Micro.blog

numericcitizen
numericcitizen

Now that I’m closing my account here on micro.blog I’m starting to get more interactions 🤷🏻‍♂️

macgenie
macgenie

@numericcitizen I have some ideas about this, based on my perspective as community manager, which I probably need to refine into a proper post. But in a nutshell: there appears to be more interest and engagement with a short posts that can be read in the timeline without clicking away. If your primary presence here is linked titles from your blog, those interested might prefer to subscribe in RSS. Lately you've posted some microposts of general interest to the community (the evergreen question of why are we here), so that's prompted responses from folks who are interested in this topic.

numericcitizen
numericcitizen

@macgenie oh, interesting. Maybe I should have invested more time with original content just for this space... but, hey, time is so scarce..

macgenie
macgenie

@numericcitizen Yes, time is scarce, which leads to choices about what to click on. I've enjoyed reading your blog posts when I have taken the time to click through. But it's not always easy to tell from the titles if there is a longer piece to dig into or a short repost of something you liked. I would say people come here for engagement; if you seldom engage with others on the timeline, then you probably won't get much traction here.

Your blog is really nice, and I'll bet some folks here have become RSS subscribers. So I hope you don't consider it a total loss.

pratik
pratik

@macgenie @numericcitizen I agree with Jean that micro posts that you can read in full in the timeline tend to get more responses (if that's what you are aiming for). Also, meta-blogging (posts about blogging) like the one you made here will also get more interaction. But as Jean also astutely points out, it's a 2-way street. There have been some folks who were going to quit and then decided to stay on but in any case, those interested will continue to follow your blog via RSS.

bix
bix

@macgenie Maybe the titles-only format needs to be changed to give a sentence or two from the post itself. @manton

In reply to
basus
basus

@pratik @macgenie I think this would be a lot of work, developer-side, but it might be useful to have different categories of posts, and ways to filter them. If you're mostly interested in short blog posts, you probably want a different experience than if you're interested in status updates.

pratik
pratik

@basus @macgenie I don’t distinguish between short blog posts and status updates. I simply divide them into what you can read (280 chars) on the timeline and what you’ve to click thru to read. Latter excludes links to external sources for context; can be subset of the former.

kaa
kaa

@basus i like that as an idea. Better filtering of the timeline would mean better interaction tbh.

pratik
pratik

@bix You’re assuming most fill out the summary field (if available) on the original blog. Otherwise it just ends up being a random first line that doesn’t add much value.

crossingthethreshold
crossingthethreshold

@bix I like this idea. // @macgenie @manton

kaa
kaa

@numericcitizen Each space online has a different thing that makes it work better. If more engagement is why you are here, then catering to those that you want engagement with will become the priority. Seems to me that you are doing your thing though - sometime this will lead to some engagement, but I have found this goes in waves and randomly depends upon the subject itself and the time you post.

manton
manton

@bix @macgenie I think including an excerpt for posts with titles will lead to a timeline that is a little messier and more work to skim through. Other feed readers do this, and it just creates a different experience.

bix
bix

@crossingthethreshold Maybe as setting like we can choose whether or not to see all replies in our timeline. “Include summary on titles-only posts?” @manton @macgenie

bix
bix

@pratik I was actually assuming the default auto-summary length, but regardless we just disagree on the second point. Or, at least, I think if people had the option for summaries to be inciuded in their timeline it would benefit those who see benefit in it?

ronguest
ronguest

@bix I’m definitely less like to read a post when it is just a title with a link. The titles don’t generally seem to provide enough info on whether the post will interest me, and as said above, time is precious.

I believe when someone creates a long post if they leave the title blank then the first portion of the post is put in the timeline with the link. I wouldn’t call it pretty but I can almost always tell from that whether post is of interest to me.

adamprocter
adamprocter

@manton hmm this is very intresting. I love MBbut finding timeline too many replies (May edit that setting) however I also don’t feel like I’m following all these awesome blogs so maybe there could be a way to add the people I follow easily to an rss like @brentsimmons netnewswire - is my follows a RSS feed I can drop in? Although I’d like them to be separated and also auto update when I add more follows

bix
bix

@ronguest And my idea, really, is to use a shorter excerpt than that when there’s a title, so it would still not be lighter visually.

bix
bix

@ronguest *still be lighter visually

brentsimmons
brentsimmons

@adamprocter I subscribe to micro.blog/feeds/bre... in NetNewsWire — substitute your own username for mine, and you should get your Microblog feed of people you’re following.

adamprocter
adamprocter

@brentsimmons ah ha thank you

jamescousins
jamescousins

@manton I’m barely a user but have been thinking about it a bit (because I want to use my blog more and because I like the concept of micro.blog). It does feel like there’s something in all this, that it’s perhaps a bit too micro. I’d been wondering if 280 characters was a bit too short and can see how ideas like excerpts fit in to that thinking.

Recognise it’s a difficult balance to strike and you’ll never please everyone though.

manton
manton

@jamescousins It’s a good question. Mastodon picked 500 characters, but they also don’t have full-length posts as an option like Micro.blog does. When we picked 280, Twitter was still only 140.

bix
bix

@manton Alternative idea: title-only posts should be rendered as title, link, and categories (if any) to provide more context.

jamescousins
jamescousins

@manton Perhaps characters/excerpts aren’t the issue but rather what formats encourage the culture you want. The micro is nice because it encourages interaction, while the blog encourages more thoughtful engagement.

I think I’m looking for the bridge, something that can summarise the post so people can choose how to engage: a title is too short and introductory sentences don’t summarise. But for everyone that would use something like that there will probably be ten than don’t and can see the problem that creates.

I know you’ll have thought about this a lot longer and harder than me.

macgenie
macgenie

@jamescousins @manton I think there is balance, a sweet spot between types of posts. If you share the occasional observation or status in less than 280 characters, and reply occasionally to others, people get to know you and your interests. Then when your timeline entry is a linked title, people are more apt to click because they have a sense if they are interested in what you have to say.

jamescousins
jamescousins

@macgenie Oh, for sure. Although one slight issue with that is that discovery is a bit harder here. But I’m only offering my perspective as an irregular user. Like I said I know you guys will have thought about this a lot more than me and we shouldn’t lose sight of that that that being clear about what you are not is often more important than being clear about what you are.

smokey
smokey

@macgenie @jamescousins On thing that @manton has suggested when this has come up before, and that some of us do, is to create a reply to our shows-as-title-and-link-only posts that looks like a micropost and explains/summarizes/etc. the long post (not the best example, but an example nonetheless), either immediately or after 6 or 12 or 24 hours if there’s been no interaction. Others (mostly with external blogs) don’t send the long posts directly to the timeline, but write a micropost that links to the long post. So there are already ways to work around the “lack of context” for those posts (in addition to, as Jean suggests, cultivate a group of friends with whom you have shared interests who will be interested in things you write about). // @bix @ronguest @pratik

smokey
smokey

Oops, missed @crossingthethreshold in the “was part of this conversation” @-mentions.

smokey
smokey

@basus You’re not the first to suggest additional filter options for the Timeline, and I seem to recall discussing with @vincent some time ago a hueristic that developers could use to approximate requested filters (short vs long, original posting vs reply) to experiment with them despite the lack of support in the API. // @kaa

djwudi
djwudi

@jamescousins @manton @macgenie @bix I've wondered myself about the possibility of pulling excerpts in so that blog posts aren't just linked titles. But I've also long been in the habit of hand-crafting excerpts rather than just accepting the auto-generated “first X characters” versions, which I know not everyone does.

jamescousins
jamescousins

@djwudi @macgenie Microblog doesn’t pull the excerpt though, does it? I’m now wondering if I’ve missed the obvious solution.

djwudi
djwudi

@jamescousins @macgenie Nope — title and link, but not the excerpt. Adding that would be a solution that would work for me, at least.

How to find/pull/extract it, though, is beyond me. I used to have my MovableType templates set up to include the excerpt in the <head> section as a meta description element, but just realized that WordPress's Twenty Twenty theme (which I'm currently using) doesn't do that, which surprised me. And now I want to dive into WP theme editing, but I think that's a time/energy investiture I can't actually commit to right now.

pratik
pratik

@smokey Thanks for reminding me about this. I think I'm going to remove my Blot blog feed from auto-posting and doing what you suggest. That way, no matter how time the post goes live, I can always choose when to share to mb.

smokey
smokey

@pratik You’re welcome. I think @Burk recently mentioned he does that, too.

FYI, the one drawback to the separate-micropost-to-announce-long-post approach (which may not be a drawback for you—YMMV, as they say) is that you wouldn’t get Micro.blog replies as Webmention comments on your original post; your micropost would collect all those Webmentions instead (your original post might—I’m not sure—get a Webmention from your micropost indicating your micropost linked to it, but that’s it).

pratik
pratik

@smokey ugh! You may be right. I knew I had continued to keep it as is for a reason. I’ve gotten used to Webmentions now that I’ve enabled them.

vincent
vincent

@smokey @basus I think that there is certainly room for improvement on the API front. To do any sort of filtering now would be to take an educated guess - for example character count and if there is a link at the end. If it’s full up and ends with “...” and a link it’s most likely a short post but linked to an external blog. Then anything shorter would be a longer article. Anything starting with an @ could be a reply. (I do remember us talking about it).

Something could be done but it wouldn’t be perfect.

I’d love for the API to have some more info, for example categories for hosted blogs (the data should be there), or even a relevant emoji it’s tagged to. Again I think that is data that should be there(?). This could be surfaced nicely for developers that wish to enhance the timeline to their choosing, and to the user that wishes to have just a little bit more.

Considering these are nice JSON feeds with their own special “microblog” subset of data, it would be perfect to just give a little bit more context here. Even simple things, which again I think should be available in the data for @manton, like “islongpost” or “ispodcast” or “is_reply”, or even just relevant tags like “reply”, “podcast” etc - just to give a bit more context that could be used for apps that wish to use the data.

I know the idea is to keep it simple, and I totally get it and I think it’s great, but a little bit more info for people that want to use it wouldn’t hurt.

Which brings me to my point... given the little extra data... discoverability of posts and users should increase naturally over time as better context is given for posts that could be utilised.

There could be quick wins here without too much of a technical burden, which will grow and enhance the data in the long term.

At the moment we have search, but I don’t know what criteria it looks for. If I add an emoji to search, I don’t see results for example. So having all the data tie in somehow would be great.

The Discover feed added emoji in the JSON and also if it’s featured or not... a good example of what was added that could potentially improve discoverability on the platform.

Anyway, this is getting long. Probably should make a more concrete blog post out of this 😋

I’m probably off topic anyway 😅 I do that!

CC: @kaa

vincent
vincent

@vincent note to self... don’t use underscores because your post will look all italic. Need to learn to escape them.

jamescousins
jamescousins

@djwudi @macgenie It’s a really interesting how pretty much all of this wider discussion goes over the 280 limit! But arguably the current limits aren’t negatively impacting the discussion.

There’s a really tricky balance between the frictionless short post and concise feed and allowing for the longer thoughts and it might well be it’s where we are: I’m sure there’s an academic paper in all this somewhere.

ronguest
ronguest

@smokey When I wrote anything of size when I was using my own Wordpress I’d follow this process of creating a post that was marked not to publish. Then I’d write a separate post summarizing and linking to the full post which would go to the timeline. With my Wordpress setup this was quite convenient. There’s a bit more friction doing it now that I use M.b hosting which seems to discourage me from creating longer posts in spite of probably being able to automate the steps. I’m quite lazy I think.

macgenie
macgenie

@jamescousins There is a bug/feature that doesn't limit replies to 280 characters. If people started publishing huge treatises in their replies, we'd have to fix it, but so far it hasn't been abused.

jamescousins
jamescousins

@macgenie I definitely see it as a feature.

bix
bix

@macgenie I don't think they should be limited to 280 anyway. If there's going to be a limit it should be larger. IMHO, et cetera.

smokey
smokey

@ronguest Interesting. Since Micro.blog also has drafts, I would’ve thought you could essentially use the same exact process.

ronguest
ronguest

@smokey You’re saying I could this using Icro, or the M.b app on iOS? I’m not aware of that.

smokey
smokey

@ronguest Hrm…it may be that only the Mac app and the web (and maybe MarsEdit) let you save and edit drafts? If the iOS app supports it, it’s probably in that gear menu on the Post screen. I keep forgetting iOS is your main platform.

(There are a whole raft of platform-parity issues; I need to start a table to keep track of them!)

sku_b
sku_b

@smokey @ronguest Correct, not on iOS yet. I think this is in the plans from what I remember, but the web version would be the only option on iOS.

smokey
smokey

@sku_b @ronguest Thanks; I knew it had come up in discussions here before, but I couldn’t recall whether it had been implemented yet or not, and the iOS release notes mentioned some things about drafts, but not “save and open/edit drafts”.

crossingthethreshold
crossingthethreshold

@smokey Thank you :-)

smokey
smokey

@vincent I just found my Sticky Note from the last time we were talking about this (with @kaa, perhaps, it seems), and I’ve added this link to it, too. Continue to agree that adding this sort of metadata to the \_microblog dictionary/array/whatever would be useful.

And I can cross off one thing on that note, since Manton added date\_favorited to the Favorites for me a while back :-)

smokey
smokey

@vincent Or, apparently, just backtick the terms, where slash-escaping turns out to be unnecessary 😂

kaa
kaa

@smokey @vincent I think we agreed not to use the underscore but rather the asterisk convention for italics.

ronguest
ronguest

@sku_b I imagine I could automate something using Drafts but I’ve been too lazy to dig into it.

smokey
smokey

@kaa I think someone forgot to tell the Markdown parser that ;-)

Seriously, though, Manton fixed the issue with underscores in usernames that triggered broken italics when using underscores for italics elsewhere in a reply (and using asterisks would have only helped when using italics and @-mentioning people with single-underscore usernames, and we have a few with at least two underscores) that prompted the suggestion to use asterisks in that case…

This, incidentally, illustrates a reason why I dislike Markdown; its edge cases fall too near the center, and the lack-of-markup makes too many things a black box. It’s great if all you are doing is italicising and bolding and linking a word or two in something that is otherwise 100% plain text, but it starts falling apart rapidly thereafter ;-)