I have decided to actively be back on Twitter again. In a way, I never was off Twitter; I have been a passive contributor on Twitter for more than a year now. During that time, Micro.blog became the place that I was most active at. However, recently I have found that the platform just doesn’t attract me. It has got nothing to do with the product or the community there. Both remain brilliant. It is the diversity (or the lack thereof) that just doesn’t fit my lifestyle, my routine.
My timeline is never active when I am. Even those who are active in my timezone do not share my interests and my culture. It is frustratingly difficult to become part of this wonderful community.
I had casually pointed out this challenge during my interaction with Jean on Micro Monday. I am afraid the things haven’t improved much in the 18 months since. I have made many attempts to overcome this. I tried to inspire people that I know, that I am friends with to join the service. I built Micro.Threads to check on the conversations that I missed while I was absent. I even tried to change my routine to better fit in. It was this last attempt that made me cognizant of the limits I was going to to just be an active participant at the service.
I know there are people from my timezone, of my interest that are very much active on the service. I am sure there would be a thread somewhere listing all such folks. But that thread cannot be discovered or be searched for. Those folks cannot be easily found. I have come to realize that neither of these is a challenge with Twitter. No doubt, Twitter has its own set of challenges. But, at least, I can participate as per my routine.
Lack of diversity and discovery remains Micro.blog’s Achilles heel. It’s a wonderful community on there; it just isn’t inclusive enough for me to fit in.
I have recently been thinking a lot about making it easier for people to interact on my posts. The commenting systems of yesteryears served well till they were completely ruined by spams and unnecessary hurdles around setting them up and managing them.
Since I embraced the IndieWeb, I realised that webmentions can potentially address this need. One primary reason that I believe they can fare better than the existing commenting system is the required skills barrier to get started.
But I was afraid that the same barrier to “entry” would also mean not everyone could comment on my posts. It could potentially limit the audience, especially one that interacts, to the developer niche that understands IndieWeb. But I was pleased that wasn’t the case. More on why later, first a quick comment on comments.
I am not alone who is fed up of the commenting systems. Dave Winer has since long turned off the responses on his posts. And in recent times he also has been particularly unhappy with Disqus, his selected replacement to the in-built responses. So, he found out his way to enable a commenting mechanism that did not need constant managing. Plus at the same time, had an entry barrier of sorts. He now uses Twitter reposts for comments.
Use the [retweet] feature here on Scripting News more. It’s a way to comment on what’s going on here, without using Disqus.
Sure, it meets the need. You need not manage a separate commenting system. You can follow tweets on Twitter – they are closer to post on Twitter. And Dave publishes RSS feed of all the comments. So he, and the readers, can receive all the comments.
For me personally though, this does not meet the one main criteria – it keeps the responses away from the posts, hence from the context. And inadvertently from the readers too. There’s no way then to inspire any inclination amongst readers to contribute and be part of an ongoing conversation on the post.
So, back to webmentions. I can display mentions along with my post (and with this recent guide I had written, you can too) and that means any reader at my blog is aware of the sort of discussion that’s taking place over the post. If you see my recent posts, they have significant interactions between multiple people.
But where is this discussion taking place? And how can one be part of it? It’s primarily all happening on micro.blog. The platform fosters a pleasant community of many creative and open minds. It also encourages meaningful conversations over mindless reactions. And Manton, the mind behind Micro.blog, is a firm proponent of the open web.
I wish more people become part of the platform – better, support the platform by subscribing to the paid plans. And one of the ways I thought I can advertise the platform and bring it to the attention of many is by prominently displaying it along with posts. So, now for every posts on this blog with conversations at micro.blog, there will be a clear “Discuss on Micro.blog” link that takes you directly to the conversation thread (example). “You want to comment? Please join Micro.blog.”
That would, in addition, be a nudge to post a longer response on one’s own website.
My hope is this will exhibit the biggest asset of the micro.blog platform, it’s community, in context and as a result, inspire more people to join with a ready-to-access link to the place where the conversation is taking place. If a significant section of the platform users, one that can, starts to display the conversations (webmentions) and starts to include such links, we should soon have an extremely diverse set of users joining the platform.
I am loving this new addition to the Discover tab – now I can browse all the emojitags right here. How did I miss this update? Kudos @manton for making the m.b webapp better every day.