This was all fine and good, and provided an ice-breaking conversation topic at the first Tweetups at the Hoodeners Horse in Great Chart – wonderful food, beer and atmosphere, by the way. Two of the Twitterers I met there and followed decided to change their Twitter names to their real names: @romanythresher from @DirectAssist and @AngusWillson from @Pannage. This prompted me to do the same – after all, Twitter is a conversation, and using a false name in a conversation is a bit creepy. Also, it is well known that anonymity in Internet discussion forums breed bad behaviour. Further, more and more commentators are recommending use of real names by Twitterers – eg: Scott Williams.
So, I decided to change my Twitter name. I found out how to do it – a slightly unnecessarily complicated way, but it worked; this is an easier way - but found that @JustinNelson and @Justin_Nelson had already been taken, but @_JustinNelson had not, so I changed the name from @Abaddonspit to @_JustinNelson (after a brief trial with @JustinPHNelson, which was less memorable, I feel, than @_JustinNelson.
All seemed fine on Twitter itself and using TweetDeck – “Job done!” I thought. I then found that I was unable to get photos sent via Twitpic to appear in my timeline. Suspecting that the leading underscore was the problem (no idea why, just a hunch), I changed my name back to @JustinPHNelson – and found myself locked out of the account. Too many name changes? Twitter hated the “PH” bit, too? I have no idea – Twitter have treated my help requests as feature requests (ie: binned them) or as instantly resolved and closed (ie: binned them), so I guess I will never know.
This happened last Sunday (less than a week ago as I type this), and the aghast, sinking feeling I had when I realised that I was Twitless is fresh in my memory. Knowing that Twitter would be at least 36 hours away from returning to work, I gave up my futile attempts to re-access my account and resigned myself to a period of Twitlessness.
Horrifyingly, by the Wednesday (after only four days’ inability to Tweet or – worse – follow Twitterers) I decided to give up on the hope of re-accessing my original Twitter account. After checking that @JustinNelson_ could successfully send Twitpics, and launched that account on an unsuspecting world, and started re-building my follows and followers. I started with the local Twitterers – helped by the very useful Twitvite list for the extremely well-attended Tweetup at the Hoodeners Horse yesterday. Today, my aim is to re-connect to the follows I had further afield.
One mistake I will not repeat from my very first foray into Twitter: I will not automatically DM a standard “welcome” message to each new follower I get, but will send a custom message instead. The minimal extra effort involved has to be worth it if I am to build a network of friends, rather than mere connections in the ether.
The only remaining problem that I have is that my mobile phone number is still associated with my old Twitter account, so until that account is unlocked or deleted I cannot use SMS messages for Twitter - a relatively small difficulty that I hope will eventually be overcome - Can you hear me, Twitter?