#TFC15: Round Two Results

Big one today: all of the winners this round get an automatic bid into next year’s competition (save whichever two end up in the finals, who will retire from TFC). We are in for an outstanding Sweet 16, and already have the foundations of a great TFC16.

Gartenstein-Ross Bracket

(1) @Lesley_Warner 59% 3 votes vs. (9) @elliebartels 41%

The (1) seed shows why she’s the (1) seed with a decisive victory over a tough competitor.

(12) @pptsapper 59% 3 votes vs. (13) @BerlayMonster 41%

The ppt sapper advances handily on the strength of his twitterfighting slidesmanship.

(14) @soonergrunt 61% vs. (6) @maximumplum 39% 3 votes

The popular vote goes to @soonergrunt, but all three judges hand the contest to @maximumplum.

(7) @drfarls 65% 2 votes vs. (2) @RyanJSuto 35% 1 vote

Travel didn’t dull @drfarls game, and he takes the majority to advance past a tough opponent.

Judges Ballots


(1) @Lesley_Warner vs. (9) @elliebartels

@EllierBartels damn near pulled this thing off, responding to a judge’s challenge with a Mashina song that I’d never even heard before—something that intriguingly seems to straddle the gap between their new-wave early days and the what-the-fuckery of their late period. But thanks to Lesley, I now have a new career goal:Trinidadian Minister of Road! That, plus some pictures from one of the most sublime places I’ve ever had the incredible luck of finding myself, pushes her over the top here.

WINNER: @Lesley_Warner

(12) @pptsapper vs. (13) @BerlayMonster

I expected more like, I dunno, anger out of Angry Staff Officer? Kinda more like Sardonic Staff Officer if you ask me. Anyway @pptsapper somehow recovered from one of the more amusing burns of the day (two, really) capping an overall-solid effort with the kind of groundbreaking, high-concept Twitter combat that separates your true Tweetfighter from your standard-issue, happy-to-be-here networker-by-other-means.

Also he made a M*A*S*H GIF.

WINNER: @pptsapper

(14) @soonergrunt vs. (6) @maximumplum

Is @maximumplum actually a bear? I think I have a right to know. Definitely not voting against some kind of sentient, hyper-intelligent, probably bloodthirsty bear. TFC judging is important, but life is short and precious.

Also short and precious: Kevin Durant’s time as a Thunder. God I hope. Sometimes I think about seeing him in a Wizards jersey and lapse into a kind of sweet jouissance that takes several cups of coffee to break out of.

WINNER: @Maximumplum

(7) @drfarls vs. (2) @RyanJSuto

No, Doc, this is not a debate. A fairly major religion are rooted in the unique weirdness of America’s west. Is there anything in Canada’s leftmost half that can hang with the Salton Sea, or Vegas, or I dunno, the entire state of New Mexico? Was Blood Meridian written about Vancouver? I’ll have to double-check this one, but I don’t think so.

Although God, I dunno, those Canadian War Museum photos. Like Ryan had a worthwhile insight or five, but this is Twitter fight club, and this fascist-slaying beaver just isn’t taking it any shit from any of you.

WINNER: @Drfarls


This year’s Twitter Fight Club has been awesome to watch, as well as to judge. Having been a spectator for years and a judge last year, I have to say, the #TFC15 contestants definitely are displaying more commitment and spirit than I’ve personally seen in past tournaments. It makes the role of judge both exciting, and exceedingly hard when it comes to voting.

That being said …

@Lesley_Warner vs. @elliebartels

Going into this match, I tried to only focus on today’s tweets because I already know @Lesley_Warner well (at least in the Twitterverse), and wanted to remain objective. However, in Twitter Fight Club, having some knowledge of your judges’ background always provides an advantage over your opponent, and in this case, it worked to @Lesley_Warner’s advantage. She is well versed in my love for my former home, Namibia, and my unnatural obsession with baby baboons. So when she tweeted the picture below at me, it was pretty much game over. I also really enjoyed Lesley’s music breaks and her vast tweet coverage of ongoing African affairs.

However, @elliebartels was also a fantastic competitor all day and a worthy opponent to Lesley. She should get a special award for her #TFC15 Cocktail Chronicles and for being smart as hell. I’d also really like to hang out with her cat.

I am glad to have discovered her through #TFC15 (Hope we can still be friends).

Vote goes to @Lesley_Warner.

@soonergrunt vs. @maximumplum

It took @soonergrunt until 3:15 pm to figure whom his correct judges were, and only after my colleague and fellow judge @bjones broke the news.

Then he proceeded to try to bribe us with $100 chips for some casino in Oklahoma where I will never go. Time would’ve been better spent tweeting about national security, or a topical issue outside of winning Round Two.

And even though @maximumplum took a three-hour nap in the middle of the day, she did spend the afternoon tweeting about war-related PTSD, which provided some nice context about her background.

Vote goes to @maximumplum.

@pptsapper vs. @BerlayMonster This was another difficult match to judge. I really enjoyed this tweet from @berlaymonster early in the day:

However, @pptsapper had some really great charts. I like charts.

I really enjoyed the banter between these two all day; valiant efforts from both sides. However, there can only be one … Vote goes to @pptsapper.

@drfarls vs. @RyanJSuto I was super impressed that @drfarls stayed in the #TFC15 game while flying to Canada to give a presentation (which @StephanieCarvin live-tweeted). He was also doing this:

However, @RyanJSuto got some solid tweeting in while @drfals was offline, even if it did read a bit like an online dating profile.

Guys, at the end of the day, I couldn’t decide. so I flipped a coin. Seriously. Vote goes to @drfarls.


Lesley – endorsed me. I campaigned for her last year, which she ably referenced in her first tweet of the day. Then she knew that I love dogs and am not fond of cats, so she went there. Plus, Lesley brought up BBQ and offered to learn how to call the Hogs. Finally, both @DaveedGR and @draperha endorsed her. Not much else needs to be said, because my trust for those endorsements is high, very high. So #TeamAfrica with the Woo Pig Sooie and @Lesley_Warner for the win…  

@BerlayMonster lobbed the first blow of the today’s matches. It was a heavy push of trousers and cheese dip. @pptsapper upped the ante by appealing to my Army roots by throwing into the mix the Army’s backbone, aka PowerPoint, in the mix. This was a very strong move. @pptsapper continued throughout the day on the pro-Army track reaching a culminating point with his foray into camo patterns and @BerlayMonster’s weak, very weak response in favor of the Brits, particularly Her Majesty’s Navy. Go Army Sink Navy. Therefore, sappers forward and @pptsapper goes rolling along caisson style with the win.  

@soonergrunt openly offered weak bribes of watching Kevin Durant, but he did want to require an Arkie to go to Oklahoma to see him. @maximumplum on the other hand, I’ve followed for some time. These factors gave the overall early edge to @maximumplum. Then #TeamPlum trotted out war stories to include PTSD. @maximumplum wins here.  

@RyanJSuto stumbled out of the block calling the judges “placid.” He quickly apologized and @drfarls never jumped on this weakness. @drfarls further eroded his cause by failing to follow #TFC protocol and following all of the judges, namely me.. Furthermore, @drfarls had folks hyping his appearance in Canada. I’m the ‘Murica judge, so the win goes to @RyanJSuto.

Atherton Bracket

(1) @laurenist 60% 3 votes vs. (9) @APDiploWriter 40% The (1) seed proves too much to overcome in this match-up. 

(5) @BA_Friedman 75% 2 votes vs. (13) @JohnAllenGay 25% 1 vote The Marine wins handily, and goes on to face top seed @laurenist in the Sweet 16. 

(14) @ryansradar 24% vs. (6) @draperha 76% 3 votes One of the breakout starts of #TFC15  advances handily (although I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of @ryansradar).

(10) @scrivenlking 34% 1 vote vs. (2) @LibyaLiberty 66% 2 votes @scrivenlking puts up a serious fight, but it’s not enough to take down @LibyaLiberty. 

Judges’ Ballots



(1) @laurenist vs. (9) @APDiploWriter Lauren is the only person in the Atherton bracket I’ve hung out with IRL (and on two coasts, no less). Pandering to my Airborne sensibilities with a golden retriever puppy gif:

is as professional a twitterfighting move as I’ve seen. Matt was busy galavanting with the Secretary of State in Switzerland today, and I can’t help but think it affected his tweeting. This Mos Eisley/ISIS crack was great:

but not nearly enough. Lauren is the 1 seed for many reasons, and she showed them all again today in a dominating performance. Vote: @laurenist —  

(5) @BA_Friedman vs. (13) @JohnAllenGay   Brett has some of the most advanced English language skills I’ve ever seen in a Marine. (He even wrote a book, and it doesn’t even come with crayons!) I’m always impressed with people who overcome adversity like that. John (like Brett) is an excellent follow, intelligent and witty, but a late attempt at pandering wasn’t enough to overcome this exchange:

(#sorrynotsorry, @forbesmm) Vote: @BA_Friedman —    

(14) @ryansradar vs. (6) @draperha Score one for Ryan:

but Hannah’s TL has been the unexpected highlight of #TFC15 so far. (I even find myself unable to hold being from Arkansas against her, which is kind of a big deal.) I feel like we’re all better for her participation in it, so I’m going to do what I can to keep her here.

Vote: @draperha

(10) @scrivenlking vs. (2) @LibyaLiberty

Scriven. My dude. There aren’t many other private security folks in this little corner of Twitter. Scriven is a knowledgeable practitioner of the dark arts with a passion for the little details that aren’t sexy but can make or break you. I always appreciate his dispassionate explanations of emotionally fraught law enforcement issues, especially surrounding use of force. More than once he’s been able to eloquently state what I’ve had a hard time saying at all. Plus the man knows his hip hop.

I don’t know Hend well, but she seems like someone who could offer you the greatest hospitality in the world or straight-up cut you. I respect the hell out of that.

Scriven’s talks on CCTVs and interrogations were, as always, enlightening, entertaining, and insightful. Hend started to lose me with an extended series of tweets about the coverage of the Germanwings crash, but bounced back with a heart-rending soliloquy at the end of the day that you all need to go read if you haven’t.

This was a difficult one to judge and I wish both could stay, but they can’t so I’m going to let my professional bias tip the scales this time.

Vote: @scrivenlking


@Laurenist vs @APDiploWriter

@Laurenist is a font of knowledge on all issues relating to veterans. Everything from public awareness to policy change to reflecting on the big national issues. She even managed to cram in a shoutout to vets’ issues in Canada. There was an awkward geography malfunction when @laurenist thought Lausanne was in France but as she deftly pointed out in the face of @APDiploWriter’s mocking, she’s American. She doesn’t have to know geography. @Laurenist’s snark was on point and she was a veritable master of the GIF and meme (are one-off pictures still called memes?) She also managed to RT an article written by another judge and sent me a kitten GIF so +1 in the pandering department. She also heavily engaged with tweeps in things both serious and saucy. She tried to provoke @APDiploWriter into some much absent TFC scrapping but the twisticuffs were few.

To be perfectly fair though, @APDiploWriter is in Lausanne covering the Iran nuclear talks. TFC is all in good fun but lots of competitors just aren’t in the position to participate. But, @APDiploWriter managed a couple of decent swipes. He pushed back hard on the Lausanne gaffe but the figs and memes were kinda wet noodly. TFC is about robustness of engagement and breadth of tweeting (I’m old school). The snark and added colour (yes, that’s Canadian spelling) are part of the deal. I’m assuming @APDiploWriter couldn’t engage effectively because he was covering the Iran nuclear talks (and not because he’s too cool for school) but TFC is what it is.

Judgment for @laurenist


@BA_Friedman vs @JohnAllenGay

@BA_Friedman had a nice start to the day tweeting with a doff of the hat to the judges because he was raised right. He got some good self-promo in there tweeting a link to his book. He managed to bring some auxiliary fighting forces on board which is always a good intimidation move. His snark was on point. There was a lot of military-related teasing going on (do military men tease?) and since I don’t know too much about that world I couldn’t get into it. I have a few good stories from my interactions with military types in Pakistan (a great bunch of stories from the LoC in Kashmir) and my mother’s family is military. As my uncle, a retired brigadier, likes to say: if you want to be a good Pakistani soldier just remember two things: if it stands still, paint it and if it moves, salute it.

But enough about me! Let’s talk @JohnAllenGay. He mostly tweeted about Iran but had some excellent clips and gifs in his feed. He had heavy engagement with his tweeps but seemed to lose the overall tough guy contest which is fine. I’m not tough either. I have zero hand eye coordination and get air sick. @BA_Friedman took the snark category but @JohnAllenGay had some strong pushback. He also tweeted something about Persian vs. Farsi which generated a big ass reply from @encyclopaediairanica which taught me a couple things I didn’t know. So, while @BA_Friedman had some great moments, when it came to breadth of tweeting and robustness of engagement, @JohnAllenGay takes it.

Judgment for @JohnAllenGay



@ryansradar vs. @draperha

I’m going to make this short and to the point. There really wasn’t any contest here. @draperha took it hands down. She started the day with some hashtagged social mediafied crowdsourced Q and A for students (I think). She tweeted about Jewish Turks, Syria, NGO fundraising, and refugees. She heavily engaged with tweeps and managed to throw herself into rallying troops for other competitors as well. BUT I would like to say that I thought @Ryansradar has a lot of potential. I visited her blog and I was delighted to see she spent time in Khartoum. I spent my childhood in Khartoum and some of my best memories are from growing up there. Her pictures of the city and surrounding areas brought back a lot of sweet memories. I hope @Ryansradar participates again next year, maybe against an opponent who is more evenly matched.

Judgment for @draperha


@scrivenlking vs. @LibyaLiberty

Easily, this match up was king. Tweet for tweet, snark for snark, gif for gif, these two managed to keep it going and kept it engaging without descending into meanness. I didn’t know @Scrivenlking at all and so I was pleasantly surprised to watch his TL and read some of his very interesting thoughts about security. He made a boldly passive aggressive move by parodying @Libyaliberty’s bio. +1 for that! I RT’ed a bunch of his tweets. He tweeted links on ISIS, a fire in NY, police in schools and the school-to-prison pipeline, a picture of his super cutie pie kid, aaaaand the weather. That last one was sad. He was interesting enough that I could forgive the overabundance of links to MEMRI.

BUT @Libyaliberty did today what she does every day which is to make you stop, fingers poised over the keyboard, and think. She talked about war and poverty, oppression and profiling. All that mixed in with her sharp wit and hilarious insights. She matched @scrivenlking in all other aspects but it was this added dimenson that pushed it over the top in her favour. It was a great bout and a model for TFC.

Judgment for @libyaliberty


1.) Lauren: Far better engagement, SILKIES

2.) BA_Friedman: He’s a Marine. Sorry. I’m bound by god not to vote for anyone else.

3.) DraperHa: More consistent, engaged more.
4.) LibyaLiberty. She’s just the realist.

Seay Bracket

(1) @HayesBrown 53% 2 votes vs. (8) @ZeddRebel 47% 1 vote

The tournament’s top seed gets a tough battle, but shows why he’s the (1) and advances to the Sweet 16.

(5) @Doctrine_Man 67% vs. (13) @13F2PL7 33% 3 votes

@Doctrine_Man’s strong showing in the popular vote isn’t enough to put him through, as all three judges decide for his opponent.

(3) @tweetsintheme 39% vs. (6) @johnsonr 61% 3 votes

A genteel battle as TFC matches go ends up in favor of the Ethics professor.

(7) @PaulSzoldra 54% vs. (2) @kohenari 46% 3 votes

@PaulSzoldra came out with a slight edge in the public poll, but all three judges went for @kohenari, giving him the win.

Judges’ Ballots


@HayesBrown  vs @ZeddRebel This was by far the closest and hardest fought match of the day. Both contestants brought it with the GIFs, brought it with the knowledge, and then unleashed a fury of snark that had no rival. In the end, @ZeddRebel squeaked by on the power of these two tweets:

Winner: @ZeddRebel

@Doctrine_Man  vs @13F2PL7

This was also almost too close to call. @Doctrine_Man came out swinging early, had strong endorsements across the board, and made me laugh by pandering to celebrities for votes. In the end though, @13F2PL7 pulled out the win with a combination of engaging stories and G.I.Joe GIFs. It was the GIFs that really made the difference, but a truly heartfelt story about how badly the VA needs reform didn’t hurt either.

Winner: @13F2PL7

@tweetsintheme  vs @johnsonr

This was the friendliest matchup of the day, with both sides lobbing half-hearted invectives that were clearly just for show. @johnsonr seemed more interested in the battle and then sealed the deal with this tweet:

Winner: @johnsonr

@PaulSzoldra vs @kohenari This started out as a much easier decision than I anticipated, as @paulszoldra seemed to have left the fight behind him in Round 1. Then, in the late afternoon, it started to heat up with some excellent accusations of anti-Americanism and some ill-considered West Coast bashing.  Still, @kohenari takes it. Winner: @kohenari


@HayesBrown vs. @ZeddRebel This is probably my favorite match-up of the day. Both contenders showed up to battle and, frankly it was a lot of fun to watch (Ok, catch up on late in the evening, but you get my drift).

Both of these combatants were great throughout the day, Zedd with a long, masterful breakdown of Middle Eastern political and military intrigue (in true twitter style) and Hayes with, well, what Hayes does best, NatSec and World Politics commentary packaged in smart, humorous chunks…. …but also, .gifs. So, lets just acknowledge publicly what we all know deep in our heart, if .gifs are nunchucks, Hayes is our Bruce Lee.

This is something that even @ZeddRebel was forced to acknowledge (ironically, via .gif)…

So, despite this stunning last minute alliance, Zedd simply did not roll deep enough.

Therefore, in the immortal words of Bruce Willis…

@Doctrine_Man vs. @13F2PL7

@Doctrine_Man came out swinging (and also sodomizing @PaulSzoldra)…

Normally, I go snarky humor all the way for TFC, but Broken Handmic had a beautifully written string today about some of the work that he had the honor of doing to support those Veterans that came before us, the ones who didn’t get the kind of treatment and support that many of us more recent Vets sometimes take for granted. I’m including a couple of snapshots here, but you really should go in and read the whole thing.   Handmic1 Handmic2 Handmic3    

Sorry, DM, but I got to give this one to @13F2PL7.  It was a dirty maneuver, but he took the high road and made twitter a better place today, something that we should all strive to do more often.    

(3) @tweetsintheme vs. (6) @johnsonr     Two folks that I have followed on twitter forever and feel honored to have spent some time with IRL.  Both of these folks are fun, smart and great follows on twitter.  Unfortunately, for @tweetsintheme, Becky and I share a generational love of early Michael Jackson…

She also got a decent shot at @tweetsintheme here…

Unfortunately, the whole “fight” thing quickly degraded into some kind of weird declaration of appreciation for one another and acknowledgement of their respective skills and fields. Overall I found it very disconcerting…



So, by the slightest of margins, I’ve got to give it to @johnsonr.  

(7) @PaulSzoldra vs. (2) @kohenari   Paul showed up a *little* bit late and Ari wouldn’t let him forget it… PaulSzoldara1  

As you can see, this developed into a very productive exchange. But, the early bird reads the judges profiles and finds a way to pander via Civil War geography references.


Winner here has got to be @kohenari.


When it comes to Twitter Fight Club, it’s the passion the contestant brings to their topic of expertise that impresses me the most followed by their geek cred, collection of cute animal gifs, and general fluency in internet memes.

@HayesBrown immediately leapt at the chance to impress me with his science fiction literacy by answering that Paul Atreides, and not Leto II, was the kwisatz haderach. He is wrong, but I at least believe he has thought about the spiritual and political ramifications of that question.
@Zeddonymous also flaunted some good geek game with not just a Star Wars reference, but a Robot Chicken Star Wars reference. I’ve enjoyed Zedd’s snark style for a while and am always slow-clapping for Hayes’ puns, but ultimately this comes down to passion. Hayes’ passion for the UN and foreign policy runs deep and he’s not afraid to let it show in his tweets. Zedd, my dear, you made this a difficult choice.
Vote: @HayesBrown

These next two are new to me: @Doctrine_Man and @13F2PL7.

Mr. Doctrine Man is apparently a very talented cartoonist and has been applying his skills to his quest for TFC dominance. See exhibits A and B.
I particularly enjoyed Mr. Broken Handmic offered some great stories of getting servicemen their medals, once for a black soldier who had served his time while the army was still segregated. This is kind of thing that Handmic loves, and I love seeing that kind of zeal. So this round must go to @13F2PL7.

Vote: @13F2PL7

This next match-up is also pretty tough. It’s @tweetsintheme, my former neighbor with whom I have smoked sheesha, and @johnsonr, my former Religion and Peacebuilding professor. I’ve followed them both for a long time, but this vote will be just about their performance today. Which doesn’t actually make the choice any easier as they worked together with some other #TFC15ers to answer questions from Rebecca’s students on Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb. While Andrew always brings his A game to his topics of expertise, this round is going to have to go to Rebecca for getting others on board her adorable and relevant #WarDogs hashtag.

Vote: @johnsonr

The final tussle is also between two new faces for me: @PaulSzoldra and @kohenari.

Paul seems to be a little confused, but that’s okay. He stays his course tweeting about military affairs with only occasional forays into TFC pandering territory. While I like someone who’s really into the Fight Club, I also admire someone who doesn’t let it disrupt their daily routine.
Ari is an academic, a popular choice next to military veteran in TFC it seems. He woke up pretty damn early in the morning and got right to work on his campaign. Really, this round goes to Ari almost be default as his rival was pretty quiet today. Better luck getting a good fight out of the next one!

Vote: @kohenari

Saideman Bracket

(16) @eamonhamilton 64% 1 votes vs. (9) @hannahgais 36% 2 votes A very close match where the public went for the Aussie, but the judges tip the scales in favor of @hannahgais.

(5) @GrantRumley 67% .5 votes vs. (13) @KedarPavgi 33% 2.5 votes @GrantRumley’s dominance of the popular poll isn’t quite enough as one judge splits and the other two go for @KedarPavgi.

(14) @FOIAsaxa 30% 1 vote vs. (11) @combatcavscout 70% 2 votes @combatcavscout gets the majority of the judges and the people.

(10) @SharlynEgger 55% 2 votes vs. (2) @RadioFreeTom 45% 1 vote A spirited battle, but the Frenchwoman ends up with an edge in both fields of judgment.

Judges’ Ballots



(16) @eamonhamilton vs. (9) @hannahgais Putin riding a kitten? This wasn’t close. Winner: @hannahgais

(5) @GrantRumley vs. (13) @KedarPavgi This was the competition that engaged with me the most. @GrantRumley had the single best tweet, a funny evocation of the spaghetti Afghan strategy slide, but it wasn’t enough to overcome @KedarPavdi’s steady diet of graphics, jokes, and puppy gif pander.   Winner: @KedarPavgi

(14) @FOIAsaxa vs. (11) @combatcavscout As much as I love Mattis quotes, I hate Army officers, but cav scouts are cool, so it was tough for me to get behind @combatcavscout; but his energy and engagement on a broad array of subjects distanced him from @FOIAsaxa today. Winner: @combatcavacout

(10) @SharlynEgger vs. (2) @RadioFreeTom Truly tough call. I thought @SharlynEgger and I bonded last round over francais, but there’s something engaging and approachable but smart and carefree about @RadioFreeTom. In the toughest decision tonight, @RadioFreeTom’s full court press of gifs and fake stories and substance win out. Desolé. Winner: @radiofreetom


(WordPress did *not* like Bob’s emojis, so I’m posting her entry as a screenshot). Screenshot 2015-03-27 at 01.11.00  


First of all, my serious thanks to @caidid for her tireless work in the name of TFC, and for picking this newbie to serve as a second-round judge! I had a great time sparring with @ZeddRebel earlier in the week, and I hope to see some of you on the battleground next year. It turns out our bracket was unusually popular on Thursday, with some interlopers even trying to force their way in. Everyone showed up with their own ammo, and the results were both entertaining and informative.

(16) @eamonhamilton vs. (9) @hannahgais Both contestants started the panderfest early, bringing personalized tweets just for me starting on Wednesday night (though our Australian contestant may have had a slight hemispheric advantage on that front). Their efforts on this front have been noted. @hannahgais kept a steady stream of material related to my native Russia throughout the day, including a delightful thread of top-notch Putin-Kim fanfiction:

@eamonhamilton, meanwhile, did his best to #KeepTwitterWeird, with a series of impressive Photoshops involving exotic birds, poodles, intercepted radio comms, and, uh, semi-anthropomorphic airplanes:

Vladimir Vladimirovich could barely keep his shirt on.

The tip-off for this judge was @hannahgais flouting her theology degree, which suited my own tastes as well as the morning’s wide-ranging contributions to @johnsonr’s live-tweeted #CSC class, with its extensive digressions about analytical approaches to religion in terror studies. @hannahgais wins.

(5) @GrantRumley vs. (13) @KedarPavgi

Wow. I told these guys that I was short on time, and they delivered. First @KedarPavgi (or is it @KeDARPAvgi?) with a shade-throwing double-whammy:

Later in the day, @GrantRumley, perhaps inspired by his love for Abu Mazen’s antics, brought this beauty to the table:

Which @KedarPavgi tried desperately to outclass with maximum seriousness:

Meanwhile, @GrantRumley kept up a consistent feed of Palestinian kitsch and inter-Arab dysfunction, while @KedarPavgi relied on the power of .gifs — whose pronunciation, after all, is just as contentious as debates about armed struggle in the PFLP’s heyday.

This one was uniquely well-matched, but ultimately @KedarPavgi wins my vote through general relentlessness, flexibility, and the solidarity that only belongs to dudes with surprisingly opaque immigrant names.

(14) @FOIAsaxa vs. (11) @combatcavscout

These gents both charmed me in earlier rounds. But for some reason, they stayed away from this judge on the day of competition, forcing me to actually read their tweets. Strike one.

The two spent most of the day duking it out, in the impressive way that only two hardened professionals (in a field that I know relatively little about) can.

At one point @FOIASaxa fell into the humiliating pitfall — to this prissy, civilian observer — of wearing dark-on-dark…

…before immediately trying to pass it off on his opponent:

Results were mixed. @CombatCavScout, meanwhile, made the bold choice to livetweet the world’s worst intercity bus ride.

There was also an awful lot of ALL CAPS ALL AROUND:

For sass, banter, interspersed policy analysis, BABY, and #StruggleBus Danger Pay, this one goes to @CombatCavScout.

(10) @SharlynEgger vs. (2) @RadioFreeTom

Who’d have thought a week ago that a French avionics engineer would be this year’s breakout star? (Did she mention she’s French?) Just as she did against @ArminRosen in the first round, she more than held her own against 2-seed @RadioFreeTom.

Each competitor had an excellent mix of longer-form storytelling, one-liners, braggadocio, and charisma. Some highlights:

Honestly, just go back and read each of their feeds.

It was an agonizing choice, but my vote goes to @SharlynEgger. Sure, Radio Free Europe helped convince my parents that leaving the Soviet Union was a pretty great option. But France is everyone’s weirdest, most seductive ally, and also a pillar of civilization. Hon hon hon.


Round two is a one-day free-for-all. By midnight tonight, only 16 competitors will be left standing, with a well-earned weekend off before competition resumes.

For today’s contests, we have a different panel of three judges for each bracket. As always, the popular vote will count for half, and the judges’ votes the other half. Here are your match-ups and judging panels:

Gartenstein-Ross Bracket

(1) @Lesley_Warner vs. (9) @elliebartels

(12) @pptsapper vs. (13) @BerlayMonster

(14) @soonergrunt vs. (6) @maximumplum

(7) @drfarls vs. (2) @RyanJSuto

Judging this bracket will be:

  • @ArminRosen
  • @lkatzenberg
  • @MarkfromArk

Atherton Bracket

(1) @laurenist vs. (9) @APDiploWriter

(5) @BA_Friedman vs. (13) @JohnAllenGay

(14) @ryansradar vs. (6) @draperha

(10) @scrivenlking vs. (2) @LibyaLiberty

Judging this bracket will be:

  • @donachaidh
  • @NaheedMustafa
  • @tmgneff

Seay Bracket

(1) @HayesBrown vs. (8) @ZeddRebel

(5) @Doctrine_Man vs. (13) @13F2PL7

(3) @tweetsintheme vs. (6) @johnsonr

(7) @PaulSzoldra vs. (2) @kohenari

Judging this bracket will be:

  • @HalpernAlex
  • @JimmySky
  • @TheOdalisque

Saideman Bracket

(16) @eamonhamilton vs. (9) @hannahgais

(5) @GrantRumley vs. (13) @KedarPavgi

(14) @FOIAsaxa vs. (11) @combatcavscout

(10) @SharlynEgger vs. (2) @RadioFreeTom

Judging this final bracket will be:

  • @bjones
  • @dohoBOB
  • @ivanplis

Judges and voters alike are encouraged to look at metrics such as: knowledge base; quality of argumentation; innovative thinking; humor, snark, facility with quips, and charisma; and responsiveness to followers. Contestants’ full bodies of work on Twitter are fair game, and everyone is encouraged to make their decisions in their own way.

The polls are open until midnight EDT tonight Thursday, March 26, and the results will post tomorrow morning. If you want to follow all of the TwitterFightClub action, we are using the hashtag #TFC15.

Team competition within the competition

After the first round, the standings are as follows:

  • @texasinafrica: 10
  • @smsaideman: 9
  • @AthertonKD: 8
  • @DaveedGR: 5

#TFC15: Round 1 Results

I want to thank all the competitors for a hugely varied, entertaining, and informative first two days of competition. I don’t envy the judges who had to decide some of these contests.

To the results! (You will see each competitor’s name, with the percentage of the popular vote they received, and the number of judges’ votes).

Gartenstein-Ross Bracket: Results

(1) @Lesley_Warner 68% 3 votes
(16) @danielmkim 32%

The (1) seed walks away with this one, getting a healthy majority of the popular vote and a sweep of the judges.

(8) @sflocken 21%
(9) @elliebartels 79% 3 votes

@elliebartels dominates this contest, and moves on to the round of 32.

(5) @misscherryjones 31%
(12) @pptsapper 69% 3 votes

Another lopsided battle, another sweep of public and judges, and @pptsapper is on his way to the next round.

(4) @AllThingsHLS 60%
(13) @BerlayMonster 40% 3votes

Our first upset of the competition as European rep @BerlayMonster takes out @AllThingsHLS on the basis of a strong showing with the judges.

(3) @Ali_Gharib 55%
(14) @soonergrunt 45% 3 votes

Another upset for the Gartenstein-Ross bracket, as a unanimous judging corps gives this one to @soonergrunt.

(6) @maximumplum 37% 2 votes
(11) @ArmyJew 63% 1 vote

The higher seed advances by the slenderest of margins by taking two of the three judges’ votes.

(7) @drfarls 74% 3 votes
(10) @johnb30 26%

Experienced TFCer @drfarls sends the rookie home in a sweep.

(2) @RyanJSuto 60% 3 votes
(15) @Priestic1 40%

One of last year’s stronger players shows why he had an automatic bid this year with a healthy victory.

Gartenstein-Ross Bracket: Judges’ Ballots


(1) @Lesley_Warner
(16) @danielmkim

@Lesley_Warner probably would have won anyway based on her overall high quality feed and because @danielmkim didn’t engage much. But I also appreciated the musical breaks @Lesley_Warner provided.

(2) @RyanJSuto
(15) @Priestic1

While @Priestic1 was winning me over with talks of prosecuting F-35 crooks, @RyanJSuto was indulging me in believing Jim Harbaugh might turn UM around. But I found @RyanJSuto’s links throughout the day to be really valuable, so he gets the win.

(3) @Ali_Gharib
(14) @soonergrunt

Though I normally love @Ali_Gharib’s snark, he started his day badly by committing one of my pet peeves, claiming @soonergrunt tweeted anonymously, not pseudonymously. Cmon, everyone knows only White House officials troll “anonymously” anymore.

Then @soonergrunt showed off his new lightsaber and promised he’s taking classes to learn how to use it. Finally, @soonergrunt tricked @Ali_Gharib into working to kill himself, which was shrewd even if I’d miss Ali. A resounding win by @soonergrunt.

(4) @AllThingsHLS
(13) @BerlayMonster

I always love @AllThingsHLS’ snark. I learned, however, that @BerlayMonster is definitely @AllThingsHLS’ snark-match. More importantly, in a match that pitted Europe against Seahawks timezone, @BerlayMonster stayed up later than @AllThingsHLS got up early, so @BerlayMonster gets the win for endurance. I thought the Pats taught @AllThingsHLS you’ve got to play all 60 minutes?

(5) @misscherryjones
(12) @pptsapper

I didn’t know either contestant and they were relatively quiet. But @pptsapper had the most interesting baseless speculation explaining why Russia would hack Maine, so he gets the win.

(6) @maximumplum
(11) @ArmyJew

I found @ArmyJew’s comments on how to improve contracting interesting. But then @ArmyJew made me sad by poo pooing @Priestic1’s idea of RICO charges related to the F-35. It’s #TFC15! Lie this once! @maximumplum on the other hand offered poutine and true poetry. Poutine and poetry for the win.

(7) @drfarls
(10) @johnb30

@johnb30 came awfully close to winning me over with his @NatSecTweet but I need some variety in my automutted accounts. Meanwhile, @drfarls found some more sunken ships to toast beers to. @drfarls for a narrow win.

(8) @sflocken
(9) @elliebartels

@sflocken had, by her own admission, a crazy day and so didn’t really engage.  Meanwhile, @elliebartels was offering up her rolodex and cocktail cookbook (which was even interesting to this non-cocktail drinker). @elliebartels FTW.


(1) @Lesley_Warner – Lesley really brought her A game; very engaged.
(16) @danielmkim

(2) @RyanJSuto – Ryan was more engaged than his opponent;
(15) @Priestic1

(3) @Ali_Gharib
(14) @soonergrunt – Ali didn’t reach out much, soonergrunt made more of an effort, though not much

(4) @AllThingsHLS
(13) @BerlayMonster – this was a tough one as well, but Berlay brought more, my vote goes to her.

(5) @misscherryjones
(12) @pptsapper – more engaged than The Woman

(6) @maximumplum – this was a tough choice, both really engaged. Maximumplum won me over with the photo of Betty White with oversized wine tumblrs. Just awesome.
(11) @ArmyJew

(7) @drfarls – more engaged than John
(10) @johnb30

(8) @sflocken
(9) @elliebartels – Ellie is a fighter, and so incredibly polite. We need more of that in the FP world.


(1) @Lesley_Warner vs. (16) @danielmkim

Having been a TFC 16-seed myself at one point, I have to admit I was hoping Dan Kim would pull off a shocking first round upset. But Lesley Warner was top-seeded for a reason, and she crushed it. Not a lot of sparring between these two, but Warner made more of an effort while still maintaining a high-quality stream of tweets, so Dan’s delicious-looking pictures of sushi couldn’t save him. Vote to @Lesley_Warner.

(2) @RyanJSuto vs. (15) @Priestic1

For a #2 vs #15-seed, this was a surprisingly close matchup. But Suto edged out Priest in overall feed quality (the TFC15 “network analysis graph” was a nice touch), and when they put their real cards on the table–favorite brewery–Ryan’s pick of Keegan Ales trumps Andy’s Independence Brewing Co, so @RyanJSuto gets the nod.

(3) @Ali_Gharib vs. (14) @soonergrunt

These two came out swinging right away and put on quite a show in the true #TFC spirit. @Ali_Gharib maintained a solid feed throughout the day, but damn if @soonergrunt’s GIF game isn’t legit as hell. Vote goes to the underdog @soonergrunt.

(4) @AllThingsHLS vs. (13) @BerlayMonster

I wasn’t following @BerlayMonster until this round, and I guess I’ve been missing out because hoo boy can he (she?) go hard in Twitterfighting. Gomez is no slouch, but how could I not vote for the tweeter who made TFC t-shirts and wrote a *limerick??

My vote this round goes to @BerlayMonster, in a surprising upset. (5) @misscherryjones vs. (12) @pptsapper Another Day 1 upset — @misscherryjones was light on tweet volume and didn’t spar with her opponent much. But the Angry Staff Officer went hard all day, pandered to this judge with pictures of #tanks, and finished strong with #drunjhistory, about the 20th Maine no less. Vote goes to @pptsapper, by a mile. (6) @maximumplum vs. (11) @ArmyJew Newcomer Josh aka “Lasers” gets the nod in yet another upset vote from me. This was an epic battle, especially for Round 1, but Lasers takes it because reasons. If I have to pick one… let’s go with the pictures of his dog named Mac (for “MacArthur”). There are others, but that dog is fucking adorable. (7) @drfarls vs. (10) @johnb30 Man, this one was close. John came out strong: #squats in his bio, and apparently he created a bot that tweeted pictures of a coked-up doggie at everyone who used the #TFC15 hashtag. Bold move, and I almost went with the underdog (again!). But Farley crushed him with sheer volume, and he talked beer, blown-up battleships, and abolishing the Air Force. Vote goes to @drfarls. (8) @sflocken vs. (9) @elliebartels It appears @sflocken may have been otherwise occupied with work on Fight Day, so not much direct sparring here. Ellie jumped into TFC with both feet and even used the opportunity to perform a public service with #TFC15Rolodex. Also a MENA wonk? Easy choice, @elliebartels to Round Two.

Atherton Bracket: Results

(1) @laurenist 65% 3 votes (16) @barefootboomer 35% TFC veteran @laurenist showed why she’s a (1) seed this year with a decisive victory. (8) @profcarajones 37% 1 vote (9) @APDiploWriter 63% 2 votes A solid win and a ticket to round 2 for the (9) seed.  (5) @BA_Friedman 85% 1 vote (12) @DzirhanDefence 15% 2 votes @BA_Freidman only took one judge’s vote, but had a decisive advantage in the popular vote with this crowd that put him through.  (4) @grisuy 62% 1 vote (13) @JohnAllenGay 38% 2 votes A close race, but @grisuy’s advantage in the popular vote isn’t quite enough to overcome @JohnAllenGay’s edge with the judges.  (3) @RosieGray 58% (14) @ryansradar 42% 3 votes A small advantage in the popular vote, but forgetting TFC/actually getting work done/what have you ends up putting @RosieGray out of the competition in an upset.  (6) @draperha 83% 3 votes (11) @cjciaramella 17% @draperha came in with a strategy and executed it to perfection, rolling to a dominant win.  (7) @MountainHerder 42% (10) @scrivenlking 58% 3 votes Only a slight edge in the popular vote but a sweep of the judges, so @scrivenlking advances over the higher seed.  (2) @LibyaLiberty 84% 2 votes (15) @jdcushman 16% 1 vote Everyone agreed @jdcushman put up a fight, but it wasn’t enough to take out (2) seed @LibyaLiberty. 

Atherton Bracket: Judges’ Ballots


I’m just going to go ahead and say it; I’ve judged TFC three years in a row, and this round was not… the most energetic. I thought as much during the day on Monday, during what seemed like an hours-long lull, and I thought it all the more seeing Tuesday’s spectacular, non-stop matches. Atherton bracket, where was the passion? The fire? The borderline-going-too-far insults thrown at your opponent? The relentless pandering? I know Kelsey Atherton. I served with Kelsey Atherton. And you, Atherton bracket, are no Kelsey Atherton (Please note I do not actually know Kelsey Atherton).
That said, a milquetoast TFC Monday is still ten thousand times better than a regular Monday. And I confess this having spent my Monday getting lightly sunburned on my deck in San Francisco, so the bar is high.

@laurenist v. @barefootboomer:
I’ve long followed and appreciated @laurenist’s feed, which is an ideal balance of informative, clever, snarky, and, come March, TFC-obsessed. Their match was no exception. Never mind her tweet encapsulating the interests of all three judges. No one would have stood a chance against her. @barefootboomer performed admirably, giving shoutouts to the judges early and squeezing in some Clausewitz references. I began to overcome my biases. But THEN – paleo?! Big Bang Theory?! I just can’t. Winner: @laurenist
@LibyaLiberty v. (15) @jdcushman
A close matchup. Here’s where my IR bias creeps in, because I see @jdcushman’s NatSec bonafides, but man, some of the airplane talk lost me. Learned a lot about the Baltic states though, and definitely a recommended follow! @LibyaLiberty ultimately won with one of my favorite TFC-related tweets ever (and, ya know, an excellent feed). She also excels at shutting down third-party trolling in a classy way (this is not a personal strength of mine). That said, guys, you were way too nice to each other. Winner: @LibyaLiberty
@RosieGray v. @ryansradar
@RosieGray, by her own admission, didn’t bring it to TFC this year. Fair enough. She puts enough actual content out into the world, I think we can understand (or pretend we’re well adjusted to understand) how this happened. With generally excellent content and a large following, she may still win. But @ryansradar has my vote for playing the game, and more importantly, for being an Africanist (will vote Africanist erryday). 100% assumed she was a dude tweeting about feminism (rad), but she and @alymaybe clarified. I hear that because I would never want to be mistake for – ew – a man. Winner: @ryansradar
@grisuy v. @JohnAllenGay
I fully admit I may be biased after chatting Center Stage with @grisuy on Tuesday, but this spectacular convo happened outside of official gameplay and therefore cannot count. Regardless, the myriad GIFs win it — I mean. @JohnAllenGay brought it with judge groveling and intelligent arguments that double as opponent-trashing, but I’m not NatSec either and don’t think that’s a negative! While both opponents played admirably (though again, so gently!), I want @grisuy to play on just to see her deploy her full GIF arsenal. Winner: @grisuy
@BA_Friedman v. @DzirhanDefence
Ugh I don’t want to vote for a man. Also, guys, follow your judges. I will say that I fully expected @BA_Friedman to sweep here, but ultimately didn’t see much activity going on in his feed, even if it was for a good reason. In contrast, @DzirhanDefence fought earnestly, and had a hell of an advocate in @eamonhamilton. Ignoring total body of work and looking at Monday’s output, I have to pick @DzirhanDefence. Winner: @DzirhanDefence
@draperha v. @cjciaramella
@draperha wowed me with an unconventional strategy, detailing her foreign service postings as powerful personal biography and crafting an argument for what she brings to the table. Her narrative was so special, and truly the best of TFC. Go read her feed from the 23rd if you missed it the first time around. @cjciaramella is a native Oregonian (samesies) with a truly excellent background photo on his account, but @draperha sweeps.Winner: @draperha
@MountainHerder v. @scrivenlking
I can’t lie, social media PDA (or really any genuine emotion) make me uncomfortable (yes, my boyfriend is a very patient man, and yes, I am a jerk). But goats! Farming! On the @scrivenlking side of things, I saw much more frequent TFC-related tweeting, including the trash-talking I was hoping to see more of across the board. A worthy match-up. Winner: @scrivenlking
@profcarajones v. @APDiploWriter
A solid match, with good back-and-forths throughout the day (where ‘good’ = cute animal and baby pics). But at the end of the day, my deeply unfair and deeply felt loyalty is with #teamafrica, so this was @profcarajones’ match to lose. And no one can post that many baby/animal pics and lose at anything. Winner: @profcarajones
As always, an enormous shoutout to @caidid, without whom none of this would exist. None of us have bought her an adequate number of drinks yet, but we can try.


Thanks to @caidid and her minions for organizing and running TFC15. Also a tip of the hat to my fellow Atherton bracket judges: @nonstopsnark and @StephanieCarvin   Some overall observations:   Math: In the first round each judge is worth 16.7% of the vote. So if you arent following the judges or acknowledging their existence you are 2nd amendment-ing yourself in the foot.   Know your audience: if youre being judged by three women. We probably dont need to see you humble brag pics of yr hot girlfriend.   Play across brackets: The best folks anticipated future engagements and played across brackets setting themselves up for future engagements.   Teach me something: The best rounds are ones in which we not only watch the opponents spar but also learn something. Learning can be about a specialty or about how to navigate Twitter. I gave many bonus points to people who led intellectually and shared what theyve learned along the way.   @Laurenist vs @BarefootBoomer   Winner: @Laurenist   One these contestants was playing checkers while the other played three dimensional chess. Lauren subtweeted, flattered and out-smarted her way to the win. For example, I posted a panda reference to four participants, none of whom were Lauren. She responded within seconds with a selfie of her panda sweatshirt to a fifth person, knowing Id see it. Im not even sure how it was possible to post that fast.

  1 Screenshot 2015-03-23 17.16.27  

2 Screenshot 2015-03-23 17.19.03  

Boomer, points for following me. Im not sure I understood your Hunger Games/Confederacy joke. Good luck with the Paleo thing.   @ProfCaraJones vs @APDiploWriter   Winner: @APDiploWriter   Cara, this man brings press secretaries, diplomats and world leaders to tears. He could have easily ripped you to shreds. Instead, I watched in fascination as he engaged you on your home turf, backed off when you seemed intimidated and generally played the good sport. It made for an interesting day. The fact that @APDiploWriter managed to also crank out work and was still following me from last years judging meant it was easy to pick him for the win.  

3 Screenshot 2015-03-23 08.58.39  

@BA_Friedman vs @DzirhanDefence   Winner: @BA_Friedman   Not much to judge here so Im gonna have to pick on the helpful guy.Points to Brett for cleaning and folding laundry. Not sure why it had to be at his wifes behest. Couldnt he figure out how to organize it on his own? Perhaps organizing is a task thats above his pay grade?

  4 Screenshot 2015-03-23 12.18.51  

Dear Mrs. Friedman – We have a competition chart for chores at our house, middle schooler came up with the idea. It works really well to encourage those who need self-actualization.Person who does the most chores one week doesnt have to do any the next week.  Willing to share.  

Post-script courtesy of Mr. Info: I cant believe shes busting the chops of the guy who did the laundry. I hate the chore chart.  

@grisuy vs @JohnAllenGay   Winner: @JohnAllenGay   This was a tough one to judge as they are both very likable smart people. John, still following me from last year (bonus points), remained the respectful funny guy I remember. I liked the way he frequently inserted work references. @grisuy – great personality and lots of fun, also seems like there was some depth here – will definitely be looking for you to continue or come back next year.   5 Screenshot 2015-03-23 19.26.30  

Yes, Boomer, the above is a subtweet directed at you.  

@RosieGray vs @RyansRadar   Winner: @RyansRadar  

Rosie – I really wanted to vote for you after the Caracas incident last year. And I really liked the way your clever RTs showed evidence of actual work. But I had to go with @RyansRadar. She also showed work during the day, as well as pandas, and she followed me. I also liked her blog and photos therein but since they are off piste, they didnt count toward judging.  

6 Screenshot 2015-03-23 18.52.15  @draperha vs @cjciaramella   Winner: @draperha  

I admit I was a little put off by @draperhas overshare of morning commute but then I got into your story. Not sure if you were aware of my read twitter like a bookcomment from HuffPo article last year but it was fascinating reading. It educated me and ended up in an area I know something about. Would love to talk more about this common ground in the future.  

7 Screenshot 2015-03-23 13.47.29  

@MountainHerder vs @scrivenlking   Winner: @scrivenlking  @MountainHerder was one of the early folks to tweet out voting link. However, didnt follow this Judge, and was generally a little tone deaf. Buddy Christ didnt do it for me.   @scrivenlking takes the round. Looking forward to seeing what he can do against a more formidable opponent.   8 Screenshot 2015-03-23 19.59.08  @LibyaLiberty vs @jdcushman   Winner: @LibyaLiberty  

@LibyaLiberty was first to acknowledge Judges, did a good job setting expectations regarding time zone differences and used implied endorsement to her advantage. Not sure if she realized it but Dan writes in the area I work in, so it was a particularly well chosen endorsement. @jdcushman – note to everyone, unless you meet a Yeti, we dont need to know the details of your commute. Enjoyed Latvian distraction but like others, didnt understand how it related. I hope you come back with a stronger play next round/year.  

9 Screenshot 2015-03-23 13.02.43   10 Screenshot 2015-03-23 13.15.02


Okay – let’s get biases out of the way of this one first. I have been a long-time follower of @laurenist @BA_Friedman @DzirhanDefence @LibyaLiberty @scrivenking @Mountainherder…. and I heard of Mr. Boomer, Dr. Jones, Mr. DiploWriter @RosieGray @Ryansradar @jdcushman etc…. Approximately 40-48 hours ago. So, in the spirit of social science and objectivity, I decided that I would award points on the basis of 1) interesting information 2) effort 3) humour/snark. I was not particularly inclined for pandering so there was no points awarded for that (although some get a mention below.) I also decided that I would take Monday night and Tuesday night to judge the quality of tweeting as a body of work, rather than on an as-you-go basis. I appreciate this may have killed some spur of the moment humour, but I expect quality tweets to stand the test of time. Or at least 12-24 hours.

Barefoot Boomer vs Laurenist


First thing first, despite my claims of pandering, if you know anything about me, this ain’t gonna work. Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.15.46 PM.png

Yeah.  Carbs are pretty much a religion for me at this point.   But you know, let’s play fair. I listened to this song Mr. Boomer tweeted out the day before his epic battle. Also not helping. But never the less, colour me intrigued – Mr. Boomer appears to be a paleo-tatooed-lifting-Yankee-secular-Army-analyst. He tweeted about how monkey fights have implications for strategy, reforming the Army and the impact of downsizing. He used the word Schwerpunkt.

Best Tweet: https://twitter.com/BarefootBoomer/status/579977864654655488

Worst Tweet: https://twitter.com/BarefootBoomer/status/580009315135852544

@Laurenist Now here is some #TFC old schoolness.

Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.45.25 PM.png

And, despite her opponent’s strength, she knows how to use strategy.

Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.47.47 PM.png

Nevertheless, what is great about Lauren’s feed is her steady stream of information on Veterans Affairs, humour and sharp commentary. To put it plainly – Lauren is GOOD at this.

Best Tweet: https://twitter.com/laurenist/status/580131637289156608

Worst Tweet: https://twitter.com/laurenist/status/580082674095775745

Winner: @Laurenist

Mr Boomer put up a great fight. It is my hope that next year he will be in #tfc2016 and build upon his experience this year, even if it was short. After all, look at everything that Clausewitz went through before he was recognized as a genius… after he was dead…. Wait…

profcarajones vs @APDiplowriter

Do you like pictures of animals, debating 1980s non-American pop-singers and naked pirate babies? This fight was for you.


Dr. Jones (OMG!!! Indy!) came out with a plea for humanity in conflict as the day dawned.


Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 9.03.47 PM.png

Nevertheless, this fight escalated pretty quickly, over the issue of Phil Collins vs Peter Gabriel. … okay…. But kinda surprised no one went Paul Simon on this one. Dr. Jones’ feed had a lot of information about Africa. Something called the naked pirate army (which I understand to be her children… I hope) and cats. I found some of the Africa tweets to be a bit jargon heavy. But then again this may be what you are looking for if you are studying Burundi.

Best Tweet: https://twitter.com/ProfCaraJones/status/580024156978180096

Worst Tweet: https://twitter.com/ProfCaraJones/status/579982363230367744

@APDiploWriter This is an info-heavy feed.

Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 9.56.05 PM.png

I was pleased to see that aside from tweeting the headlines that there was some short but interesting analysis as well.  And a lot of humour. For someone with 22K + followers on Twitter, he didn’t have to play the game – and yet he most certainly did.

Best Tweet: https://twitter.com/APDiploWriter/status/579977697994084352

Worst Tweet: https://twitter.com/APDiploWriter/status/579975084321951744

Winner: @APDiploWriter

While this may be unfair due to Mr. Diplo’s job, I found the content in his feed more interesting, clear and relevant. Dr. Jones (!) was witty and I appreciate the fact that she actually took time to spend with her kid(s) rather than #tfc2015 – so she didn’t lose points for that. But I really felt there could have been more value added here. Links to her own research, and more than just the random re-tweet of an African-based news story would have helped. (Why not explain it for your new audience?) Believe it or not, I would have appreciated this more than angry cat photos. (And value-added content is, I feel, a much neglected part of #tfc). However, like Mr Boomer, I hope Dr. Jones comes out swinging next year if she does not make it through.

@BA_Friedman vs @ @DzirhanDefence

This was a quiet one – due to work commitments and time zones. Yet in terms of twitter followers, it was also pretty evenly matched at ~3.4K each. As indicated above, I have followed both accounts for a number of years. So how did things shape up between these two military dudes?


Mr. Friedman did not have a heavy twitter day, but as someone who has had to work during one of these things, I feel your pain, dude. Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 9.58.34 PM.png

So the tweeting was a bit light. How was the content? It was okay. I would have liked to see more (a book excerpt? Something other than a term paper question?) or at least a few tweets on a couple of current issues.  If you link to a topical article, I’d like a little more context than “ISIS isn’t an existential threat.”

Best Tweet: https://twitter.com/BA_Friedman/status/580184002369347585

Worst Tweet: https://twitter.com/BA_Friedman/status/580098181507215360


Mr. Defence is high-volume, lots of pictures of things that explode and appears to be an all-around nice guy. Such a nice guy, in fact, that he was able to secure some fellow #tfc endorsements while he was teaching actual military stuff during the day.

Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.14.13 PM.png

Best tweet: https://twitter.com/DzirhanDefence/status/579991692687716352

Worst tweet: (too many re-tweets)

Winner: @DzirhanDefence

I get that BA Friedman seems to have been defending freedom and/or laundry. So it seems cruel to go with content on this one. However, Mr. Defence’s work on Monday was really ace and a great overall effort from an always interesting feed. Need to console Mr. Friedman if he doesn’t make it through? Tell him how much you love his book.: http://www.amazon.com/21st-Century-Ellis-Operational-Strategic/dp/1612518079

@grisuy vs @JohnAllenGay

Again, a fight where I have never really engaged the contestants before.  On the surface, I am not sure you could have got two more different people.

@grisuy Lots of gifs. Lots of retweets on issues related to race. Tweets about running, eating Chinese food in Rhode Island. Rhode Island elevators. Amtrack. Possibly giving a talk somewhere. I am still not sure what I read. 

Best Tweet: I don’t even….

Worst Tweet: I can’t.


Mr JAG seems to have realized what he was up against fairly quickly. Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.45.03 PM.png

And promptly lived up to this reputation with a very factual and extremely nerdy retort:

Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.49.32 PM.png

Best Tweet: https://twitter.com/JohnAllenGay/status/580016983485353984

Worst Tweet: https://twitter.com/JohnAllenGay/status/580169351262658560 (if only for spreading Iranian propaganda)

Winner: @JohnAllenGay

I kind of went with team NatSec here. And for things I understand. And, as Mr. JAG points out – I think @grisuy is probably too cool for us, 8 days out of 7.

@rosiegray vs @ryansradar


Ms Gray seemed to mostly ignore #TFC2015 and then eventually realized that the world was watching and waiting. What did she have to say?

Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 11.05.51 PM.png

So…. Yeah.

Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 11.07.40 PM.png

That was easy. Winner: @RyansRadar

@draperha vs @cjciaramella

@draperha didn’t so much tweet as provide a twitter performance, discussing her  job as a Foreign Service Officer in Turkey and Libya. Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 11.21.19 PM.png

Which was sometimes funny and silly.

Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 11.23.15 PM.png

And sometimes very dark and personal.  Very personal… Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 11.32.55 PM.png

But it made for one hell of a case to make it to the next round: Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 11.34.59 PM.png


Unfortunately. The Mella did not seem interested in participating. Lots on the US Freedom of Information Act, but no apparent interest in being in #TFC2015.

Winner: @draperha

This one wasn’t even close. Phew…. This is getting long. Let’s wrap it up!

@MountainHerder vs @scrivenking

Both of these cool kids follow me on Twitter and I enjoy interacting with them. So this is really going to come down to content.


Mr.Herder went straight for the goat card out of the gate. And also for the Zangieff vote.  Yet, despite the pleas for support and propaganda, there really wasn’t a lot of content to chew on. Again, work seems to have gotten in the way of an otherwise excellent tweeter. Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 12.00.34 AM.png

Best Tweet: https://twitter.com/MountainHerder/status/580024052888256512

Worst Tweet: https://twitter.com/MountainHerder/status/580162094726815744 


The info, propaganda, attacks and support came fast and furious on this one. Lots of content, lots of the funny = good strategy.

Best Tweet: https://twitter.com/scrivenlking/status/580073323163463681

Worst Tweet: https://twitter.com/scrivenlking/status/580081476206624768

Winner: @scrivenlking

Mr Herder, you know I loves ya – but I gotta go with the rules. Mr. King put out one heck of a feed on Monday, and it’s what I think should take him to round two. Plus you have all of those goats to take care of.

@LibyaLiberty vs @jdcushman


Ms Liberty started off with a ciritque of US culture:

  Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 12.16.50 AM.png

Subtle. Clearly, what @LibyaLiberty does best is snappy commentary:

Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 12.21.22 AM.png

Best Tweet: https://twitter.com/LibyaLiberty/status/580037858754326530 or https://twitter.com/LibyaLiberty/status/580091147428597760

Worst tweet: https://twitter.com/LibyaLiberty/status/579996148233949184 (Don’t tweet and drive!)


I am unfamiliar with Mr. Man’s work/tweets. So, as with Mr. Boomer, I listened to his music of choice he tweeted to the masses…. I think I may prefer the Viking death metal. Mr. Man also tweeted some analysis and a link to some of the work he has written – a huge plus for me: Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 12.31.38 AM.png

And some Canadian truth-bombs. (And possible attempts at Canadian pandering – but you know we club that shit, right?) canadian

But what I really liked was his discussion of the Baltic states (if not his taste in Baltic music.) Displaying Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 12.39.19 AM.png

All of this to say that Mr. Man put up one heck of a fight against the powerhouse that is @LibyaLiberty. A huge variety of tweets, great content, awesome pictures, the funny and subtle Canadian pandering.

Best Tweet: https://twitter.com/jdcushman/status/580087808389431296

Worst tweet: https://twitter.com/jdcushman/status/580063065317748737

Winner: @jdcushman

While I am a HUGE fan of @LibyaLiberty, @jdcushman is the underdog here by an order of magnitude. YET he put up a GREAT fight. And the content/discussion of Baltic security strategy was really, really well done and interesting. Well done!

Seay Bracket: Judges’ Ballots

(1) @HayesBrown 66% 1 vote vs. (16) @scifirebird 34% 1 vote

With a split of the judges, tournament favorite @HayesBrown’s edge in the popular vote is enough to advance him. 

(8) @ZeddRebel 68% 1 vote vs. (9) @ivanplis 32% 1 vote

Another judging split puts the (8) seed into the round of 32. 

(5) @Doctrine_Man 80% 2 votes vs. (12) @MarkfromArk 20% 

@Doctrine_Man pulled out all the stops and proved too formidable a foe to overcome. 

(4) @donachaidh 65%  vs. (13) @13F2PL7 35% 2 votes

@donachaidh’s win in the popular vote isn’t enough as newcomer @13F2PL7 takes the judges. 

(3) @tweetsintheme 57% 2 votes vs. (14) @abushofghosts 43% 

A comfortable win for TFC vet @tweetsintheme.

(6) @johnsonr 58% 2 votes vs. (11) @LadyPutz 42% 

The popular vote was fairly close, but the judges’ vote was not. The (6) advances. 

(7) @PaulSzoldra 55% 2 votes vs. (10) @tmgneff 45% 

A close battle that entertained watchers and led to a narrow margin in the popular vote, but the winner on the strength of the judges’ opinions is the (7) seed. 

(2) @kohenari 58% 1 vote vs. (15) @bjones 42% 1 vote

A split of the judges means the (2) seed advances by virtue of a narrow margin in the popular vote. 


I was unable to complete my ballot due to outside stressors contributing to my ongoing struggles with Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures (PNES) and PTSD. As a result, would like all of my points to go to @PTSDInfo. She is doing amazing, innovative work to help people with PTSD and I think she deserves recognition and awareness for it. Plus she’s a big supporter of Twitter Fight Club, and if anyone, besides @caidid, deserves my votes, it’s her. I am taking a short break from Twitter to breathe, but I’ll be back before you know it, so I can fight for more research funding for PNES and PTSD.


As far as Twitter Fight Club is concerned, I have been both the man (robot) in the arena, and also the critic (judge.) I’ve gone up against eminently worthy opponents, and even managed to beat some of them. But judging the Seay Bracket has been my toughest TFC challenge yet.

@HayesBrown vs. @SciFirebird

Yes, Hayes does great work at BuzzFeed, and yes, he’s written eloquently on the staggering train wreck that is the F-35, a topic near and dear to my artificial heart. But even more imposing than that, the man is the freaking Khal Drogo of GIFs. He’s got a subterranean meme arsenal so powerful and devastating that I’m surprised he isn’t arguing with the U.N. over whether they can inspect it. His feed mixes the informative with The Funny. If everyone else’s Twitter feed went dark but Hayes was unaffected, I feel like I wouldn’t be missing all that much.

But then @SciFirebird comes out swinging. I confess I had not encountered her much on Twitter before now, but this U.S. Army scientist (chemist, I think) laid down magisterial expositions on Science. Hayes mentioned coffee? Boom, she’s explaining how and why caffeine what it does, and in an accessible and entertaining fashion. She’s getting judged by an intoxicated robot? Suddenly we’re talking GABA receptors and I actually understand what she’s saying. Hayes had a good point- it’s national security, not science. But @SciFirebird sci-fired back (sorry, I’ll see myself out) by noting the myriad ways in which science supports national security missions, from chemical detection to traumatic brain injury treatments.

This ended up being almost a coin flip, and if you don’t follow both of them, you’re wrong. But based on the newcomer’s wholehearted efforts to win the judges’ favor and engage with her opponent, I gotta give it to the underdog.

Victor: @SciFirebird

@kohenari vs. @bjones

In an effort to win #TFC15, Ari bought a minivan. Wow. That really jumped up a notch. Regardless of whether or not this competitor really dropped down the change for a “Swagger Wagon” just to win, it signified the take-no-prisoners attitude in this matchup. I must admit that I wasn’t prepared for quite the amount of vitriol that Professor Kohen launched at Editor-in-Chief Jones over the latter’s lack of books published. (As a grad student and editor of Task & Purpose, I suspect that charge won’t have staying power.)

Despite the thermobaric effects of Kohen’s Minivan Tactic, Jones shot back by going straight to this judge’s soft spot (the ailerons?) with animated Predator GIFs and one truly unforgettable, iconic image that defined Marines in national security. In a battle fought through the night, Jones destroyed his enemy by fire, maneuver and Corgi-GIF.

Victor: @bjones

@Doctrine_Man vs. @MarkfromArk

TFC-specific Doctrine Man cartoons. That’s all I’ll say. They’re not easy to overcome when you’re a newcomer, despite Mark’s concerted efforts all day, and Doctrine Man didn’t pull any punches, raining down visual humor elements featuring everyone from Captain America to professional wrestlers. A good showing by the rookie, but DM clearly took it.

Victor: @Doctrine_Man

@tweetsintheME vs. @abushofghosts

You know it’s going to be good when one competitor launches an insurgent campaign against an established talent, using Sun Tzu references and forged checks suggesting his opponent was responsible for Iran-Contra. Still, Andrew parried the conspiracy theories, landed a few zingers of his own, and surprisingly, kept up substantive commentary and story-sharing on the areas of his expertise. It took some deliberation, especially given my own affinity for Marvel characters, but in the end, Lebovich took it.

Victor: @tweetsintheME

@ZeddRebel vs. @IvanPlis

These two brought heart to the whole thing, including thoughtful reflections on Natsec Twitter’s ability to shorten learning curves and forge connections. Also there were Archer references all ‘round, explorations of religious freedom, and battling, unflattering magazine-cover comparisons. Both checked the judge-pandering boxes, both were gracious competitors, and both landed serious punches, but the pseudonymous commentator/humorist carried the day.

Victor: @ZeddRebel

@PaulSzoldra vs. @Tmgneff

This is basically how I felt about this Marine Corps grudge match. Chaos, man. Chaos. On the one hand, I wish I didn’t have to choose between one of the Duffel Blog’s finest and the Georgetown student who’s already written for the Times’ At War, the Post, the Daily Beast and the Atlantic. But on the other, it would have been an immense shame to risk this matchup not happening. Paul reminding Tom that T.M. stands for “Terrible Marine,” and forging text messages admitting that Paul’s his hero. Tom posting photos of himself in silkies to prove his superiority and insinuating insufficient loyalty on Paul’s part to the A-10 Warthog. Ideally, this slugfest would have gone on indefinitely, but I had to make a call, and when Paul photoshopped Tom in with Kim Jong-Un, that put him over the top. However, I make this offer to both of them: if both of you meet in a bar somewhere, I will buy you both drinks for as long as you care to re-match this battle.

Victor: @PaulSzoldra

@LadyPutz vs. @johnsonr

Lotta animals in this hard-fought but thoroughly amicable matchup, but the most memorable is the armor-plated Doberman with #TFC15 iconography. Putz had entertaining commentary, insight on today’s Ghani presser, and a spirited back-and-forth with her opponent, but Professor Johnson, the armored Dobie, and #WarDogs take this one.

Victor: @Johnsonr

@donachaidh vs. @13F2PL7

I’m writing this and I don’t know which of the two paratroopers I’m picking. I’m serious- I put this one off until the very last because I could not, in good conscience, make a decision. I’m watching words appear in front of me and it’s a way of treading water until I have to actually make a choice. As tough, if not a tougher call, than Gibbons-Neff vs. Szoldra. @13F2PL7 (talk about anonymity) chose the storytelling approach, making his bid for #TFC15 supremacy by relating a number of hilarious, and some touching, deployment stories, including not one, but two awesome UAV exploits. The guy even rescued a downed Raven, for which he gets enormous drone credit in my book. (Sadly, troops hanging their asses out on the line to recover a wayward Raven seems not to be unheard of. ) Also, he had to go do it because a descendant of General Custer ordered him.

@Donachaidh has been a fixture of my Twitter feed for a while, and for good reason; iconoclastic military wit shot through with occasional political commentary and just general funniness. He did not disappoint, mashing up Winston Churchill into a heartwarming discourse on the long fight ahead in #TFC15. The best summation of his Twitter stream today (aside from cutting remarks aimed at his opponent) can be viewed in his Twitter avatar. And they both took time to suck up, which- again- can’t be underestimated, because my programming requires reassurance and validation. I JUST WANT TO BE LOVED. Okay, sorry, that got weird.

Anyway. I hated making a choice. My bar-fight offer for Tom and Paul extends to these guys, too. But in the end, the underdog’s story of the wandering Raven UAV near the Pakistan border and the pompous descendant of General Custer took it.

Victor: @13F2PL7



Top seed looking good/ Powerful presence and tweets /HayesBrown for the win


Performance art fun /A for effort for the prof /Cornhusker triumph


Not quite enough time /For all the conspiracies /Lebovich moves on


A blitzkrieg of tweets /Operational conquest /Cat pics failure tweets


Very close battle /Doctrine Man off the top rope /3 count and the win


WarDogs mobilized/ What about the Thundercats? /Question for next round


So entertaining /They should throw down every day/ Szoldra by a hair


Ivan Plis has heart/ Want to see what he does next /Really close matchup

Saideman Bracket: Results

(1) @speechboy71 59% 1 vote (16) @eamonhamilton 41% 2 vote

In the biggest upset of the first round, the (16) seed takes down the (1) on the strength of his edge with the judges. 

(8) @20committee 44%  (9) @hannahgais 56% 1 vote

Condolences to @20committee who had a death in the family yesterday. We wish comfort to you and your family. We’ll hold a spot in #TFC16 for you and look forward to seeing you spar in better times. 

(5) @GrantRumley 26% 3 votes (12) @HalpernAlex 74%

Dominance in the popular vote isn’t enough for @HalpernAlex to overcome @GrantRumley’s sweep of the judges, all of whom cited this tweet in their decisions:

(4) @DrJJoyner 63% 1 vote (13) @KedarPavgi 37% 2 votes

In the third upset of the round, @KedarPavgi’s advantage with the judges is just enough for him to squeak past @DrJJoyner.

(3) @miriamelder 56% (14) @FOIAsaxa 44% 3 votes

Upset city in the Seay bracket! The (14) seed sweeps the judges to knock out the (3).

(6) @TheOdalisque 25% .5 votes (11) @combatcavscout 75% 2.5 votes

In upset #5, the (11) seed takes the popular vote and the judges’ vote to advance.

(7) @ArminRosen 40% 1 vote (10) @SharlynEgger 60% 2 votes

In the 6th and final upset decision, @SharylnEgger advances.

(2) @RadioFreeTom 64% 2 votes (15) @klkidder 36% 1 vote

A rare favorite advancing from this bracket, @RadioFreeTom gets the edge in both measures.

Saideman Bracket: Judges’ Ballots


My votes below. Some of these pair-ups were absolutely outstanding, and a few others were pretty dead (of all tweets, not just TFC ones). I know this isn’t how brackets work, but I would love to see people who aren’t really into it dropped to make room for people who are strong participants. But, with that said:

(1) @speechboy71 vs (16) @eamonhamilton
I felt that @speechboy71 wasn’t around much today, though he was clever when he was. @eamonhamilton on the other hand kept up a consistent stream of tweets of airplanes (real, toy and imaginary) and Australian animals which kept me interested.
Vote: @eamonhamilton
(2) @RadioFreeTom vs (15) @klkidder
This round started out tough. @klkidder’s #RedemptiveJeapardy tweets to  @RadioFreeTom were clever, and apparently well-researched. They also led to some lively and entertaining banter back and forth, with some other folks chiming in. Ultimately, though, she faded away during the day. Tom was active on Twitter all day, having interesting (and not necessarily TFC-driven) discussions with others, along with steady #TFC15 tweets. Despite the fact that he retweeted Instapundit fighting with Ron Fournier into my stream, I have to go with
Vote: @RadioFreeTom
(3) @miriamelder vs (14) @FOIAsaxa
Neither @miriamelder nor @FOIAsaxa were very active on Twitter today, which is disappointing — the things they did tweet (both #TFC15-related and not) were interesting and clever. However, @FOIAsaxa was more engaged overall, highlighted some other competitors, and had somewhat more of a presence in general.
Vote: @FOIAsaxa.
(4) @DrJJoyner vs (13) @KedarPavgi
Another low-activity face-off. @KedarPavgi had some well-crafted tweets asking for #TFC15 votes, but not much else. Also, he offered to bribe Matt Ford but not the other judges, so I’m gonna hold that against him. @DrJJoyner had a little less TFC-related content, but he was part of some interesting conversations with @RadioFreeTom and others.
Vote: @DrJJoyner
(5) @GrantRumley vs (12) @HalpernAlex
Oh man, this is a tough one. Both competitors had fun back-and-forth with each other and others jumping in, had a good mix of non-TFC content, interesting information, conversations with others, and gifs. I would love to see both of them in future rounds. However, I have to give it to @GrantRumley for putting together a poster of reasons he should win which made me laugh, and actually made a good argument.
Vote: @GrantRumley
(6) @TheOdalisque vs (11) @combatcavscout
Another hard one. @CombatCavScout I’ve followed for a while, and appreciate. I didn’t know @TheOdalisque before TFC, but so far she may be one of the top new people that it’s introduced me to. They both had great banter, and good content. @CombatCavScout’s tweetstorm about superheroes was great, and I enjoyed seeing him pick a fight with someone being dismissive of the submarine sexual harassment thing. On the other and, I really enjoyed @TheOdalisque’s personal discussion of the Confederate flag, and cat photos. However, since I have to choose, @CombatCavScout just did more overall.
(7) @ArminRosen vs (10) @SharlynEgger:
This was yet another good one. @ArminRosen produced a lot of good snark, commentary, and actual news. However, @SharlynEgger was a very strong competitor, keeping up a steady stream of images and engagement with basically everyone throughout the day. Her tweetstorm about falling in love with the United States was an excellent personal and moving Twitter essay, which puts her over the top for me.
Vote: @SharlynEgger.
(8) @20committee vs (9) @hannahgais
This one is easy, at least. @20committee essentially had to withdraw due for personal reasons, while @HannahGais tweeted consistently excellently throughout the day, even without having someone to compete against.
Vote: @hannahgais


Alright, let’s see what I can do in 30 minutes:

Each year, I approach Twitter Fight Club with a new framing aphorism, often informed by my previous twelve months of Twitter activity. Last year–in #TFC14, I defeated my first-round foe with a punishing series of finely crafted subtweets–was “stay weird.” This year, I took my strategic cliche from the eminently and regrettably quotable Donald Rumsfeld: “You go to war with the tweets you have.” And so, this year’s Saideman Bracket proved an unprecedented challenge: some of these tweeps are all-time favorites; others, not so much. Many more were delightful introductions, mere avatars dancing at the margins of my timeline. All were a pleasure to watch fight, and to judge.
speechboy71 vs. eamonhamilton: @eamonhamilton
@speechboy71 is a tough one-seed: his irascible commentary on U.S. foreign policy often makes it difficult to differentiate between his Twitter-fighting and non-Twitter-fighting modes, especially where American conservatives are concerned. He adopted a common TFC strategy among American contestants, the rope-a-dope, where he pummeled his opponents with incessant jabs.

 The thing is, a new puppy around the house means I’ve grown soft over the past year. Animals are often exactly what I’m looking for among my tweeps, especially in the least likely places. So, a tip of the hat to @eamonhamilton for his marsupial mammals, and for the aero-futurism that held his viewers captive:


@RadioFreeTom vs. @klkidder: @RadioFreeTom
My fiancée and I DVR Jeopardy. This match wasn’t predetermined, but between @RadioFreeTom’s reminders of his five-time Jeopardy championship and his attempts to cater to the Labrador Lobby, he has my vote.
@MiriamElder vs. @FOIAsaxa: @FOIAsaxa
It’s hard to compete with @MiriamElder’s curmudgeon game–as a dissident from nonsense, she’s on all the time, every day. But one can’t help feeling her curmudgeonly outlook–for example, her incessant rejection of colleague @HayesBrown’s pun-dependent sense of humor–interfered with the basic thrust and spirit of a winning TFC performance. @FOIAsaxa was in classic form: Seinfeld GIFs, Simpsons GIFs, an inexplicable bear GIF–basically, just lots of GIFs. One doesn’t quibble with those results.
@DrJJoyner vs. @KedarPavgi: @KedarPavgi
Man, this was boring; come on, guys. @KedarPavgi only won because he slipped in a Morpheus GIF on the 23rd, and because @DrJJoyner found himself stuck in the mire of one of those discursive snorefests about national security and the policy-academia gap.
@GrantRumley vs. @HalpernAlex: @GrantRumley
In the words of @anniesperson, “There is no A game. There is only always on.” Both @GrantRumley and @HalpernAlex lived up to their promise of eternal on-ness. In a close contest like this one, it’s the kind gestures that take the cake. @GrantRumley was kind enough to develop a DoD-tastic slide outlining his case for victory, which both prompts unfortunate memories among any judge who’s ever worked as a management consultant, and secures his spot in the next round.


 If ever @GrantRumley finds himself in a Pentagon briefing, someone should give him a crash course in the vertical logic of a PowerPoint slide. In the meantime, he may revel in his ephemeral glory.
@TheOdalisque vs. @combatcavscout: UNDECIDED
I’m splitting my vote. @TheOdalisque is Twitter at its best: eclectic, eccentric, unconcerned with the boundaries of subject and style. Also, @TheOdalisque’s cat is adorbs, and I’d be remiss to dispense with the logic that guided my decisions in favor of @eamonhamilton and @RadioFreeTom. But @combatcavscout’s Twitter essay about Deadpool and the meaning of power was similarly indispensable. I know both won’t advance, but I won’t be responsible for holding either back.
@ArminRosen vs. @SharlynEgger: @ArminRosen
@ArminRosen is the grand duchy of the inconsequential, of which his #TFC15 performance was an extraordinary display.


@20committee vs. @hannahgais: UNDECIDED
My condolences to @20committee on what seems to have been a rough day.


(1) @speechboy71
(16) @eamonhamilton

The best part about Twitter Fight Club is meeting new people and expanding one’s knowledge. In this round, for example, I learned that Australia has an air force. Eamon apparently works for its communications department, wielding cute animals as diplomatic tools and admittedly cool pictures of airplanes to sway the audience and judges. It almost worked until I remembered that this is Twitter Fight Club, and Michael’s legendary digital pugilism throughout the day—he even got into side Twitter fights with non-participants during the judging period—took home the prize.

VOTE: @speechboy71

(2) @RadioFreeTom
(15) @klkidder

I’m currently mulling dog adoption, which is perhaps why Tom’s pleas to think of his Great Pyrenees struck a particular chord when voting this year. Then I saw that Kate used something called “Redemptive Jeopardy!” where she asked Tom the questions he had missed during his stint on the real thing. I laughed a bit too loudly upon seeing this and the entire newsroom stared at me. I was, and remain, unashamed.

VOTE: @klkidder

(3) @miriamelder
(14) @FOIAsaxa

Miriam didn’t tweet much during the competition. One can hardly blame her, of course—keeping Hayes Brown in check is likely a full-time job in and of itself. Tom, meanwhile, secured a clear lead in Twitter activity in both intensity and wit. Securing the coveted Laura Seay endorsement clinched it.


(4) @DrJJoyner
(13) @KedarPavgi

Unlike most other TFC skirmishes this year, this one felt more like a cold war, with little direct engagement between the two competitors. Kedar made a late, failed attempt to bribe me with cash—I only accept bribes in whiskey form, for the record—but his stronger GIF game allowed him to edge ahead of James.

VOTE: @KedarPavgi

(5) @GrantRumley
(12) @HalpernAlex

This contest occupied most of my mentions column on Twitter today—a paralyzing, no-holds-barred brawl between Alex and Grant. Grant chose to highlight his extensive body of work and Twitter repertoire in addition to the usual blows; Alex opted to persistently yet subtly imply Grant is an anti-Semite. (He is assuredly not, for those casual observers who may be reading this.)

Honestly, this one was a tie until, at the end of a long day, Grant provided the judges with a simple PowerPoint slide to sum it all up in his favor. Sometimes its the simple things.

VOTE: @GrantRumley

(6) @TheOdalisque
(11) @combatcavscout

I had no idea what an odalisque was until today, which was kinda neat. One can’t help but admire Christa for her avowed misandry, especially in today’s world. This match-up was a tempting one too, but Cav’s sheer diversity and breadth of tweets today—from a monologue on comic books to the usual TFC banter to verbally bludgeoning some hapless sexist nitwit—showed the kind of sprezzatura we expect and encourage.

VOTE: @combatcavscout

(7) @ArminRosen
(10) @SharlynEgger

She’s got adorable cat memes. She loves America (even though she’s not American!). And she’s got the endorsement of Steve Saideman himself. Compared to this, neither our shared disdain of “Firefly” nor the endorsement of America’s leading thought leader can save Armin.

VOTE: @SharlynEgger

The #TFC15 Draft

Thanks to @DaveedGR for providing this explanation of this year’s draft twist. 
As you probably noticed, #TFC15 determined its seedings in a very different way than previous Twitter Fight Club tournaments by holding a draft of contestants on Friday, March 20. The Twitterfighters were drafted by our last four finalists, @texasinafrica, @DaveedGR, @smsaideman and @AthertonKD.

In addition to determining the seedings, the four finalists listed above are playing a tournament within a tournament. The Twitterfighters whom they drafted are their respective “teams,” and the scoring system is as follows, for each entrant on their teams:

  1. Advance past round 1: 1 point
  2. Advance past round 2: 2 points
  3. Advance past Sweet Sixteen: 4 points
  4. Advance past Elite 8: 8 points
  5. Advance to finals: 16 points
  6. Win the tournament: 16 points

The four finalists have generously promised to donate $50 apiece to help pay for the #TFC15 prizes, BUT the winner of this pool will have the other three spot his or her payment. Thus, the winner of this competition-within-a-competition pays $0, and the other three pay $67 apiece.

For those of you keeping track at home, here are the four teams, with each member listed in their seeding/selection order:

Team @texasinafrica

  1. @HayesBrown
  2. @kohenari
  3. @tweetsintheme
  4. @donachaidh
  5. @BA_Friedman
  6. @draperha
  7. @MountainHerder
  8. @profcarajones
  9. @EllieBartels
  10. @johnb30
  11. @ArmyJew
  12. @pptsapper
  13. @KedarPavgi
  14. @FOIAsaxa
  15. @klkidder
  16. @eamonhamilton

Team @DaveedGR

  1. @Lesley_Warner
  2. @RyanJSuto
  3. @AliGharib
  4. @AllThingsHLS
  5. @GrantRumley
  6. @TheOdalisque
  7. @ArminRosen
  8. @20committee
  9. @ivanplis
  10. @tmgneff
  11. @LadyPutz
  12. @markfromark
  13. @JohnAllenGay
  14. @ryansradar
  15. @jdcushman
  16. @BarefootBoomer

Team @smsaideman

  1. @speechboy71
  2. @RadioFreeTom
  3. @miriamelder
  4. @DrJJoyner
  5. @Doctrine_Man
  6. @johnsonr
  7. @PaulSzoldra
  8. @ZeddRebel
  9. @APDiploWriter
  10. @scrivenlking
  11. @cjciaramella
  12. @DzirhanDefence
  13. @Berlaymonster
  14. @soonergrunt
  15. @priestic1
  16. @danielmkim

Team @AthertonKD

  1. @laurenist
  2. @LibyaLiberty
  3. @RosieGray
  4. @grisuy
  5. @misscherryjones
  6. @maximumplum
  7. @drfarls
  8. @sflocken
  9. @hannahgais
  10. @SharlynEgger
  11. @combatcavscout
  12. @HalpernAlex
  13. @13F2PL7
  14. @abushofghosts
  15. @bjones
  16. @scifirebird

#TFC15: Round 1: Seay & Saideman Brackets

Thanks to all the competitors for a great start to the competition yesterday! Today the other two brackets get their chance.

Introducing today’s judges!

Seay Bracket

  • @alymaybe
  • @drunkenpredator
  • @mchorowitz

Saideman Bracket

  • @badnetworker
  • @Dan_E_Solo
  • @FordM

Judges and voters alike are encouraged to look at metrics such as: knowledge base; quality of argumentation; innovative thinking; humor, snark, facility with quips, and charisma; and responsiveness to followers. Contestants’ full bodies of work on Twitter are fair game, and everyone is encouraged to make their decisions in their own way.

The polls are open until midnight EDT tonight Tuesday, March 24, and the results for all of round 1 will post tomorrow morning. If you want to follow all of the TwitterFightClub action, we are using the hashtag #TFC15 and there is a full contestant list here.

To the polls!

Seay Bracket

Saideman Bracket

#TFC15: Round 1: Gartenstein-Ross and Atherton Brackets

On your marks…get set…go!!

Let’s get straight to business. Two brackets competing today, two tomorrow, all results up on Wednesday. The judges for today’s contests will be:

Gartenstein-Ross Bracket

  • @emptywheel
  • @EndeavoringE
  • @ForbesMM

Atherton Bracket

  • @nonstopsnark
  • @PTSDInfo
  • @StephanieCarvin

And now your polls! They close at midnight, so get out the vote now!

Gartenstein-Ross Bracket

Atherton Bracket

Guest Post: TFC Player Stats

This post comes courtesy of @badnetworker: David Masad (@badnetworker) is a graduate student who studies computational analysis and modeling of international relations. He should really be working on his dissertation right now.

If Twitter Fight Club is March Madness for Twitter NatSec nerds and their friends, it deserves analytics at least as nerdy as those that get pointed at real sports. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about real sports analytics, so I’m just making it up as I go along.

Athletes generally have some sorts of basic stats that are used to describe them: height, weight, 40-yard dash time, free-throw percentage, probably a bunch of other stuff too. That seems like a good place to start. Follower count is probably important — more followers means more people a competitor can rally to vote for her, and might be a sign that she’s “good at Twitter” in some general sense. This seems to be the strategy that Steve Saideman (@smsaideman) was using.

Here’s the distribution of follower counts among the 64 TFC competitors. This is a long-tailed distribution (which is exciting to me as a complexity guy), with only a small number of competitors whose follower counts dwarf everyone else’s.


If winning TFC came down to number of followers only, it’s barely close — we can just give Rosie Gray and her 44,087* followers the trophy now.

Some other possible stats are average followers gained per day, to control for how long someone’s been on Twitter; and average tweets per day, to get an idea of how active each user is.

But wait! There’s a grizzled old TFC scout in the back of the room saying that raw numbers don’t matter; it all comes down to heart. To win TFC, you need to want it more than anyone else. Fine, let’s operationalize that. Wanting to win at TFC means tweeting about it, a lot. I went through all the tweets I’ve collected that use the #TFC15 hashtag, counted how many times each competitor appeared. By that measure, Christa Blackmon (@TheOdalisque) takes a convincing lead.


But is heart enough? I created a Weighted Followers stat, which is just each competitor’s follower count weighted by their share of #TFC15 tweets. By that measure, Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) trounces all comers, with a Weighted Follower stat over 3 times larger than the next-strongest competitor.

What about network position? Could it be that someone who is more central to the social network of people who care about TFC has an advantage? Seems reasonable. I pulled data for anyone who tweeted about #TFC15 between Thursday afternoon when my surveillance drone* launched and Saturday evening, and built a network of who is following who. In this network, it’s Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) who has the lead in both in-degree (how many people within the network follow him) and eigenvector centrality (roughly, a measure of influence).


Top Competitor by Metric

Total Followers @RosieGray
Average Followers Per Day APDiploWriter
Average Tweets Per Day @20committee
TFC Tweets @TheOdalisque
Weighted Followers @RadioFreeTom
Network In-Degree @HayesBrown
Network Out-Degree @johnsonr
Eigenvector Centrality @HayesBrown

And how did the “team captains” decide when to draft whom? I took the Spearman’s Rho rank correlation of competitor’s seeds with all the stats I computed so far. Remember, low seeds are better, so larger negative numbers are more correlated.

Rank Correlation with Seed

Followers -0.60
Followers_Per_Day -0.43
Tweets_Per_Day -0.30
TFC_Tweet_Count 0.30
Weighted_Followers -0.08
InDegree -0.53
OutDegree -0.06
Eigenvector Centrality -0.53


The most substantial correlation is follower count — apparently the team captains, all TFC veterans, agree that number of followers matters. Next comes eigenvector centrality, so social position matters too. (Followers per day comes in there, but that’s almost certainly just due to its correlation with total followers). Interestingly, and surprising to me, the weighted followers measure doesn’t seem to have mattered at all. Tweeting more about TFC, meanwhile, may have lowered a competitor’s draft pick — though it’s hard to say whether this is because the heavy TFC tweeters knew they had to work harder to make up for some other disadvantage, or if the team captains didn’t like people who were trying too hard.

* A word on data collection:  Twitter data is obviously dynamic, and people start and stop following each other all the time. Most of the user-level and network data was collected before the TFC draft, so it should avoid some of the bias caused by people starting to follow one another during the tournament.

** A Python script on an Amazon EC2 server.

#TFC15 Match-ups, Scheduling, Bracket Pool

The seeding has been determined, the match-ups have been set. We kick off tomorrow morning with the Gartenstein-Ross and Atherton brackets, and go on to the Seay and Saideman brackets on Tuesday! Big thanks to the 2013 and 2014 finalists @texasinafrica, @smsaideman, @DaveedGR, and @AthertonKD for their help with the seeding, and to @anniesperson, @charlie_simpson, @drunkenpredator, and @robertcaruso who are not competing but have also been helping behind the scenes.

If you would like to enter the bracket pool competition, you can fill out one of these: Excel-Brackets-TFC15 and have it in to twitterfightclub@gmail.com no later than Wednesday March 25 9am EDT. After that the Round 1 results will be posted, and no more brackets will be accepted. Here they are, your first-round match-ups!

TFC15 Brackets

#TFC15 Competition Launches Monday – Here Are Some Thing You Should Know

1. The schedule for the competition will be as follows:

  • Monday March 23: Gartenstein-Ross and Atherton brackets: Round 1
  • Tuesday March 24: Seay and Saideman brackets: Round 1
  • Wednesday March 25: Round 1 results
  • Thursday March 26: Round 2, all brackets
  • Friday March 27: Round 2 results
  • Monday March 30: Gartenstein-Ross and Atherton brackets: Sweet 16
  • Tuesday March 31: Seay and Saideman brackets: Sweet 16
  • Wednesday April 1: Sweet 16 results
  • Thursday April 2: Elite Eight, all brackets
  • Friday April 3: Elite Eight results
  • Monday April 6: Final Four
  • Tuesday April 7: Final Four results
  • Wednesday April 8: Championship round
  • Thursday April 9: The new champ is crowned!

2. The field will be determined by the end of the day today, and the seeding for this year’s competition will be determined via our first ever live draft event this Friday March 20 at 5pm EDT, with the four past finalists whose names grace this year’s brackets acting as ‘team captains.’ Follow the #TFC15 hashtag (or just follow @texasinafrica, @smsaideman, @DaveedGR, and @AthertonKD) from 5pm Friday to catch all the picks as they are made. And if anyone wants to volunteer to be TFC’s Mel Kiper or Todd McShay, insane, ESPN-style statistical TFC talk will be welcomed, almost as much as Kiper’s legendary hairdo!

3. We’re going to have some fun bonus stuff on the blog this year. @BadNetworker (David Masad) is going to be running some TFC analytics and we’ll be posting any fun/interesting findings on here. You can see a taste here:

4. If you need help understanding wtf TFC is, try this handy explainer Hayes Brown wrote for us last year.

5. The full list of contestants for #TFC15 is now available here: https://twitter.com/caidid/lists/tfc15-contestants/members Follow that list or #TFC15 to keep up with the competition!

Who should make it to the big dance?

19 people have received automatic bids. Each of these is granted in one of four ways: the tweeter made at least the Sweet 16 last year; the tweeter is a designated replacement for a #TFC14 Sweet 16’er who is unable to compete this year; the tweeter was granted entry by one of our eight past finalists; or the tweeter received an unusually high number of nominations. The contestants with automatic bids are as follows:

  • @abushofghosts
  • @Ali_Gharib
  • @AllThingsHLS
  • @cjciaramella
  • @faineg
  • @GrantRumley
  • @grisuy
  • @hannahgais
  • @HayesBrown
  • @kcroninfurman
  • @KedarPavgi
  • @khanserai
  • @kohenari
  • @laurenist
  • @Lesley_Warner
  • @LibyaLiberty
  • @RosieGray
  • @RyanJSuto
  • @ZeddRebel

The remaining nominees are fighting for a place tonight and all day tomorrow, and their fate is in your hands! Vote for up to 20. Your votes will determine who gets a spot in the tournament! Polls close tomorrow night, Tuesday March 17 at midnight EDT. Ish. (This is TFC. Precision is not our strong suit).

If your name is on either of these lists and you are unable or unwilling to compete, please let me know by Thursday 3/19 via Twitter (@caidid) or email (twitterfightclub@gmail.com) and I will remove you. Once the votes are in, the final seedings will be determined. Once the brackets have been released, there will be no further changes.

(Also please let me know if you notice any errors in listed handles).

To your vote!