I’ve just been setting up a #TAGDeva Twitter account and following lots of worthy and brilliant, promising and dynamic archaeologists from across the world in the process. I then realised, ahead of the New Year, I hadn’t really kept up with curating my own Twitter account. I’d accumulated 2,900 followers, and I started going through them and trying to work out which were real and fake in an analogue way.

Why does this matter? Well, at one level it doesn’t matter. But at another level, I really do need to be honest and clear about who is following me and to take responsibility for the audiences I’ve cultivated for this blog. I’ve culled it down to just under 2,600, removing those that don’t have active accounts that seem to be populated by people or organisations relevant to my research. I’ve tried to give people the benefit of the doubt and keep the audience broad.

Here’s my crude typology I’ve identified so far, but please offer me input if I’ve missed any that you think are fake, or you have experience of why these people exist.

The main problem is that some those that fall into these categories might actually be genuine human beings with an interest in my research, and I’m worried I might be seen as arrogant or dismissive by blocking them. Still, here’s my criteria for exorcising my followers by blocking their asses. The vast majority are in categories 1-3:

  1. No photo or coherent description;
  2. Those posing to be, or actually are, pole-dancers, pornstars or just very lonely single females looking for a man;
  3. Those with pics of cars/boats and other random ‘manly’ crap who are presumably random fake people promoting shite gadgets;
  4. Random people for whom there is no good reason to follow me or speak a random languages for no apparent reason (presumably Russian spies or the FBI);
  5. Deceptively real-looking middle-aged people who have no activity (could be my family members, but most likely spies too);
  6. Those who define themselves exclusively by their faith;
  7. Alt-right/White supremacists – aka Nazi scum;
  8. Rabid Brexiteers;
  9. Trump-supporters;
  10. Crazy Welsh, English, Irish or Scottish nationalists;
  11. Anyone whose pseudonym is an Egyptian, Greco-Roman or Norse deity;
  12. Those who use Latin to try and look smart;
  13. Businesses unrelated to my research interests (i.e. funeral directors, undertakers etc are cool and I love being followed by them – and tour companies with an archaeological angle are ok too);
  14. My institution’s employees who are following me for no good or logical apparent reason, so I guess they are just snooping.
  15. That arsehole who just called my jokes ‘immature’;
  16. That US professor who was indignant and outraged that he might be followed by the #TAGDeva Twitter account because he doesn’t like TAG and never goes, but who has been outrageously following me without invitation or recriprocation!

You are all now systemtically blocked and I have several hundred less followers.

However, it isn’t that easy is it. This is because many of those above might be real people, with real interests in things I tweet and blog about. What if there are pornstars and Nazis who really need to read some real archaeological blogs?  Then there are those I might be misreading, in particular:

  1. Those who look like fake or incomplete accounts, but I know the people and know they exist. Yeah, their names might have been stolen, but I think there are a lot of people out there who are genuinely experimenting with Twitter and/or rarely use it, but they are real;
  2. Those who claim to be archaeologists, anthropologists, digital humanities geeks, medievalists or Viking fans but could equally be nutters or Nazis;
  3. female-gendered individuals who to my perspective look implausibly good-looking. I feel guilty for suspecting some might not actually be following me for reasons I feel comfortable with. In some cases, however, I’ve met these individuals and they do indeed look in some way like the way they present themselves on Twitter, and are genuine students/researchers in archaeology or a related subject, and/or are interested in my research and subjects of mutual interest;
  4. those with enigmatic pseudonyms and pretentious projects. I feel guilty for suspecting some might not actually be following me for reasons I feel comfortable with. Yet again, some of these I’ve met and they do indeed look like the way they present themselves on Twitter or their pseudonym makes sense in a rational way, and are genuine researchers in archaeology or a related subject, and/or are interested in my research and subjects of mutual interest;
  5. I really will keep the door open to fringe archaeologists and metal-detectorists;
  6. People who think it’s cool to post profile pics of themselves on Twitter with their kids, or pics of themselves when they were kids: I’m mightily suspicious of you, but I’ll keep you on board for now…
  7. The Republic of Nambia – I’ll follow them forever!

In short, Twitter can never be truly purged, and I fear my criteria simply reveal my prejudices. Indeed, perhaps some of those who seem the craziest are actually as sane as I am (whatever that means), or more importantly, as morbid as I am!

And that’s, my friend, where we come to the wonderful people of #DeathPositive who accidentally appear to be in one of my purged categories.  If I’ve accidentally blocked you and you are a genuine Archaeodeath fan, do get in touch via email: howard.williams@chester.ac.uk