which to speak. Don’t waste it.

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6 Comments on “Why is Mashable Obsessed with Twitter?”

  1. 1
    Anand said at 11:56 am on January 26th, 2009:

    LOL..Pete’s not going to answer this one until you tweet him this link!

  2. 2 veedub said at 2:00 pm on January 26th, 2009:

    i find twitter really annoying, especially on livejournal where several people have taken to using it rather than actually writing a blog. as if i give a damn whether someone is stuck on BART at the moment or not. :P

  3. 3 geekgirl said at 5:34 pm on January 29th, 2009:

    I like twitter. I use it a lot.
    I still wish Pete Cashmore woudl shut up about it and get mashable back to reporting some real news.

  4. 4 Agitationist said at 5:42 pm on January 29th, 2009:

    Glad to see we agree about Mashable. Strangely enough, they went two whole days without mentioning Twitter, immediately after this post – which I sent to Pete Cashmore. Hmm…

  5. 5 Twitter Fails Once Again, Slavish Devotion Continues | The Agitationist said at 12:28 pm on February 11th, 2009:

    [...] More Reasons Twitter Must Die, Twitter Fails Again, Twitter Officially Goes Mainstream, and Why is Mashable Obsessed with Twitter?. Not belabor the point (well perhaps), I’m afraid we need to revisit the issue. So [...]

  6. 6 Mashable: Off the Deep End said at 9:48 am on May 15th, 2009:

    [...] wrote in January that the popular web news site was obsessed with Twitter. Since I wrote that piece, they’ve only gotten crazier, though at least they’ve become [...]

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