What is a Twitter user list?

Twitter user lists are a very helpful tool to manage the diverse information streams on Twitter. A user list stream shows only tweets published by a specified group of Twitter accounts which were added to that list. Any user can create such a list and choose to make it publicly available or keep it private. NodeXL Pro can access the public lists with both Twitter importers. In addition, you can download tweets from any list of users without having a list online.

Where to find Twitter lists?

If a Twitter user has created one or more public lists, you can find them by opening the menu button just left of the “Follow” button at the top of the Twitter profile page and clicking on “View lists” (as seen in the image on the left). On the following page you will find all available lists with the categories “Owned”, “Subscribed” and “Member” at the top. These categories are gateways to other user lists you may find interesting. After selecting a list you will see the respective tweet stream. By clicking on “Members” you are able to see which users have been added to that list.

Many news outlets provide lists with e.g. politicians, celebrities, athletes, companies and organizations to keep up with the daily output of millions of tweets. Also, sports teams may list their players, political parties list their elected representatives, or business analysts list companies from a certain industry.

In this example will work with the list of Members of Congress created by CSPAN.

While there is currently no other way to search for lists within Twitter, you can use the search query “site:twitter.com lists *your keyword*” in Google Search to find links to lists of your interest. Also, the search engine Scoutzen allows to search the list descriptions that were provided by list authors.

Finding an accurate and well-maintained list of users on a certain topic can be a time-consuming task because there is usually no additional information on when such a list was created or last updated. Thus, we recommend that you create your own list especially when considering large scale research projects.

Where to find Twitter user lists
Overview of available user lists
Twitter user list start page CSPAN Congress

How to access Twitter user lists with NodeXL Pro?

You can access any public list of Twitter users with the NodeXL Pro Twitter Search Network importer, as well as the Twitter Users Network importer. Each importer connects to different Twitter API and thus offers (slightly) different datasets. You can also create a private list with your own Twitter account and access it with one of the importers.

The NodeXL Pro Twitter Search Network importer

The NodeXL Pro Twitter Search Network importer connects to the free Twitter Search API which allows the collection of tweets from the past max. 10 days and no more than 18,000 tweets per query. When you open Data > Import > From Twitter Search Network… you can use the Twitter search operator “list:” to access a list. With regard to the list with Members of Congress by CSPAN you need to enter the following query:  list:cspan/members-of-congress

You can just copy and paste the URL of the page that contains the list without “twitter.com/” and remove “lists/” from the middle part of the URL.

It is also possible to focus on a certain topic within the list by adding a search term the query:  list:cspan/members-of-congress “health care”

The NodeXL Pro Twitter Search Network importer
The NodeXL Pro Twitter Users Network importer

The NodeXL Pro Twitter Users Network importer

While the NodeXL Pro Twitter Search Network importer can only access data from the past 10 days, the NodeXL Pro Twitter Users Network importer allows the download of the 3,200 most recent tweets of any user, which includes retweets and replies. Thus, depending on the tweet activity of a user, this data may go far beyond the 10-day time limit.

Just enter the list name in the box The Twitter users in this Twitter List (as seen in the image on the left). Alternatively, you can enter any list of Twitter handles in the box The Twitter Users with these usernames.

If you set a checkmark for the box Import only the Twitter users I’m interested in, you will receive only edges between those users in the list which we call the internal network. If you leave the box unchecked, you will receive the full network with all Twitter users that were retweeted, mentioned or replied to.

Make sure to limit the number of tweets that will be downloaded. E.g. if you download 1000 tweets from each member of the CSPAN list you will end up with a maximum of 566,000 tweets.  Due to Twitter rate limiting, the download may take 12 to 15 hours. Also, this amount of data is too large to handle with NodeXL.

Here are some ways to reduce a large dataset to a managable size:

  • Sort the Edges spreadsheet by Relationship Date and remove old tweets from the dataset.
  • Use the Merge Duplicate Edges feature in Data Prepare Data Count and Merge Duplicate Edges.
  • Sort the Edges spreadsheet by Edge Weight (column BC) and remove edges with a low edge weight.
  • Calculate just Indegree and Outdegree via Analysis Graph Metrics and then Skip all users with a low Indegree/Outdegree in column G Visibility of the Vertices spreadsheet.

Examples

  • The network report generated from the CSPAN list with Members of Congress via the Twitter Search Network Importer can be found in NodeXL Graph Gallery here.
  • The Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) has listed all speakers of GIJC19. Here is the network report and map.
  • The network based on a list with all Twitter users followed by Donald Trump looks like this.

Questions?

Please send an email to info@smrfoundation.org.