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Andrew Baron, founder of the video-blog Rocketboom, seems to have stirred up quite the hornet’s nest by putting his Twitter account up for sale on eBay — along with all of his followers. When I first saw reports of this last night (on Twitter, of course), I thought it was a harmless enough prank, something Andrew clearly came up with as a lark. But the amount of commentary it has sparked in some quarters suggests that he has poked a stick into something important. What is the real value of a community, and can a community be bought and sold?

Obviously, Andrew can’t actually sell his followers. As he notes in the auction itself, his followers could all disappear as soon as the sale is complete. So what is he selling? His Twitter ID, for one thing. Of course, you would assume that whoever bought it would change the name to something else — but what if they didn’t? Andrew might have to put up with someone using his name on Twitter and pushing messages out to followers who may think it’s him (ask Shel Israel about that).

And what about some of those 1,400 or so followers who don’t particularly care who they’re following? Maybe they’ll be just as happy to follow whoever buys the account (for which the bid was $500 last time I looked). Andrew’s offer — which I assume from some of his comments was designed more as a thought experiment than anything else, as he shifts his Twittering to @rocketboom — reminded me of the guy who is selling his whole life, including his house, his job and his friends. (There are more comments from Andrew here).

Experiment or not, some people seem outraged that Andrew would even think of such a thing — to sell a community. Others say it’s no different than a media property selling its readership to someone else. Is it just a publicity stunt? More importantly, will social-media marketing types come to certain conclusions about the value of community depending on what the sale price is? Stowe Boyd says they shouldn’t, and that a true community can’t be sold, but others say there could be some value in such a purchase.

About the author

Mathew 2420 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

7 Responses to “Andrew Baron stirs up a Twitter storm”
  1. […] Brogan Christopher Penn Matthew Ingram Duncan […]

  2. i must say that i find all this ridiculous. not to besmirch any reputations of the people involved but really, how gives a flying F about any of this? stirred up a “hornet's nest?” where? how big? ….hardly, in fact. maybe it's the state of the blogosphere, circa 2008 that naval gazing has becoming an obsession. guys, push away from the computer. find a girl, take a nature hike, read a book …..LIVE, for pete's sake! it's a more engaging alternative than freaking out over inconsequential BS

  3. i must say that i find all this ridiculous. not to besmirch any reputations of the people involved but really, how gives a flying F about any of this? stirred up a “hornet's nest?” where? how big? ….hardly, in fact. maybe it's the state of the blogosphere, circa 2008 that naval gazing has becoming an obsession. guys, push away from the computer. find a girl, take a nature hike, read a book …..LIVE, for pete's sake! it's a more engaging alternative than freaking out over inconsequential BS

  4. […] of commentary on Andrew Baron, founder of Rocketboom deciding to sell his Twitter account on eBay.  Basically, the […]

  5. […] I am all for capitalism and making a buck and while many people are wondering about the sanity; or validity, of selling one’s Twitter account my question is – who are the […]

  6. […] of course, has launched a veritable storm of commentary about how much community is worth, whether a value can be assigned, whether an experiment like this […]

  7. […] I am all for capitalism and making a buck and while many people are wondering about the sanity; or validity, of selling one’s Twitter account my question is – who are the […]

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