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  • The Twits of Twitter

    It’s a strange old thing being on Twitter. I generally use it in a fairly light-hearted way, to make jokey comments, to make humorous observations on things, or to tweet about Doctor Who. As the editor of Doctor Who Magazine, I figure that a fair proportion of my 5000+ followers are following me for this reason, so it's a good idea to broadly stay on topic.

    I like to be enthusiastic about Doctor Who, and I like to hype the show up a bit – especially when a new series is on the way. Hence my tweets on the afternoon of Saturday 20 August 2011. The night before I’d seen the new episode written by Mark Gatiss, so I thought I’d make an enthusiastic tweet about it. It’s a great episode. You should all watch it.

    I wasn’t aware of the can of worms I was about to open. First of all I attracted the attention of someone who seemed very annoyed that I was ‘bragging’ (his words) about seeing episodes of Doctor Who he hadn’t seen yet. Well, you can’t please everyone, and so I politely pointed out that I wasn't 'bragging', I was just being enthusiastic about Doctor Who, and if he found my tweets so irritating then he wasn’t obliged to follow me.

    One or two people tweeted at me in agreement. However, one of those who offered to send me a sympathetic 'cuddle’, was to turn on me later on... but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

    Below is an unedited timeline of tweets which is by turns, perplexing, hilarious and... perplexing. I haven’t changed the spellings or order of any tweets. I haven’t taken anything out, or added anything new. This is just what happened, pure and simple. As Hear’Say might say.

    It’s curious, though, that the more I try to be polite and keep things jokey and ‘light’, the more it seems to rile some people.

    Well, see for yourselves…

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    The new Doctor Who episode written by @Markgatiss – Night Terrors – is rather wonderful. Spooky and atmospheric! See it in two weeks!

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    And before he says, "Oi! What about Let's Kill Hitler?!" @steven_moffat's series opener is magnificent too. And it's on in just one week!

    marcwebbo3 Marc Webster

    @TomSpilsbury Is it really necessary for you and all who work at DWM to keep on reminding all that you have seen eps we have not..cruel

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @marcwebbo3 Trying to drum up excitement. That's a big part of what the mag is for! :)

    marcwebbo3 Marc Webster

    @TomSpilsbury Bragging that you have seen this ep and that ep just makes you come across as arrogant..you are better than that

    marcwebbo3 Marc Webster

    @TomSpilsbury That has nothing to do with promoting the great mag DWM

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @marcwebbo3 What?! Not bragging at all. It's my job. Is Steven bragging if he says the same? Please unfollow me if you finding it annoying!

    marcwebbo3 Marc Webster

    @TomSpilsbury Its your job to edit..you know your readers want to be in your priviledged postion..dont rub it in their faces like you do

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @marcwebbo3 That's clearly not my intention. It's not a 'privileged position', I'm not 'lucky', I haven't won a competition, it's my JOB.

    marcwebbo3 Marc Webster

    @TomSpilsbury you are better than that..I dont find you annoying just frustrating..dont get me started on Mr Moffat..ruined Dr Who so far

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    Blimey. Must resist the urge to respond. Once again, if you don't like someone's tweets, just don't follow that person, eh?

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury some of us always want to give you a cuddle, if that helps

    marcwebbo3 Marc Webster

    @TomSpilsbury To wind up and frustrate your readers?...interesting...a new take on editorship..and I wont unfollow due to difference on vews

    marcwebbo3 Marc Webster

    @TomSpilsbury I didnt say I didnt like your tweets..normally are great which I enjoy..we differ in views..thats what Dr Who does..each 2 own

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @marcwebbo3 Well, I'm sorry you didn't like that particular tweet. Odd that you seem jealous of me seeing a show that's been 'ruined'. ;-)

    marcwebbo3 Marc Webster

    @TomSpilsbury Im not jealous..far from it...just dont like the way people go on and on about they have seen it...

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @marcwebbo3 There's an easy way to fix that...

    marcwebbo3 Marc Webster

    @TomSpilsbury LOL...ok...I know...Im coming across as a knob but Im not..honest...just like most folks have a view..didnt expect u 2 reply

    At this point, I thought I’d better stop replying to our friend Marc – but he had at least stepped back slightly from his original position. His comment that he ‘Didn’t expect [me] to reply’ speaks volumes. I’m not a celebrity, but it's true that I am reasonably well known in the Doctor Who fan community. When Doctor Who fans send me a tweet, they sometimes do so not expecting me to actually read it, let alone respond to it. I'm sure this is even more true when people send tweets to genuine celebrities like Steven Moffat or Lord Sugar or Lady Gaga. So, as a result, people can often be a little rude, or brusque, in a way that I’m sure they wouldn’t be in a face-to-face encounter.

    Anyway. No real harm done here on this occasion. Doctor Who author Eddie Robson tweeted me, in support and sympathy, by saying "And while you're at it, Tom, please stop talking about editing DWM, it just rubs it in my face that I'm not editor of DWM." Ha ha! Good old Eddie.

    But with my tongue firmly in cheek, I thought I’d have one last joke about the whole thing, by tweeting about how I’d be watching The X Factor later in the evening. And given that I don’t work on The X Factor, or have any connections with its production team, I’d just have to watch it at the same time as ‘everybody else’. As Catherine Tate might say, "What a f***ing liberty!"

    Surely everyone would see my little joke for what it was…? You'd think so... I only chose The X Factor, as that was something which happened to be on that night. On another day it could just as easily have been EastEnders. Or Merlin. Or Harry Hill's TV Burp. My friend who had popped up briefly in the erlier exchange above, and had initially offered his support, was to suddenly turn on me – although I didn't quite realise straight away...

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    I'm going to watch The X Factor later. At 8pm, at the same time as everyone else. Not fair!

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury now you've lost my hug - I never watch Cowell shit

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @cobaltmale Haha! ;-) Well, at least he isn't in the show this year...

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury that isn't my point

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @cobaltmale er, okay...

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury it;s his obnoxious set-up still. Old queen still pockets without so much effort.

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @cobaltmale It's just a Saturday night entertainment TV show – not too far removed from Doctor Who really. I enjoy it! Each to their own.

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury VERY far removed. You'll be telling me I need to watch soccer next!

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @cobaltmale I like football too. Doctor Who is just entertainment, same as football, same as X Factor. It's not high art, much as we love it!

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury and as it is on opposite "Doctor Who Confidential" from next Saturday I'm very surprised at you

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @cobaltmale Oh dear. It's odd how Who fans don't like the idea of their show being put in the same bracket as other popular things! ;-)

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury I actually want to put bombs under soccer stadiums & X Factor venues. Nothing like Doctor Who at all. Chav stuff.

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury you what? how is that even logical. Bringing back the death penalty is 'popular'. Just because you try to justify all 3.

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    @cobaltmale I've no idea what you're arguing to me about! I thought you were being tongue in cheek, but you seem cross! I'll stop replying.

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury and why should I submit?- that's why I want to hurt soccer & X factor - we keep being told 'everyone' likes them - we don't

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury great, now you denigrate "Who fans". I despair. I have my DW likes & dislikes but would always put it first.

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury I am cross! why did you think I was being tongue-in-cheek? Because no-one could really hate soccer/XFactor?

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @TomSpilsbury I'm just disappointed in you. The hug offer earlier was genuine but I dunno now.

    RadioTimes Radio Times

    Only an hour to go until the new series of The X Factor, complete with three new judges! Looking forward to it? bit.ly/qQVtNW #xfactor

    cobaltmale Graeme Robertson

    @RadioTimes no, I wanna bomb the bastards

    TomSpilsbury Tom Spilsbury

    Anyone who genuinely feels the urge to "put bombs under soccer stadiums & X Factor venues" needs help. And is getting blocked by me now.

    marcwebbo3 Marc Webster

    @TomSpilsbury @cobaltmale Whew!!! Glad it aint me...I honestly think you are great Tom!

    Well. What a strange exchange. The oddest thing about it was the more I said things like "each to their own", the more Mr Cobaltmale seemed to think I was telling him that he 'needed' to watch these things, and that I was somehow oppressing him. Bringing 'bombs' and the 'death penalty' into the discussion just seemed to be going WAY too far. Mr Webster, who initially had kicked off this whole thing, suddenly seemed to be the sane one by comparison.

    But the beauty of Twitter is that you CHOOSE who you follow, and there's no point complaining if you don't like the tweets of the people you've decided to allow into your timeline. And if people really go TOO far, well, someone had some good advice for me...

    steven_moffat Steven Moffat

    @TomSpilsbury It's what the Block button is for.

    3Comments

    • 1. 21-Aug-2011 08:43:00byJ.R. Southall

      Russell T Davies himself said that he was creating Doctor Who in the image of The X-Factor and the like in order to compete on Saturday nights, and there's a certain amount of truth in that if you want to look for it. And come on: to each his own. If you don't like Programme A but do like Programme B, don't watch, but don't expect the television stations to stop making popular programming; just look at another channel.

      As for Tom's tweeting about episodes that haven't aired yet: we all know the staff at DWM will have seen them before we do, so it's hardly like THAT was the message Tom was trying to put across anyway. "Wonderful, spooky, atmospheric," and "it's on in two weeks" was Tom's original message!

    • 2. 21-Aug-2011 10:44:00bySuzanne Lucero

      There's a problem with writing about something rather than saying it face to face. Other people can't see the body language or hear the tone of voice or watch the eyes for a tell-tail twinkle. One reads into the words what one wants. That's one reason emoticons are so popular, and almost necessary in a tweet. A person can pack a lot of meaning into two or three spaces. Still, if someone has an ax to grind they'll grind it, regardless of another persons placating tweets. (And, if I may be so bold, Tom's original tweet wasn't at allspoilery, it was a teaser, just like trailers for movies.)

    • 3. 22-Aug-2011 05:14:00byMarc Webster

      I didnt think for a single moment that a tweet I posted would result in this. Tom very rightly is enthusiastic about Doctor Who as am I. I think I just got fed up about hearing how great etc the next ep is...will find out on Saturday. Tom I apologise. I hope i wasnt being rude as that is something I hate. Steven hasnt ruined DW. Loved last year but find this year confusing. Im sure it will all be explained. The problem with Twitter?...only 140 words...not enough to explain properly. I still adore you Tom...you do a fantastic job...wonderfully!

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My name is Tom Spilsbury. I am the editor of Doctor Who Magazine. This is a blog where I might occasionally post things which amuse, perplex, or irritate me.

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