We here at Tennis Inside Out love Mardy Fish. As you may know, he’s J.D.’s favorite player, just above Federer and “Anyone Who Plays Djokovic.” This talented American tennis player has complicated our lives a bit here at the blog, however, by actually paying attention to the non-stop blather Val has been sputtering over @TennisInsideOut on Twitter.
See, we couldn’t help getting excited about Andy Roddick’s feisty grass court comeback, from a last-minute wildcard to trophy-holder at Eastbourne. It was his 31st title and boosted his at-least-one-title-per-year record to 12 years. The only other current player hanging with ARod on that stat is Fed. Not too shabby.
In between gushing over Federer’s backhand and lamenting the Great Mystery that is Ernests Gulbis, Val likes to remind people that Roddick has been at the top of the sport for a long time and deserves a little more respect from the tennis world. So, in honor of the Slam winner with the kick-ass red kicks, and his win at Eastbourne, she tweeted:
@TennnisInsideOut: Seriously, Andy doesn’t get enough credit for his consistency. 600 match wins, peeps. Nearly a decade in the Top 10. Bravo #Roddick #atp
Roddick fans on Twitter appreciated the sentiment and RT’ed the message. Then Mardy Fish, always a vocal fan of his buddy Andy, RT’ed it to his followers.
BOOM. The @TennisInsideOut replies page was suddenly moving as fast as if we’d accidentally leaned on the scroll button. RTs started rolling in, and new follows. Sure, Rafa gets as many followers in the time it takes him to arrange his water bottles, but it was still a pretty nice waterfall of fans for a fledgling Twitter account and blog.
At least it was nice–until right in the middle of tweeting about Federer’s first round match, on the first day of the biggest Slam of the year, Twitter suspended our @TennisInsideOut account. Just like that. No warning, no email, nada. Gone without a trace. All followers erased, all evidence of our existence eradicated. You can’t even see our tweet on Mardy’s timeline anymore, though Google still holds the evidence:
A tiny pink bar at the top of our Twitter page let us know we’d been suspended. We were directed to a Help page, which directed us to a form to fill out to protest the suspension. The form generated an auto-reply email that required a reply. Then we waited.
Poking around online, it turns out that these sudden suspensions have happened to a lot of people. According to this blog, there are any number of activities that can trigger Twitter’s wrath–including a large shift in followers/following, tweeting too often or on trending topics, using too many hashtags, or actually talking directly to people. In other words, using the system the way 90% of Twitter users do.
In fact, Twitter’s Help pages inform readers that Twitter is “not a social networking website.” Yes, that’s the same look we had on our face when we read that. The other thing we learned was that limits are in place to help prevent spam, but we dolphins occasionally get caught in the evil tuna net–this time, with the help of a Fish. (Ahhh, see what we did there?)
So, you should all be careful. Being popular, getting noticed, making new friends and talking to them, keeping up with trends, and promoting your business–all can get you suspended from Twitter. Thus far we’ve found no way to talk to an actual person at Twitter–all you can do is wait and hope the Twitter bot is kind to you.
Over @TennisInsideOut, we actually got a reply w/in 24 hours. We were told the suspension had been a mistake, that we’d been caught up in one of those tuna-spam raids. So sorry, your account will be restored, everything will be back to normal w/in the hour. Well, as you might have guessed, that didn’t happen. Word is that “hour” can last anywhere from 3 days to a month or more.
Sending another email message to Twitter only results in the exact same auto-reply message that the account will be up in an hour. Suddenly it’s like we’re in that years-long traffic jam on the “Gridlock” episode of Doctor Who. Is anyone actually running Twitter? Or are the offices empty and abandoned, and we’re all still flailing around the network until we get eaten by sewer monsters?
Poking around further online, we found a ballet company that was just about to do an online Q&A with actors from an upcoming CW reality TV series, when they got their Twitter pink slip, or pink bar, as it were. It took them 2 weeks to get their account back, and they credit the reinstatement to their fans and followers sending multiple requests to Twitter’s @support. You can read their whole saga here.
As you can imagine, we here at Tennis Inside Out are pretty frustrated with being locked out of our own Twitter account, through no fault of our own, and with seemingly no recourse. To have a tennis account vanish during the biggest tennis tourney of the year is certainly not a recipe for success.
We’re hoping you’ll bear with us until the Twitter Bot decides our “hour” of waiting is up. In the meantime, if you’re missing all of the scintillating updates about shirt changes, players cursing out umpires, and some more Fish and ARod love, you can head over to Val’s personal account @ValerieDavid, where she’s tweeting tennis in the interim.
Thank you for your support, and we hope you’ll take a look around Tennis Inside Out, and rejoin us on Twitter when we’re back in business.
And Mardy, like Val said on Twitter earlier–you owe us a can of tuna, dude. Or US Open box seat tickets. You know, whatever you can swing. P.S. Good luck to you guys at Wimby!
UPDATE 5, July 17, 2012: I sent back a protest to Twitter, contesting the idea that out tweets were “unrelated.” I got back the response that the suspension had been a “mistake.” A costly mistake for us, thanks. #sarcasm Oh wait, was that an “unrelated” hashtag?
UPDATE 4, July 17, 2012: We’re back again, finally. Twitter now claims we were suspended due to “posting multiple unrelated updates to a trending or popular topic.” I was tweeting often to the #Wimbledon and related player hashtags, so I’m guessing the volume is what triggered their bots. I’ve read that tweeting to trending hashtags is what can get you suspended, which seems counterintuitive, since how does something trend if you’re not allowed to tweet to it?
This has been an extremely frustrating experience, but at least we finally got some sort of reasoning from Twitter. Now we know what to watch for as we kickstart the tweets again. Another suspension could easily get us zapped for good, apparently. Thank you everyone for your support on this.
UPDATE 3, July 9, 2012: Still down. After sending three more emails, two that went unanswered, I received a reply to the third email. This one said that the issue with my account had been “resolved,” and if I was still “experiencing it” to fill out the form–the same form I’ve filled out multiple times already. We missed all of Wimbledon, and still have no signs of getting out tennis Twitter account back.
UPDATE 2: We’re down again. Unbelievable. Maybe we tweeted too much about Rafa this time?
UPDATE: We’re back!! Perhaps The Doctor heard us and opened up an on-ramp. Thankfully Twitter’s “hour” was only about 55 hours for us, with 3 days + total downtime.
PHOTOS: Mardy Fish in his 1st round match at Wimbledon 2012, screencap, ESPN. Fair use. Andy Roddick at Cincinnati Open practice, c2011 Valerie David.