2021-04-30 Trunk: Dropping Lists

I wrote the software that runs Trunk, a kind of directory for the fediverse. There are lists (topics), suggested by people, then people volunteer to be on the lists because they say they’ll write about the topic, and fediverse newcomers interested in the various topics can look at the lists and they’ll find some people to follow. It’s good to get started, even if it isn’t ideal. There are other options, of course: Mastodon instances also recommend users to newcomers, admins can add accounts to the list that all newcomers follow when they join, users can use groups hosted externally (accounts that boost all the messages that mention them). Still, Trunk is a small effort trying to improve the situation.

When people approach one of the Trunk admins and suggest a new list, we usually ask them to help us find a bunch of people that will join them on the list. We don’t want there to be single-person lists, for example. The number we ask for is often three other accounts, so four in total. Five is better. But as we all know, life happens, interests change, and the admins sometimes go through the lists and try to remove inactive accounts and all that. So lists can shrink, too, and eventually we end up with the situation we wanted to avoid: empty lists, single-person lists, lists that are too small.

What to do?

Recently some admins asked me to look into helping to automate the task of possibly removing lists that don’t have enough people on them. I’d like to describe what I have in mind so that people can provide feedback. Perhaps there’s something I’m not seeing and putting the idea out there before writing code seems like the right idea.

We already put the empty lists at the bottom of the front page. I’m proposing we do the following instead:

The result would be that there are less lists visible on the front page, and of the lists that are shown have a least five members.

Tools that use the API no longer see the lists with less than five members.

Existing members of these lists can still try and find people to join them in order to get the list back to the front page.

When volunteering for lists, nothing changes: lists with less than five members are still shown, so that particular page remains as crowded as ever.

What do you think? If you have feedback, tag @trunk on the fediverse and we’ll see it. 😁



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