Has Birmingham's Artsfest gone anti-social on Twitter?

Artsfest twitter

Earlier today I accepted and cheerfully reciprocrated an approach from Artsfest on Twitter.  A few hours later Stef Lewandowski messaged me to ask If I thought it was right for this icon of the Birmingham arts scene to be using an invite bot to find friends on twitter

The short answer is no.  If that’s what Artsfest is doing then they’ve received some appaling advice.  The social web is about human connections – real networks of real relationships.  Using a software robot to make social connections is anti-social. It’s spam.

So like Chris Unitt I am gonna regretfully block Artsfest.  If a human being reads this blog post and can assure me that you’re not spamming please do so in the usual way – using the comments section below.

29 comments

  1. Aidan Mann says:

    Nick I saw your message and I was going to get back to you but I wanted to keep tweeting. Just like yourself, @chrisunitt and @aeioux who has sent a direct message to @artsfest I am a daily twitter user.

    I am not sure what you see the problem as being I understand your statement and the use of the word spam but you are able to block someone if you don’t approve of their message and then that’s the end of the problem. People who try to make twitter more complicated than that should maybe just get out more.

    Twitter as you have said is a network of real networks and real social relationships.

    In this case at this stage of the Birmingham Arts Fest where the schedule is only now being confirmed to artists, it is largely a matter of recruiting volunteers to work on that and the next phase of the project.

    What you all have variously described as a ‘brand’ is in fact an event that operates on a shoestring budget out of the office for Sport. It is almost entirely dependent on volunteers.

    The current tweet is to the point, it describes for those who do not know what Birmingham Arts Fest is, when Birmingham Arts Fest is and that there are opportunities to volunteer.

    For people younger or older who want to gain experience in the arts it is an excellent opportunity. As you yourself have indicated you already have people in your immediate circle involved as performers. That’s great for you and them, and I mean that.

    But for @chrisunitt and @aeioux and any other grandees of the Birmingham ‘Creative’ set who have their place in web 2.0 and or the arts scene or just Birmingham ‘brand’ already assured perhaps they could take a moment to reflect on what it is what like when they didn’t have that and what it is what like to aspire to that. Instead of being so openly critical or throwing their rattles out of the pram.

    So to come back to real networks and real social relationships which I am part of on my personal account on twitter on a daily basis in my own name (also I might add blocked by @chrisunitt but then why doesn’t that surprise me?) the bio section, directs those who are interested, towards the website recruiting volunteers.

    Which is a real social environment with real social interaction. Of this there is no doubt.

    There is nothing in Twitters terms of use that prohibits setting up an account and following users based on their demographic and using it as a direct marketing tool much like any other leaflet drop, and the favourable responses from @openfuture @suttonart @ReikiMusic amongst others clearly demonstrate the message is being received favourably by some who are slightly less cynical and or judgemental.

  2. Pete Ashton says:

    While I wasn’t involved in this at all I do feel ever so slightly responsible as I persuaded Elise and Emily, the two people who run all of Artsfest, to investigate social media tools and have pretty much left them to figure it out on their own. In this case they’ve boobed but in fairness they don’t know the community rules of Twitter which are on the whole unwritten and evolving.

    With that in mind I don’t think simply blocking them is not a productive move, not just for Artsfest but for anyone, org or individual, who is following our lead in this world. The invite them in and then get all snotty when they get the unwritten rules wrong is, well, it’s rude, off-putting and counter productive.

    Do you honestly believe that Artsfest would deliberately spam Twitter with the full knowledge of what that means?

  3. Nick Booth says:

    Aidan,

    Hello and thanks very much for the response. This really isn’t a question of twitters terms and conditions – it it more a question of how well you are relating to the social networks who’s social capital you want to benefit from when you begin to use twitter to market something.

    Clearly you have most of our attention simply from being artsfest, but if you are using software robots to find people with whom you have no connection then that is a very clumsy way to tap into a social network.

    Is that what you are doing? How are you finding the people who you’re approaching through twitter?

  4. Nick Booth says:

    Hi Pete, I\’ve just missed your comment. The key part of what your asking is do I honestly think Artsfest would deliberately spam twitter. We don\’t know at the moment how Artsfest has been tapping into twitter. Whether Aidan or other volunteers or staff have managed to find and follow hundreds of people in a day or whether they\’ve somehow automated that process.

    Obviously I think it\’s important that key Birmingham organisations like Artsfest use social media – I\’ve spoken to them about it myself. But I\’m keen to see them do this well. There is often a disconnect between people who use social media principally as a marketing tool to convey a message and they who use it as a place to build relationships.

    I\’m pretty confident that an Artsfest twitter stream which is run in a personal way will quickly build those relationships and become a much more effective promoter for the festival than a robot fed stream. The people behind it need to appreciate that the number being followed by Artsfest is irrelevant – its the number who\’ve reciprocated that is key – and on top of that whether those folk will in turn trust those messages and share them.

    As for whether blocking them is \”rude, off-putting and counter productive\” or helpful? Well it\’s got this conversation going, we\’ve already seen more interaction appear on the Artsfest twitter stream, it\’s helped do the classic social web thing of applying more minds and thinking to the process. So blocking @artsfest has spurred a conversation and created a social object.

    I\’d like to see Artsfest better at this than Downing Street. At the moment they\’re not, so lets accelerate that learning.

  5. Pete Ashton says:

    Hi Aiden,

    I didn’t see your comment when I posted mine (had the tab open for a while).

    First off, thanks for exploring the use of services like Twitter for orgs like Artsfest which, as you say, are run by volunteers and, given the remit, criminally underfunded by the council. I personally believe this approach can help them do better works.

    That said you are, to coin a phrase, “doing it rong”. Please bear with me while I explain why, not to be cynical or judgemental but because I care.

    Twitter as a platform doesn’t restrict how people use the service as long as they don’t break it. Twitter users, on the other hand, have developed social rules of engagement, as communities tend to do. One of these is attempting to combat those people who indiscriminately follow thousands of people in the hope that a few of them will follow them back. Since it’s impossible to monitor more than a few hundred people on Twitter in any meaningful way these people cannot presumably be engaging with those they follow in any meaningful way.

    It also messes up the notification system. I’ve stopped checking the Twitter mails for new people following me because most of them are those indiscriminate followers and not people who are following me because they genuinely are interested in what I’m writing. Checking which of them are worth following back is long winded and a waste of time.

    To combat this many Twitter users block anyone who follows them who has an absurdly high Follower:Following ratio. There are tools to do this easily such as http://twerpscan.com/ . By doing this we can clean up the list of people following us.

    I’m sorry to say that with a ratio of 3,659 : 427 you’re on the blacklist as shown in this screen grab:
    http://skitch.com/peteashton/xgyy/twitter-aidanmann

    I’d imagine that’s why Chris has blocked you and, if you’d started following me I’d do the same. It’s an automatic reflex now.

    That said, I’d genuinely be interested to know how you manage following 3,659 people, especially when the Older button is disabled. I have enough trouble with 150.

    As for Artsfest I’m rather disappointed you’ve taken this approach. Looking through the list of people they’re following it’s all over the country with what looks to be a lot of tech-types from the US. Hardly likely candidates for a Birmingham event.

    Also, sending the same message (” Staging events across the arts genres in over 30 venues in Birmingham. 12, 13, 14 September. Volunteering opportunities available.”) four times in the first hour – I hope that’s an error and not something you plan to do constantly until September. Could get rather irritating.

  6. Shona says:

    I seriously don’t think any malice was intended by Artsfest, so I’m not blocking them.

    So, they made a mistake if they automated the Twitter promotion – if that’s the case, let’s quit the witchhunt and help them learn. We’re allowed to make mistakes. I should know; I am the queen of making mistakes.

    Do we want Artsfest to work? I won’t answer for others, but I do.

  7. Chris says:

    Of course Shona’s right, there’s no need for any unpleasantness – no-one was hurt here or anything and besides, I still like me a bit of Artsfest.

    My 2p (although Antonio has already said it best):

    Aidan – If I blocked you then it’s nothing personal. If I get a notification that someone’s following me I’ll usually check to see who they are – if they have a high following:followers ratio it suggests to me that that person is uninterested in striking up any sort of genuine dialogue (or ‘real social relationship’) so I won’t follow them. Periodically I’ll use twerpscan to clear out those sorts of followers, blocking them.

    So, you’re right to be ‘not surprised’ if I am blocking your personal account – I probably just mistook you for an account-building spambot/marketer. The pic of the scantily-clad lady on your profile may well have reinforced that impression. Like I say, nothing at all personal.

    On the Artsfest front, I just saw it as clumsy and impersonal – how can there be those ‘real social relationships’ you mention with circa-3000 indiscriminately added people? For an organisation that’s so closely tied to the community too.

    And my take on the ‘spam’ issue is this – many of those ‘follows’ will have sent an email notification with your/Artsfest’s details to the account holders. The law doesn’t allow you to send those people direct emails with that information (and those addresses would be hard/expensive to get) so Twitter-following is a cheap, legal alternative used by all sorts of unsavoury types. I still call that spamming.

    Still, it’s storm in a teacup stuff really – life will go on. Oh, and having only done CiB for 2 months the ‘grandee’ thing tickled me! My mum’ll be so proud.

  8. Aidan Mann says:

    Boy you guys seem really confused.

    Yes @peteashton you are absolutely right sending out the same message four times in a row could get really irritating especially for slow learners. But the point is I sent out messages in between those four, thanking individuals who had sent some quite nice messages to the account publicly. So I messaged them back publicly showing them that selfsame courtesy, and in part I admit to placate you really sad bunch of dudes and to demonstrate to you in the midst of your hyperactivity disorders while you were throwing your rattles out of the pram that @artsfest is not a bot. And then I replaced the original message for the new adds, the only message that is important for now, which gives the three main points as mentioned: Time, Place, Matter.

    How do I follow close to 4000 tweets? I assume you are talking about my personal account @aidanmann. I also follow several different languages in those tweets through a variety of methods for one; Googletalk gadget,
    http://www.techlifeweb.com/2008/04/11/the-ultimate-twitter-client

    which allows me a sidebar, at peak periods I am getting a tweet a second. I don’t know how quickly you read. But @scobleizer @jasoncalacanis have several tens of thousands of followers and are followed by equally as many, and they are not the only ones.

    When twitter ‘replies’ doesn’t work then I use summize or tweetscan I also use http://www.twitterlocal.net/stats

    This has nothing to do with Emily or Kate. I brought it to them and if you guys were so cool and or so concerned about it you could have set it up for them. There is nothing ‘rong’ about what I am doing even to the point as proven by yourself that it has started a conversation about artsfest.

    Not only that but that the conversation is taking place here is also in the experience of web 2.0, besides best efforts, also irrelevant. Unless I aggregated it across platforms or some such other nonsense that sound like plans for starting a brothel. Oh yeah Friendfeed but then that would really be over reaching.

    And exactly what is the matter with tech types be they American or otherwise? Twitter is an American site started by and for tech types and other early adopters. Wait you think tech types or Americans have never heard of Birmingham UK or never come here? I mean there is an international airport here last I looked and it is the second largest city in the country, in the middle of the country, and known for being an exhibition centre. In fact isn’t that what the ICC stands for International Convention Centre? Right next to Centenary Square and part of the building containing the Symphony? All to figure prominently in artsfest. You think tech types or Americans don’t like the arts or live performances? You can answer that yourself I am not going there with you, as those are just a portion of the people followed and in fact who are you other than arts interested and a Birmingham resident, why should I give you this information as to how I am choosing profiles? Do you want a CV?

    In one way that is almost perverse I think you guys have hit a real nail on the head. That’s the part that I am getting most clearly, you guys are part of the problem. It is getting around you guys and your pissing contest that is the real issue. There are people out there on twitter who are responding positively and following and some of those profiles may be irrelevant but A so what (?) and B a lot of them are spot on.

    I am not a bot and I am not using a bot. I am not unfamiliar with twitter I am a daily user of the service, I am fully up to date with developments about web 2 and twitter in particular. I think in fact, based on your questions and your slightly haphazard reasoning, perhaps more so than you are. Basically what is emerging is that your little Birmingham clique hierarchy, of in the know people, all blowing smoke up each others butts, has become upset by the fact that you find yourself associated with all of a sudden an unknown quantity in the form of inclusion on a very large twitter list, from something that you have emotional resonance and some defined and undefined connections with. Hey you may have even started the very first Birmingham artsfest and have an ongoing love hate affair with it and this actually has nothing to do with me and my assumed, and as of yet uncontrolled by you, role in it.

    I have done you the courtesy of responding to this blog but whether you rejoin the @artsfest or not (although as far as I understand @peteashton is still following last I looked) is largely besides the point. You can use twitter and your networks however you see fit. But if a profile is open to be followed that account holder has a choice to follow you back or not. They can even unfollow you again if they want to go to the trouble of finding you in their ‘following’ list or they can get shirty about it and just block you. The way @chrisunitt did without bothering to message directly just have a loud online putdown pout about declaring much remorse, like the dying scene in ‘Mask’. Gee maybe I should call Samaritans for him.

    I get followed by profiles sometimes with or without large follow lists. Sometimes I see a connection sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I see a bot sometimes I just see a marketing exercise. It’s not really a big deal. I am not obligated to follow back I evaluate each one on its merits, it’s pretty simple.

    At the end of the day these aren’t your networks. They don’t belong to you. You may have invited some of these people on here, you may have been a proselytizer, an evangelist for web 2.0, your opinion may hold great sway with your coterie of admirers, but I am not losing one of iota of sleep over that part of it.

    This is a publicity exercise not neurosurgery. If it’s a ‘brand’ it is not being sponsored by o2 or vodaphone and whether the City of Birmingham pumps another penny into it is nothing I am concerned about.

    It’s an Arts Festival, where all kinds of people can hope to be in attendance, twerps included. Maybe that will also include you, your friends and family, maybe even as performers. It could take a week, two weeks easily for some of the twitter profiles (twerps included) to respond and some of them may no longer use their twitter accounts, and may never respond. In the meantime for every person who does click to follow back or clicks to look at the profile, even while deciding not to follow, it is another person who has been made aware of Birmingham, of the Arts Fest in Birmingham, and the potential to volunteer at the Arts Fest in Birmingham.

    That is an exercise in niche marketing. And if @chrisunitt and @aeioux had a little fastfood restaraunt ketchup packet burst over it well gee I am really sorry, grow up.
    Quite a few other people have responded positively.

  9. Jon says:

    Well I’m being followed, I’m following back, and I’m having some nice “oooh hello we’re both arts festivals on twitter” dialogue via DM with my @suttonart account.

    So however they found me: I’m glad.
    They’re more chatty then @BrumJazzFest and so overtime I’m sure they’ll correct things out and make a good go of it.

    I wouldn’t have really spotted the repeated tweet buried way down the page when I got up this morning unless you guys had told me.

    You guys are all the sort of people that they would go out and find straight away so why not follow you? Yeah some of the people are a bit random, but as Pete admits:

    “I persuaded Elise and Emily, the two people who run all of Artsfest, to investigate social media tools and have pretty much left them to figure it out on their own.”

    The real issue here seems to be that all the leading twitter folks in Brum are a bit embarrassed that one of the main events in Brum has made a mistake while learning.

    Surely the best thing to do is put this down as a case study of wrongness and help them to get back on track?

  10. Russ L says:

    The important question is “What happens next”? Are Artsfest-Or-Their-Surrogate-Twittereers-Or-Whoever-It-Is-That-Actually-Did-It going to proceed with the use of a spambot?

    I’ll echo Chris in saying that Antonio sums it up very nicely, but I haven’t blocked them yet…

  11. Katie says:

    I got followed by @artsfest too.

    I didn’t block.

    But I’ve not followed either – both because I didn’t like the spammy approach and because it’s a bit early to be honest; I’ll follow when we’re closer to the event.

    If I hadn’t known about Artsfest beforehand, I may well have blocked them due to the extraordinarily high number of accounts (‘accounts’ as opposed to ‘people’) they’re following, compared to their followers. This simply strikes me as spammy. But I do know about Artsfest, so didn’t block.

    I wonder what Artsfest could do instead of Twitter-spamming?

    Artsfest have a mailing list (I know ‘cos I’m on it!) so another approach might be to email their database with the news that ‘Artsfest is now on Twitter’, so giving people the chance to decide whether or not to follow. This way they might even introduce more people to the joys of tweeting and look all innovative and cutting-edge and that?! Granted this would be a slower way of getting the message out – but once a few people follow, word spreads pretty swiftly.

    I understand it’s about the ‘call for volunteers’ at the moment rather than promoting specific performances but again, an email to the Artsfest database may have been a good move in the first instance – directly targetting those people they know are interested in the festival and who would surely be more inclined to help out than, for example, @BarackObama or @StephenColbert …?

    @suttonart managed the ‘cold’ approach really well – they also followed me so I had a squizz at the profile (Following 10s rather than 1000s of people), checked out the website and decided it was worth a look. They seemed more selective – more human – which is infinitely better.

    So, yes, I think it was a really bad move to spam.

    But no, I don’t think it was done with bad intentions and – as Shona points out – we all make mistakes.

    I think Pete’s point, that the unwritten and evolving rules of Twitter are complete unknowns to anyone new to it, is spot-on – spammy robot things just don’t ‘get’ etiquette; but people do.

  12. Jon says:

    Thanks for the kind words about @suttonart’s approach Katie.

    Just for the record here’s what we did:

    1. Searched for people with Sutton based profiles using twitter and twellow and followed them

    2. Had a squizz through followers of a few of the people with lots of connections to the local arts scene in the wider Bham area, and added them – the hope being that if they’re interested then they’ll follow and we’ll pick some of their people up that way

    3. Just got on with making tweets

    And that’s it really – that’s enough to put a flag in the sand and tell people we’re there.

    We’ve stopped following a few people now who weren’t at all interesting, and we’re getting 1 or 2 people following me each day which is nice. Especially as most of the people following us are arty and birminghamy / sutton coldfieldy and those are the people we’re most interested in talking to.

    We only have 18 followers I think – we may have say 30 by next week. But that’s fine – it’s our first year, and we can continue building that up and making it a really useful comms channel for us ahead of the ’09 event. I’m in no rush.

    A final aside: Aidan Mann’s post from Aidan Mann from 3:34 am wasn’t visible when I made my first post today.

    Having now read it I’m still largely OK with what @artsfest is up to and on their side on the main… BUT that was kind of a snipey post really – no need to be so defensive or personal: that won’t help win this fight back, now will it?
    I think people ARE trying to help, and best to never burn a bridge…

  13. catnip says:

    Re: “And then I replaced the original message for the new adds”, “The current tweet is to the point”, you shouldn’t use Twitter like that IMO. Put your original, important message in your profile, yes. There’s no such thing as a ‘current’ tweet, only your most recent tweet.

    Twitter is not like a normal web page where you ‘put the most important stuff at the top’. A normal webpage doesn’t send a message to thousands of people every time you tweak the layout. I realise that some web pages have RSS feeds, but people would be equally annoyed if the same item kept coming through on the feed.

    I was originally pleased to discover that artsfest had a twitter account. I thought it would be used to announce acts/artists appearing as they were confirmed. It would also be useful during the festival to announce last minute changes etc.. However, the fact that the person responsible for the Twitter account has overreacted to some constructive criticism by namecalling has put me off somewhat. And I’ll have to stop following if the same tweet keeps coming through over and over.

  14. Nick Booth says:

    Jon re suttonarts aproachon twitter: “it’s our first year, and we can continue building that up and making it a really useful comms channel for us ahead of the ‘09 event. I’m in no rush.”

    Plus “We’ve stopped following a few people now who weren’t at all interesting, and we’re getting 1 or 2 people following me each day which is nice. Especially as most of the people following us are arty and birminghamy / sutton coldfieldy and those are the people we’re most interested in talking to.”

    Both indicate what I’d consider the best long term approach to using social media tools. Its about building the right relationships over the long term rather than trying to grab the maximum attention in the short.

  15. Hi Nick, thanks for hosting again!

    Seems like this has generated a lot of hot air over what is essentially a faux-pas.

    Aidan – it’s good that you came here to talk about this, but I’m not so hot on the way you’ve done it. Perhaps the appropriate place could have been Twitter itself?

    I’d also say that being a little more measured in your acceptance of criticism would be a good idea in future.

    The reason the twitterspamming annoyed me is that I’ve been involved on the periphery of ArtsFest for a couple of years (taking photos that they have used since for promo on a creative commons basis: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=artsfest ) and it seemed like a big mistake to be using spammy methods to promote the event.

    Where I come from (purely my own take on Twitter): you sent out 3000 follower notifications to people, of whom 50 have responded. If everyone were to do that we’d be inundated. Also, for a public organisation to be spamming is probably a little iffy on a number of fronts outside Twitter’s terms of service. I guess that’s a grey area.

    I call it spam because it’s unsolicited and on a large scale. I was sitting hitting refresh on the @artsfest page watching the number going up every time, which lead me to assume it was a bot, rather than a rapid mousefinger.

    It sounds like you’ve got a bit of a chip on your shoulder about a few people including me so I’m not going to engage in a dialogue about the more insulting parts of your last message – I doubt I’d be able to change your mind.

    It comes down to:

    * Good idea setting up the account – it could prove _very_ useful during the festival. Fierce’s one actually meant that I got to an event I wouldn’t have.

    * I think that a better approach to a couple of critical tweets is to say ‘oops – I didn’t know, sorry’, rather than lay into me and others in quite a personal way on a Sunday when I’d rather be taking a day off.

    * You could make your account better and more useful by unfollowing a load of people and not tweet the same thing multiple times.

    Stef

  16. Chris says:

    Aidan, amongst the insults I think you hit the nail on the head – what seems to have happened is that you’ve wandered into an existing online community and not followed the unwritten conventions of a vocal (and local) few.

    I wouldn’t overstate how important my tweet was and how much I cared about the whole thing at the time. I like your burst ketchup packet analogy – something minor happened that I found a bit icky, I made a verbal roll of the eyes and, but for this, I’d have moved on.

    So let’s try and turn this into a positive – http://www.createdinbirmingham.com/2008/07/06/artsfest-need-volunteers/ There, that’ll pass the message to 1000+ mainly local, arts-interested folk and perhaps some good will come of this discussion.

  17. Wow. Well I’m sure there are plenty here who would be happy to advise on cool things they could do with it.

    How about:

    * Sending twitter messages for programme changes
    * Make your own programme? Tick a box next to each event and subscribe to those events that you want to go to in advance. Then get twitter updates just before they are happening so you can walk there
    * Organise flashmobs. Eg. “Flashmob at the IKON now and wait for further instructions”
    * Have a “question and answer” service where you can send a message to them via twitter like “Where was the breakdancing happening today again?” and get “Breakdancing happening in Centenary Square at 7.30pm today” back
    * Umm – loads more I’m sure…

  18. Well, what an interesting Monday morning to say the least! We (Emily & Kate) rolled in to the office this morning to find this discussion in our inbox. Firstly, we’d like to say thanks guys for all of you that made such positive comments about the festival and our work. Secondly, we’d like to say this twitter site has absolutely nothing to do with us, it has not been set up by the ArtsFest team and we were slightly shocked to find all of this today to say the least. (We hadn’t even been on Twitter until Aidan mentioned it to us on Friday! Our immediate reaction was what a fantastic idea… but there is absolutely no way we can manage this in addition to our blog, facebook, website and myspace or take part in the effective way we would want to at this point in our programming period! )

    So, not that we need to make a defence for ourselves, but for the record we thought you might like some OFFICIAL ArtsFest views on the subject and an official response to your comments:

    If we were to set up this kind of account we wouldn’t have automatically sought advice from the existing local community simply because it wouldn’t have even occurred to us that there was any required ‘etiquette’. I’d say for us the approach would have been one of common sense and our instinct would be to approach only relevant people and therefore contribute to real growth and sustainability within Birmingham’s arts community (after all sustainability is what we shed blood, sweat and tears for in the office so why would we throw all of that out the window and jeopardise the credibility of the festival by spamming?!).

    In any case, as I said before we don’t have time to monitor this effectively and so don’t have the capacity to sustain a twitter account – and to be honest to come in this morning to all these enlightening (and however well intended messages) just reiterate this decision for us. I know it might sound defeatist but to put it in perspective for everyone there are about 50 artists that could have been confirmed in the time it has taken us to read these comments and respond today! Yes, social networking is great, but not if it stops us actually organising the festival!
    For us the priority at this stage has to be actually organising the festival and that isn’t going to happen on its own (I can’t begin to stress how much work we have to do between the 3 of us (and our life saving volunteers). So although it is with great regret that we’re not taking part in twitter JUST YET and we do understand that there is massive potential for partnership development and word spreading to be done by ArtsFest through Twitter – I hope you appreciate that we wouldn’t want to take part half heartedly! Also, I hope that this ‘storm in a teacup’ shows why we the team have to be able to manage web promotion/networking and cannot let volunteers take something like Twitter upon themselves without us monitoring content being put out there as ‘officially ArtsFest’.

    On another note as a family friendly festival we would certainly want to have some control over the type of people we were ‘friends’ with (or whatever the twitter equivalent is). There is no way in this world that we would want to encourage unsolicited approaches to our ArtsFest supporters (again I’m only guessing that this is a possible consequence of making friends with the whole world). I certainly don’t agree that we shouldn’t be communicating with people from other countries – I think we all agree that we should be shouting from the rooftops about the greatness of Birmingham (or else what are we in this for?).

    I have no idea what it’s like to be spammed by twitter so I can only apologise to those of you who were offended. So, final thoughts… maybe we should hold this idea until post September and instigate twitter for 2009 … one step at a time for 2008… check out our blog http://www.artsfest365.wordpress.com which will be where you can be first to find out announcements of this years programme before the publicity brochure is available!!!

    And final final thoughts … we really are sorry to anybody who found themselves personally insulted through an attempt to make constructive criticism about the ‘ArtsFest’ Twitter yesterday. These comments were in no way representative of the views of the ArtsFest team! We do think Aidan was only trying to help but shouldn’t have taken this upon himself without running it by us first or expressing any personal views on behalf of ArtsFest.

    Now, maybe its time to forget about all of this. We have deleted the Twitter page for the time being.

    Thanks for your time

    Kate & Emily

    (Oh and great ideas Stef – we do appreciate them and will be looking into this with our web host and trying our best to find a way to do some of these – but please remember –500 artists, 26 venues, 6 stages and just 3 staff … we do try and be wonder woman but have to sleep sometime!)

  19. Nick Booth says:

    Kate and Emily,

    Many thanks for stopping here and explaining. I wont add to the suggestions already made. I’m sure you would most like to know this is behind you so you can get on with all that organising! Good Luck to you and also all the people who volunteer. Hopefully many more of us are now subscribed to your blog.

    http://www.artsfest365.wordpress.com/

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