Twitter Taxonomy: Species of user, their behaviour, and how to spot them.

I have blogged a lot about Twitter, and when you spend a lot of time on Twitter, especially clearing out the trash, you start to notice different personality types forming between the accounts, which is why I asked Matthew Partridge, of the Errant Science Blog, to fulfil my dream of having them depicted in a visual format. (I studied taxonomy for my PhD, so please indulge me, I obviously miss doing this kind of thing).

Kingdom Interneta; Phylum Webcomplexa; Class Socialmedia; Order: Populara; Family; Twitterae; Genus, Twitterensis

1. Twitterensis tryhardera, common name, ‘Followback‘ – I am a followback. I think this is the most common of all the (normal) non-commercial Twitter accounts; people just trying to make a good Twitter account. They Tweet on topic not getting too obsessed about the numbers of re-Tweets or Followers. No. Not at all. Numbers, what numbers?

FollowbackKey Characteristics: Tweeting often but not too much. Unfollowing old and non followers. Daily activities include accessing many different Unfollowing software to seek out shifty unfollowers.

2Twitterensis ignoramia, common name, TheNewbie‘  – These are, understandably, the cautious Twitter user. “What are these ‘hashtags’, ‘streams’, and ‘handles’?” they ask. And secretly they’re paranoid; they’ve heard all of the horror stories and news reports of people going to jail and in court hearings because of something that happened on Twitter. They could be next! they fear but this  fear will disappear when they realise after a week no-one reads their Tweets.


Key Characteristics: Easy to spot from the egg avatar not having hatched. One (or two) polite Tweets that say ‘Hello, this my first tweet‘, and less than ten followers or following.

3Twitterensis twitterati, common name, TheRobot‘  – You know those accounts that are seemingly fully-automated and respond to everything? Each post is perfect, with cool new hashtags you’ve never heard of and Tweeting the latest Trends and news. Twitterensis twitterati are the re-Tweeted. How do they do it, how do they keep so calm, happy and positive all the time? They must be a robot.


Key Characteristics: Amazing Klout score. Lots of great Tweets with related content and intimidating profile information. Quite often a pinned Tweet trying to sell you their latest book, which is part of a series – see advert pictured in their header photo.

4Twitterensis collaborensa, common name, RoCur‘ Account.  – These are Rotation Curation accounts managed and passed around by different users who are in a shared field of interest. I didn’t know about these types of account before Matthew explained them to me via his blog. It’s a great idea if you are new to Twitter or want to gain experience.

Rocur Account

Key Characteristics: Tweets can veer suddenly from one topic to the next and hashtags are used inconsistently. Usually many more followers than following.

5Twitterensis spambotvirala, common name, ‘Spam Bot‘ – How much do you hate these accounts! That was rhetorical. Most of them do nothing but ask you to ‘follow and get more followers!‘. If you ever mistakingly follow one of these accounts your stream soon becomes clogged with inane and torturous  life-sucking Tweets, not only of their Tweets but RE-Tweets of the same thing over and over again. Don’t. Ever. Follow.

Spam bot

Key Characteristics: Appear to be run by normal people but then HUGE Tweet posts occur with dots and wavy look-at-me lines and other characters (hearts, diamonds, dollar signs), telling you to ‘Follow for Follow’. Obsessions include: sex, following for following, making money, and diets.

6Twitterensis celebretara, common name, ‘Celebrity‘ – Tweet anything about anything and have a gazillion followers who re-Tweet whatever every-day thing is being experienced by them, the celebrity.

The Celebrity

Key Characteristics: Easy to spot via the inconceivable amount of followers (must have over a million followers but for the sub family: Celebriteriae, follower numbers must be in the hundreds of million). Tweets often have attached photo of something they are doing, attending, eating, drinking. Pouting in the mirror is often observed (non-gender specific behaviour). Some accounts come under sub species of T. celebretara, which show markedly different behaviours. most notably sub species T. c. popmusiciana: Pouting pictures more common, whereas sub species filmactora: selfies with regular folk or other celebrities (see ‘usie’) – more research is needed to verify these claims.

7Twitterensis watcha, common name, ‘The Watcher‘ – These Twitter users probably took advice like mine and joined Twitter may even made a few lists to see what people are Tweeting. After all, you don’t have to Tweet to be on Twitter.

The watcher

Key Characteristics: Often misidentified as Twitterensis ignoramia (just look at ‘member since’ date, Twitterensis watcha is at least six months old). No Tweets (or very few). Twitterensis watcha follows few accounts and have a few or no followers. There is an unexplained phenomenon in which these accounts are followed at all since no Tweets or information about the account user is ever observed.

About Dr Jojo Scoble

Freelance Science Communicator. Microbiology PhD Oxon. Fiction Writer. Social Media dilettante. Ideas Factory.
This entry was posted in blogging, Funny, humorous, microblogging, Twitter and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Twitter Taxonomy: Species of user, their behaviour, and how to spot them.

  1. Pingback: Weekly Round Up! | The Graduate School

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