Gender review: Who responds to you the most

Posted by gina

"When I post something online, who are the people who care?" - Everyone on the web

When you’ve built a network of people who follow you online, it’s natural to wonder who they are, how they found you, and what they like to hear about and comment on. It’s difficult to solve some mysteries of the online universe, like “why did this thing go viral?” or “where did she find that link?” or “how many of my friends miss my Facebook posts because of newsfeed changes?” But there are some things an app like ThinkUp can quantify: like the identifying characteristics of people who do interact with your posts.

Meet ThinkUp’s new gender breakdown insight.


This insight looks at all the likes and comments you received on your Facebook posts in the past week, and charts the responses by gender, based on how your likers and commenters filled in the “Gender” field in their Facebook profile. The goal is to offer one facet of an answer to a larger question about who interacts with you the most.

The gender breakdown insight is the first project my Summer of Code 2014 mentee Anna Shkerina completed. She also worked on insights that offer stats on age and locations. Those will be available on in the coming months.

We started with the gender breakdown insight because we know that it’s the most compelling and the most flawed. We know gender isn’t a binary choice. On Facebook, the Gender field in your profile has two preset values - “male” and “female” - and then an option to fill in a custom phrase. (This is Facebook’s way of addressing my argument against drop-down identities.)

Right now, ThinkUp only presents the data for people who chose male or female. We don’t like perpetuating the notion that all people go into one of two buckets. But this approach keeps ThinkUp from “other”ing everyone else, or revealing custom gender phrases that count potentially contain private information.

As with everything in our app, this insight is a work in progress. We’d love to hear from you about how we can improve it and all the others going forward.

(For more of our thinking around gender and social networks, see Anil’s essay on the year he didn’t retweet men.)

Now, we want to know: were you surprised when you found out what your gender breakdown looks like? Sign up for ThinkUp with Facebook and find out.

Have you heard of evaporative social cooling? It says the people who provide the most value to a social group or organization eventually burn out and leave, undermining the stability and progress of the group. Most of my internet friends have been on Twitter since 2008, so they probably fall into this group. How much more is there left to say?

We concede that there is some value to Twitter, but the social musing we did early on no longer fits.

Frank Chimero – From the Porch to the Street

Frank Chimero has some provocative thoughts about the current state of Twitter. His perspective as an early adopter of the service is interesting, even if we don’t totally agree. What do you think? Are your conversations on Twitter significantly different than when you first starting using it? Has your Twitter experience gotten even better with more followers?

ThinkUp: Five bucks. No ads. No sketchy stuff.

Posted by anil

The single craziest thing we did in launching ThinkUp as a company is charging money for our product. It might seem like a normal thing for a business to do, but on the Internet, it’s anything but normal.

It’s not always clear why paying for products online is a good idea. So we’ve put it as plainly as possible, right on our homepage

ThinkUp costs 5 bucks a month.
We don’t have ads and we don’t sell your data.

Thousands of people already feel that the insights they get from ThinkUp have been worth paying for. (And they feel even better about it when they read about our values.) But we’ve known from the start that not everybody can pay for a whole year up front, so we’ve made things even easier. 

Here’s the deal: Sign up for our free two week trial of ThinkUp. Check it out, and see how it changes the way you spend your time online. And then, when you like it, pay just $5 a month through Amazon Payments to become a ThinkUp member. We can’t wait to have you join us.

Let’s! Be! Friends!

Posted by michellej

One of the most frequently shared ThinkUp insights measures how many exclamation points you’ve used. We’ve talked about it as the “excitement insight” but perhaps we’ve been looking at it wrong. Language is a living thing. It changes and evolves,  its rules get updated. While exclamation marks have  traditionally signified excitement or enthusiasm research indicates that in text environments, the meaning of an exclamation point may be changing.

A peer reviewed study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication found that exclamation points in online discussions were markers of excitability only 9.5% of the time. What were these exclamation points signifying if not excitement? Odds are good it was friendliness.


According to the study “exclamations functioned as markers of friendly interaction 32% of the time.” When you can’t see facial expressions, it seems the exclamation point has become the punctuation equivalent of a smile.

Skeptical of the data? Let’s turn to a second source which is none other than “America’s Finest New Source,” The Onion: “In a diabolical omission of the utmost cruelty, stone-hearted ice witch Leslie Schiller sent her friend a callous thank-you email devoid of even a single exclamation point, sources confirmed Monday.”

That’s right, it is a diabolical omission to leave exclamation points out of your friendly communications. You don’t want to be diabolical. You should tweet something really happy and friendly! Right now!

 Image by Jose.Madrid

Location, Location, Location

Posted by michellej

Information about your physical location should be one of the most secure aspects of your online identity. Where you are and where you’ve been is sensitive information that should only be shared when you expressly want to make it public. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. Even for the most experienced users it’s easy to unintentionally share location data on our social networks.  A new Thinkup insight will make sure you always know when you’ve shared that data.

The Location insight will reveal how often you’ve shared your precise location on Twitter in the past week. Maybe you’ve shared exactly how often you meant to. Maybe you’ve been unknowingly sharing automatically. This insight will make sure you’re aware and happy with what you’re sharing about your location. It will link directly to your location settings on Twitter so if, upon reflection, you want to update what you’re sharing you’ll be just one click away from doing so.


We spent a great deal of time and careful thought on how to execute this insight. Lists of dates and places or a map with your location data overlayed are obvious ways we could have chosen but frankly those have the potential to feel creepy.

Creepy violates ThinkUp’s basic tenet of “It’s nice to be nice.” So we didn’t compile a list or a map. Instead the insight just presents a count of your tweets that contain specific location data. We’ve chosen to walk a thin line of giving you enough information to make the insight meaningful without using your data in a way that could make you uncomfortable.

We hope you’ll let us know if we’re on the right path.

Is Your Facebook Profile So Fresh, So Clean?

Posted by michellej

Once upon a time your Facebook profile was fresh and new. Your bio, your URL, your Dexter obsession levels, your cover photo and your quote were all accurate and up to date. Your profile was a tidy corner of the web that represented you exactly the way you wanted.

Then time passed. You traveled extensively or moved across the country. Your favorite author became your least favorite after that last book. The oh so disappointing Dexter series finale happened. Did you update your Facebook profile after these major events? A new ThinkUp insight will help you recall.

The Facebook Profile insight will tell you when you last updated your profile and if its been a while it will (gently) encourage you to freshen it up. Odds are it’s time you update your profile to share your newfound love of British crime shows, update your cover photo with that awesome shot from your last vacation and officially break up with Dexter.

You’ve Got Friends in Exclusive Places

Posted by michellej

We don’t know how people with Verified Accounts got those little blue check marks, but we imagine the experience is a little like finding a golden ticket: the process seems random, the real value is unknown and far more people want it than will ever actually get it.


ThinkUp’s newest insight reveals how many of your followers have  actually scored that elusive blue check mark. Just don’t tell William Shatner if you have a lot of verified followers. He’s a little touchy on the subject.