Using the Discover timeline and categories

How the Discover timeline is curated.

Micro.blog is a blogging platform with a social engagement component. We have a timeline where you can follow and interact with other bloggers. Sometimes it feels like Twitter, because of the timeline, mentions, and conversations. But there are key differences, built into Micro.blog, to make it a safe and sane place to share ideas with others.

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.

One of the best ways to find other folks to follow is the Micro.blog Discover timeline. It’s a simple general timeline, with entries culled from everything posted by registered Micro.blog accounts. 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. It is a very popular feature with the community.

There are also categories within the Discover section that are marked by “emojitags” or “tagmoji,” instead of hashtags. Micro.blog does not support hashtags, which are known to contribute to malicious trolling. The tagmoji categories, such as books, music, film, various sports and hobbies, are another place to find like-minded people.

How is the Discover timeline curated

The Micro.blog team reviews all the posts that come in, and selects the ones that meet our basic guidelines:

  1. Our goal is to start conversations, not arguments. We almost never include political posts for this reason.
  2. Posts that fit into the 280 character limit, not truncated, are preferred. Sometimes a link to a longer post is included, if it has particular relevance for the community. But in general, the Discover timeline should be easy to skim and read without clicking through to outside links.
  3. No expletives.
  4. No obvious reposts from Twitter or Instagram. The Discover timeline reflects our vision that posting first on your own blog is best.
  5. Limited hashtags. Micro.blog does not support hashtags which can accelerate the spread of fake news and harassment. So we don’t want to confuse people by including hashtags in our Discover timeline. If an otherwise Discover-worthy post has a single hashtag, it might be included.
  6. One or two photos at most. Too many photos affect skimmability of the timeline.
  7. We include posts from people who are seeking out others with similar interests and questions. This is inspired by The Buddy Bench principle, as explained by Patrick Rhone, aka @patrickrhone. The Discover timeline can be a digital Buddy Bench, where our community can reach out to those looking for a “buddy.”
  8. The posts we include are from people, not companies or organizations.

The Discover timeline has evolved and will continue to evolve with the community. The guidelines will evolve too. We want to have additional curators from the community. We need to build some tools to make that possible. It would be particularly nice to have curators who can encourage discussions and connections in languages other than English.