There are times when we all want people to just shut the hell up. This is even more true online, where people often seem to say things we could never imagine them saying in person. The problem is magnified when your list of "friends" expands from the people you actually hang out with to the long list of virtual buddies you make on social media Web sites like Twitter.
It starts out all innocent. You see that someone added you. You think, "He seems cool. Some of my other online friends follow him. Yes, I will add him to my follow list." Then, all hell breaks loose. You realize the guy is mostly fine twittering about his dog and the killer grilling he does on the weekends. Whatever. But, then he goes to a weeklong IT convention and decides to live tweet every...damn...seminar.
You want to cry. You want to hurt him. You want to #crushhimintooblivion. Well, my (virtual) friend, you're in luck because there are several ways you can temporarily block this normally...uh...normal twitterer.
1. There's an App for That
Many Twitter applications, be they desktop or for your phone, have "mute" options. Echofon lets you mute any user and keep them muted as long as you like. TweetBlaster and TweetDeck also let you temporarily put users on hold and even filter out keywords and hashtags, a very handy feature for anyone trying to be funny with some Twitter meme and hashtagging 100 of their tweets in the span of two hours.
2. Make a Group
This may be a slightly more permanent option, but it sure helps. Twitter allows its users to create lists of followers. You can even add people to your list that you don't actually follow. Weird, I know. The advantage here is you can create specific lists for your interests. For example, I like sports so I have a list for sports writers, reporters and the like. That way, I can keep them in their own little area where I can scan them at my leisure instead of having them pollute my general experience.
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3. Filter with a Browser Extension
If you like to use Twitter.com as your preferred choice for reading Twitter, consider an extension for Google Chrome or Firefox like Slipstream or Tweetfilter. These filters provide all sorts of ways to filter the garbage out of your Twitter stream, from keywords to hashtags to user names to links.
4. Get a Filtering Service
There are a number of services like Muuter, Twick Twock and others that will link to your Twitter feed and block/mute any user you like for as long as you like. This is very useful when people, like our friend in the intro to this story, are at an event. Just mute that poor bastard for 24 hours or a week or whatever the duration of his annoying tweet fest. Be aware that many of these services simply un-follow people at the start and re-follow them automatically when the timer runs out. If you are dealing with someone who requires a request to follow or someone who tracks those sorts of things, they might get offended. Best to let them know ahead of time...politely.