2018-08-12 Trunk for Mastodon

So the last two days I’ve been working on Trunk. Trunk allows you to mass-follow a bunch of people in order to get started with Mastodon. Mastodon is a free, open-source, decentralised micro-blogging network.

I’m imagining something like Google+ Circle sharing. Remember that? If you had a good bunch of people you wanted to share, you did, and others could subscribe to all of them in one go. At first I thought Mastodon Lists could serve the same purpose. But then people told me that public lists can be a means to harass people: put victims on the same list as know idiots, put victims on lists with an insulting name, point followers at a list and invite them to tell victims off, etc. But I still want a list of cool people to recommend for newbies to instantly follow. So now I’m trying to find a compromise. Trunk is a web app based on a public, curated list for all to see and maintain. Does better accountability solve the problem? I hope so!

  1. people need to volunteer for the list, I don’t want to put anybody on a list without their consent
  2. as a person, I’m going to try and make sure we don’t have any spammers, idiots, or sinister figures on the list
  3. I also want these to be quality lists, so I’ll check the timelines of suggested accounts to make sure that (at least at the time I added them) they actually posted on topic

I know this “tagging” of accounts is weird. I personally also don’t like too many accounts that just post about one topic. But when I was new, things were different. I had some topics I knew I was interested in: role-playing games, Emacs, pictures. I would have loved to find a way to quickly follow a few dozen accounts and fill my timeline with stuff I cared about.

Also, the list management interface for the Mastodon web client is atrocious. Perhaps I’ll turn Trunk into a kick-ass list-management tool for Mastodon. 🙂

I’ll be collection ideas on the Software Wiki.

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Ugh, about two days if implementing this stuff – famously the first 80% are done in 20% of the time, of course – and then another two days of basically updating lists, manually. This is time not well spent. If only there was a way to automate this!

Perhaps a kind of bot with a conversational interface? “hey bot, please sign me up to Javascript and Lisp!” and it would do just that? But surely spammers would then abuse the system. So we’d need a review system? A rollback and ban mechanism? In the end it would mean using a wiki backend, perhaps? Or version control?

I like ephemeral data, of course, so a wiki that kept forgetting old revisions but kept some around, just in case, that might make sense.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-08-14 14:55 UTC


Well, I added the ability to add more lists and to add people to lists via an admin interface and two people volunteered to do this! Yay! Thanks! And now I’m off to a break.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-08-15 13:50 UTC


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