What is this?
Brace yourself, this is long. Please read it before you sign up.
One weekend afternoon in mid-August I started writing code to help manage our Twitter account, @kvdrpg, and to learn how to program with the Twitter API. The engagement it received the first time I tweeted about it pleasantly surprised me. So, I immediately expanded the scope of this project to make a tool others could benefit from too, hence the birth of #TwitterKnight.
#TwitterKnight connects to Twitter and downloads publicly available information for accounts, their tweets, and followers. It saves that information in a database and displays some of it in a Google Spreadsheet like in the image above. Then weekly it will update the data and email a spreadsheet to anyone signed up for the service.
I am on Twitter to connect with likeminded people interested in D&D, tabletop RPGs, and related fun. It's my escape from real life and this tool is an extension of that for me. My motivation is to make a tool that helps me and others to connect directly with people in our community better, not create a spambot.
So, this tool does not require you to sign-in with your Twitter account or create a custom account on this website for that matter. It never tweets or takes other actions on your behalf; it only gives you data in a consolidated spreadsheet view to help you manage your account. If you are looking for automated account management or a tweetbot, this tool is not for you.
So what kind of data does it show exactly?
You will receive a weekly email with a report attached that looks similar to this:
#TwitterKnight's weekly reports list all the followers for your account and associated data, like:
- Account bio
- When the account was created
- The location the account declares
- The language the account uses
- How many followers your follower has
- How many people are following your follower
- How many times the follower has liked
- How many times the follower has tweeted
It then calculates some all-time statistics for the account, which includes:
Plus for each follower, the engagement statistics below are tallied for how often that person has engaged with your tweets. These stats are only tallied for original tweets you create and not something that you retweet. Likewise liking or retweeting your own work will not be counted either.
- and how often they mentioned you in their tweets
Twitter imposes limits on developers using the Twitter API, which impacts #TwitterKnight too. First, collecting data is rate limited and #TwitterKnight conservatively makes one API call every 2 minutes. Second, the API only allows a maximum of the most recent 3200 tweets to be collected. Third, it only allows a maximum of the most recent 800 tweets with replies and mentions to be collected. Accounts with more tweets than this will not have all historical data collected.
Data collection takes time, say every one of the last 3000 tweets were liked by someone. To count all of those likes would take over 4 days. That is why I save the data in a database to cache it for fast retrieval on a weekly basis.
Yaah, and how do I use that exactly?
That is partly what we will figure out together. As for myself:
- Already I have used the reports to quickly go through all the bios and look for spambots that I then blocked. I also looked at those accounts that had the most tweets/day and blocked the ones that were spambots.
- Also I sorted the data to find my followers who had the most number of followers and after checking out their feeds, I followed the ones who are actually tweeting about the things I am interested in. I wanna be friends with the popular kids who already like my stuff. ;)
- I also found out who my most engaged followers were and have thanked them for being so supportive.
If you find a good use for #TwitterKnight, please let me know, and I'll add it to this list.
Sounds cool, how do I get it?
#TwitterKnight is not yet fully released. I feel I've finished enough of the features to start Beta testing and would like generate reports for any qualifying person who is interested in giving me constructive feedback on how it works and its usefulness. [UPDATE: Beta signups are now closed. Many more people than what I needed for a good pilot test signed up. Thank you! After the beta, I will open up signups again. Feel free to signup with your email address now to receive a notification email when it is time or follow on Twitter.]
To qualify, you must do these things:
- Have read all of the above. If you already did, thank you!
- Be part of the D&D / tabletop RPG community. If your Twitter feed deviates too much in my subjective judgement, you do not qualify. People into RPG video games do not qualify. Don't get me wrong, I love video games. But it's my day job, and I separate work play from hobby play.
- Avoid tweeting about politics. With the President of the United States tweeting so often, sometimes we just have to state our opinions. I feel that way too. All the time. But as I mentioned above, this is my escape from real life and I am not making a tool to help people manage politically charged accounts, even if I share the same views of being a decent human being.
- Agree to give constructive feedback. Being silent does a disservice to the other people who wanted to tell me what works and what doesn't work for them and what could be done better. I don't expect everyone to have something to say every week, but I hope you do write back to me. Also, as I am doing this for fun, so if you can't play nicely, I will politely drop you.
- Follow me on twitter, @kvdrpg. I will follow back. After all, this is what building a community is about, a two way street.
- Tweet this: Please add me to the #TwitterKnight beta test signup list @kvdrpg http://www.kvdrpg.com/twitterknight
- Sign up for the email list on the homepage of this website. This is so that I can get your agreement to allowing me to send email to you. Since the Knight vs Dragon game and other projects I am working on are not close to finishing, you will only receive email regarding #TwitterKnight for the time being. Later you may receive other email. You may unsubscribe at any time, which will stop you from getting #TwitterKnight reports. I will DM you on twitter or send you an email if I'm not sure which Twitter account goes with which email address. (Please check for a confirmation email from MailChimp. If you cannot find this in your Inbox or Primary folder, it may be in the Junk, Spam, or Promotions folder. The email looks like the one shown at the bottom of this page. If it didn't go to your inbox, please add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts list or on Gmail drag the email to your Primary folder. Thanks!)
- Consider donating in the future. At this time, I am not asking for any monthly fee. Mainly because this service is not proven, plus also, I want to create something for the little guy who cannot afford to pay $100/month like big companies do. I may have to charge something in the future in order to keep this service running depending on the number of people who want to use it and the amount of time it takes me to maintain it.
I reserve the right to make exceptions or refuse service to anyone. So, let me know if you want to signup but don't think you qualify and I'll consider your request.
I signed up, now what?
Thank you very much for your interest in #TwitterKnight and willingness to support the project. Testing begins on October 1 or shortly thereafter and will run for 1-2 months as needed. As mentioned above, since #TwitterKnight moves so slowly, I will prioritize accounts with fewer followers and tweets before larger ones, until I am able to verify that everything is working as intended. Thereafter, I will start running more and more accounts as signups came in. If you are selected, I will send you an email when I start collecting your data, so that you can know to expect an email report by week's end. Reports will typically be sent out on Friday or Saturday, so that you can look at it over the weekend. I would appreciate any feedback you may have on Sunday or Monday.
The reports are sent in an email with a file attached which is in cvs format. You should be able to open it in Excel, Google Docs, or other open source spreadsheet program. After looking at the reports, please let me know if anything strikes you as odd or missing because it is possible that there are bugs in the program. Also please let me know any new features that you would like to see. I don't know when I will get to adding them, but I am keeping a list.
What do I get from helping out?
This is a volunteer effort, which I greatly appreciate. In addition to my appreciation you may get any number of reports with data on your followers that might give you new insight into our community. Plus, you get to be part of a unique creation coming to the #DnD world.
P.S. If you have any questions, please ask me on Twitter.