Twitter suspended our account and wiped all our followers!

On Saturday evening, I was disturbed to discover that our OpenBenches Twitter Account had been suspended!

To be clear, OpenBenches posts photos of benches. That’s it. No porn, no spam, no encouraging malicious behaviour. It’s just pictures like this.

I went to appeal the suspension, I quickly got back an automated reply denying the appeal.

Email from Twitter "Hello, Your account has been suspended due to multiple or repeat violations of the Twitter Rules: https://twitter.com/rules. Please do not respond to this email as replies and new appeals for this account will not be monitored. Thanks, Twitter Support"

This was baffling! The account is connected to a valid email address and working mobile phone number. There were no added apps which could have been used for spamming. Nothing that broke the rules.

I kicked up a bit of a stink on Twitter – and I’m grateful that so many people Tweeted their support. I dropped an email to a few people I know at Twitter, but it is a Bank Holiday weekend, so I didn’t expect any of them to answer.

I filed another appeal the next day, which was also swiftly denied. But, hey, it’s still a long weekend.

And then, without warning, I got this:

Hello,  We've unsuspended your account; sorry for the inconvenience. Please note that it may take an hour or so for your follower and following numbers to return to normal.  Twitter has automated systems that find and remove multiple automated spam accounts in bulk. Unfortunately, it looks like your account got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake.  Please do not respond to this email as replies will not be monitored.   Thanks,  Twitter Support

I’ve no idea whether a human reviewed it. We were now free from Twitter jail! But it came with a cost. Despite the promises, the followers never returned.

We only had a few hundred, not bad for a parochial project on the psychogeography of memorials, but now we had zero.

So, if you were following us – please follow us again! If you weren’t, now’s a good time to follow us on Twitter! Or, submit a photo of a bench using your mobile phone at https://OpenBenches.org.


Yes, I know. We should redecentralize and put our content on Mastodon, or the BlockChain, or some other convoluted platform which has no users. But that’s just not practical for a small project. We have limited technical resources and have to go to where the people are.

We have a website, and lots of Open Data – if you want to help syndicate us to multiple platforms, please file a pull request!

OpenBenches on BBC Radio!

A few weeks ago, we were interviewed by BBC Radio Orkey! They did a lovely feature on OpenBenches and some of the benches on their gorgeous island.

You can listen to the interview on Soundcloud – starting at 11 minutes in.

6 weeks – nearly 2,000 benches!

Well, that went a little better than expected 🙂

We started off with a bare-bones alpha, scrappy logo, and some imported Open Data. We’ve now got nearly 2,000 benches added from all over the world.

You can check out the code on GitHub, but here’s a quick summary of the changes.

  • New logo and theme.
  • Better Unicode support – a surprising number of benches have emoji.
  • Location finding – see benches near you.
  • Vastly improved upload experience – preview images before they’re sent & check for metadata.
  • More Schema.org metadata