One of the more common categories of questions I have received about Skirmish Frogs has been concerning the Twitter feed. How did we get so many followers so quickly, where the heck did it come from, how am I following this account when I don’t remember following it, etc. I expected a little questioning, but I am still being asked frequently enough that it seems worth it to write this post so I can simply point future askers to it.
So, let’s clear the air a bit.
What’s up with the @SkirmishFrogs Twitter account?
A while back (like, four-five years ago), a group of us retro gamer writers (somewhere between eight and twenty?) started doing some insane collaborative group article thingy. A few of us are still out here, doing our thing, and remember it if you corner us.
I called it the Retro Roundtable, and it had its own dedicated Twitter feed: @RetroRoundtable. We did not have our own website; instead, someone would host us, and we would post every month or so, although it did not last long.
See, we were mercenaries. We were nomads, roaming the Net for a place to show our wares and have some fun. Our first host, a site that I am now happy to say is quite dead, proved to be a turd of a place.
We had a Spanish-language contributor. I thought that was cool! I mean, really, how many Spanish-writing retro gamers are you aware of? I simply saw it as a chance to reach a bigger audience, to be more inclusive.
Silly me. The site admin contacted little ol’ me and said, hey, we don’t want a Spanish-language writer on our site.
So I said, hey, you’re a butthole, so we don’t want to even be associated with you anymore, you brainless toad fart. [ Maybe not those exact words, but I made my sentiment clear. ]
We moved on. We bounced around a little. Ultimately, the Roundtable died. The format was unsustainable, even as good as it was when it worked.
However, the Twitter account stuck around. By this point, we had well over a thousand followers. Seemed like a waste, to just let it go to the ether. So I kept the feed on life support — retweets, hashtags, good ol’ retweet/favorite polls, etc. It, uh, kept growing. Like some shadowy beast in the underbelly of classic gaming, it feasted on random passerby and a lucky break in Twitter’s recommendation algorithms.
Years passed. I made it a robot, for a while, as it clanked and whizzed through the days and nights. It laid dormant, for another while, a vaporous husk on the ethereal plane. I let someone else have control, for yet another mysterious while.
And after some last-minute (last-months) boosting, I thought, it was ready:
When I launched Skirmish Frogs, it was my intent all along to use @RetroRoundtable — by simply changing its name and branding, to transform into @SkirmishFrogs.
I thought this was a move that made great sense: Hey, we already have a follower base in place, and many of them have shown a genuine interest in old video games!
The result, if I am to be entirely honest, was actually a bit disappointing. It really threw people off-guard. I underestimated how fickle people are with Twitter, and how easily they are still spooked by social media.
I can assure you, the feed has actually lost hundreds of followers since the site launch, as we received feedback of mass confusion. “What the hell is this? I don’t remember following this!” was the basic chorus. And that was just from those who at least bothered to mention us as they unfollowed.
The crazy thing is that these are active Twitter users, the ones who actually bother to notice this kind of thing. This means we lost real humans, interactive people who could be really cool and conversational — yet, their decision was to opt out, while we get to keep all the spambots instead I guess. This makes Skermit sad.
In the end, though, there’s your answer. How we got so many followers so quickly (we didn’t, it took several years to build that following), why am I following this account even though I don’t remember ever doing so (you were following @RetroRoundtable, I just changed the name), etc.
Sorry if that’s a disappointing answer, but I am not sorry to tell the truth! There was no trickery, I promise. Well… not the bad, malicious kind, at least, I guess. Just a matter of switchin’ stuff. Ta da/voila.