Bots Out Of Control On Twiends Discovery?

Twiends Discovery
Above: The familiar “No More Available” screen – now pretty much perpetual at Twiends.

It looks, at least for the moment, as if the automated routines sold in the Web ‘underworld’ have all but killed off the Twiends Discovery feature. If you need a broader insight into Twiends, incidentally, I’ve taken a comprehensive look at the site in Why Twiends Doesn’t Work.

After introduction, Discovery proved a good way to legitimately acquire Seeds on Twiends (and thus acquire followers) without actually following anyone in return. No churn required; just use Discovery to check out other users’ accounts, and you got Seeds. Admittedly, building a substantial following was a slow process, and the ‘followers’ would almost inevitably be completely disengaged and not vaguely listening to you (a given with a site like Twiends), but if you just wanted that steady increase in numbers, it did work.

… Well, it worked for the people doing the ‘discovering’. Those being ‘discovered’ would lose a heck of a lot of Seeds for very little gain, as there was no motivation whatsoever for anyone to follow them beyond their content – which most desensitised discoverers would not even be looking at. Therefore, one would expect to see a fairly rapid realisation among users that being ‘discovered’ was a waste of Seeds. This would result in a high turnover, with very few profiles remaining discoverable for long. Indeed, that looked to be exactly what was happening.

But since the introduction of Discovery, there have also been increasing signs that the system was being botted. And this week, the Discovery feature looks to have finally been botted out of the picture altogether, with virtually no profiles available to ‘discover’ at all. To clarify, there definitely are bots available that purport to acquire Seeds from Twiends Discovery – only the prevalence has been in question. What suggests that the prevalence has been increasing? Well, there’s been the very high incidence of “No Seeds were available” failures when attempting to ‘discover’, progressing through profiles disappearing from Discovery in seconds, to the current scenario of simply no profiles whatsoever to ‘discover’.

The Twiends Discovery programme has always been a very tenuous premise and of little value to most of those making their accounts discoverable – especially since the race to net all available Discovery points specifically motivates users to leave people’s pages as quickly as possible. But I very much doubt Twiends would want to drop the feature unless it’s absolutely shot, because it’s a fantastic way for the site to serve ad after ad to users. In fact, the ads are usually the most impactive element of the discovery page – which makes the whole thing an even bigger waste of Seeds for those being ‘discovered’.

But of course, if bots are currently taking the majority of the Discovery Seeds, then hardly anyone’s seeing the ads, which means that unless Twiends can do something to stop the scourge of illegitimate automation, Discovery may not be worth keeping anyway.

Twiends has for long had a problem with cheats and bots, and maybe what now appears to be the impending failure of the Discovery feature is just the thin end of the wedge. Realistically, almost none of the followers you get from Twiends will pay any attention, and thus their only real value is as a ‘popularity badge’. It doesn’t take long for Twiends users to work that out and look elsewhere for meaningful follows. Add to that the fact that Twitter itself seems to be lapsing ever further into a hiatus of new interest, and it might be the case that flawed concepts like Twiends have a crisis to face in the foreseeable future.