Countdown to #TFC15

First, some housekeeping from #TFC14:

  • A million thanks to all who donated to the crowd-funding campaign last spring. We raised enough to cover last year’s prizes, this year’s prizes, prizes owed to past bracket winners, and the fees associated with maintaining this site.
  • I have been a horrible shirker about getting the crowd-fund rewards to people, but I have slowly been getting them out and I hope to have them all out before #TFC15 begins.
  • I have been an even worse shirker about getting prizes to the bracket winners (No, seriously. @azelin has been waiting since #TFC12). This is in part because I have not been satisfied with any of the prize options, but really there’s no excuse. I hope to have those out to @azelin, @MarkfromArk, and last year’s double champion @DaveedGR before #TFC15 starts as well. Then we’ll have a clean slate for this year!

Now to #TFC15 business!

  • The brackets this year will be the Seay, Saideman, Gartenstein-Ross, and Atherton brackets after the #TFC13 and #TFC14 finalists.
  • Nominations are open now! Please submit your nominations in the comments, to @caidid on Twitter, or through email to Nominations will be accepted until March 10. Nominate, nominate, nominate! The best part of TFC is learning about amazing, smart, engaging people you haven’t had the pleasure of encountering, and different voices with different specialties and backgrounds and interests make for a more interesting competition! 
  • As in past years, a number of last year’s more successful competitors have automatic entry into the tournament, and past finalists will have the option of placing one competitor directly into the competition. All other entrants will be chosen from your nominations in a public poll.
  • Unlike in past years, in order to cut down on one-sided contests, all contestants will be notified and given the option to opt out before competition begins.
  • The full schedule will be finalized soon, but I currently expect the competition to run March 16 through April 2.
  • Finally, if you are new to TFC and are wondering what the eff it is, please see this helpful write-up @HayesBrown wrote last year.

#TFC14: Bracket results

It’s an achievement unparalleled in the annals of TwitterFightClub, something that poses a new challenge to future TFC competitors: yes, that’s right, @DaveedGR has unified the TwitterFightClub belts by winning both the competition itself and, with his unwavering faith in his own twitterfighting abilities, the bracket pool.

Also, I have to give a shout-out to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. We had a number of entries from there, one student saying “My Intro to Comparative Politics professor encouraged everyone in my class to take part in Twitter Fight Club this year.” Which is awesome, and judging by the number of ‘’ email addresses, quite a few heeded their professor. I wonder if a certain contestant from Arkansas could have had anything to do with this…

The final results:

@HerbCarmen 98
@RogueAdventurer 120
@rblock2012 42
@GrahamWJenkins 144
James LeCompte 178
@AndrewBFriedman 86
Alex Figueroa 68
Hannah Dyer 58
Caleb LeBow 82
Sarah Edwards 44
James Lockhart 100
@jamielikesflipflops 104
Stephanie Price 78
@MarkfromArk 100
@NSlayton 70
Farah Abu-Safe 44
William Parker 82
Amanda McClendon 32
@JDanaStuster 90
@Sandra_Woy 80
@smsaideman 136
Brandon Thurman 52
Amie Stepanovich 116
Jameson Jackson 58
Bridget O’Shaughnessy 124
Kiana Cunningham 46
Jessica Ducey 120
@emptywheel 168
@trnels 120
@DaveedGR 200
@FaraMomen 128
@LeoAdrien 110

#TFC14: The (Bobble)Head That Wears the Crown

Next year’s competition will feature a Gartenstein-Ross Bracket and an Atherton Bracket alongside the Seay and Saideman Brackets, but only one of these competitors will have the coveted bobblehead trophy, and join @jeremyscahill, @will_mccants, and @texasinafrica in the pantheon of TwitterFightClub Champions.

A ferocious battle all day long, in which both competitors pulled out all the stops, rounding up endorsements, responding to questions and requests from judges and voters alike, posting rap battles, and maintaining their own usual excellent content, but one competitor just seemed to want it more, putting on a display of drive that in the end edged out his opponent.

Who will be crowned the 2014 TwitterFightClub champion? Without further ado, 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).

The results

(3) @AthertonKD 61% 0 votes
**(1) @DaveedGR 39% 3 votes
[(2) @HayesBrown 0% 1 vote]

@AthertonKD managed a significant edge in voter turnout, but @DaveedGR’s hustle impresses the judges enough to take the contest and the bobble-jihadi. @charlie_simpson proves true to form (and to the anarchic spirit of TwitterFightClub) and gives her vote to Elite Eight eliminee @HayesBrown. The last time @charlie_simpson voted for a non-contestant in a final, @texasinafrica went on the steamroll the competition the following year. I’d say as long as he doesn’t quit Twitter in the meantime,

@HayesBrown has to be an early favorite to take the bobblehead next year.

To the judges’ ballots!

(Rookie of the Year) @AnniesPerson

Hey girl hey!

Ok kids, before I begin, I should introduce myself to those of you who don’t know me. I was fostering a dog and then I started a twitter account as a way to get this dog adopted and then I kept the dog and became @AnniesPerson and look at where we are now:


I should also introduce my competitors: when I first moved to DC just over a month ago, Kelsey (and Aly) met me on my second day in town and we went for a 7+ mile walk around the Mall. How kind and wonderful is that? And I haven’t met Daveed yet but on the day of our #TFC14 match-up, I tweeted pictures of neighborhood dogs I was making friends with when I get a phone call from Daveed inviting me over to meet his dog, Fayla. And how kind and wonderful is that? For me, Twitter has been this great community of genuine and intelligent and funny and kind and wonderful people and both Kelsey and Daveed prove it. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a twitter world of trolls and rudeness but I don’t see that. You don’t even have to look very hard for it because I’ve got a sneaky feeling that…love actually is all around us.

As for the competition, I just want Daveed and Kelsey to know that you could have won my vote with food. But you didn’t.


I was impressed, as always, with Kelsey’s creativity which was displayed in his foreign policy mashups, like this one:

“Left Paw of Darkness” @AnniesPerson, Ursula K Le Guin delve into civil strife on an alien world where people are sometimes dogs #FPMashUps

— Kelsey D. Atherton (@AthertonKD) April 2, 2014

I was also impressed with Daveed’s consideration of the great stand off between the Yooks and the Zooks (which you can find here).

And for the record, when Daveed says stuff like this,

@AnniesPerson @AthertonKD Man, so sad this is all happening during a super-important nat-sec conference call. Busy saving the world. :-(

— Fayla’s Person (@DaveedGR) April 2, 2014

I just assume he’s on the phone with Fayla. Obvi.

But this is a competition and the best competitor should win. Daveed played like a champion throughout the competition and so he gets my vote.

Good job everyone, high fives all around!


After so many great days of competition, I have to say the finals were a little anti-climactic. I just wanted a data-scientist and some new shoes, is that so much to ask?

@daveedgr continued his campaign of high volume tweeting, collecting an impressive number of endorsements, celebrity and otherwise

Unfortunately, he also continued his war by proxy with @DGRhypeman badgering judges:

And he indulged one of his worst twitter habits: indignantly picking a fight where there were none, insisting that @athertonKD had slagged the grand discipline of political science (quelle horror!) when he had done nothing of the kind.

Ultmately, while Daveed is a skilled twitterfighter, he takes all of this much too seriously. Too much sturm und drang, not enough Han Solo gifs and wanton corruption. Which brings us to @athertonKD whose strategy was to do what he does best: a daily dose of science, technology, and #natsec Storify. I was on record early supporting Kelsey, my Final Four opponent.

But like yesterday, his heart just wasn’t in it. No real pandering, no real fighting, and only the lightest of gifs. He went about his business, and I have to say after 5 gruelling rounds, who could blame him? Twitter Fight Club requires its contestants to walk a fine line: “Fight,” but don’t be mean. It’s entertaining and annoying, great fun and a massive time-suck. It requires a certain insouciance, a gleeful indulgence of a “bad joke taken way too far.” This is not a serious endeavor, but rather a way to celebrate and display the wonderful oddities of our densely populated little corner of the Twitterverse. (And pay dutiful respect to our good friend and spirit animal @caidid.) I’m compelled to vote for the twitter fighter who best exemplifies these skills, who takes the twitter fight seriously but himself much less so. I’m voting for @hayesbrown. Don’t say you weren’t warned.


Key rules: 1. I only judge for positive value the stuff tweeted by the competitors. Proxies, sidekicks etc. are just noise unless the competitor is stuck at the ISA or on a plane. I had no help twitterfighting and I expect that others receive none [no I am not still bitter about @brettfriedman’s role in last year’s twitter fight club. Ok, just a little bitter]. This is twitterfightclub, not twitteralliesfightclub, which would be cool because then I could take the new book to a new playground. 2. Pander. I gave them softballs, some of which were knocked out of the park, others just whiffed. a. I asked the finalists to apply Harry Potter to their area of expertise: @DaveedGR tried 2x, hit the whimsy requirement the second time.

Led to nice interaction with @mchorowitz about where the Americans were in the Great Wizarding War of the Aughts b. Caveat challenge:


c. Book blurb challenge: I do not need cupcakes (although want is something else), but when I ask for some help promoting a book that has already received too much self-promotion, step up.


3. Cite The Wire. Big disappointment—no dueling Wire references. So very sad. Almost voted for @SpencerAckerman for his Guardian story that tied together Game of Thrones and Afghanistan. I don’t care about rap, so the duel there was lost on me. 4. Avoid Unforced Errors (I made a few last year): Biggest mistake by @DaveedGR: trying to get me to vote poli sci vs journalism. This is TFC–the tourney involves many journalists and, indeed, helped me to connect with such strange folks. However, he recovered nicely

@AthertonKD compared himself to Darth Vader. A big mistake, upon which @DaveedGR pounced like a Twitter Jedi onto a sail barge from a floating dinghy.

5. Memes are your friends Best @AthertonKD: subtweet

6. Stick to your strengths (“you’ve got strengths if I tell you you have got strengths) Alas, the real key to twitterfightclub is you have to want it more. That is demonstrated with volume, velocity, snark, and insight. I thought I had that, but was unwilling to buy cupcakes. In this year’s battle, @DaveedGR simply wanted it more and used all of his resources to engage, fight, pander, snark, and …. win. My vote goes to @DaveedGR. But I thank @AthertonKD for helping out my bracket, for his good spirits and belated but still sharp pandering. I look forward to @AthertonKD being excellent company in the loser’s lounge with me and @DanDrezner. The last rule of TFC, of course, is one must thank Caitlin. This is a heap of work, and she deserves a heap of gratitude for it. I have met her in person, and she is even more swell. So, thanks for having me along for the ride and for doing all of the hard stuff to make this a silly but also quite useful twitter-fest.


Laura Seay (@texasinafrica): Get off my lawn.

Once upon a time, there was a contest known as Twitter Fight Club. It involved mass chaos on the internet, prompting hundreds of people to unfollow participants and petty accusations of unprofessional behavior to fly on sad political science job rumor boards populated by underemployed PhDs. Insults, pandering, questioning the parentage and patriotism of one’s opponent – all these normally verboten-among-the-polite-set behaviors were common. In the finals, all bets were off. Bribes were traded, judges were convinced to vote for non-participants, and you could bet that at the end of the day, the winner had earned his or her crown as TFC champion.

2011, 2012, and 2013 were the days.

This year’s contest was entertaining…right up until yesterday, when finalists @AthertonKD and @DaveedGR seemed somewhat less than enthusiastic. I don’t know, maybe it’s just that I took it too far last year with the stalker-style cupcake deliveries, but the day’s fights were lacking in enough acrimony for my tastes.

It also didn’t help that the finalists both agreed to quit fighting prior to 8pm, just when I was able to devote more attention to judging the contest. A few minutes later, Daveed posted this:

Celebrating the end of #TFC14 with @AthertonKD. #TwitterFriendshipClub

— Fayla’s Person (@DaveedGR) April 3, 2014

Drinking with your enemy before it’s even over? #TwitterFriendshipClub?!? It’s like I don’t even know you people. In my day, @smsaideman and I fought from early in the morning well into the night, throwing salvos until exhaustion and/or the ISA’s terrible San Diego internet access interfered. And it took us the better part of the year to get together for a drink to celebrate my victory/his running-up.

Anyway, enough of my griping. On to the judging.

I based my judgment according to the five P’s I think a TFC champion should embody: pandering, pandas, panache, power politics, and (p)facts.


@DaveedGR moved early on this one, sending me direct messages asking if he could have something delivered to my house that would sway my vote. That was a good balance of stalkery/not stalkery as it gave me agency in the decision (I said no.). He and @AthertonKD both later responded to my request that the finalists get me off of Pottery Barn’s catalog mailing list. Neither were successful in this regard because it is impossible to get off Pottery Barn’s catalog mailing list. At least they tried.

The pandering category was up for grabs until about 11am, at which point @DaveedGR responded to my ludicrous request for the finalists to act as my research assistants (I want to be clear that I would never do this to my real research assistants) by CALLING THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE to ask if I could follow through on an insane but fantastic research idea proposed by @prisonrodeo to mail turned-on tracking devices to the defunct DRC postal service just to see what happens to them.

@texasinafrica @prisonrodeo I just called UPS and they said there are no restrictions, so you could use them.

— Fayla’s Person (@DaveedGR) April 2, 2014

That, my friends, is pandering of the first class with honours. Calling the postal service to ask if mailing live tracking devices is the kind of behavior that gets one’s name on a watch list. Especially when one is widely known as an al-Shabaab spokesman. That’s dedication. In other words, @AthertonKD didn’t have a chance on this one. Advantage: @DaveedGR


I told both contestants early on that I hate animals (true story) and didn’t want to see any GIFs. Especially GIFs of animals. Both mostly complied. There were no cheesy panda pictures that were part of my day. Well-done, gentlemen. Well-done. Advantage: Split.


Last week I was at the ISA, and #TFC12 runner-up/Famous Professor @dandrezner wore two fascinators. This is mostly irrelevant to the question at hand, but I feel strongly that this occasion it should be immortalized in TFC lore. Therefore, I give you:

See, to win TFC, you’ve gotta have style. Panache. That certain something that shows that you…care. Or, if not care, at least are willing to be a little ridiculous to win votes. I was quietly hoping that one of the contestants would pick up on my love for fascinators. Or Texas. Africa. Warm weather. Or anything that looked like they knew something about the person behind the handle. @DaveedGR had some brisket at Fort Hood last week, but that mostly just made me homesick. And hungry for some properly roasted meat.

@AthertonKD also showed some evidence of getting me with a pretty brilliant reference to my disdain for lazy references to the Heart of Darkness perpetrated by journalists writing about Congo for the first time:

“Heart of Derpness” Tarantino directs a @texasinafrica thriller in which all Conrad-quoting analysis is stripped from history #FPMashUps

— Kelsey D. Atherton (@AthertonKD) April 2, 2014

I don’t know how long Kelsey worked on that one, but it was good. Like, would have taken me an hour to think up good.

Then @DaveedGR made a late play by posting an adorable picture of adorable baby Hope, the TFC community’s favorite baby since @blakehounshell’s kid started ignoring us.

Now, time to go pick up the thing that really matters.

— Fayla’s Person (@DaveedGR) April 2, 2014

Advantage: SPLIT

Power Politics

Last week at ISA, a table full of #TFC champions, runners-up, and competitors sat down to discuss to whom we would award this year’s win. (That’s what cabals do, and if we’re going to be the illuminati of the interwebs, we’ve got to play the part.) We were unanimous in agreement that the win was going to @HayesBrown. Then illness knocked Hayes down and the voters of #TFC14 knocked out Hayes. What’s a loyal conspiracist to do? Give Hayes points anyway.

Advantage: @HayesBrown


Late in the day, tragedy struck at Fort Hood, Texas. Both contestants switched from snark mode into trying to gather and transmit information that was as accurate and timely as possible, with appropriate cautions regarding early and unconfirmed reports, links and retweets to the smartest commentators, and quick analysis.

While this is of course a horrible tragedy about which there is still much we don’t know, it was also a good reminder of what NatSec/FoPo Twitter is when it’s at its best: a community of smart people spreading information and analysis for the common good. I’m grateful to count both Daveed and Kelsey as friends, to have met them in real life, and to know about and use Daveed’s book and Kelsey’s articles in my classes to explain issues about which I would otherwise be clueless. That wouldn’t have happened without Twitter and our Fights. As always, thank-you to @caidid for organizing a wonderful tournament.

Advantage: SPLIT

Also, I will remind whoever is responsible for this crime that when you mess with Fort Hood, you’ve messed with Texas. We don’t take kindly to being messed with. You’ve been warned.

Decision: My vote totals worked out to: @DaveedGR (2.5 points), @AthertonKD (1.5 points), @HayesBrown (1 point). My vote goes to @DaveedGR.


#TFC14: The Championship Match

These two competitors have survived a breakneck two weeks of competition. Both are guaranteed brackets in their name next year, both will twitterfight their last in TFC today. Only one will get the coveted championship bobblehead. Whose tweetstream reigns supreme? This will be decided by you, and a panel of judges who know TFC, and these competitors intimately: last year’s finalists, and the semi-finalists eliminated by these two competitors just yesterday:

  • @AnniesPerson
  • @charlie_simpson
  • @smsaideman
  • @texasinafrica

As ever, 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. We are looking to crown the best overall natsec/fopo tweeter, so contestants’ full bodies of work on Twitter are fair game, but any work outside of Twitter should not be considered. Everyone is encouraged to make their decisions in their own way.

The polls are open until midnight EDT tonight Wednesday, April 2, and the results will post tomorrow morning. If you want to follow all of the TwitterFightClub action, we are using the hashtag #tfc14 and there is a full contestant list here.

To the final poll!

#TFC14: Final Four Results

Ever so close but just short for two competitors. A bracket in their name and a lifetime retirement from competition from the other two. 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).

The results

**(3) @AthertonKD 66% 4 votes
(6) @charlie_simpson 34% 0 votes

A muted battle results in a decisive victory for @AthertonKD.

(16) @AnniesPerson 49% 1 vote
**(1) @DaveedGR 51% 3 votes

The livelier contest is a squeaker in the public polls but a clear victory for @DaveedGR with the judges over undisputed TFC Rookie of the Year @AnniesPerson.

Here’s how your judges broke it down:


The time has come
The walrus said
To talk of many things
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax
Of cabbages and kings

Also, cows.

On to the ballots!

(3) @AthertonKD vs. (6) @charlie_simpson

By far the more muted of the day’s match-ups, the Kelsey v. Erin showdown was sort of… okay honestly I pretty much didn’t see it happen. Did it happen? Why wasn’t I cc’ed? It is hard to keep up with Twitter when one is solving bureaucratic crises slash being in class for two hours!

So I think they were maybe, like, polite to each other? I’m trying to scroll back through their feeds now, but all I’m getting is, um, a woman in a box and some bourbon on a desk. Now I’m kinda hoping those things are connected. Somebody get me a box and a bottle oopf bourbon – I have an idea!

Okay so anyway! This duo is tough to judge. They both tweet about defense and feminism, which are basically all the things I care about in life, but I really have to hand it to Kelsey. This man goes above and beyond the call of Twitter to talk about chicken boxing! Come on, Erin! CHICKEN BOXING.

More than that, however, Kelsey provide an incredibly value service to those of us who can’t watch Twitter all day: when there are lots of people weighing in on a subject over the course of a couple hours, Kelsey’s Storifies are killer. And even Storify realizes it!

But you wanna know why Kelsey takes it? He shared this: I don’t know what it means or where it came from but it is the embodiment of Internet perfection. So congratulations, Kelsey. And Erin, drinks are on me (and not at Clyde’s).

(16) @AnniesPerson vs. (1) @DaveedGR Sweet bippy this match. So much with the talky-talk! And before I was even awake! There were so many dogs and so many tweets and so many AHHHHHHH

Me, all day.

I’d like to just call it for Daveed based on how @AnniesPerson tried to make me sad about cows while Daveed smoothly incorporated my newfound interest in cows and their happiness in his blog-post-in-tweet-form argument (hey Kelsey, could you Storify that? Kthx). But that’s probably against some rule somewhere, right, @caidid? Am I allowed to vote based on cows? Then again, AnniesPerson did try to right her lightly grievous wrong:

So here we are, several cows and a dolphin to the wind and feeling emotional. I’ll admit I’m much less familiar with @AnniesPerson’s Twitter work than Daveed’s, since she seems to have hit the scene right about when I started my Twitter sabbatical. But she seems pretty awesome, and I have a lot of faith in her future in Twitterfightclub, and I look forward to meeting her (or her dog? or both!) in the hopefully-not-distant future.

But let’s be honest here. @DaveedGR is a legend, nigh upon a myth in the world of twitterfighting. As naiads and cows are to water, @DaveedGR is to twitterfighting. It is his element, and he is peerless. I don’t mean to say that newcomers are forever to be penalized for having joined the party recently, but Daveed’s body of work stands apart. On a pedestal. This is a man who has a section of his closet devoted to his fighting trousers, for God’s sake. Truly, there should be a Bud Light Real Men of Genius about Daveed’s Twitter work.

Oh wait, there is. This Bud Light (Lime) is for you, Daveed.


My ego is bruised. Not only is my recent TFC loss still top of mind, but the Final Four featured a significant lack of pandering. Where is my coddling? Where are my Belgian chocolates? Why is it so hard to hire and secure a work visa for a New Zealand rugby player who will pour me fingers of scotch? But I digress. To the brackets.

@AthertonKD vs. @charlie_simpson A tough one. One the one hand, @charlie_simpson understands panda-ering.

She sprinkled cupcake and Kate Spade Tweets throughout the day. She posted a photo of her office bourbon and made “Star Trek” and “Top Gun” references, which are admittedly perhaps too close to my heart.

In the other corner, @AthertonKD did the opposite of pandering with a Tweet swiping at the PR industry. It’s okay, though, I’m definitely over it. Outside of that one painful Tweet, he brought his usual game: funny socks, moustaches, gender equality, F-35 references, DARPA fanart, hurtful libel, and maybe some other stuff about flying objects or whatever. His redemption:

Ultimately, though, since this is more about me than it is about them and I want to say I lost to the Tweeter who won it all my vote goes to @AthertonKD.

@DaveedGR vs. @AnniesPerson

Look, I like dogs. French bulldogs are l’adorable. Huskies are elegant and energetic. Mutts are like us, kind of a toss-up and usually awkward. I mean, dogs are pretty okay. Some of my best friends have dogs. But I own cats. I’m that internet person. The one with animals that require as little social interaction as possible. So this match’s puppy pandering felt like all the “Crimea river” jokes: a little too much.

@DaveedGR made a case for himself stronger than the internet’s apparent hatred of the HIMYM finale. Sidenote: I do not watch HIMYM, but thanks to the internet I know its acronym and that it ruined the hopes and dreams of a generation much in the same way I also know about, like, Antoine-Henri Jomini so you win some and you lose some. Kind of like @AnniesPerson.

@DaveedGR would have us judges vote for him to assure @AnniesPerson competes again in future Twitter Fight Clubs. He would have us martyr him for the greater good, as it were. By allowing @DaveedGR to continue and perhaps win #TFC14, we could be part of retiring him from TFC all together.

I have to say, the argument works. Who really needs another year of Tweed-something or other? Nay, the internet needs fresh fighting blood. @AnniesPerson is the TFCer Twitter deserves, but not the one we need right now. My vote goes to @DaveedGR.

Just because I can:


2012-11-20JRE Configuration.JPG

Scahill Bracket: @AthertonKD Kelsey brought the full weight of National Security internet to bear. He employed multiple proxies, in the form of flying snowmobile tweets. His tweets are drones. He has earned his place in the Twitterfighting hall of fame.

Exum Bracket: @charlie_simpson Ms. Simpson fended off her opponent with remarkable skill. She did not employ any proxies, to my knowledge. She has also earned her place in the Twitterfighting hall of fame. A worthy adversary.

McCants Bracket: @AnniesPerson I don’t know this person’s actual name. This impresses me greatly, from a PERSEC perspective. This, in addition to mixing it up with a Twitterfighter of Daveed’s stature earns her accolades no matter what happens.

Drezner Bracket: @DaveedGR Daveed employed any number of proxies in this battle. He made ample Jay-Z references. And he displayed his impressive knowledge of the battle rap scene. A stellar showing.

Humor, snark and facility with quips (as always, I’ll be using a scale of 1 to 10)

@athertonKD — 10 out of 10. @charlie_simpson — 10 out of 10.


@AnniesPerson — 10 out of 10.
@DaveedGR — 10 out of 10.


Charisma & overall awesomeness:

@athertonKD — 10 out of 10. @charlie_simpson — 10 out of 10.


@AnniesPerson — 10 out of 10.
@DaveedGR — 10 out of 10.


Mention of drones

@athertonKD — 10 out of 10. @charlie_simpson — 0 out of 10.


@AnniesPerson — 0 out of 10.
@DaveedGR — 0 out of 10.


In the end, I’ll have to go for @AthertonKD and @DaveedGR.


Overall observations: -There are no ‘quality over quantity’ arguments. This is the Final Four; you’re expected to have both. -Random animal pictures? This isn’t Reddit, and this isn’t Animal Planet. This is national security/foreign policy Twitter Fight Club.

**@AnniesPerson v. @DaveedGR**

-Look at this long conversation between these two.


That’s pretty good stuff. Point: All of us.

-When asked for a favorite typeface, @DaveedGR gave me a font. Remember folks, technically correct is the best kind of correct. It seemed that @AnniesPerson would also be faulted by answering “my own handwriting”, but upon explanation it turns out she’s working on *making* her own typeface. Then she DMed me a sample and had a conversation about typeface. Point: @AnniesPerson.

-Both @AnniesPerson and @DaveedGR sent dog pictures. As far as today is concerned, investigation showed that @AnniesPerson started this, and somehow @DaveedGR allowed himself to be pulled-in. Point: @DaveedGR.

-@DaveedGR launched a convoluted argument stating that because @AnniesPerson is better, we’d want to see her again, and thus should vote for him. He clarified later that he indeed does think right now he is the better Tweeter. Clever, but it fell flat. Point: None. However, he later RTed me twice. Point: @DaveedGR.

-Though, I must say, this pic


is legit. Point: @AnniesPerson.

This is a really tough call. Both had great tweeting. Great substance. What could be a tie-breaker? Well, @AnniesPerson did pander more to me as a judge. So, the match goes to her. Barely.

**@AthertonKD v. @charlie_simpson**

-When I asked this pair for their favorite typeface, they both passed the technical test. Stylistically, @charlie_simpson chose from the Helvetica family. A strong choice, but it’s like choosing great vanilla ice cream. Sure, it’s good…. but it’s everywhere. @AthertonKD went with Garamond, which would be like picking a good chocolate ice cream. But then @charlie_simpson insulted Calibri, with which I of course agree. Point: @charlie_simpson.

-All day both @charlie_simpson and @AthertonKD RTed and interacted with various Twitter accounts. But of course someone had to include a random animal picture. For posting contextually appropriate photos… Point: @AthertonKD.

-@AthertonKD did an 8-tweet RT session, while @charlie_simpson engaged in a discussion about various TV I’ve never watched. Later in the night @AthertonKD moved to the DC vote, while @charlie_simpson stayed on TV. Political tweets win out. Point: @AthertonKD.

-3 of the Final Four followed me either before or once I was named a judge. Who did not? @charlie_simpson. Point: @AthertonKD.

And so goes the match: @AthertonKD.

#TFC14: The Final Four

Today marks the end of the brackets as we know them. By midnight tonight, only one representative from each side will still be standing. Whose game will prove more complete between well-rounded competitors @AthertonKD and @charlie_simpson? Will the unstoppable force that is @AnniesPerson finally meet an immovable object in @DaveedGR? The decisions are only getting harder, but an all-star panel of judges has stepped up to help make the calls:

  • @DianaWueger
  • @laurenist
  • @robertcaruso
  • @ryanjsuto

As ever, 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. We are looking to crown the best overall natsec/fopo tweeter, so contestants’ full bodies of work on Twitter are fair game, but any work outside of Twitter should not be considered. Everyone is encouraged to make their decisions in their own way.

The polls are open until midnight EDT tonight Tuesday, April 1, and the results will post tomorrow morning. If you want to follow all of the TwitterFightClub action, we are using the hashtag #tfc14 and there is a full contestant list here.

To the polls!

#TFC14: Elite Eight Results

Four worthy competitors are being sent home today. Of the four remaining, two will compete tomorrow for the crown, two will help decide the victor as judges. 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).

Scahill Bracket Final

(9) @drunkenpredator 56% 1 vote
**(3) @AthertonKD 44% 3 votes

@drunkenpredator convinced more people overall, but @AthertonKD persuaded the right people, and will take on the Exum Bracket winner for a spot in the championship.

Exum Bracket Final

(12) @AllThingsHLS 39% 2 votes
**(6) @charlie_simpson 61% 2 votes

With a split of the judges, it’s the popular poll that propels @charlie_simpson to the Final Four.

McCants Bracket Final

**(16) @AnniesPerson 57% 3 votes
(10) @ElSnarkistani 43% 1 vote

The Cinderella moves on again with the most clear-cut win of the day.

Drezner Bracket Final

**(1) @DaveedGR 28% 3 votes
(2) @HayesBrown 72% 1 vote

@DaveedGR gets just enough of the popular vote to ride his edge with the judges into the Final Four over presumed #TFC15 champ @HayesBrown.

Here’s how your judges broke it down:


Considering that these match-ups were for a berth in the Final Four, I was kind of underwhelmed. The only one that lived up to any type of expectations was in the Drezner bracket. In the morning I thought @HayesBrown would run away with the competition since he definitely knows how to out Twitter hipster and GIF-meme people, but @DaveedGR was quite resilient. The use of proxy by @DGRhypeman was a turning event. At some point there was even an unused @JayshDaveed account, though it did not need to be put into use. @DaveedGR’s creativity wins in this match-up. It has also redeemed al-Shabab after its failed ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ campaign.

In the McCant’s bracket, it’s a shoo-in for @AnniesPerson since there really was no competition. She even got a DM endorsement from my beard brother @tweetsintheME, which further confirmed her legitness. Apparently, she likes dogs, too!

In the death drone Scahill bracket, the affair was surprisingly limited, I suspect both took the unmanned part too literally. That said, @AthertonKD’s early #FF shout out flattery to me and my website Jihadology as well as highlighting an article I wrote in 2012 about how jihadis have responded to the American drone campaign were music to my ears and enough to secure his victory. Pour one out for our @drunkenpredator, fly home safely.

Lastly, the Exum bracket saw a courageous display of GIF-meme fighting back and forth. The act was stale and had no pop. Neither side really dominated the other. While @charlie_simpson did appeal to my love of Scrubs, and yes Monday is indeed Bongo Day, I have to stick with the original #TFC14 alliance of #TeamBeard. Therefore, @AllThingsHLS wins by the length of a five o’clock shadow. Good luck to all in the Final Four.


Judging on these factors: knowledge base; quality of argumentation; innovative thinking; humor, snark, facility with quips, and charisma; and responsiveness to followers

Scahill Bracket
(9) @drunkenpredator vs. (3) @AthertonKD

My vote goes to AthertonKD.

First, he invested time and effort to sending out tweets specifically intended for #TFC14 and recruited others to advocate on his behalf. Drunkenpredator did not match his volume and effort.

Knowledge base wasn’t really a factor. Did appreciate AthertonKD’s GIFs and cartoon clips.

Exum Bracket
(12) @AllThingsHLS vs. (6) @charlie_simpson

My vote goes to charlie_simpson.

Charlie put in far more effort than her opponent. She did so with humor and creativity. I like the Monday bongo day GIF.

McCants Bracket
(16) @AnniesPerson vs. (10) @ElSnarkistani

My vote goes to AnniesPerson. This was a landslide. AnniesPerson put in a lot of effort and rallied people behind her. I enjoyed her use of puppies and loved her last line about being empowered already. #gogirls. She clearly wants this and she earned it.

Drezner Bracket
(1) @DaveedGR vs. (2) @HayesBrown

This is a tough, tough call. Based on the criteria both are superior in their field. Both are fun and funny. Loved that Mia Farrow endorsed Hayes. But since we’re allowed to vote on charisma my vote goes to DaveedGR.


This was a tough round, featuring two matches in particular that were difficult to decide. Without further ado, here are my votes:

(9) @drunkenpredator vs. (3) @AthertonKD

Hmmm….to be, or not to be? Or, rather, to vote for a (sentient) technological being, or for a Popular Science writer who writes (negatively) about said technological beings for a living? (Or, in an unexpected swerve, could they be the same person?)

Let’s see…Kelsey earned some major points by digging in the archives and pulling out a coupletweets of mine from two-plus years ago (a not-insignificant feat, considering that I’ve penned over 86,000 of them), and this broadside on @drunkenpredator was well played. However, he then proceeded to all but chuck those points out the window by posting…LOLCATS. I *hate* LOLCATS (and, let’s be honest, Bane Cat hates them too). Also,talking down alcohol in the military? Really? What is it you think military folks do with their time other than drink?

Drunken Predator, on the other hand, has had a byline in Foreign Policy magawebsitazine, and he’s good with morbid humor (in between the flashes of psychosis caused by severe cirrhosis of his robot liver, I’m sure). He’s also turned the promise-to-bribe-the-judges-with-promises-of-whiskey-and-cupcakes-and-furry-little-pets-but-never-follow-through-on-them Twitter Fight Club tradition on its head by promising instead to remember those who voted for him today once he and his fellow sentient robots rule us all. Additionally, WALL-E.

This was a really tough one, but my vote has to go to…@AthertonKD

(12) @AllThingsHLS vs. (6) @charlie_simpson

This one wasn’t as tough. I’m surprised @AllThingsHLS was such a low seed coming in, as his feed is regularly full of good content and, whenever there’s news to be analyzed, analysis. The good news for @charlie_simpson is that she made it farther in this competition than her Jayhawks did in the NCAA tournament…but, sadly, her road may end here. @AllThingsHLS takes the vote.

(16) @AnniesPerson vs. (10) @ElSnarkistani

So, I really like both @AnniesPerson’s feed and the fact that she identifies herself as her dog’s person is, yes, adorable (as a serial dog rescuer, I always appreciate a dog’s person). That being said, @ElSnarkistani’s feed isn’t just full of good content, but he’s actually managed to make it a year (a couple years?) and counting without changing his twitter handle — a combination which deserves to be rewarded. Vote: @elSnarkistani

(1) @DaveedGR vs. (2) @HayesBrown

This was the only bracket that saw a 1-seed and a 2-seed face off, and it certainly delivered. It’s tough to believe that @HayesBrown was a plucky 16 seed only a couple years ago, while the fact that @DaveedGR hasn’t won this competition yet — let alone made it to a Final 4 yet — is a travesty. Seriously: I looked up “travesty” in my totally fake visual dictionary, and there was a picture of…well, the judgment in the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit. But next to that was…well, the Roberts Court’s tax-but-not-a-tax contortion that made the ACA legal. But next to THAT was a picture of @DaveedGR’s twitter avatar, with the caption “should have been in a #twitterfightclub Final 4 long ago.” @HayesBrown deserved his trip to the Elite 8, and I think he deserves a 1 seed next year, but for now, given the respective bodies of work (both today and over the longue duree) this one has to go to @DaveedGR.


Scahill Bracket

(9) I pick @drunkenpredator vs. (3) @AthertonKD

These two went for each others throats for a bit, they were both highly entertaining. But this won me over (because it’s all about me). Plus I thought it would be appropriate for the Scahill bracket to be won by a drone.

Exum Bracket

(12) @AllThingsHLS vs. (6) I pick @charlie_simpson I was ready for Charlie Simpson to eat @ryanjsuto little lawyer heart out, and she didn’t disappoint, rising to the next level. I thought for sure Gomez would put up a brawl…and I thought Charlie would respond in kind. But I didn’t see it from these two and I am ever so disappointed in the lack of sparring. Nonetheless, Charlie won me over with this:


McCants Bracket

(16) I pick @AnniesPerson vs. (10) @ElSnarkistani
@Elsnarkistani lived up to his name early and often, won me over initially. But @Anniesperson was gaining on him by responsiveness to her followers and her substantive postings, digging up archive info about the genocide in Rwanda. That’s how she won me over.

Drezner Bracket

(1) @DaveedGR vs. (2) I pick @HayesBrown
This was by far the hardest match-up to judge, so many compelling arguments and substantive comments. Now I know how to win next year. I give @DaveedGR many points for developing the alternative persona, kind of persuasive. @HayesBrown met him head on and ignored it. They both engaged in substantive comments and made me laugh. So I tossed a coin, no not COIN, $$ and it came out in favor of @HayesBrown.

#TFC14: The Elite Eight

It’s down to the last three fierce days of competition, and while only the Drezner bracket has its top seeds representing it today, there are no easy calls. Will the Scahill Bracket be won by the drone @drunkenpredator, or @AthertonKD the reporter who covers drones? Can Exum’s one-time blogmate @charlie_simpson take out @AllThingsHLS to come out on top in the bracket that bears his name? Will (16) seed @AnniesPerson’s Cinderella story add another chapter and take her to the Final Four over Afghanistan-based @ElSnarkistani? And who will come out on top in the epic battle of favorites @DaveedGR and @HayesBrown? The poor souls tasked with judging these incredible matchups are:

  • @azelin
  • @EndeavoringE
  • @jeffemanuel
  • @nadabakos

As ever, 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. We are looking to crown the best overall natsec/fopo tweeter, so contestants’ full bodies of work on Twitter are fair game, but any work outside of Twitter should not be considered. Everyone is encouraged to make their decisions in their own way.

The polls are open until midnight EDT tonight Monday, March 31, and the results will post tomorrow morning. If you want to follow all of the TwitterFightClub action, we are using the hashtag #tfc14 and there is a full contestant list here.

To the polls!

#TFC14: Sweet 16 Results

By this point in the competition, anyone that did not bring their A game has been weeded out, so this was a fierce 24 hours of competition. All of our competitors will get a well-earned rest this weekend before the polls open on the Elite Eight Monday morning. Who will be returning to the field of play on Monday? 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).

Scahill Bracket

**(9) @drunkenpredator 79% 4 votes
(4) @RosieGray 21% 0 votes

@RosieGray flew to Venezuela yesterday, and straight out of #TFC14.

**(3) @AthertonKD 59% 2 votes
(10) @laurenist 41% 2 votes

A close race all around, but @AthertonKD advances to the Scahill bracket final on the strength of a slightly better showing in the popular polls.

Exum Bracket

(16) @trnels 36% 2 votes
**(12) @AllThingsHLS 64% 2 votes

@trnels manages to take half of the judges’ votes, but @AllThingsHLS advances with a popular vote edge.

**(6) @charlie_simpson 67% 3 votes
(15) @ryanjsuto 33% 1 vote

@charlie_simpson will be competing for the Exum Bracket spot in the Final Four thanks to a comfortable advantage in both phases of competition.

McCants Bracket

**(16) @AnniesPerson 59% 3 votes
(5) @peterwsinger 41% 1 vote

The Cinderella story continues for @AnniesPerson as she earns her way to the Elite Eight with the favor of both the judges and the public.

(11) @Ali_Gharib 49% 1 vote
**(10) @ElSnarkistani 51% 3 votes

The public poll is a squeaker, but the judges tipped toward @ElSnarkistani.

Drezner Bracket

**(1) @DaveedGR 55% 3 votes
(4) @Lesley_Warner 45% 1 vote

A rematch of last year’s Round 1 upset, but @DaveedGR certainly didn’t underestimate his opponent this time. A great battle throughout ends up with him on top.

(14) @khanserai 32% 0 votes
**(2) @HayesBrown 68% 4 votes

@HayesBrown will not be denied, and sets up a beast of a final for the Drezner Bracket.

Here’s how your judges broke it down:

Scahill and Exum Brackets


In the Terry Gilliam-directed adaptation of The Blood Meridian that exists only in my wildest dreams, The Judge is played by a hairless Bryan Cranston, who dispenses swift and nihilistic frontier justice with a kind menacing deadpan, the nonchalance of someone in utter, terrifying control of all the good and evil that man and nature possess. Google “Blood Meridian The Judge quotes” (look, it’s been awhile since I’ve read the thing) and you get stuff like: “War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.” Fuck yeah.  Twitterfighting was always here. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. Well actually, TFC forcibly retires its ultimate practitioners–sort of like war, if you think about it. I dunno. So, the judgment:

@RosieGray is currently in Venezuela, luxuriating in Chavez’s Bolivarian paradise while such a thing is still possible. I never really tagged her as a latte socialist, but here we are. Why do you hate freedom, Rosie? On the other hand, re: the major domestic policy question of our time, Mr. Predatordrone gets it. Capital-G, capital-I, Gets It. Sterilizing the DC metro area’s out of control deer population isn’t enough. Conventional methods are inadequate in the face of such an asymmetrical enemy. We must drone them.


(3) @AthertonKD vs. (10) @laurenist

I feel you, Kelsey—I’ve spent most of my life in the DC area, and there’s nothing worse than accidentally a Virginia. Where did you go wrong? What exit did you miss? This isn’t Georgetown. Why am I at the fucking Mixing Bowl? Everything feels slightly different here, but why? Is it all the treason?

Anyway while @Laurenist did a good job of scoping out the enemy’s territory, the best the tweet of the day—from anyone, really—was this. I don’t know what sort of other research he was doing, but the Alaskan deer hunting regulation beat seems a lot more interesting than anything I’m working on at the moment.

In the last say, fifteen minutes of competition, both combatants were under the bizarre and mistaken impression that the way to win my vote was by kicking the psychological hornets nest that is Washington Redskins fandom. The odd thing about that song, Kelsey, is that the Skins actually beat the Eagles on the road during the Stephen Davis-Marty Schottenheimer season. They weren’t “better” than us, dammit.

I guess @AthertonKD wins for the gif ambassador thing. This was a really hard one to judge.


@trnels vs. (12) @AllThingsHLS

Thomas Nelson owns six beer-themed shirts, and one of them is from Oktoberfest in Taybeh. That’s pretty rad. Meanwhile, @AllThingsHLS tweeted out a photo of what looks like a novelty Texas A&M football jersey, except it’s in some sickening shade of teal that I’ve never seen before, and that certainly doesn’t appear in nature. What the hell is up with that? Also, I got another Beacon subscription mere moments after @trnels tweeted this out. And if you think about it, a subscription to one of the more exciting independent journalism experiments out there isn’t technically a form of bribery!


(6) @charlie_simpson vs. (15) @ryanjsuto

Professor Simpson is the sort who can tweet about that one time she went to the fundamentalist hermit kingdom of Bhutan while on deployment leave from Afghanistan. What a humbling reminder of the vast regions of human experience that most of us will never be party to. @RyanJSuto boasted credentials of another kind, namely the endorsement of a certain frozen margarita dispensary that moonlights as a Lebanese (please don’t ban me if I’m wrong about this, Mediterra) restaurant during daylight hours. I liked how they both tweeted data visualizations at me (God this one is cool—but is it as viscerally impacting as this?), although @RyanJSuto took on a cryptic and vaguely threatening tone in crunch time.



Scahill Bracket

(9) @drunkenpredator vs. (4) @RosieGray

-DrunkenPredatorDrone: Solid effort maintaining sobriety throughout the fight.

(3) @AthertonKD vs. (10) @laurenist

-AthertonKD: Consistency in tweeting throughout the competition, maintains focus on only a few quality topics.

Exum Bracket

(16) @trnels vs. (12) @AllThingsHLS

-trnels: The underdog in this competition. Has steadily advanced without resorting to negativity, and without a large following. Definitely the sleeper competitor.

(6) @charlie_simpson vs. (15) @ryanjsuto
-Charlie_Simpson: Did impressive background research on each judge, and appealed to our specific interests. Use of visual aids was key. Her ability to frequently tweet throughout her conference attendance also earned additional points.


Scahill Bracket

(9) @drunkenpredator vs. (4) @RosieGray

I try to not hold TFC contestants’ off-line obligations against them while judging, as we’re all busy people. Rosie spent most of yesterday on a jet to South America, undoubtedly as part of a CIA-funded plot against the stalwart Venezuelan people and their glorious Bolivarian revolution. Drunken Predator, meanwhile, campaigned early, campaigned often, and campaigned well.

I’d anticipated a better counter-reaction to Predator’s signature strikes from Rosie once she regained Internet access, but it never came. I guess she’s saving that Thermidorian reaction for Nicolas Maduro.

Vote: @drunkenpredator.

(3) @AthertonKD vs. (10) @laurenist

TFC is about more than confrontation. Curating an interesting and high-quality feed is a cornerstone of success outside TFC Kelsey’s high-velocity, multifaceted, and highly engaging feed pulled out a comfortable victory last night in my eyes, even though Lauren had put up an admirable effort in obtaining allies.

Then, early Friday morning, Kelsey pulled off the TFC equivalent of betraying an obligation to Walder Frey. “I’ve spent two days digging trying to find a bad tweet of hers,” he wrote, warmly embracing an opponent before the fight had ended, “only to come up short.”

It’s great to see camaraderie and respect on Twitter, where it often seems in short supply. But this is Twitter Fight Club, not Twitter Friend Club.

Vote: @laurenist.

Exum Bracket

(16) @trnels vs. (12) @AllThingsHLS

@AllThingsHLS had initially been on thin ice for using photoshopped images created by one of Tom’s previous opponents—why would you use a strategy that had already failed? —but quickly recovered. Tom, to his credit as a #16 seed, advanced this far “without endorsements or a large Twitter following.” I was therefore surprised to learn from @AllThingsHLS that Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yanukovych, world villains du jour, had both endorsed Tom. @AllThingsHLS, meanwhile, secured the endorsement of a Ukrainian base commander.

Both of these claims went unchallenged by Tom, so I assume they’re true. Since I’m now worried about casting a vote that could violate U.S. and EU trade sanctions, my choice here seems clear.

Vote: @AllThingsHLS.

(6) @charlie_simpson vs. (15) @ryanjsuto

If we’ve learned anything this last month in international affairs, it’s that strength can signal weakness and that weakness can signal strength. Erin started off Thursday with some maskirova by letting us know that she’d be too busy to tweet.

Soon thereafter, she began flooding the judges’ feeds with interesting pictures from around the world, ranging from photos she’d taken herself in Bhutan to pictures of my uncle* Harrison Ford. To cap it all off, she did all this while taking part in a panel discussion on Twitter usage alongside two previous TFC champions at the International Studies Association conference in Toronto.

Ryan secured some key endorsements and reached out to the judges early on. He’ll be a contender next year and for years after, and I fret facing off against him myself down the line. But if you have to learn from a loss early on, at least he gets to learn from the best.

Vote: @charlie_simpson.

* – Clarification: Harrison Ford is not actually my uncle.


Judging the “Scexum” brackets, I was reminded of the benefits of a good sparring partner. It may be easier to win against a weak opponent but it doesn’t allow you to showcase your best game for future rounds. Thanks again to @caidid for including me, and to fellow judges: @ArminRosen @dohoBOB and @HemlockMartinis.

*(9) @drunkenpredator
(4) @RosieGray

Been a fan of @drukenpredator long before this. So he didn’t have to work too hard to take this round.

I understand @RosieGray was busy. In Caracas. Where there’s a lot going on.
But take a page from others who used out of country postings to their advantage. She also could have delegated up. A quick search of Twitter (the platform for the competition) would have revealed I met @peretti at Dreamforce. Who managed to both compliment and dis his talented sister in one sentence. It certainly would have been nice for him to support ANY of the very talented @buzzfeed contestants. That said, I predict we will soon see a Fight Club section in Buzzfeed. Translation: I’m beginning to feel a little bad about this beat-down of someone who I imagine is working hard in difficult conditions. But that’s just it, I had to imagine.

(3) @AthertonKD
*(10) @laurenist
Difficult to score this round because they are both cat people. That said, this vote kinda feels like kicking a puppy. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Kelsey’s consistent stream of tweets throughout the competition. Both he and @laurenist retweeted my #TFC14 HuffPo article so that was a draw. Kelsey even went the distance to get his Mom to vote for him. But shouldn’t your Mom be the one vote you can always count on? I hooked up with the judge who is I think his girlfriend (Ok, not hooked up, hooked up… connected) who is also super sweet. He made a strong showing this morning posting his article on mental health. Nevertheless, this is a tough high-stakes competition, my vote goes to @laurenist.

I’ve followed @laurenist for years. She’s an uber pro who knows her stuff. Her judge pandering is second to none. Equally comfortable disparaging government bureaucrats as she is offering up panda porn. This San Diego panda ornament sealed the deal. I hope she goes the distance.


(16) @trnels
*(12) @AllThingsHLS

They’ll probably revoke my college diploma and beer pong certificate for saying this but like @allthinghls, I don’t really care about beer t’s. First rule of winning fight club? Know your audience. I give this round to @AllthingsHlS. For his “west coast represent” attitude and funny pictures. Plus, since I suddenly seem to be judging everyone based on their animal affiliation, he’s a dog.

(6) @charlie_simpson *(15) @ryanjsuto

@Charlie_simpson You work in info, I work in info. You work on complex, conflict-afflicted, and disaster-affected environments, I work on mental health. This was yours to lose. I even pitched that I’m interested in the visual display of info. Cartoon spinning panda? Read the neuroscience. You needed something like this by @TimFlach.

Screenshot 2014-03-27 20.57.50.png

A style note – I didn’t care for being sent off piste to see your posts/photos – difficult to open on phone, plus meh. At the end, it just left Ryan and I piste off. Insert this tweet:

Ryan, on the other hand (allow me to gush), did exactly what I’ve always said (allow me to agree with myself) the BEST people do on twitter. He responded to my questions and comments with respectful, interesting insights that acknowledged my area of expertise while providing insight from his area of expertise. Beautiful photography helped. Kudos on the win @ryanjsuto.


McCants and Drezner Brackets


Judging Scahill Bracket in the first round was disappointing. This wasn’t. Everyone here should win. #TeamReplaceScahillBracketWithMcCants/DreznerBrackets

Also, because there’ve been some complaints about a lack of glitter in this year’s TFC, I’m just going to leave this here.

(16) @AnniesPerson vs. (5) @peterwsinger

@peterwsinger was tweeting from Sea World and I have to say I was impressed by his dedication. If @noahshachtman was so dedicated, he might still be a contender (and my bracket might not be the complete disaster it is). But I was seriously impressed by @AnniesPerson, who punched above her weight here and picked up some solid endorsements. She also brightened my day with pictures of puppies and offered bribes. This one wound up being really difficult and I hate to have to choose, but I’m going to go with @peterwsinger for this devastating comeback/jab at the CIA. Really, though, if I were to vote for anything in this Twitter fight, it’s for more churros (or at least Brookies) next year. #TeamChurropalooza

(11) @ali_gharib vs. (10) @elsnarkistani

If @gregorydjohnsen had advanced last round, he would have gotten my vote on the strength of his fiction recommendations alone. Instead we have @ali_gharib and @elsnarkistani. Mild sparring, rehashing of previous Twitter fights. Wasn’t blown away by either, but going to go with @elsnarkistani for holding his own despite a difficult time difference.


(1) @Daveed_GR vs. (4) @Lesley_Warner

This was the day’s main event — and a rematch of TFC 13’s biggest upset. As I recall, I first followed @Lesley_Warner when asked to judge a round of TFC last year — it was a good follow. She’s been bringing the heat this year — and this might have been the coolest thing I saw tweeted in TFC yesterday. (Close second: all the puppy pictures.) But Daveed “No Dickriders” Gartenstein-Ross has been at this too long, has been consistent about it, and is just so damn eager to tell you that he spits a mad game. Let’s just get this over with. Get him to the finals and make this happen next year. #TeamNoDickriders

(14) @khanserai vs. (2) @HayesBrown

This isn’t something I admit to many people, but I secretly keep a google doc in which I catlog my favorite gifs for every occasion. @HayesBrown was my inspiration for this and his Twitter feed is where I found many of them. This is exactly why; @HayesBrown is a master of the reaction gif. @khanserai spent most of the day offline, and I hardly fault her for that. She even did some great targeted pandering. Like this - points for Star Wars reference, but large deductions for using an image of Yoda from Ep. 1-3. And this – when I was a toddler, I fell off the back of a couch and got a welt on my forehead that led my dad to call me Worf for several weeks. How did @khanserai know!? In the end, though, I’m giving my vote to @HayesBrown for his devastating scorched earth campaign and gifs, which he pronounces correctly. #TeamGIFs

Good job, everybody.


(16) @anniesperson vs. (5) @peterwsinger

This was my favorite match up, probably of the entire TFC. Not to get all mushy, but @anniesperson was my RA over the summer, and I couldn’t be more impressed by her intelligence, work ethic, and good humor. She’s the best RA I’ve ever had. I’ve met @peterwsinger a few times over the years and am always impressed by what a friendly, approachable, down-to-earth man he is. I say all those nice things about him, because everyone knows what a freakishly uber-smart, visionary thinker he is, and those traits and “friendly, approachable, and down-to-earth” don’t fit in the same personality all that often. Meet him. He’s the real deal. It’s actually inspiring. (No, seriously.) So getting to watch one of my favorite junior professionals spend the day engaging with one of my favorite senior professionals was just plain cool. One of the joys of social media, and the real value of Twitter Fight Club. Of course, they tweeted mostly about Sea World, cupcakes, and Churros, but as @anniesperson would say, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Okay, enough mush. Time for judgment. While I was all warm and fuzzy inside to see these two connect, neither one had a stellar day on twitter. Clearly I’m a fan of non-serious tweeting, but I also want to learn something. @peterwsinger stayed well within his comfort zone of cyber / emerging tech while updating all the cold people on the goings on in “Warm Weather Land.” @anniesperson’s came out swinging with growling dog pics and a litany of questions for the vacationing @peterwsinger. She engaged his research, and tweeted a few articles, but it was a low-content day for them both. My decision comes down to who tweeted better on this day. While it’s hard to find someone’s whose work I respect more than @peterwsinger, I’ve got to give it to @anniesperson. She was entertaining, she engaged other people on substantive issues, and she fought harder. I’m voting for the underdog.

(11) @Ali_Gharib vs. (10) @ElSnarkistani

This match up was pretty good. While I was surprised to find tweets about Hobby Lobby in my stream (thanks, @Ali_Gharib, for opening my eyes to the dark underbelly of scrap booking), I wasn’t surprised to find some higher-order twitter fighting going on. I’m low-tech today, so I’m not embedding any fancy tweets for you to read. Just go do a search for yesterday and this morning. They did a great job. Not @DaveedGR great, but seriously solid. @ElSnarkistani was strong for all the reasons he’s usually strong — he has great knowledge and contacts on Afghanistan; he engages and RTs a TON of people I’ve never heard of, so the learning factor is high; and his feed maxes content and cleverness. @Ali_Gharib has a much larger following, and I appreciate that his tweets have more of an investigative journalism feel to them, but @ElSnarkistani live tweeted an attack in Kabul, while providing thoughtful commentary on COIN and US policy and pandering to the judges. His focus is narrower than @Ali_Gharib, but his depth is outstanding. My vote goes to @ElSnarkistani.

(1) @DaveedGR vs. (4) @Lesley_Warner

This pairing is what Twitter Fight Club is all about: two no-kidding experts who have just enough attitude to be funny without being pretentious. They battled all day (again, it’s called “Search.” Check it out.). @DaveedGR won the trash talk division of #TFC14 hands down, though @Lesley_Warner did a better job pandering to the judges. I love the baby-dog pic, @DaveedGR, but @Lesley_Warner was far more consistent. She checked in every few hours. High pander pay-off. I hate picking between these two, since they are both exceptional. The quality of their content, level of engagement, and tone of their tweets are all solid. I refuse to split my vote, though I could, so I’m giving it to @Lesley_Warner. There are fewer smart folks who I can trust on Africa than there are on terrorism (I know you know Africa too, @DaveedGR, but she knows more than you). This gives @Lesley_Warner the edge.

(14) @khanserai vs. (2) @HayesBrown

By now you must be thinking I’m only voting for the underdog….. I really want to vote for @khanserai, because I think she’s beyond awesome (and, in all seriousness, her spooky skills kinda scare me. Don’t destroy my digital life!). She definitely won the grassroots GOTV campaign for this round. For me, that kind of detracted from her usually solid substantive tweets. I liked learning a bit about the TSIF, but content tweets were buried in a barrage of vote seeking. I love the pandering — it’s amusing; most of the judges never get pandered to ever IRL, so it’s refreshing; and it reminds everyone that #TFC is all in good fun. That said, natsec twitter is about thoughtful engagement on issues, and there’s no one better at that than @HayesBrown. He’s my bet to take the whole thing, and he definitely took this round.


Though we were generously granted until noon EDT to turn in our ballots, that means 9am for me on a day I had wisely taken off of work. Therefore, this ballot was written the night before, though I circled back in the morning to ensure no game-changers had taken place. As the saying goes, write [after a few pre-birthday drinks], edit sober. On a sappier note, I started a new job a few months back and haven’t been as engaged with Twitter as I was previously; #TFC14 makes me remember how awesome this community is and introduces me to great new accounts; @caidid provides an amazing service and if any of you are as lucky as I once was to live near her, please buy her all the fancy cocktails on my behalf. 
McCants Bracket
(16) @AnniesPerson vs. (5) @peterwsinger
I’ve judged a couple dozen TFC competitors in the past two years, and @AnniesPerson is the only person I’ve ever had DM me. In a game filled with all kinds of underhandedness, I don’t know why nobody else ever tried this tactic. She could have made all kinds of unmonitored attacks on @peterwsinger, but she instead kindly sent me a picture of Annie, her dog, in a birthday hat! Meanwhile, @peterwsinger nobly neglected his family (I assume) to focus on #TFC while on vacation at Seaworld. Someone hasn’t been ignoring Blackfish in their Netflix queue for as long as I have. A strong Sweet 16 match, with some excellent back-and-forth, was taken by @AnniesPerson‘s consistency and creativity.
(11) @Ali_Gharib vs. (10) @ElSnarkistani
A potentially fiery match, cut short by time zones. @ElSnarkistani, based in Afghanistan, went offline soon after my day began on the West Coast, and @Ali_Gharib kindly paused the battle until the morning. This means that while @ElSnarkistani’s use of bots (!!!) certainly made an impact, this match required some morning investigation. In all honesty, I wanted more no-holds-barred battling from these two, but I guess professionalism is also a virtue. They were very evenly matched, so the fact that @Ali_Gharib fought to the bitter end, continuing to compete even as I rushed to turn in my ballot, tipped him over the edge.
Drezner Bracket
(1) @DaveedGR vs. (4) @Lesley_Warner
I’ve endorsed @Lesley_Warner throughout #TFC (when not an entirely impartial judge, of course) She is reliably informative, intelligent, and friendly. And I back Africanists over all. I thought nothing could make me change my mind, including the venerable @DaveedGR. Then, I went to a two hour lunch meeting, and returned to this. Daveed came to win, and while his unyielding focus is a little bit terrifying, no one can argue that he didn’t put in the work. It nearly breaks my biased heart to go against Lesley, but @DaveedGR gave me no choice. 
(14) @khanserai vs. (2) @HayesBrown
@HayesBrown has been a favorite feed of mine for some time. He writes excellent pieces for ThinkProgress and is a master of topic-appropriate GIFs. Both he and @khanserai were strong throughout, hitting the judges up early and often with impassioned pleas. @khanserai took some time off to do some real work or some other oddity, a fact @HayesBrown made sure to hammer home. In the am, @khanserai tweeted this excellent graphic. This was a very close match, but in the end @HayesBrown’s combination of GIF prowess and actual reporting skillz won me over.


 @AnniesPerson vs. @peterwsinger

Peter is a go-to on cyber-security and other spooky e-things. He’s interesting, engaging, and full of great links.

Ali brings the dog photos — miles of adorable dog photos — but she also knows her work, tweeting news and thoughts on genocide, mass atrocities, and human right violations. If TFC is about bite, Ali’s got it. She swung hard against Anne-Marie Slaughter in Round 1, even though the latter had forfeited.

There was some good sparring between the two, which seemed to result in Peter taking the position that toddlers should be given UAVs. That one worries me, but I liked his promise of cupcake delivery via robot. A churro-eating contest was also proposed, which I think is worth considering as an alternative to TFC writ large.

Peter is a twitter titan, comparatively, but I’m going with the underdog (see what I did there?). This round is Ali’s. Hers is a feed that mixes the personal, frivolous, and adorable with solid knowledgeability, and I think that’s worth points.

@ElSnarkistanti vs. @Ali_Ghraib

I like both, I really do.

El Snarkistani’s got, like, five twitter accounts, and a thus a clear monopoly on A’stan snark and insight. Snarky (I’ve always called him that in my head) can do pun-filled Afghanistan joke threads like no one else. Though, as Ali pointed out, “@ElSnarkistani is a pseudonym to cover the nom de plum Gary Owen. I’m doubting this guy lives in Afghanistan or is from Texas at all.” Shady, that.

Ali is a gentleman, pausing competition on account of Afghanistan’s time zone, and refraining from pummelling Snarky in his sleep. Ali drops knowledge and, yesterday, tweeted some kind of fightin’ words in Fashi, a language I think is pure and gorgeous melody. He has a great feed and must be followed, but I’ll give this round to Snarky, for sheer dominion over his subject matter.

@DaveedGR vs. @Lesley_Warner

Lesley is a new follow for me, and one I regret not making earlier. She’s an on-point Africanist, and boasts a selfie taken on the back of a camel. She also submitted to my bribery requests.

Daveed, however, is a seasoned TFC competitor and twitter-boss. He throws down year-round, and is among the NatSec / FoPo tweeters who most actively engage with their following.

It’s a tough decision because Lesley truly owns her subject, but I’ll vote for Daveed, partially because of his experience, partially because of, well, this:

Lesley, you’ll rock TFC15.

@khanserai vs. @HayesBrown

Khanserai bribed early and bribed often, which was fun and well appreciated, but Hayes’s feed speaks for itself. He knows how maximize twitter as a tool for sharing, opining, promoting, and engaging. Plus, the guy runs a pretty good GIF game, and knows UN-related stuff. Both feeds are worth a follow, but this round goes to Hayes, for his overall breadth and quality.