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Asked some friends to use Pixelfed, they didn't know who to follow.

Empty timelines is not good for onboarding or new user experience.

Adding Suggested Posts to an empty timeline will encourage users to discover and engage with content without having to follow someone.

The classic "you signed up, now what" problem. Will address that in Smithereen at some point too.

@grishka Yeah exactly, I don't think any other fedi project does this yet.

I'm working on making the Discover API produce more relevant recommendations using non-invasive signals like follow relationships and hashtags used.

I'd love to discuss the technicals with you if you're interested, I could talk for hours about this but I don't have anyone to discuss this with lol.

dansup, the most curious question — does this work across instances, or does it only consider local posts? Recommendation systems are "easy" when you have access to everything you could possibly recommend and you can do all kinds of queries against that data. Not so easy when you have no idea most content exists in the first place.

I'll go another, equally uncharted way though. I want to try decentralized search by centralized identifiers. You'd import your friend list from somewhere, like Twitter or VKontakte, and then some ✨magic✨ will happen and you'll see fediverse accounts associated with those centralized identities. It should, in principle, be possible to make a DHT (distributed hash table) out of instances, and in that you'd store somehow preprocessed centralized IDs as keys and fediverse IDs as values. The idea is that you should be able to find a user on any instance from any instance.

@grishka It uses local-only signals for now, though it wouldn't be hard to use federated content.

The key component is ranking signals in a scalable way, so the smallest and largest instances can take advantage.

Local vs Remote doesn't really matter to a new instance when you have no content, and thus discovery becomes more important.

I'm interested to hear more about your idea, I plan to use FediDB and its growing database to bootstrap discovery in Pixelfed.

@dansup @grishka

Indeed that idea sounds intriguing. Btw, there's also "Trunk for the Fediverse" with a concept that might be further integrated into apps, so getting interesting following becomes a lot easier.

communitywiki.org/trunk

@humanetech
No, no "suggestions" please.

Suggestions are for people who undergo #hypnosis. Pls refrain from this kind of behaviour and thought process.

What happened to the federated timeline. That's precisely what it's for.

Refrain from making Fedi #FakeTwit2p0, please.

@dansup @grishka

@dsfgs @dansup @grishka

You're referring to Suggested Posts that can have that issue.

Trunk is more like people saying "Hey, I like to talk about this and that subject" and then you add a bunch of them to your Following, which fills your personal timeline based on your topics of interest and you go from there.

You and I are people that discover a following on our own but many others aren't like that. They are disappointed with what they see and the federated timeline is full of crap to them.

@humanetech
That is what hashtags are for. Maybe encourage ppl to search for hashtags until they have 10 followers or subscribe to 15, or until they say, close this and 'Don't remind me in future".

Discourse forum software does nice things to guide people. This might be what Fedi needs.
@dansup @grishka

@dsfgs @dansup @grishka

Yes, that is true. A wizard-like onboarding tour in a freshly opened account may help educate newcomers how to enjoy their experience.

Is also not for everyone. I found the discobot in Discourse quite annoying, but hey.. you can turn it off too :)

@dsfgs @dansup @grishka

But still the hashtag approach is 'labour-intensive'. Doing this work is friction were maybe more people than you'd expect throw the towel in the ring. Like those that are just mildly curious what that Fediverse-thing is all about.

And when it comes to it, it is not *that* much different than the trunk approach, especially the functionality of joining a trunk topic group is brought closer to the individual fedizen by app integration (or even AP vocab extension).

@humanetech
This is a #bigBowlOfWrong, sorry.

Our worst fear was a #centralised system, #Trunk, being some kind of magical authority on who gets a #blueCheck and who doesn't.

This #trunk™ will imply #popularity, which goes against the core aspect of Fedi, it will also lead to a duty to vet this list lest face legal/criminal(?) penalties.

Articles online tell people to use #hashtags on Fedi, for communicating and…

1/2
@dansup @grishka

@humanetech
(2/2)… for #search. Some instances even ask people to list some hashtags in their profile that interest them. We can expand on this to encourage good use of hashtag.

Proceed with Trunk™ and we'll have no choice but to consider your service compromised.

This is how strongly we will fight against #hypnoticSuggestion and centralisation in Fedi.

Eugen has already cut admins out from new users, making it more difficult for admins to passively talk to Fedizens.

@dansup @grishka

@dsfgs @humanetech @grishka
I definitely get the concern; in fact, this does feel pretty reminiscent of one particularly nasty antifeature on Instagram where they keep you scrolling forever on your home feed by showing tailored content after all of your most recent posts. I think it's probably safe enough, though, assuming this *only ever* happens for people who aren't following anyone, and they keep using @dansup 's approach to making suggestions.

Especially with something like Pixelfed, you've really got to know your audience. As someone coming from Instagram myself, I don't think I've ever intentionally used hashtags. Unless I'm just an edge case, I'm assuming that at this point, hashtags are mostly used to generate more tailored content on the backend. And as a result, I don't touch hashtags much while on the Fediverse either. I'm not super big on suggestions, and it's definitely something the Pixelfed client I'm working on won't touch in a million years, but if that's the best way to keep people from getting turned off immediately from the Fediverse then the ends might justify the means on this one.

@nat
The ends do not justify the means.

Literature on the web says #Fedi is powered by hashtags like #introduction. It is the only way to #search on Fedi ethically, ie. a person should only be found based on keywords and phrases *they* choose. By not using #hashtags you are dismissing an integral part of Fedi.

Forgetting hashtags, theres the Federated timeline if you don't follow anyone. Other prompts can inform till 15 follows.

We suggested a Variety timeline.

@dansup @grishka @humanetech

@nat @dansup @grishka @humanetech
Please don't break the spirit and foundational principles of Fedi for new users.

One could see this as a zero day attack.

We will only steer them to the mainstream influencers at the beginning.

What kind of silliness is this?

This is the time to inform the user that Fedi works differently and to step them through what makes Fedi so great.

How old does a user need to be to pull them from the #gamified #Fakebook model

These people want something different.

@nat @dansup @grishka @humanetech

Make no mistake, this is the beginnings of the #InfluencerModel. The very fact this gamable model, is being seriously considered indicates something.

@nat @dansup @grishka @dsfgs

I also don't know what is best, and fully agree that impact and possible negative side-effects of any feature need to be carefully considered, and then - if possible - reinvented to not have them.

(That means we should be able to discuss them and immediate throwing of to our accounts by @dsfgs is a conversation killer, not helpful for fedi future)

The notion of "I am interested to socialize on these subjects" is worth brainstorming on.

@humanetech @dansup @grishka
The so-called suggestions that pop-up in when typing in Google. Are designed to propagate #memes, they are perverse. Theyare known to link negative thoughts to people or processes that are not aligned with Google's goals.

We've experienced this first hand. A friend dismissed a therapy that could have helped them because Google added, "junk science" to a "suggestion".

Fight like hell to keep this stuff out.

Fork Mastodon now too, before Eugen adds Top Posts.

@dsfgs @humanetech @grishka the suggested posts come from the trending API on the discover page, they are just the most liked posts in the past 24 hours.

When you join and aren’t following anyone, having an empty timeline is not ideal. All we are doing is taking the 10 most liked posts and showing them after the home timeline.

@dansup
Please do not proceed with this.

Likes are gamed. Popularity contests go against the spirit of Fedi.

Make a timeline #Variety. Cycles through the Federated TL so everyone's latest post in the past 24 hours is shown first, then everyone's 2nd ranked by latest, then 3rd, etc. Proceed until you have log(n) users from that day left, then show a helpful screen that encourages searching w #hashtags if deemed needed. Then move to previous 24 hour cycle. Repeat.
@humanetech @grishka

@dansup @humanetech @grishka
Adaption: cycle through each user in each 24 hour period at most three times, before moving to previous 24 hour period, or until less than log(n) users remain. If there are less than 50 unique users in a day tell the user the instance is not federated with many users today, and encourage them to find users on other servers, they might like. This list can be curated by admin.

Its for Variety and should not be the default TL.

@dansup > any other fedi project does this yet

#diaspora is effectively helping newcomers populate the timeline on their first log-in. ;)

"What are you into? Hashtags allow you to talk about and follow your interests. They're also a great way to find new people on diaspora*. Try following tags like #art, #movies, #gif, etc."

This prompt is the first thing a newcomer sees. Those who don't ignore it have a chance to avoid the issue of an empty timeline. @grishka

lostinlight, again — that's exactly the wrong thing. No one wants to follow random people. NO ONE. Most want to find people they already know. Finding someone with common interests is a very much secondary activity on social media.

Mastodon did have a thing where you connected your Twitter account and it matched your Twitter follows against its database of Twitter<->Mastodon connections. But this was a single point of failure: it ran on a single server, and it used a single app ID, that stopped working when Eugen deleted his Twitter account. They weren't able to get it working again.

Now, my idea is to avoid single points of failure at all costs, and most preferably extract contact lists out of centralized services without their consent — no way in hell they're giving one. So, if necessary, I'll have to resort to things like importing GDPR export archives, or even parsing their websites. APIs would work too, but only where API access doesn't require a manual pre-approval (for example VK).

@grishka I disagree that a social network blooms only on Facebook / Whatsapp model. Many users on Twitter, Instagram, etc., enjoy finding strangers and new content by interests. A very large ammount of social networks is built on this concept. Many still use VK specifically for its communities that unite random people. Telegram became popular in part due to its chats/channels. I wish you luck with your idea, but also encourage you not to dismiss the importance of good UX connecting strangers ;)

lostinlight, I do have groups for that purpose. Yes, connecting strangers is important, but — as I said — secondary. Being able to find strangers with common interests isn't what locks people into Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/VK/whatever — it's the connections with people they know IRL. And thus, to liberate these people from these greedy creeps, we need to provide for that use case and make it as effortless as possible to switch.

@grishka @lightone @dansup while I agree with your point in spirit about "nobody wants to join a network to follow strangers", one curious thing is that this has largely been an ongoing foundational part in how the fediverse has bootstrapped a large part of its userbase.

You're correct in the sense that it might not be the thing that scales up the network to the next couple million users. But, it does serve the network pretty well in facilitating engagement and keeping people here.

TBH, what's really lacking is a good app / data standard to migrate people to the fediverse while retaining their contacts, and maybe their content as well.

deadsuperhero, importing GDPR export archives! I'll research that at some point.

I've read somewhere that Facebook helped people switch from MySpace by literally logging into their MySpace accounts and synchronizing stuff. As in, when they posted something on Facebook, it got automatically cross-posted to MySpace.

@dansup @grishka Yes, diaspora federates via its own protocol only with 3 other networks: Friendica, Hubzilla and Socialhome, because it refuses to add ActivityPub support [still, I include diaspora into Fediverse, because many new ActivityPub projects are also able to connect without bugs only to 3-4 other AP networks, so diaspora in that sense is no big difference 😉]

@lightone Fediverse originally referred to the OStatus-verse and then, as Mastodon dominated the Fediverse, the term smoothly switched its meaning to OStatus+ActivityPub. Now that ActivityPub plugin for GNU Social is working, I think it's fair to only consider AP-verse as the Fediverse. Referring to Diaspora as a part of the Fediverse is just misleading to new users. That's how I understand the way this term evolved.

@dansup @grishka

@mkljczk The term is generic, and it's OK that everyone uses it differently. 👐 Personally, I think non-tech new users don't care at all about AP, or diaspora, Zot protocols. They only care about "these things are interconnected". But here we're misleading them anyway, because some AP networks don't smoothly federate with one another (yet?) So as long as diaspora can reach out to 3 other networks, I think it's fair enough to include it into "federating universe".

Back in the day, we populated TWKN timeline with random public posts from random participating sites. This was seeded from the mirrored (for decentralisation) project directory to get a list of initial sites. The next step was a good friend suggestion engine. It was seeded initially by people who volunteered to be in  the initial list in their settings, and thereafter was based on normal friend-of-friend metrics. (If somebody is friends with a lot of your friends, but not  with you, they score higher.)

Have recently abollished the "volunteers to be friends" bit because it tended to attract the wrong sort of volunteers. The mirrored project directory recently went  away for the  same reason. Spammers figured out how to game the system.

It takes very little time after a site is created and a contact or two are made for it to discover a huge swath of the fediverse, so there's plenty of data to throw some public posts in a new user's stream. So the real problem is on brand new sites. You can always hard-wire a couple of known sites, but we recently chose not to.

@dansup good to see this getting added. Much as I despise the continual "you might know X" interruptions from Instagram, etc. the encouragement to follow more people and explore is a side-effect I'd like more of over here (and with *my* interests at heart, rather than those of some manager's "engagement metrics" 🙂 )

Am I right in thinking Pixelfed will federate with Mastodon, etc. as it's all ActivityPub?

@dansup It should be obverse that we should always push account that and small to medium in following. We should not push big accounts in auto fallowing code. Basic stuff.

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