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Calm down! Twitter's featured-users list has been there since the beginning

September 29, 2009 |  4:17 pm

Twitter-old

Some Twitter users demonstrated a renewed upheaval over the weekend in response to the site's Suggested Users list, but everyone seemed to forget that a similar list was there during the site's infancy.

The list of notable accounts, as designated by Twitter Inc., is shown to newcomers when they create a site profile. Yeah, the new list went up in January, but a post by technology blogger Robert Scoble again turned the spotlight to Twitter's own user spotlight.

Scoble spilled his not-so-secret spite over not being selected for inclusion on Twitter's exclusive list and highlighted several others he considered notable -- even though, tragically, "they can’t get on Twitter’s Suggested User List."

"Unfair!" cried the underlings.

"I'll be honest...slighty annoyed im not on the 'suggested user' list on twitter!!" wrote David Powell (@powlo981) in the first tweet on his profile, which has amassed one follower since then (a user named @powlo88).

"A lot of the celebs on here with millions of followers is only because they are featured in the 'SUGGESTED USERS' list when u sign up," wrote reality TV star Tila Tequila. "So it's almost kinda like cheating since every new user who signs up to twitter, those celebs get added by default."

As people gripe and bloggers create their own lists, Gabe Rivera, founder of popular news aggregator Techmeme, summed up the overall frustrations. Though apparently joking, in a recent tweet he called Twitter's list an "insult" and "injustice to the service's pioneering users."

But here's the thing: The list was there from the beginning.

You may not remember (or, most likely, weren't actually on the site early enough), but Twitter.com had a box on the right side ...

... of the home page starting in 2006 (the year the site launched).

The "Featured" section cycled through a few of the Twitter founders' favorite early adopters. Apple fan-blogger John Gruber was one of the first notable picks. Gruber now has more than 33,000 followers, but he isn't on Twitter's current list. (However, he was one of the first to get the new retweet feature activated.)

The Wayback Machine holds the proof. The image, pictured top right, is grabbed from the Dec. 20 archive version.

Twitter's purpose for Suggested Users, co-founders Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey say, is to help newbies find people and companies they might immediately recognize. The effect is a massive boost to those users' follower counts.

Stone says a smarter version of the feature is on the development list, though not a top priority. And with continued Denial of Service attacks being fired at the site, according to one Twitter engineer, and a slew of interesting features in the pipeline, should it even be a priority?

-- Mark Milian

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