Gonna maybe struggle to put some stuff into words re: Mastodon and social networking in general.

It looks to me like Mastodon did a pretty good job of fixing what it set out to fix about social networking, but I think there were major, fundamental assumptions about what social networking MUST include, that we kinda assumed were necessary, and I'm not only unconvinced of their necessity but also pretty convinced that they actively harm people.

· SubwayTooter · 0 · 3 · 13

I'm talking specifically about boosts and faves, or shares and likes or whatevs. I think having The Number visible was a thing that FB/Twitter did because they thought it would increase people's addiction to the services, not because they thought it would make the service better. I think seeing that number go up gives you a little hit of dopamine, feels good, and makes you want to generate more content that gets big numbers.

I think people get anxiety about their numbers, and that the numbers change the way people write and interact. Which would be great if it changed people for the better, but I think that on platforms like this, Big Numbers come about mostly from brevity - snarky comebacks and bumper-sticker smackdowns. I think this isn't a specific Mastodon problem but a social networking problem in general.

I think those numbers were put there by corporate sociopaths to ensure the health and continuation of the System, not the mental wellbeing of the people using it. I don't believe @Gargron had ill-intent in replicating that functionality here, 'cause those numbers are kinda just what everyone expects - I mean hell, that was kinda an unexamined assumption of my own until the past few weeks, "Social networking has numbers attached."

And then I was like "Huh, those aren't just numbers, those are... scores. Did we spend the last decade gamifying social interaction? Holy... what are we thinking?! How the hell could that possibly be good for us?!"

And I'm only thinking this now 'cause I'm like "Okay, big problem with Twitter, there are Nazis on it and all the tweets are in random order - turns out those were just dumb problems to have because of sheer incompetence and/or malice, now Mastodon's fixed them and it's kinda like I've had a taste of wine that doesn't have dogshit floating in it and now I'm going "Okay what else can we do to make this better.""

Of course there's no friggin' way @Gargron could take out boosts and faves, he'd get eviscerated for it - which makes this whole thing moot, but it's interesting to think about whether people would be more their true selves, and more mentally healthy, if they weren't keeping score.

Got ppl telling me now that the scores are hidden until you click on posts, maybe this is just a problem with Subway Tooter, in which case NVM IGNORE ME WHEEEEEE

(I've used the web interface maybe twice)

Y'know what's a much bigger and even less surmountable problem with social networking? Phones. Phones on TOILETS. In my other life I run an online game, and I've put off making an app for it for the past decade because I didn't want people playing my game while shitting. I didn't want to be the owner and operator of a Toilet Game.

I want to see some studies done on whether people post differently when they're literally eliminating waste from their bodies.

Wait, is that what shitposting is? I thought that just meant posting shit because I'm an Old who grew up without smartphones, does shitposting literally mean you're actually shitting and posting at the same time? Like, "Here, I dropped this comment onto your server at literally the same moment I dropped a poop into a toilet, so you just KNOW this is gonna be a quality insight"

@ifixcoinops I'm not gonna lie, I like having those numbers there for when I want to look at them. But I also like how they're not displayed in toots on the timeline, only when you open them up. And Mastodon doesn't display reply numbers, so there's no discussion of being "ratio'd" here. So I think we're in a pretty good spot at the moment. That said, I understand where you're coming from. Maybe getting rid of the numbers entirely would be a good thing. Less to worry about.

@ifixcoinops I'm not entirely convinced this is *only* a gamification thing, because e.g. a fav signalling agreement in a manner that is too small for a reply is IMO not a harmful behavior
@ifixcoinops An incidental side effect of federation is that numbers lose a good part of their significance, because neither fav/boost counts nor follower counts are accurate for remote content

@ifixcoinops Boosts and favs are good functions with many positive uses. I think you've identified that the numbers related to them may have negative effects. I don't think that should ever lead to those functions being eliminated entirely. Maybe just an option to hide the numbers is best. But again, Mastodon already hides the numbers unless you go out of your way to expand a post to look at them.

@ifixcoinops @Gargron There are pre-web2.0 community platforms which still deemphasize numbers, have no option for a like. But they have been largely abandoned to the few of us less invested in these products. Fame and status are the usual goal of social interaction, not ideas. That’s a bitter pill.

OOH, there is a lot of communication encoded in a “like”. I use them primarily as “read” flags which also tell people they have been heard. Ambivalent whether that reduces or increases alienation.



this thread is amazing, and then it gets *more* amazing

> In my other life I run an online game, and I've put off making an app for it for the past decade because I didn't want people playing my game while shitting.


never in my life did I imagine I'd see this concept expressed

the world is still a surprising place, even in my old age

@ifixcoinops I think boosts in general are good for growing a network quickly, but bad for signal:noise ratio.

I would like to see them throttled in some way, so there are fewer at busy times maybe, or so people can boost only a certain number of toots per 24h, or something.

Meanwhile: I still like Dreamwidth and should probably use it more.

@ifixcoinops favs, I don't mind about at all; they are a nice low-key way to say "I read this", though that use does conflict with them being used as bookmarks.


in a sense, we've spent most of human history gamifying social interaction, too

we developed culture long before industry; if anything, our need to decide who was worthwhile and who was not was expressed in the creation of an entire occupational system

we've been judging each other a very, very long time

it may never end :\

@ifixcoinops on my second instance they had replaced everyone's follower count with the same number. A thing which I loved!

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