Going Full Indie

Reply to Khürt on micro.blog by Nitin Khanna (nitinkhanna.com)

Khürt, I absolutely get a lot of value from my micro.blog account. First of, this is a great community of bloggers, coders, amateur photographers and even one harpist. I’ve found this to be a great continuation of the community I found in app.net, which subsequently splintered into a few groups.

I remember paying for an app.net account. App.net was also touted as saving people from Twitter. Whatever happened to app.net? Could that happen to micro.blog?

I am, in fact, thinking of trying to woo some esoteric friends off twitter and onto here, though I’ll be guiding them to use micro.blog for free because the economics doesn’t work out for everybody around the world.

I have tried to do the same. However, it is challenging to articulate the value of doing so. What is the value of micro.blog over free Twitter? And if my friends aren't on micro.blog, it's not a social network.

Jean MacDonald, community manager at Micro.blog, wrote in a thread that …many of the people who sign up for an account aren't interested in the social component. That means that most of the user base is looking for a blogging platform. That makes discovering community more challenging.

Discovery on micro.blog is challenging by design.

In our quest to keep people safe from harassment or harmful viral waves of trolling, we limit the usual parts of a social network like search and trending posts for discovering new people. We do want like-minded people to be able to find each other on Micro.blog. We tried a few strategies in the beginning: a short list of people to follow, then a photo gallery of the images that microbloggers were posting. Neither was really working for us or for the community.

But for Discover we want to provide an easy-to-skim cross section of posts, so the culling is done by hand: no algorithm, no upvoting, no promotions. And from the response we’ve received, it is a very popular feature with the community.

The curation is done by me and Manton.Jean MacDonald

By design, the Discover feed lacks a diversity of viewpoint. Manton tried so hard to remove what he thinks is cynical about Twitter, that on micro.blog, two people get to decide who gets discovered. How can I trust whatever inherent bias they may be brought to that process? How do I know that they aren't pushing their agenda? But whatever, it’s their house. Their rules.

Second, micro.blog is an interesting experiment in blog comments. The other day, I saw your post about house parties and responded. I knew I could respond right here, but I had a little more to say, so I put it on my blog and let that reflect here. That exchange can happen independently too, but this centralization of feeds is difficult to attain. We’re all avid users of RSS readers, but with that comes its own challenges. In some senses, micro.blog is my people feed reader, while my other feeds readers are relegated to follow webcomics and networking news.

My website supports Webmention as well as WordPress.com comments as well as pulling in replies from for syndicated links via Twitter, Flickr, Instagram. To paraphrase you “In some senses, [Twitter] is my people feed reader”. micro.blog could be just another comment stream, albeit at this point a very small one. micro.blog provides no unique value in that regard.

Third, any tool is what you put into it.

I’m not sure what you mean by that. I don’t want to make assumptions, but my initial reaction was, “is he saying it’s my fault that I feel left out“.

I already have Twitter and host my own website which I have done at the same domain so for over 15 years. When I post a link to Twitter, I can add hashtags to help like-minded communities on Twitter find me and my content. Likewise, I can use hashtags to find like-minded communities with whom to engage. And the communities on Twitter are more diverse than what’s available on micro.blog.

The user base on micro.blog is mostly software developers. I could yak all day about topics of interest to me, but only a small handful of people would see those post. Unless like-minded people view and interact with those post, I have no way of knowing they exist.

Others have suggested ways to keep discovery useful while toning down the negative:

Whilst search and tagging can be used to manipulate a platform and thus spoil it, as we have plainly seen across lots of social media platforms, implementation of them with as much care and consideration of the rest of Micro.blog would be a significant improvement for Discovery. Perhaps these features would be only available for Verified users (to verify yourself on Micro.blog involves either a paid account or enough effort for free users as to discourage malicious users).Simon Mumble

Phoneboy, and early user and often quoted fan of micro.blog eventually stopped using the service.

The diversity of participants and resulting conversations are somewhat limited and are likely to remain so. This might suit some people just fine, but I appreciate people of different races, creeds, colors, economic backgrounds, and even those with differing political opinions. The kind of people you might find on a more mainstream social media service or the right Mastodon instance.Phoneboy

As I mentioned above, discovery (i.e. finding people who post on topics of interest to me) is challenging on micro.blog. I have spent days hitting refresh hoping to find one Formula 1 fan, or one etc. to follow.

I'm an immigrant to the USA. I sometimes feel like an "other" even after three decades of living in the USA. I would like to find others like me online. Can this be accomplished if the only place for publishing my thoughts is on a website few to none exist because I have chosen to refrain from using a social broadcasting service (aka Twitter and Facebook)?

Lastly, deleting your account – I know it’s the cleaner thing to do. It severs your ties, Manton is obligated to delete your data, it removes the mindshare micro.blog takes from you, etc. And frankly, you’d be better off deleting your account than mindlessly posting to it like a bot, or like dave. But not deleting it gives you the opportunity to come back whenever you want. If you want to keep the connection open, however tenuous, keep this account in your back pocket for a rainy day.

I wonder why Dave doesn't interact on micro.blog? In any case, mindlessly posting like a bot is what I had been doing the last few months.

I've quoted Ben Weirdmuller before. In this post, Ben writes about leaving the silos behind entirely.

I think it might be more effective to move all the value away: publish on your own site, and use independent readers like Woodwind or Newsblur to consume content. Forget using social networks as the conduit. Let’s go full indie.Ben Weirdmuller

When Facebook changed it's API and I could no longer automatically submit links to my post to my timeline, the traffic to my website dropped off. When I analysed past traffic I noticed that most of my incoming views were from Facebook and Twitter.

I guess the question I am strugglgn with is "How would people find my website if I never engage on large scale social media?"

Author:Khürt Williams

A human who works in information security and enjoys photography, Formula 1 and craft ale.

12 thoughts on “Going Full Indie”

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  4. "is he saying it’s my fault that I feel left out"

    Yes, and no. I was just saying that I hang out on m.b more and butt into conversations more.

    My own interests, it does not fully cater to. I do NOT talk to anyone online about coding. I'm just not that kind of person. I do want to talk about philosophy, reading, Tintin, but I won't. It's too much work.

    So I'm just chilling on m.b and going with the flow, but I am spending a lot of time on there.

    Not expecting you to do that. That's not feasible for everyone, and on days (and weeks) when I'm busy, I couldn't be bothered to go there.

    1. Understood. Most days, I don't interact much on social media. But when I do, it's rarely "aimless". On Formula 1 race days, I am chatting live with my "F1 tribe" on Twitter during the race. It gives me a feeling of belonging, sharing an interest with others, no matter where they are in the world, who they are, or what language they speak.

      1. It'll be a long, long, long time before we get to tribes in m.b. It's just not feasible right now. Well, except for WWDC followers...

        Frankly, we'll see if m.b survives all the way till then or not...

      1. ooph. i try not to have any parties... haven't had one since i was 11...!

        1. I had some parties when I was a kid. If we lived on one of the islands where we had family, it was well attended. Not so much for other islands.

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