Is this sort of thing inevitable? The fact we feel compelled to bring algorithmic content sorting into the fediverse says something about the way we use social media. The author mentions that reverse-chronological timelines make you feel like you need to spend hours scrolling through much of the same thing to make sure you’re not falling behind on the internet. The other side of that is, why is it that we’re all spending so much time dumping the same thing into each other’s timelines? (I’m at least a little aware that I’m probably the nth person you’ve seen posting about this or a similar problem in the last week)
My solution to the timeline getting too fast has always been to unfollow/mute people, but maybe that’s getting impractical.
A community dedicated to fediverse news and discussion.
Fediverse is a portmanteau of “federation” and “universe”. It is a common, informal name for a federation of social network servers whose main purpose is microblogging, the sharing of short, public messages.
Getting started on Fediverse;
Happy with full timeline, I’ve followed people for a reason. Not interested in others making decisions for me cough fb. What I would like is a way to rank prioritise people and increase decrease feed volume based on priority that I choose. Also set / mute by topic.
The idea of a trending digest, posted elsewhere is also a good one. Opt in approaches.
This is exactly what I want to see. Every user should have their own algorithm that they can control to adapt their timeline to them, with settings like auto-open CWs by keyword, truncate posts over some user-defined limit, hide/show replies/boosts, show posts that are getting a lot of attention on your local instance.
I hate the framing of algorithms as a bad, Silicon Valley creation. Every fediverse service uses an algorithm, even if reverse chrono is one of the most basic algorithms. The negative part of big tech algorithms is that the user has no control over it and doesn’t necessarily know the goals of the algorithm’s writer. Let the user design their own algorithm and that problem goes away.
I think that, as humans always choose the path of least resistance, implementing any sort of algorithm is the fastest way to a ‘dopamine kick’, and as such the attention that new or lengthy information provides suffers. One thing I love about the current Fediverse (and I’ve heard this term used before, too), is that it is very reminiscent of the early internet - when everything was random and interesting, different view-points, things you’d never heard of, etc., If people had the option between algorithm or no algorithm, if it were a simple toggle, I’d have to imagine most people would choose the algorithm, which would be a real shame.
Personally, I’d reconsider my love for the fediverse if newsfeed algorithms become a thing. One of the major reasons why I love mastodon is due to the utter lack of it.
I mean honestly, it doesn’t seem like it matters to me. An instance gets a feed from instances it has federated with. What difference does it make if one instance orders that content differently to another? It becomes another point of differentiation between instances, and non algorithmic options will always remain available at the instance level, and presumably even the user level
Yeah, it’s entirely a philosophical problem, and one that I’m mostly at peace with, so long as the fediverse remains somewhat decentralized. The cynic in me wonders if it’s only a matter of time before the larger instances make a substantial break in federation and mostly go off on their own, but I suppose that wouldn’t affect the rest of the fediverse. It’d just affect our larger goal of getting more people into a decentralized network.
While having multiple, mutually exclusive fediverses would be a disappointing step down from the idea of a single cohesive fediverse, even that would be better than everybody being on a corporate silo. I could also envision a future where some organizations have their own fediverse with varying levels of interaction with a wider, public fediverse.
I have never used Tumblr, and I have no idea whether it’s chronological or whether it has an algorithm, but if it does use an algorithm, I can’t imagine that changing when they join the fediverse. But even if most of them get an algorithmic feed combining tumblr and greater fediverse content, as long as I can access their content on my own terms, it’s all good to me. Even if tumblr pulls lots of users away from smaller instances, it still works out ok because I can still control how I consume their content.
It only becomes a problem if tumblr pulls people away from the greater fediverse, and then disconnects from it, but that’s a different issue altogether, and one that worries me more than algorithms
Ordering from newest to oldest is an algorithm. A very simple algorithm but still.
I think this is a valid point to remember as well as the fact that the main implementation allows users to control visibility of certain type of posts, hide/show replies, hide/show boosts, etc. These are all user-based tweaks to the reverse chrono algorithm. Algorithms aren’t bad if the user is in control.
@anova I don’t think it is inevitable for algorithms to be implemented, but it’s true that algorithms prioritizing “important”, relevant, and less spammy content can be useful. I think if we’re going to do that we need to consider what metrics are going in to the algorithm - how we can avoid encouraging exploitation of this algorithm, and how we can ensure that the algorithm represents what users want to see rather than what makes the company the most ad money. Twitter’s algorithm was exploitative and hurt its users massively, compounded by the fact that it stopped remembering preferences for a chronological timeline; it’s a primary reason I stopped being regularly involved in the platform, the timeline stopped making any logical sense and was filled with messages I didn’t care about.
What do you think of @firstname.lastname@example.org 's idea of allowing user-configurable algorithms? It sounds like it might be difficult to implement well but that could be a more individual approach, and it’d help to deal with people exploiting the algorithm. The biggest issue I see with it is that it could just end up streamlining the existing problem of algorithmically generated echo chambers. I can’t imagine a single algorithm that generates timelines for all user that wouldn’t be exploitable, though maybe democratic control of how it works would compensate for that.
@jonny @anova I like the idea of user-configurable algorithms, and I think a key point is to ensure that the algorithm is open-source and not an AI black box. Good point about echo chambers, though; I’m not sure where the balance is between freedom of attention and exposing people to a diversity of ideas.