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Blocking Together

Blocking users on Twitter got a whole lot more interesting.

Out of GamerGate, the amazing Randi Harper created Block Together which allows you to block everyone associated with the nasty parts of the whole mess.

To use it, it’s two steps.

  1. Sign up on Block Together
  2. Click on the link to @randi_ebooks’s list and press subscribe

That’s it. Once you do that, you’ll automatically block the masses. But this goes far further than Gamer Gate. By making a blocklist of your own, you can manage the people who regularly harass, offend, or otherwise make your life on Twitter miserable.

I’m a firm, devoted, supporter of freedom of speech. I also defend my right not to listen to someone I don’t want to hear. I don’t have to listen. Those blocklists can be incredibly useful to share with people, like your friends and people who face similar harassment, so you can protect yourself.

Sharing your block list

If you choose to share your block list with friends, Block Together will create an unlisted, unguessable URL to access your block list. You can share the URL by email or Direct Message if you want to keep it private among friends, or you can tweet the URL if you are okay sharing your block list publicly. You can always disable sharing from the Settings page. If you do so, the URL to access your blocks will be deleted forever. If you choose to share again in the future, you will create a new, different URL. If you choose to disable sharing, you need to separately remove any subscribers you no longer want, on the Subscriptions page.

Many people find that they don’t want to share their block list because they find there are accounts on it they don’t remember blocking, or that aren’t particularly abusive. This is partly because Twitter, for a long time, did not offer Mute. So if you wanted to stop seeing a merely unfunny account that gets frequently retweeted, blocking used to be the only fix. Now Twitter offers Mute, so you can Mute those accounts instead. Block Together makes it easy to remove them from your shared block list with the ‘Unblock and Mute’ button on the My Blocks page.

I don’t public share my list. I have shared it to a few people, but since I block rather than mute people, it’s very easy for people to take offense at me putting them on the list. To me, blocking someone means “I don’t chose to have conversations with you in this manner in Twitter.” There are companies of friends I’ve blocked because they follow me to Twitter after a conversation on the Plugin Repository team.

Actually for me, most of my blocked people are either people who have violently responded to social activism tweets, people who tweet me thinking that’s a faster way to get their plugin approved/reviewed, people who are implicitly aggressive towards me without taking the time to learn the whole story, concern trolls, and passionate people who have gone overboard.

Yes, I block people who ping me about their plugins. My Twitter account is not the right way to address those things. Neither is Facebook. People who cannot respect the fact that I’m not working 24/7 don’t deserve my attention. I block them, and all the begging in the world won’t change that. I block probably faster than most people would consider ‘fair’ but it’s my Twitter account, not theirs, and I have a way I wish to control access and information. I need a reason to block people, but I’m not required to explain that to everyone.

But if I make that list public, people would probably use it as leverage to harass me more or treat me worse. They have in the past. It’s the double edged sword where I want to help my friends but I need to protect myself. For now, my list will be private to people whom I know well only, and who won’t take it as offensive.