Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Post for me to remember to tell people who've asked me to tell them stuff #aidememoire

Every now and again I ask a question on Twitter and someone says "I don't know but let me know if you find out". This is my attempt to make sure I do that. I'll just update this whenever someone asks me to update them.

31 January 2012
@Frontera2 would like to know, as would I, what that programme was (in the last couple of years) that was looking at the signage (design of) at Heathrow Airport. I have a strong memory of seeing it but a dim memory of actually remembering what the programme was called.
Because it's a TV programme it might not be on imdb although it's always worth a look I suppose, but the first place I went to was the ftvdb - film and tv database at the bfi and I found this: The Secret Life of the Airport. It's definitely a possible, and it turns out that it was broadcast on BBC4 as part of their quirky 'Secret Life of...'. These programmes usually have rather good background music and I tend to enjoy them (they did the one on the Secret Life of the National Grid too).

Until proven otherwise (ie watching a definitive clip on YouTube to confirm / disconfirm) I'm going with this, more on the programme here.

I have also found the keyboard shortcuts for Twitter

These have been around for a while in some form but today's the first time I've spotted the newest incarnation. They live in the profile bit - navigation is "white disembodied head" » Keyboard shortcuts.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Advice to celebrities about Twitter

Advice to celebrities (or anyone in the public eye) who might be thinking about joining Twitter

by @JoBrodie
Shortened link for this post:

Post originally created in 2012, updated significantly in 2016.

Table of contents
00. Preamble A bit of background to the post, skip to "10" if you just want to get on with it.
10. The basics Upload a photo / picture (avatar), add a bio, offer some basic proof that you're who you say you are
15. Quick start guide - suggestions for joining Twitter with minimum fuss, safely
20. What sort of welcome will you receive? Are you going to be spending all your time fending off rude comments?
21. Some reasons not to be on Twitter 
22. Trolls and bullies
23. Don't be a dick
30. Do you chat to your friends or strangers on the internet already? Do you already use Facebook or other services, is Twitter likely to come naturally to you?
31. How have your famous chums found using Twitter? Your peer group can probably give you much better advice than I can!
32. You are also sharing information about who you're friends with, or not - it's a very public medium.
33. Your privacy, again - you'll know when people are talking about you
34. Watch out for fake accounts - is someone impersonating your friend(s) to get at you?
35. Your email address can give you away - if your email address is in their mail programme's contact list / address book (they can authorise Twitter to search it and find you, but you can avert this)
40. What will you tweet about? Is it going to be all 'me, me, me' promoting yourself or your stuff or will you interact with others?
50. Are you going to tweet or will it be "your people"? Preferably it's you, but who has the keys to your account?
60. How will you format your replies to people? Twitter etiquette and how to avoid making a confused mess with your tweeting
70. Oops I shouldn't have tweeted that How to make mistakes gracefully...
80. Examples of where it's all gone a bit wrong
90. Examples of where it's gone right
100. Further reading
110. Edit log (changes to this post)

00. Preamble
Why I wrote this post in the first place
The other day (in 2012) I spotted a question on Quora from someone who was trying to persuade an actor friend to join Twitter. I was a bit intrigued by this and followed it to come back to later, and maybe add a comment (as of 2016 it doesn't seem to have been answered). While I don’t follow that many 'celebrities' on Twitter I do rather enjoy the ones that I do (Jonathan Ross who tweets as @Wossy is delightful and Wil Wheaton @wilw is very entertaining too and has a blog), and it’s always nice to get a sense of someone via a medium that’s different from the one you might know them in.

I’m not a celebrity and don’t know anything about being one, so it’s quite reasonable to think that I’ve got no business trying to offer advice to people who might be. Let’s charitably assume though that after several years of being on Twitter (I started using it in June 2008) I might have picked up something useful.

To ensure I wasn’t reinventing the wheel I searched Google for advice celebrities Twitter and found this amusing little video from the BBC (you need to click a button to say you’re over 16 to watch it). It pretty much says everything that you’d expect it to, while slyly poking fun at the people who’ve made some amusing / schadenfreude-y errors on Twitter in the past.

I also found several types of information:
    1. Advice to members of the public about which celebrities to follow or how to get celebrities to tweet you.
    2. Advice to members of the public about how to become a celebrity via Twitter
    3. Mocking celebrities for having written apparently dumb things in their tweets while trying to give advice
    4. Advice to celebrities on how not to make a total arse of themselves on Twitter while hopefully getting something out of it themselves and having a nice time with fans.
      This post falls in the fourth category.

      So... this is advice for people who are already in the public eye and who might be thinking about signing up to Twitter.

      But why might someone who’s already famous but not yet on Twitter want to start using Twitter? I’m not certain that they automatically would and hope that no-one’s being pressured into doing so from their publicists (or fans for that matter). It’s not for everyone and I can only imagine that how well someone takes to it depends in part on their personality (there are some other factors too).  I think there's potentially a great deal more to lose if you're already well known and join Twitter, but obviously there are a lot of potential gains.

      People can talk about you on Twitter (and even damage your reputation to some extent) even if you're not using it yourself
      Even if you're not on Twitter it's useful to know something about it. People will often tweet to say that they've seen you or met you, and to pass comment on you. A couple of dramatic examples include a woman who was chatted up by a man while they were both on a flight, and who tweeted about the man. Her followers found it highly amusing and also worked out who he was from the information he'd given her and which she relayed to her followers (see Section 33). Another, from the non-famous-people domain, was the on-train breakup of a couple which was live tweeted by someone in the same carriage (this has happened several times since I originally wrote this post).

      Twitter is a great way for you to connect with fans with a sense of immediacy that perhaps doesn't really come from any other medium. It can also let you put forward your side of an 'argument' or correct misinformation - you can also change people's misperceptions about you, although this can obviously work both ways! Depending on your 'star power' you can also make a bit of money through Twitter, either by promoting your brand or products but also by having sponsored tweets. Personally I think this is a bit of a cross to the dark side but I understand Kim Kardashian gets paid several thousand per tweet.

      Here's the post -

      10. The basics
      Upload a photo / picture (avatar), add a bio, offer some basic proof that you're who you say you are.

      Make sure you upload (any) picture to get rid of the default 'egg' picutre, it doesn't have to be a photo. Add a brief bio. As there are a lot of spoof accounts on Twitter people might well ask how we can tell if it's you. "Cross-linking" your accounts can help: if you have a website link to it in your bio (or point to your IMDB page) and make sure your own website points back to your Twitter profile. This is often used as a reasonable proxy for verifying accounts while you're waiting for Twitter to do its formal verification. You can add a website link in the space for that but you can also include a link directly in your bio so you're not restricted to one.

      You can also ask other well-known verified accounts to vouch for you. Stephen Fry did this for Hugh Bonneville, although as it happens I was already following him as he'd tweeted me in response to a (nice) comment I made about Downton Abbey and the account looked pretty genuine.

      15. To be added here

      20. What sort of welcome will you receive?
      People like to say really nice things about celebrities but they also like to say some pretty unkind things. If they say unkind things about you on the internet they'll do it on Twitter too.
      Have a look at the comments about any well-known person on media sites like the Daily Mail (it’s often about women: how much weight they’ve gained or lost, or the dreadful events that might unfold because their dress is somehow ‘wrong’) or on YouTube or film review sites (including IMDb). Most people are probably politely indifferent to most famous people with a much smaller minority who are enthusiastic fans or haters, but unfortunately they’re usually the ones who pipe up. I wonder if anyone's done any research into the potentially negative mental-health effects that unkind comments might have... this blog post seems speculative (no links to any research) but some interesting points nonetheless. I wrote the preceding paragraph in 2012 and I'm fairly certain that in 2016 non-Twitter using famous folk are much more aware of the potentially negative aspects of the medium. Not surprisingly these loom much larger for those with greater visibility.

      If people say mean things about you on the internet they’ll probably say it to your face on Twitter as well – and the entire exchange is public. People can see the messages you send by looking at your Twitter profile and they can see the messages people send to you by searching for your @mentions (replies that are sent to you). That shouldn’t necessarily stop someone from joining Twitter (people can write hurtful comments about you all over the internet whether or not you’re participating in the conversation) – in fact it might encourage you to join Twitter in order to let your good humoured wit shine through.

      If someone says something unkind to you or about you on Twitter it’s probably best to ignore it, unless it’s threatening (Stan Collymore got rightly peeved with racist crap on Twitter) or libellous. Someone was recently (fairly mildly) rude about a well-known person and instead of simply ignoring it (sometimes the best option) or responding with an “oh well, never mind” reply* they asked their followers to respond to that person. Not surprisingly this backfired. While some did send retaliatory messages quite a few expressed concern at what was almost celeb-sanctioned bullying. Fortunately before it turned into too much of a ‘thing’ the celeb apologised and everyone was soon best pals again.

      *The reply would be visible to others who looked at the celeb’s profile, but unlikely to draw much attention.

      Edit (31 May 2012): Rebecca Adlington has announced that she'll forego Twitter during the London 2012 Olympics because she's concerned that the negative tweets she sometimes receives might affect her performance.

      21. Some reasons not to be on Twitter / or at least 'things to be aware of'
      Don't be pressured into tweeting
      While I love Twitter (at time of editing I've just had my fourth Twitter 'birthday' on 23 June 2012) I might have a very different view of it if I was well known. I address some of these points in a bit more depth in other sections of this post but thought it might be an idea to collect them together. None of these should necessarily put anyone off joining Twitter but I think people need to know about the risks as well as the many benefits.
      • A badly handled tweet or response to a tweet can be a very quick way to damage your reputation, but if better handled it can be good for rapid damage limitation (well obviously it depends...)
      • Once you're on Twitter some people will expect you to respond to their enquiries (see Section 30) though most people understand that if you have lots of followers you can't reply to everyone, but it helps if you show willing and at least answer one or two people (see Sections 40 and 50). 
      • People will 'cc' you in their tweets, for a variety of reasons, so your mentions might get crowded out. You can at least tweak your options so that you only see tweets from the people you follow though.
      • Plausible deniability - if you're not on Twitter you can have a look at it (eg , see what people say about you (both nice and mean) and can pretend you've not seen it! 
      • Twitter can seem like a baffling waste of time at first - and it can take some time for people to feel that they've 'got' it and there can be a time cost. This may or may not be time well spent.
      • Twitter isn't compulsory.
      • If you decide after trying it that it's not for you then you can simply stop tweeting. Much better to do that than announce that you are 'leaving Twitter' which just draws attention (unless that's what you want...) in its post "Twitter: Bad For Celebrities, Good For Porn Stars" points out that "when stars use Twitter, millions of thoughts — mundane, benign, distasteful, offensive — spread like wildfire" and references an article in the New York Times "Celebrities Leave a Void In Twitter" which observes...
      "Are savvy celebrities deciding Twitter is becoming too much of a liability?
      Celebrities have traditionally used handlers and publicists to protect them from fans and from themselves. But Twitter’s ability to connect them directly to their audiences has made it the garbage dump of choice for their every opinion and non sequitur.
      In other words, it’s a public gaffe waiting to happen."

      22. Trolls and bullies 
      When snarky comments go a bit too far

      (added 3 November 2012, updated 2016) Anyone in the public eye using Twitter is likely to experience someone sending them an unkind message (see section 20). Sometimes though it goes much further and there have been some very high profile examples of harrassment and death threats.

      Writer Graham Linehan commented on his own blog:
      "Being able to locate someone--even on the other side of the world--who has suffered a bereavement, and whisper in their ear words calculated to break their heart, is a new chapter in our development, and I think we can all agree that the arrival of hyper-empowered bullies is far from being the most positive aspect of our current connectivity.  

       And “don’t feed the trolls” won’t cut it as a solution. That's just victim-blaming. Often it comes from people who have never had to deal with the level of abuse that many in the public eye receive, and never will. New rule: If you don’t experience it every day, you don’t get to tell anyone who does to suck it up."

      23. Don't be a dick
      Celebrities behaving badly / power disparity
      (added 3 November 2012, updated 2016)
      In addition to the inexcusable behaviour towards famous people by other users of Twitter there has also been some discussion about bad behaviour in the opposite direction.

      For someone well-known on Twitter with a lot of followers there can be quite a massive power imbalance compared with someone with considerably fewer followers. This post is critical of celebrities turning their followers into an army to attack trolls - easily done unintentionally to be honest.

      One way that people can share a reply to one named account more widely is to use the "dot at" convention in which a . is added before the @, so it looks like this ".@username". A tweet beginning with @username will be sent only to the username account (though it is visible on the sender's profile) but one beginning .@username is published on the sender's main timeline and is visible to all their followers. If the tweet is sent in reply then anyone clicking on it can see the threaded conversation. If a lot of people see the exchange and disagree then they might 'pile on' in response.

      30. Do you chat to your friends or strangers on the internet already?
      If you've not done anything like this before then feel free to take your time and get used to how the medium works, and how people conduct themselves, first.
      I’ve been blethering to friends and strangers on the internet for over 20 years and so feel pretty marinated in 'netiquette' so for me Twitter was a natural extension and I joined to chat to the friends who were already there (the same reason for joining Facebook). While on Twitter I’ve enjoyed chatting to strangers many of whom have become real-life friends too.

      Not everyone feels comfortable chatting ambiently to strangers on the internet though. If you’re not used to it then my advice would be to do the old fashioned thing of following a few friends, other well-known people, news resources that you’re interested in etc and see how it goes. Personally I think it’s better to jump straight in and get on with the tweeting but it’s entirely up to you how you use it.

      I think everyone probably expects that you’ll just be chatting to your famous pals and everyone can watch the conversation unfold from the sidelines ;)

      But it might be worth thinking how (or if) you’ll respond to people who send you comments and questions. Perhaps a good idea to pre-empt whining by being quite clear that you can’t reply to everyone.

      How have your famous chums found using Twitter?
      Consult your peer group of famous pals who started tweeting before you...
      Everyone's experience (and use) of Twitter will be different but I can't help thinking that members of the famous people's club will give you a better idea than I can of what Twitter's really like, for people like you.

      32. You are also sharing information about who you're friends with, or not friends with anymore
      Friendships on Twitter are pretty public.

      People who follow both you and your celeb pals will see, in their timeline, any messages you send to those friends (however if you contact them by direct message those messages can't be seen by the public). If you fall out with someone and stop tweeting each other everyone can see the absence of tweets too...

      It's a very public medium (unless you have a protected account) and people can see:
      • all of the tweets that you have sent, and to whom (by looking at your public timeline, but they can't see your direct messages)
      • who you follow and who follows you
      • what other people have said to you (whether or not you follow those people) by searching for messages sent to you (your @ mentions) or clicking on tweets that you've sent in reply to someone - which then brings up the whole conversation. This isn't weird or stalking, it's just how Twitter works - it lets you see a discussion thread.
      • the tweets that you have favourited
      Having a private (locked) account
      Note that even having a protected (locked) account doesn't provide 100% privacy because people would be able to infer things about you or your activities from the responses sent to your tweets from other public accounts.

      For example, your tweet sent to someone can't be seen if your account is private (only by the people that you've allowed to follow you) but if your famous pal (with a public account) responds:

      " Hey great to see you last night at Chez MadeUp Restaurant, so glad you've sorted that thing with XYZ" then this is visible to anyone who looks at messages that have been sent to you. In short, on Twitter, your friends may be the weakest link ;)
      See also Don't assume that your private Twitter account is all that private (by me,  7 Dec 2012)

      33. Your privacy, again
      By having a Twitter account you've got an internet 'address'

      Recently a Virgin Airlines employee resigned when it emerged that she'd sold flight details of people like Sienna Miller to paparazzi agencies so that they could plonk a photographer in the appropriate arrivals terminal - but even without that people can tweet that they've spotted you in restaurants and bookshops or at an airport or on their flight (have a search for some variation of  just saw or just spotted [your or some other famous person's name] on

      They'll do this whether or not you're on Twitter but if they know your twitter name they might add it instead of writing out your name in full. This means you'll get a notification in your mentions that you were spotted. Not being famous myself this would probably spook me a bit but I'm sure you're used to the weirdness. See also #32.

      If you'd rather not have people sending you random crap but still want to share your thoughts, then get a blog instead and switch off comments. Lots of people do that, although having (moderated) comments is a bit more interactive.

      Why Celebrities Twitter (3 March 2009) suggests that by tweeting elements of their life celebs can steal a march on the paparazzi ;)
      "These celebrity tidbits shared in 140-character blurbs on Twitter were once the paydirt of paparazzi who make their careers selling evidence of the bizarre and banal lives of the rich and famous. Now, the explosive growth of the microblogging platform means those starmongers have a new source of competition: the stars themselves." 
      Even if you're not on Twitter yourself be aware that others might be live-tweeting your antics (reporting them in real-time), as happened when someone famous in the acting world chatted up someone else famous, though not known to him, from the world of modelling while they shared a plane journey. She relayed what he was saying and what he looked like and her Twitter fans used this information to confirm his identity and ultimately to embarrass him. I assume the man wasn't on Twitter himself (he may be) but this just highlights that an awful lot of people are, and some of them don't really know how to behave.

      From a different world here's Paul Clarke noting the indiscreet chatter of people on his train.
      When I was a child my mother taught me never to say people's surnames in public if I was mentioning them...

      34. Watch out for fake accounts
      Is that your friend or someone pretending to be them
      A few people create fake accounts to impersonate someone famous. This might fool lots of the person's fans and I assume they enjoy having hordes of misled followers. But they might fool you too if you don't know it's not really your friend, so that could be a bit embarrassing. If you're not sure that the person you're talking to is your friend then check with them via some other non-Twitter method first before giving away any information.

      A recent example is Danny Boyle (@DannyBoyleFilm) who gained a lot of followers during the Olympic opening ceremony and sent messages about the event, until people became suspicious. The account was shut down a day later (it was fake) but plenty of people were taken in, including some sports people and other well-known folk.

      35. Your email address can (potentially) give you away
      Be careful (or at least aware) what email address you use to create your Twitter account

      If other people (friends, agents, lawyers) have your email address in their mail program's address book then they may be able to find your Twitter account, if you used that email address to create your account.

      If your friend is on Twitter then they can authorise Twitter to access their email contact list and so can find out which of their chums / clients is also using the service. If you're in there, you'll show up. You may or may not want this. If you don't like this, and would prefer to be under the radar then make sure you untick the 'Let others find me by my email address' option in your account settings page (hat tip to Aerliss who told me about this), or use a disposable email address.

      40. What will you tweet about?
      Obviously there will be a bit of self-promotion but if that's all there is then that might be a bit "yawn".

      Someone has put together a ten point list about using Twitter and item 6 suggests that people should post a mixture of broadcast-type tweets (where you just post something you're thinking about, perhaps with a link), replying to other tweets (by @mentions) and retweets (RTed tweets) as this is apparently an indication that you're actually communicating with people rather than just tweeting at them. I say post what you please, but remember you're part of a community.

      I'm always amused when I see a suggestion as to the percentage of tweets which should be one type or another - puts me in mind of the Dead Poet's Society with the bit on the mathematics of poetry!

      Edit: 20 March 2012 - Despite previously searching Google for advice to celebrities on Twitter I've only just found this excellent post, called Advice to celebrities on Twitter, which looks at the number of Twitter followers different types of celebrities have (uberfamous, household names, smaller stars) and notes that the people from Star Trek The Next Generation have much higher follower numbers than might be expected "considering their main show was canceled in – what, 1994?" and puts it down to the fact that they do occasionally interact with their followers. Not a scientific analysis but it's easy to warm to someone who appears friendly.
      "In my opinion, this is a result of these celebrities not only being active on Twitter, but also using it as a two-way communication medium. They all communicate with their followers: I didn’t say they speak to everyone but they do talk rather than “broadcast”.

      So my advice? Use Twitter as it’s meant to be used. I know you’re busy. We all are. But use Twitter as a two-way communication medium, respond to followers, interact with them. People appreciate not being ignored and want to “touch the stars”. Give it to them. They will appreciate it and you will feel the effect."
      SourceAdvice to Celebrities on Twitter (2010)

      Wil Wheaton 04
      Wil Wheaton, chatting to people

      50. Are you going to tweet or will it be "your people"?
      Better if it's you, but if you tweet be prepared for people to tweet you back and quite possibly with expectations.

      Some Twitter accounts are 'broadcast only' where the person ignores any messages and just posts their own. This is a bit of a shame but the only time this is really deemed OK is if you have a blog and just use your Twitter feed to highlight whenever you've published a new post, using the 'autopost' feature that I think all blog platforms have. But I think it's much more fun to be a bit chatty with people.

      I think the FT blog quote below makes an interesting point.
      "But [people] connect with celebrities for a different reason. Celebrity Twitter accounts provide a kind of intimacy with someone that would previously have been impossible. Whether that intimacy is real or not is irrelevant; the feeling of intimacy on the part of the follower is real. In this sense, celebrities have more to gain from Twitter than almost anyone because that sense of intimacy is not provided by conventional media. Ashton Kutcher and Alec Baldwin are both making mistakes. They probably will be able to recover from them – the half-life of these stories is short, after all – but in the short term, whether your fans feel close to you is still a big deal. Everyone is sharing one giant attention pie and anyone who abstains won’t be invited to the next party." Source: Should Twitter feeds be handled by PRs?
      In 'A rant to celebrities' (which specifically refers to celebrities' use of Google Plus, not Twitter) Linda Lawrey points out that making a bit of an effort to talk to at least some people is perhaps a good idea.
      "So what makes someone interesting? Social engagement! Well, it's not the only thing that makes someone interesting but it IS extremely important! And from what I've seen there is little to zero social engagment taking place from big time celebrities that are on Google+. 
      It's no wonder why celebrities receive minimal comments and reshares on G+. Users want to interact with people who are REAL and GENUINE. What we DON'T want to see is PR managers promoting on behalf of a celebrity and we are quick to ignore celebrities who post then run off instead of sticking around to read and respond to the comments people left." Source: A rant to celebrities
      Some good advice from @WynnAbbott who suggested that it's fine for people to tweet on your behalf but that this should be clear (transparency) either in the tweet itself or in the profile bio. Good examples include the Obamas (Michelle and Barack sign tweets that they've sent themselves with MO or BO) and Tom Cruise's account which clearly states that his account is run by his people but that he occasionally posts himself.

      on flight reading for #vietnamtrip: should celebrity twitter be ghost written?

      Section 60 discusses the formatting of tweets - jump to 70 if you know this already

      60. How will you format your replies to people? Twitter etiquette
      People new to Twitter often make a bit of a pig's ear of replying to tweets because they include the original tweet and don't make it clear which text belongs to the original tweeter and which is their own response. Please get this right :)

      Some people will receive so many messages that they'll be unable to reply to everyone - most followers understand this.

      If you click 'reply' to a message then you are responding to the person that sent the tweet, so type your response to them and press send. If you want to share the original tweet AND your response with ALL of your followers (that's fine) then you need to separate the two in some way, for example...

      If someone sends you a tweet saying
      nonfamoussomeone: Hey @famousceleb I love your work please will you send me a birthday message?
      Then you could reply with
      "@nonfamoussomeone Hey @famousceleb I love your work please will you send me a birthday message?" Happy birthday :)
      Happy birthday :) "@nonfamoussomeone Hey @famousceleb I love your work please will you send me a birthday message?"
      In both cases the "..." makes it clear which is your message and which is the message that was sent to you. Putting any character before the @ means that all your followers can read it, if you only want to send it to one person make sure the @ is the first thing in the tweet (note that it is still possible for people to see this tweet if they visit your profile, the only secret tweets you can send need to start with the letter D for direct message). You can also use the term RT to highlight that you are ReTweeting that content, as in...
      RT @nonfamoussomeone Hey @famousceleb I love your work please will you send me a birthday message? <-- Happy birthday :)
      Happy birthday :) RT @nonfamoussomeone Hey @famousceleb I love your work please will you send me a birthday message?
      In these cases the use of the RT makes the "..." redundant. You need to use something like <-- after the person's original tweet because if you just start typing your response then it's not clear who said what. You can also shorten the original tweet and, to make it clear that it's been changed, you can use MT for Modified Tweet/retweet, such as...
      Happy birthday :) MT @nonfamoussomeone Hey @famousceleb please will you send me a birthday message?
      @DrChristian uses CAPITALS to differentiate his response from other tweets and when he's just posting his own tweet he uses letters of regular case. I can't say I like using capitals in this way but it does make it clear what's going on...

      From reading a Quora answer on annoying things about Twitter, or annoying things that people do on Twitter I spotted this in one of the responses, which I'd not heard of before:
      "Some relatively well-known persons insist on thanking people for RTing them - but on DM. Since they may not always be following you, and you can never DM them, this behaviour is the closest approximation to abuse of power on Twitter (ok that is hyperbole but..)."
      If someone's following you then you can send them a Direct Message, however if you're not following them then they can't reply. Nothing intrinsically awful about that and I personally wouldn't take against it in the way this commenter has, but they have a small point I suppose.

      See also Twitter Etiquette by Dawn Foster.

      70. Oops I shouldn't have tweeted that
      Apologise quickly and try and move on is probably the best advice anyone can give I think. 

      I'm sure there are cases where even that won't work but deleting a tweet in the hope that people won't notice often fails. There are a number of tools that people can use to capture a tweet when it's visible or to extract it once it's recently deleted (eg Google cache) so assume that deletion alone won't work - and people enjoy the chase of finding a deleted tweet. If you delete an inappropriate tweet and apologise for it the chances are that should be the end of it.
      "Clicking “Undo” on the internet is a good deal harder than you might think" (from link above) 
      If people keep going on and on about it after that then you can probably justify blowing a few raspberries at them.

      If you've had a few drinks you might want to step away from the Twitter enabled device though (suggested by @WynnAbbott)

      By the way, never upload and send a picture by DM (Direct Message) - it doesn't work and the picture will be posted with your comment on the picture hosting site, although the message won't appear on your Twitter timeline.

      80. Do not be alarmed if someone called the @thebloggess asks for a photo of you holding twine
      She has a fantastic blog and as such occasionally gets PR pitches from people who want to encourage her to blog about their product. Occasionally these are good, well targeted pitches. And occasionally they're not. When they're not so good the PR people are sent to a photo of Wil Wheaton collating paper - he supplied this photo himself and it's turned into a good natured internet meme with @thebloggess collecting photos of well-known folk holding everyday items. If you're asked, complying sounds much more fun :)

      90. Examples of where it's all gone a bit wrong
      How to create a public-relations disaster: Cee Lo Green and Twitter (20 June 2011)
      by Max Sparber

      95. Examples of where it's gone right
      Madonna (singer) and deadmau5 (DJ) had a bit of a public disagreement but seem to have sorted it all out via Twitter

      100. Further reading
      Many of these are cited in the post above, where I've remembered I've said which section something is referenced in.

      Why Celebrities Twitter (3 March 2009) - referenced in the post above (in section 33)

      Top Five Tips For Celebrities on Twitter (12 May 2009)
      Eyecube blog

      Advice to Celebrities on Twitter (30 May 2010) - referenced in the post above (in section 40)
      The Industry Review blog

      Do Celebrities “Get” Twitter? (5 April 2011)
      by Jesse Noyes on Eloqua blog

      A gentle introduction to Twitter for the apprehensive academic (14 June 2011)
      Dorothy Bishop (@deevybee) writing on her BishopBlog
      Aimed at academics but sensible advice for anyone.

      Twitter Advice for Celebrities: 6 Tips for Improving Your Career (22 June 2011)
      Emery Silva Strategies blog
      "Here are a few tips on how Twitter will help entertainers fill their time and pockets"

      Erin Andrews warns celebs: Tweet at your own risk (2 August 2011)
      USA Today

      Twitter Etiquette (14 August 2011) - referenced in the post above (in section 60)
      Dawn Foster's Posterous blog

      A rant to celebrities (5 September 2011) - referenced in the post above (in section 50)
      Linda Lawrey's Google+ page

      Should Twitter feeds be handled by PRs? (14 December 2011) - referenced in the post above (in section 50)

      How to think about social media (31 January 2012)
      David Allen Green (@DavidAllenGreen @JackofKent) writing for the New Statesman
      "But social media provides the means by which clusters of like-minded individuals can easily swap ideas and scrutinise data on public matters. In this way, social media users can hold politicians and media outlets to account in a manner not possible -- or conceivable -- until a few years ago. Instead of a politician saying something forgotten the day after, or a reporter's bylined piece being in next day's fish-and-chip paper, those involved in social media can pore over details and make connections weeks and months later. Transgressions can be linked to and accumulated. A speech or a byline can now come back and haunt you long after you have "moved on"."
      Celebrities Leave a Void In Twitter (18 July 2012) - referenced in the post above (in section 50)
      New York Times

      Twitter: Bad For Celebrities, Good For Porn Stars (19 July 2012) - referenced in the post above (in section 50) 

      A look at the conduct of [[prominent tweeters]] on Twitter (30 May 2012) - referenced in the post above (in section 22)
      Finger-steepling and sharks blog

      A few thoughts on the [I've redacted the name] 'Twitter troll' incident (1 August 2012) - referenced in the post above (in section 21)
      Now That I Have Your Attention blog

      110. Edit log
      • 1 January 2013 - tidied a few things up, nothing too dramatic, updated PDF. published shortened version.
      • 30 July 2012 - added PDF version! And updated with info about the fake @DannyBoyleFilm account and the live-tweeted couple breaking up on train.
      • 22 July 2012 - added section 35 on 'leakiness' from email contacts
      • 23 June 2012 - collected 'reasons not to tweet' together in section 21.
      • 2 June 2012 - added link to Twitter Etiquette in section 60.
      • 1 June 2012 - added link to comment on celebrities using Google+ in section 50.
      • 7 April 2012 - reordered things quite a bit.
      • 20 March 2012 - I did another Google search and uncovered this excellent 2010 blog post which I'd not spotted before and added it in to the main site: Advice to Celebrities on Twitter.
      • 2 February 2012- added David Allen Green's recent New Statesman post which also reminded me that I should add Dorothy Bishop's one too. Both excellent. David's focuses on the legal aspects and regulation of social media (might be useful to avoid getting in to hot water) and Dorothy's is aimed at encouraging wary academics to dip a toe in social media and get their voice out there. Again, relevant to anyone thinking about using Twitter.
      • 31 January 2012- @WynnAbbott made a couple of good suggestions about being clear whether you're tweeting or someone else is and annotating tweets to reflect this (amended section 5 above) and not tweeting when drunk (amended section 7).

      Is there a place for people to plonk their questionnaires for crowdsourced answers and improvements?

      People (inc students) are forever creating surveys and questionnaires and sending them round to people to fill in aren't they?

      Is there a wiki / db where they, or anyone, can add / upload & tag their survey or questionnaire and people who like doing surveys can fill them in (eg after searching for all surveys that ask questions about kitchen appliances for example, or attitudes to healthcare somethings or other)? Ideally site visitors would be able to comment on the surveys as well as fill them in (let's face it some of them are awful and a bit of kindly phrased constructive feedback might be appreciated).

      I don't mean SurveyMonkey, which is obviously a database of questionnaires and surveys, because that doesn't appear to allow someone to 'browse all surveys about X'. I'm thinking of something quite hierarchical in terms of site navigation with sections on health, transport, local government etc. Anyone can add a survey, others can comment on it and / or fill it in.

      It might look like I'm suggesting the equivalent of the clinical trials register database but not quite. Some surveys will always be conducted by PR companies and pimped unthinkingly to newspapers - I expect they will select people to survey, or assume a degree of pre-selection depending on who is reading that paper and clicks on the link. For my imaginary database though I'm thinking much more of undergraduate type questionnaires. Of course some students will only want to share their questionnaire with a limited group (eg people with a degree in chemistry or who have a sibling with a particular condition) in which case they won't want to use my mythical database of course.

      Does such a thing exist already?

      Sunday, 29 January 2012

      The importance of good metadata / tagging...

      ...can, I think, be summed up quite succinctly in this quote from Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is a nice example of considering how someone else might think about something.
      Counselor Deanna Troi: We are stranded on a planet. We have no language in common, but I want to teach you mine.
      [she holds up her tea glass]
      Counselor Deanna Troi: S'smarith. What did I just say?
      Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Cup... Glass.
      Counselor Deanna Troi: Are you sure? I may have meant liquid. Clear. Brown. Hot. We conceptualize the universe in relatively the same way.
      Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Point taken.
      I'm always pleased to see on Flickr when someone's tagged a photo with a less literal phrase in addition to any descriptive nouns. An example of 'interruption' is below which I used for our website at work to illustrate our cognitive research on task interruptions (and strategies for recovering from these).

      Interruption by Sebastiano Pitruzzello on Flickr

      Saturday, 28 January 2012

      Nice bit on falling asleep, in TH White's The Once and Future King

      I have vague memories of reading a book in this series as a child but I'm not sure if I've read the whole thing. There's a bit in Lorenzo's Oil where Lorenzo's mother is reading him children's stories and, it's a fairly pivotal point in the film, he blinks to let her know that he finds the story childish, while viewers understand that the intervention (a mixture of glycerol trioleate and trierucate) is working. Mum goes off to find something more age-appropriate and begins to read from TH White's The Once and Future King. 

      I've pasted some of the text below - I think it's a charming description of falling asleep.
      "The boy slept well in the woodland nest where he had laid himself down. At first he only dipped below the surface of sleep, and skimmed along like a salmon in shallow water, so close to the surface that he fancied himself in the air. He thought himself awake when he was already asleep. He saw the stars above his face, whirling on their silent and sleepless axes, and the leaves of the trees rustling against them, and he heard small changes in the grass. These little noises of footsteps and soft-fringed wing-beats and stealthy bellies drawn over the grass blades or rattling against the bracken at first frightened or interested him, then soothed him, so that he no longer cared to see what they were but trusted them to be themselves, and finally left him altogether as he swam down deeper and deeper, nuzzling into the scented turf, into the warm ground, into the unending waters under the earth."
      To get this text I had to sneak up on it a bit because Google / Google Books didn't furnish me with a page with the full text - I typed in a line, in quotes, to start the search process off and got one or two phrases. To get the next sentence I had to re-search but choose the second sentence (from the first search) in the hope that the results would have that sentence and the one that followed. Fiddly.

      However since I did this I've found that someone's uploaded the entire book to Scribd and the text should actually be 
      "The boy slept well in the woodland nest where he had laid himself down, in that kind of thin but refreshing sleep which people have when they begin to lie out of doors. At first he only dipped below the surface of sleep, and skimmed along like a salmon in shallow water, so close to the surface that he fancied himself in air. He thought himself awake when he was already asleep. He saw the stars above his face, whirling on their silent and sleepless axis,and the leaves of the trees rustling against them, and he heard small changes in the grass. These little noises of footsteps and soft-fringed wing-beats and stealthy bellies drawn over the grass blades or rattling against the bracken at first frightened or interested him, so that he moved to see what they were (but never saw), then soothed him, so that he no longer cared to see what they were but trusted them to be themselves, and finally left him altogether as he swam down deeper and deeper, nuzzling into the scented turf, into the warm ground, into the unending waters under the earth."

      Saturday, 14 January 2012

      Phen375 weight loss pills "reviewed"

      by @JoBrodie,

      (A) What to do if you have bought similar weight-loss products
      (B) Blog post about strategies used in advertising various pills and supplements online

      (A) What to do if you have bought similar weight-loss products
      1. Try and get your money back
      If you bought Phen375 (or any other item) with a debit or credit card then you may be able to get your money back, have a look at the information on Section 75 and Chargeback at Martin Lewis' Money Saving Expert page on Visa, Mastercard & Amex Chargeback: protection for debit card purchases.

      2a. Report it to Action Fraud
      If you have lost money in buying unevidenced weight loss pills you can report this to Action Fraud, who have this to say on Miracle Health Scams:
      "Miracle health scams can include fake ‘miracle’ cures and weight loss products as well as bogus online pharmacies.

      It is unlikely that such products have been properly tested or that there is any proof that they are medically effective. Some of these products may even be harmful.

      Advertising for miracle health cures often include fake testimonials from apparently satisfied customers, have unproven claims about the product’s effectiveness, make false claims about clinical tests and have worthless ‘money back’ guarantees."
      2b. Report it to the Advertising Standards Authority
      How to complain -

      Have a look at what the Committee of Advertising Practice (who produce the guidelines that the ASA uses to determine if marketing material on websites or leaflets is OK) has to say about various types of weight loss advertising too.

      (B) Blog post about strategies used in advertising various pills and supplements online

      There are a quite a few websites that advertise Phen375 fat burning slimming pills. There are probably quite a few more of the websites that don't. At least not as obviously. Instead those websites review diet and weight loss pills, or tell you 'the truth' about them. Or at least they imply that they do.

      If someone has just heard about some new weight loss pills they might not be quite convinced that the pills are the real deal so, when looking on Google, they might be tempted to add words like 'scam' or 'fake' to their search keywords to find wesites that are critical (and perhaps they'll be reassured by not finding any).

      However anyone searching for these terms is still likely to be taken to review sites which will help visitors to buy the product.

      I can't remember when I first noticed the rather clever use, by pill sellers, of words like scam in blogs (subtly embedded in the text or address) to bring in the punters - it's what people are searching for after all. Genius ;) It also presumably swamps any legitimate sites that are providing genuine information about complaints, forcing them off the front page of Google results.

      Phen375 seems to be a popular weight loss pill which is sold, along with tens of others, by the MoreNiche affiliate people. I'm not aware of any good quality evidence (patient testimonials just don't count I'm afraid) that can show if the product is safe or effective.

      The briefest of Google searches found a selection of sites, many of which contain the words 'scam' or 'fake' in the website itself or its web address. All the websites in the list below contain a code that ensures that any sale made (when visitors click through to the selling site) will pay a dividend to an affiliate from MoreNiche. Commission varies but might be around 30 per cent.

      In all cases remove D3L3TE to make the URL work

      Some MoreNiche tracked sites for Phen375; they all point to (1)
      • (2)
      • (3)
      As far as I can tell there are probably hundreds (thousands?) of these affiliate sites and I assume one affiliate might have more than one site.

      (1) ...that website doesn't have a particularly good rating on (nothing to do with me, I've not actually rated any MoreNiche merchant or affiliate sites but many of the ones I've come across have already been downvoted). Commenters (actually they do cross a line I think, rather racist) on Complaintwire aren't too happy with the company either.

      (2) Most affiliate sites seem to hide or obscure the tracking code (it doesn't always show up in the page's source code but I might be missing something) but the website listed at (2) points to a TinyURL address and, if you've got preview switched on, you can see that it's clearly redirecting to which then redirects to the Phen375 website.

      (3) The link in this one is

      Noticing the s=157 (I presume this is a MoreNiche code for the product) I wondered if I could find any more. I may be quite wrong about some of these, they may not actually be the code for a product (they might just be found on the same website as the product's name).

      s=24 appears to be Size Genetics (some sort of 'male enhancement')
      s=156 might be Acai berry
      s=157 is presumably Phen375
      s=174 might be Tava Tea
      s=178 might be Capsiplex

      Searching for a few of these also brings up a lot of links to spam-tracking websites.

      Goodness knows what phentemine actually is though. The main selling website spells it that way and also references phenteRmine which is definitely not recommended for weight loss according to the British National Formulary (BNF, the guidance that doctors and nurses use when prescribing legal medicines) as it has interactions with all sorts of other prescription medications and shouldn't be used by a whole bunch of poeple with various other conditions. If someone's going to buy unlicensed pills on the internet these aren't the ones I'd be recommending.

      However according to the company's website the product doesn't contain phentermine at all - there's a list of ingredients and we're told what each does but (again, typically) no evidence is provided that the pills actually achieve any of this miraculous weight loss. There's reference to 'sympathomimetic amine' which is also named as norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Assuming this survives digestion that would presumably increase the heart rate... doesn't sound that much fun.

      Yesterday I actually received email spam from someone selling Phen375. Unusually for spam this pleased me (I've been drafting this post on and off in spare moments for a couple of days so this is a nice finish for the post) and I've included a screenshot of it at the end. I think this might be the tracking code, but it's difficult to tell really, as I say they seem to be hidden and you have to 'triangulate' them a bit

      Unless I'm mistaken this affiliate code w=227379 also appears to be involved in selling something called IntiVar Renewal gel... the green and red circles to the right of the green tick relate to the Web of Trust rating system which I have installed on Chrome:

      Edit: 3 April 2013

      Rose Silk has left a couple of comments (too long to fit once I'd annotated them) that are peppered with active links (redacted) to various websites that seem to be selling a rival product to do with ketones. The intention behind this is to gather up Google brownie points by having other sites linking to their sites. Because I have redacted them that doesn't happen.

      Here's the first.

      "Raspberries acquire treatments make-up policy from a specifically items present and further improve the very quickly

      deficiency ofofficial website bodyweight by using random advantages. experts clearly allows any particular one purchasers imagine that will this amazing asdoes raspberry ketones work you can think about by far the most amazing place for every eliminate your present get in touch with this amazing improves to help you people. Currently many men and some women, together with currently that may place considerably essential covers head out will probably be associated with bodyweight use reduce associated with scaled-down together with, make using does raspberry ketone really workwell-being. Because you shift the real functions best items assess carry out usually will probably be hard. Thus, a variety of us can quickly pun, the simplest way from the certain doing workouts, moreover to you will see there may be solution which have been the particular straightforward way to quick fat loss unbuttoned though even so progressively being experience padded.does the raspberry ketone work perform. Even so, despite the factor that we've been normally which might be dubious prepared keep on being devoted to your accurate course of action that may it goes without saying can be quite without drugs many, a while many men and some women does the raspberry ketone diet workexperience from the quick course of action. You additionally indisputably can quickly it goes without saying have a therapy offraspberry ketone dr ozering those that bodyweight use actually quickly undid his / her extend time together with, also, this amazing personal or even guy usually designed moreover to that will hoaxes. Other than progressively it is possible to break by using together with, as well as, to start with like activities, acquire factor results. Thus, so you can get allow interest to make available personal additional fat for you to problem the most beneficial confirm that will help people keep with your brand-new frequent solution.Raspberry Ketones are usually performed Discuss every better a new the dinner solution, which is to be seen to help minimize personal additional fat any particular one routine upon strength, dealing with considerably amazing fat-burning almost definitely. Malina may be Selma Authentic Lawn eco-friendly vegatables and fresh fruits and vegetables and veggies and fresh vegetables and fresh vegetables also treatments make using fat reduce, will come in the particular techniques of strength, meaning that your present choices comes about, plus a quickly will need. Additionally, circumstances can be quite every bare tangible floors base floors premade items reality : reality : reality : reality : blueberries usually allows you reduce the ineffective calorie consumption involved within with within due to your present epidermis."

      The websites listed are (in call cases remove D3L3TE to get the correct URL:
      1. - this appears to be web filler. It doesn't sell anything but contributes to the overall bulk of online information about the product, with relevant keywords. There seems to be only one article and it is very badly spun (google article spinning for more).
      2. - very similar to site above
      3. - appears to be more web filler
      4. - yet more web filler
      5. - filler
      6. - aha. This is the one that links to the merchant's site and all the other five links are just padding to make it less obvious. Maria Wilson, the owner of the page, has the appropriate affiliate disclaimer badge on her site and clicking on any link on the page will take you to the 'Evolution Slimming' website, which is a MoreNiche merchant

      No evidence at all that it works of course...

      Thursday, 12 January 2012

      How Twitter shared @tdecastella's story on "Five ways the digital camera changed us"

      The BBC published a lovely article today on the history of digital cameras and how their ubiquitousness (2.5 billion people have one apparently?!) has changed the way we think about images, let alone capture them. It's fascinating and I spotted a link to it in my Twitter stream this morning, clicked on it (right click, new tab) to read later after work then forgot who it was who'd posted it (I knew I'd RT it later and wanted to give them credit).

      Searching for an URL in Twitter brings up every tweet that links to that page so, if something hasn't been tweeted too many times then you've a decent chance of finding it, and the person who sent it - however in this case it seems that it's been posted several hundred times. To handle larger amounts of tweets I tend to use Chirpstory because it lets you search back further in time than Twitter and it also lets you collect a bunch of tweets. So earlier this evening I copied, in under a minute, 600 tweets (12 pages of 50 tweets) stretching back a few hours, pruned out the duplicates and RTs and created a Chirpstory of them.

      By this time I'd lost interest in finding out who sent the one I saw this morning and was enjoying the different ways in which people had referred to the same news story. For one thing I think it illustrates rather nicely some great ways of composing a good tweet (I wonder if people who compose tweets thoughtfully also compose good pictures...!).

      The majority of the tweets and retweets which I pruned out just had he name of the article and the link, but the ones I kept all seem to have added a little something - and they're usually the sort I'd click on. I liked the way people took a particular sentence from the piece that amused or resonated with them (there were some great quotes in the story too and really interesting comments at the end) or just added their own thoughtful commentary. In the end I found that several of the people I follow on Twitter had tweeted or retweeted this link so I don't know whose tweet it was that I originally saw.

      Despite the shortened links being different in almost every tweet they all point to exactly the same page: Five ways the digital camera changed us (12 January 2012) BBC News Magazine by By Tom de Castella

      Although I don't have any great interest in photography myself - beyond the random snaps I post to Flickr - there can't be many cameras that are more beautiful than this, from Rollei.

      Rolleiflex 2.8F
      Picture credit: Rolleiflex 2.8F from Flickr user jaimekop

      Wednesday, 11 January 2012

      Twitter DM wrangling, how do you do this? - small post for @digitalmaverick

      With old Twitter you could easily scroll back for AGES to read your own tweets, @mentions or DMs. Although you can never scroll further back in time than 3,500 (them's the limits alas) you can sometimes find a random ancient tweet via one of the search tools - I think is the best. 

      However DMs are not available to any tools other than apps that you sign into by authorising it to use your Twitter account. 

      I've found with New Twitter (I don't yet have New New Twitter) that most of my DMs appear to have disappeared from view, but if someone sends me a new DM then I can see a very long conversation with them stretching back in time. It seems that you can see these tweets only when they are 'called up' in this way. 

      Incidentally I also rate Chirpstory and Storify for a quick way of grabbing a bunch of hashtagged tweets (Chirpstory wins it for me, the interface isn't quite as lovely as Storify but you can grab tweets by the page rather than individually and you can reorder them so they appear chronologically).

      @digitalmaverick is trying to read some of his older DMs and I love a Twitter archive challenge but this one is likely to thwart me as I don't really know what to suggest. digitalmaverick I have failed you ;) has already been suggested (I'm reading @digitalmaverick's timeline!) and I managed to find a DM I'd sent from 18 July 2011 which isn't bad at all. Of course you have to have a particular search word in mind rather than being able to be reminded of what you wrote. For example I like reading my old sent emails and being reminded of something that I'd forgotten (which evidently I'd not be able to search for).

      So my suggestion is either to switch on email notifications of DMs (and set up an email filter to whisk them straight into a folder that you can safely ignore but search or browse later) or get all your friends to send you DMs in the hope of calling up earlier ones.

      What tools are there that can help with DMs? Any expertise I have is limited to hashtags I'm afraid... meanwhile there are umpteen Twitter tools I've collected here so that's a good place to start looking.
      P.S. Also - the reason you can't spot your hashtagged tweet in a search might be answered by these Quora questions and answers.

      Monday, 2 January 2012

      Advanced Health Ltd (makers of Nuratrim & Capsiplex Plus) already have an ASA adjudication

      22 August 2012
      I have just noticed that Nuropharm Ltd (trading as the parent company of Nuratrim), has been added to the Advertising Standards Authority's list of 'non-compliant  online advertisers'. More details here.

      This makes me wonder what the relationship between Nuropharm Ltd and Advanced Health Ltd might be...

      Advanced Health Ltd are currently on my radar. Recently they have launched a couple of new weight loss products (Nuratrim and Capsiplex Plus) for which I have been trying to find the evidence that matches the PR (well for Nuratrim as there doesn't appear to have been any PR about C-Plus although I think it was expected yesterday). I heard about the products because I had a festive glance at the MoreNiche affiliates forum - the presence of new slimming pills at Christmas and New Year is of course an annual tradition.

      According to Amazon "Advanced Health Ltd Store" the company is, or was at 1 January 2012, marketing the following products:

      C-plex 60
      Capsiplex Appetite Suppressor
      Eyelash Accelerator
      Eye Secrets Collagen & Q10
      Eye Secrets Q10 Collagen and Anti-Wrinkle Patches
      FullFast Appetite Control Spray
      Instant Eye Tightener
      Proactol Plus
      Slendex Carb Blocker
      Upper Eyelid Lift

      But looky here - ASA adjudication on Advanced Health Ltd from May 2011. It looks as if the Advertising Standards Authority put this complaint in themselves rather than one of the skeptic bloggers. I'm not certain if the Fishbarrel complaints would necessarily record the name of the manufacturer / distributor so probably wouldn't be able to use that to check for other (upheld or not upheld) complaints made against this distributor, I didn't find any others at the ASA's site (but of course they wouldn't mention any 'not upheld' complaints).

      This complaint / adjudication was about Meratol for which several claims were made, the one which seems to have bothered the ASA was about being able to block carbohydrate intake / reduce absorption of carbs. Interestingly I have seen this type of claim about the glucomannan component of Nuratrim made on referring (affiliate) websites although not on the manufacturer's site.

      I've amended my Polite suggestion to people writing about diet pills post to include info about how to check the ASA's site.

      After discussions with the helpful and regulation-knowledgeable @jdc325 it's possible that the claims made for Capsiplex Plus might take it slightly into the area of borderline medical product but I won't know until I speak to the MHRA about it.

      According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) journal there was, in 2009, no good evidence linking the dietary intake of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP) with improved mood. Despite this it seems to me that a direct link is made between the two is made on the Capsiplex Plus site. I've FreezePaged the site for now and will monitor the site for further evidence later - it may well be that the appropriate (new?) evidence just hasn't been posted yet.

      The company's website is

      Further reading (the following posts are already linked / embedded in the text above as well)