Going three million NPH

One of the delights of being somewhat above the bare-subsistence level is being able to do wondrous things that don’t have any practical value at all.

The ever-genial Neil Patrick Harris wanted to do something nice for his three-millionth Twitter follower. He’d asked earlier in the week: “How would one quantify that? Is there some sort of log?”

Here’s how it was done:

First, we had to determine if the Twitter API would reliably return a list of NPH’s last 5,000 followers in reverse chronological order. We used three separate twitter accounts to follow @actuallynph at specific times, taking a screen grab of NPH’s follower counts at that time.

We then called the API multiple times over the course of an hour or so, to determine if the follower number remained constant for each test account, and that the distance in followers between the two also remained constant. They did.

Finally:

[W]e called the API for NPH’s last 5,000 followers, and counted backwards.

And number 3,000,000 is Sarah Bates (@sarahbeep). Harris hasn’t yet announced the prize, though he’s hinted at a “ducky tie,” which would certainly be in character.

If anyone cares, I was somewhere around the 900,000th, which is why I was paying attention to this. For comparison purposes: Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (@mittromney) has about 400,000 followers; singer Rebecca Black (@MsRebeccaBlack) has about 600,000. I have been known to mention this statistic whenever someone shows up in my stream with a Mitt-eating grin.

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