Trying to understand posts and the timeline

To illustrate what I mean, I took this screenshot from visiting Greg Morris’s (great) blog via

To me, long posts with titles is like the crème de la crème of posts :stuck_out_tongue: - so I feel this default format is very underwhelming. (:point_up_2:t2: That’s a list of nice blog posts, but on the timeline it looks really boring.)

They’re also important posts, right? Isn’t this where replies gets gathered for showing on the main blog site? (If I have that turned on.) So if I made a separate post, where I said:

New blog post! (and a link)
Summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary summary.
Nice image

and if people replied to that post, it wouldn’t get shown on the website…?

Reading Timeline display rules, I don’t quite know why long posts with title (LPWT) gets the harshest treatment, heh.

I don’t know if this is technically correct, but in practise it seems like there’s two versions of every post. Let’s call them the Blog version and the Timeline version.

The blog version is always the real deal - and then the timeline version is some kind of image, more or less distorted, of the real thing.

  • ≤300 characters, no title: More or less the same as the blog version (probably some stripped html though?)
  • ≥301 characters, no title: Gets truncated, and strips away styling and images - even before the truncation point (is that a word?).
  • Any length, with a title: Just the title and a link. No images no nothing.

To continue with the “image quality” metaphor, it feels like :stuck_out_tongue::

  • ≤300 characters, no title = 4k DSLR photo
  • ≥301 characters, no title= 720p mobile photo
  • Any length, with a title = 360p potato photo

Here’s my wish list:

Now, I’m just a newbie[1]And there’s probably both technical, cultural and logical reasons why these a bad ideas - but I’m airing them anyway! :sweat_smile: They’re not a package, so should be evaluated individually.

1) Improve the way posts with title appear on the timeline

A starting point could be to do something like this:

  1. Grab the title, make it just bold text with a hyperlink to the full blog post.
  2. Provide the start of the article (while keeping as much formatting as with regular short posts - 4k resolution, baby!), within some limit.
  3. If step 2 didn’t provide the entire post, add (…) at the end (without breaking up a word), that also sends you to the blog post.
  4. Add the first image from the post.

So, instead of this:

We’d get something like this:

Seeing as I’m (obviously) allowed to take up that much space with a regular “short post”, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that a long post gets the same.

A second step could be to make the different parts of the timeline version editable, so you’d get 4 elements:

  • Timeline title
  • Timeline summary
  • Timeline read more indicator (I chose (…) because it’s language independent)
  • Timeline image

2) Increase the 300 limit

But I still think the 300 limit is way too harsh! Here’s a post within the limits:

Image, formatting, list looking good - nice!

And then I add just a bit more text:


Who gets a better experience from the second version? I get that it’s not wanted to have full blown blog posts taking up the entire timeline - but why put the limit way below stuff like Mastodon, and create a bunch of extra clicks all over and the rest of the fediverse…? :upside_down_face:

So, my petition is: :innocent::pray:t2:

  • Increase the “image quality” of the 360p and 720p images,
  • and allow more stuff to get the 4k treatment.

(Writing this post, and doing the experiements, really helped me understand how functions at the moment - and that lead to thoughts about how it seems to me it should function, heh.)

  1. I’m someone who wants to move to to get more writing freedom than I’m experiencing on Mastodon. And I’m currently a bit disappointed, as there seems to be a bunch of weird stuff I need to think about… :confused: ↩︎


Wow, what a great feature and improvement request! Hope to see what @manton will think of that one! Certainly agree with most of this!

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What you’re really asking for is 95% covered by using Open Graph data. It’s something that’s come up many times, but @manton has marked it as a non-goal for now.

I bring up Open Graph specifically because:

  • this is the standard
  • if this was implemented any way but OG, it’d lead to lots of unnecessary tinkering to have consistent presentation on various platforms. already supports supplying OG metadata. My posts all have OG data, and so they show the preview card styles on platforms that support it when links are posted there.

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Thanks, @numericcitizen! I agree. :sweat_smile:
(Funny you answered, as I’ve been watching your YouTube videos as I wrote the original post. :blush:)

So, @jsonbecker, in the context of the boring list of titles in my first screenshot, even though Greg had provided OG data (I don’t know if he has), it would still be a drab list of titles if doesn’t add Open Graph support?

And is that also why looks like this, compared to Mona? :point_down:t2:

(Also, what’s the deal with omitting display names??)

TBF, I see the appeal of having the link previews turned off on the timeline - but I agree that it should be possible to turn on (you know, if that’s what we’re talking about :stuck_out_tongue:).

But I still think my suggestions are worth considering! Especially if Manton don’t want link previews.


Love that you too are thinking about how macro posts are treated on the timeline compared to the micro ones. I’ve raised this issue frequently in the past but I’m usually told that’s not a priority or conceptually, I should not give undue importance to how it is presented.

To @jsonbecker’s point, even has a OG plugin but it’s useful only on platforms that support it but ironically, not on the timeline.

So now, I’m using an entire text-based solution as devised by @laura in this awesome thread. But it involves mucking around in the feed file which breaks other things e.g., “displaying a post in full with 600 as opposed to 300 characters when using a blockquote” is not supported with this hack. Also, the summary text doesn’t support HTML tags so they will be stripped from the summary on the timeline.

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That’s an interesting thread!

I’m ambivalent to this quote:

Like, I get that some things about is about getting away from the standard social media grind. But I’ll bring up this photo again: :point_down:t2:

I feel like is actively trying to not get me to read his posts. (And I’m bringing up Greg, because I know they are good posts.) And if I saw them on the timeline, I would probably just scroll right by it. (Or do I have to click on a bunch of links to try and find out if it might be something find interesting?)

It feels like if mandated everything to be gray scale, as to not make it too tempting to use. :upside_down_face: I absolutely do not see how this is better than “a timeline full of summaries” - which I don’t fear anyway.

But it’s at least good that it’s something he’d like to solve!

@sod - May I ask, do you know how/if this works with the “Include conversation on post page”? To me it seems like that only pulls from the replies to the post in question, so it doesn’t work if you split it up into two posts like that. :confused:

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That is correct; they are separate posts, and conversations revolve around the post that goes to the timeline. It’s a bit like you have a blog, make a long post, and then go to a social network, like TikTok, to promote it. The comments on TikTok won’t automatically show up on your blog post.

It’s just that, to me, my blog and my social network of choice (the fediverse) are the same. Just different sections on my website.

Technically, I want to capture all reactions and comments made on different platforms that I share it on. That way, I can see all those comments, reactions, etc. on my blog and hopefully, can respond (if I want to) from there. Admittedly, not all platforms will let you do that coz “engagement on THEIR platform.”

Yeah, that’s what I feared. :pensive:

(I just don’t get why the main timeline post, the one to get people to actually read the blog post and the one people have to comment on, must be so intensely bland. :upside_down_face:)

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Great thread and agreed. Long posts look terrible on the timeline. I generally don’t title my long posts for this reason. I just let it be truncated.

I’m not holding my breath for a change. Generally Manton seems pretty set in his ideas/intents on how the timeline functions. It really is best for the folks that want to share simple and short status updates.

I still use it out of habit but really prefer Mastodon and have been following users who have separate mastodon accounts in that space. It’s great that has support for ActivityPub but the timeline implementations and lack of support for Mastodon features relegate it to a sub-par experience.

Yeah, that’s my sense as well. And that’s kind of a bummer realising, as I’m in the process of moving to from Mastodon because I was tired of the constricted feeling of writing there. I’m always butting up against the 500 character limit, and I really miss text formatting. I hate writing a reply or something, and then be like “OK, I said what I wanted to say - now to remove the nuance and politeness to get it under the limit!”. :sweat_smile:

I’ve been thirsting hard for the writing tools of - but it feels like there’s punishment for using said tools integrated in the design. Now this might be too harsh, but it feels a bit like:

  • “Oh, you wrote over 300 characters? Screw you, we’re truncating and taking away your images and formatting. :roll_eyes:
  • “What, you gave your post a helpful title?? Now you’ve really done it! We’re removing everything but your precious title. :angry:

Now, I kinda do see the appeal of not having link previews - but it should obviously be user controllable, so people can have it their way! Nonetheless, I feel my suggestions above would provide a better experience for native blog posts on the platform, without messing with the clean look of the timeline.

Yeah, I agree some things makes it a sub-par experience. Some of the things stuff that’s just hard to do as a small shop - like having native apps. And I can accept that, that’s part of supporting the indieweb. The rest is the results of the “friction with intent” that’s integrated into’s design. And while I can appreciate the notion (that’s the reason I’m in the fediverse and not on TikTok!), I wish it was possible to turn more of it off, for those of us who don’t want quite as much chafing. (But I know many like the amount of friction the platform has today - so I’m not saying they should be forced to have it removed.)

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Agree 100%. You mentioned in another thread the lack of likes/reactions/boosts and that’s what’s keeping me glued to a Mastodon account. Each compliments the other but I wish I could just settle on one. I think every user that also enjoys aspects of the mastodon specific experience struggles with this dilemma.

In some ways is VERY close to being 3 apps in one for me… blogging, fediverse/mastodon and RSS (because it allows for following most blogs). But I have to be able to organize feeds someway. I use folders/groups in both RSS and Mastodon.

Yeah, that’s what feels so frustrating: is so close to be an amazing service. That’s why I’m still investing in it (with both time and money, heh).

I’m trying to replace both WordPress and Mastodon, so pretty similar.

Replies, technically, have no limit. But if you reply with a treatise, @jean may wag a stern finger.

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I’ll just register my general surprise at how concerned people are with the appearance of posts on the (very) tiny audience of followers on the timeline. For folks who are interested in MB at least in part because it’s not identical to other social media, there’s a lot of concern about optimizing views/clicks.

I cross post comfortably other places. I am confident based on analytics my stuff is seen far more other places. People on MB know how it works and choose to be there. That seems fine too.

My own use of an RSS reader means I always see full content of posts even if I don’t click through because of how Reeder and Feedbin work.

I think a lot of this concern I get, but also shows a lack of respect for the people reading. If they choose to follow you on MB it’s because that works for them. Other folks would prefer to follow via RSS. If you cross post maybe there works. One of the best things about is you only have to write things in one place, and then the service makes it super easy for people to read wherever they want.

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I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m not the least bit concerned about optimizing views or clicks nor do I look at analytics. My concern is the reading experience. I really dislike seeing titled posts in the timeline as there’s no additional context. I often just scroll by. I think it would be a far better experience as a reader to see a title, a few sentences from the first paragraph or some other summary and a small thumbnail if an image is included.

I do follow a good number of folks via RSS but I find it’s often a bit of a hassle to comment via an RSS entry.

I’m not understanding your comment about respect for readers. But as a reader I’m suggesting I would likely read more titled posts if a better preview of the post were provided.

It’s fine that the time line is oriented towards shorter status posts but that’s generally not what I’m interested in. I suspect though that my preferences don’t actually fit the timeline very well.


To me, the issues are both as a reader and as a writer.

As a reader, I simply agree with all of this: :point_down:t2:

The thing is, I don’t want to cross-post - at least not to other places within the fediverse. (And I think I only want to bother with ActivityPub, RSS, email, and the website.) Why?

First of all, I just don’t think I should have to. Mastodon and (the microblogging part of) are so similar, that it really shouldn’t be necessary to keep both accounts. (Now if someone else wants to, that’s perfectly fine of course!)

Another reason I want to have only one of these accounts, is that one of the ways to get in touch with people, is through replying and having conversations. These often happen in conjunction with consuming content - and that is why I want that to be a good experience on as well. And if someone then checks my account, I want that to be my account (and that they don’t have to maybe click through from my Mastodon account).

Secondly, as a tiny, amateur writer, I neither want to fragment my (few) followers nor the conversations. Let’s say I write a “proper” blog post, with images, formatting, a title and the lot.

  1. creates the dull timeline post with just the title + link,
  2. I cross-post to my Mastodon account,
  3. and maybe I’ll do what @sod does, and write a separate post with a summary, featured image and link to the blog post on my website.

So now we have three separate timeline posts for one blog post - and the problem, is that the people commenting on the different ones don’t see each others comments. And if I’m lucky enough to get some comments from either Mastodon or people, I want them to be able to converse between each other as well. Also, only the comments from post nr 1 (the least interesting looking one) gets pulled and added to the website - so that could remove the people visiting that way, from parts of the conversation as well.

I simply don’t see why it’s not a better experience for everyone, if there’s one timeline post to one blog post, and that that’s at least like this :point_down:t2: (which is within the current limits of micro posts on

The thing is, though, that not only ruins the posts for followers. They do it for all parts of the fediverse.
This part :point_down:t2: also applies to followers on Mastodon, Firefish or whatever.

So that is one of the reasons why I don’t think this (:point_down:t2:) is fair - I don’t want only users to follow my account. (That’s kinda the point of the Fediverse, no? I at least want to consolidate followers from microblogging services!)

The second reason, is that my main request is that timeline posts connected to blog posts gets the same affordances as regular microblog posts (300 characters, formatting and image support). When making the example above, I was allowed to post this as a micro post with the current display rules - so I wouldn’t call it “disrespectful” that a summary post would look the same way. If so, the post in question is also disrespectful, right?

Now, I also want to increase the 300 character limit a bit.

  • Reading intact lists is much easier than when the items gets put on a line, like in the image above. :point_up_2:t2:
  • And the reader can’t know that an image was removed in the middle of that summary.
  • Also, emphasis can change meaning, and also often makes things easier to read.

So I just don’t see how increasing that limit a bit is disrespectful to readers either.

I have zero plans to monetise my writing - this is just a hobby. I don’t have sponsored posts, or even affiliate links - so I don’t care about the number of clicks or anything. But I still shouldn’t have to feel bad for wanting people to read what I write, and engage in conversations. I mean, then I would just journal instead of having a blog as well, right?


Your first paragraph suggests that you’d be better off reading somewhere that is not the timeline, which is what I do and MB makes that easy and available.

Your second paragraph emphasizes that further, acknowledging you want to optimize for reading content that is not of the type literally in the name of the service.

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Those are the places my posts go. But I add a mastodon account because ActivityPub discovery is very bad. And, for what it’s worth, cross posting to Mastodon generates the closest equivalent to native content there.

I just don’t think not doing open graph on the timeline on is that big a deal. I cross post in addition to AP, because non-stop people ask for all the Mastodon features like boosts and likes on MB, but they’re not a thing that’s coming here. Constantly, I hear people complain that any AP that isn’t a replica for the Mastodon experience means they’re freaked out someone’s like won’t reach them or that there’s some mutual expectation on Mastodon around interactions I don’t get. But in the end, people want to use Mastodon, not be a part of some technical project, so I just give them native posts to read as well.

Anyway, I just wanted to say people will read good content. And I think there’s so many ways to follow my blog and any Micro blog that I’m quite sure the timeline is not something worth worrying so much about.

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I agree - but that is not what I’m asking for[1]. Because that would mean that you were right in saying that my wish only mattered to followers on I’m asking for the timeline posts for “blog posts with a title” to at least have the same features as regular micro posts.

Yes, I agree: If you cross-post to Mastodon, that post will look better. But that’s only because MB has chosen to ruin the MB post - not because of any special Mastodon feature.

And speaking of: I don’t want “a replica of Mastodon”. If I wanted that, I wouldn’t be working on moving from Mastodon to! MB has some fantastic features, that Mastodon isn’t even close to having.

And MB shouldn’t uncritically implement every Mastodon feature “just because.” But it shouldn’t not implement them for the same reason!

If we take “likes” as an example: I’ve argued for implementing a private, unmetered “appreciation” a la Glass (so not like Mastodon). And the fact that that could map neatly to other AP services, is an argument for it - not against it.

Differentiation is important - but the need to be different shouldn’t keep you from implementing good ideas from other services. Now I’ve tried to make concrete arguments for why I think would be (even) better with a few changes. And it’s fair to think that it wouldn’t be better - but I’d rather see arguments for why, than “no, that’s not how we do it around here”. And I’ve yet to see an argument for who gets a better experience from long posts with a title having harsher timeline limits than regular micro posts.

  1. Even though I personally think it should be user configurable - and the same with displaying boosts. (I’m not arguing for being able to give boosts.) Giving people the option to turn those things on, if they want to, would provide something for those who want it, without ruining the clean timeline of those who don’t. ↩︎

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