If you're trying to find people interested in a particular topic, the federation poses a problem: searching hashtags only works on the toots on your instance's database, so you'll only find some if others on you instance are already following them. The smaller your instance, the more difficult it is. One solution to this are group accounts. If you mention them, they boost your message so that all who follow them get a copy, and those boosts are federated. More here:

Lists only allow you to group accounts. If you put family members in a list, you can look at the toots in the list and you’d find all the stuff your family is doing. But you can’t put Emacs, D&D or Photography in a list. You can only put accounts in a list, not topics. Lists are only useful if accounts have something in common: a property of the authors, not their toots: family, friends, work, shitposters, interesting people, jokers, hipsters, Germans, Americans... Lists are not for topics.

One thing that tripped me up when I joined Mastodon was this: Let's say you ask a question and both I and another friend of yours follow your account. We are all on different instances. Your question gets sent to both of our instances (yay federation). I reply to the question, and it gets sent back to your instance, but not to your friend. Your friend doesn't follow my account, so they don't get sent my reply. That's why they might end up posting the exact same reply. 1/2

If you're concerned about this, like I am, the solution is to click on those tiny timestamps at the top right. 2/2

@kensanata I'd like to see some sort of "groups", yes, managed, moderated, but people join based on topic and then can chat to the group and see chats in the group. I know it is not what Mastodon is right now, but it could greatly increase its appeal.

@revk I know other people have been working on different implementations and my blog post links to at least two other implementations in the comments. I like the fact that these options exist. This is why I still have hope for groups! 😃

@kensanata I find lists work best for:

  • Very specific groups of people (e.g., friends, maybe work or organisation). Keep in mind that you cannot post to a list, only read from it, and what you read is classified by the author not topic.

  • General classification by interest. I keep about 3--4 prioritised lists, with a tightly-curated set of high-quality (IMO) profiles, then increasingly more voluable / distracting. Usually the first 1--2 are what I pin. I rarely follow Home, Local, or Federated streams.

  • A couple of classifications such as News Bots and Admins. Again, keep in mind that the admin who writes generally to their admin account won't just be posting Admin-related content.

Group / topical-based discussion remains challenging. and hashtags seem to be about the best there is (and neither are especially nuanced).

I agree that both lists (like, maybe I have a bunch of people I wanna check out more rarely) and groups are useful. As @kensanata knows, and maybe you've seen this, too, @dredmorbius, lemmy is sort of like guppe but with an ui and moderation (and also does not work particularly well from Mastodon or Mangare yet).

@kensanata I also tend to boost the best answer, stackoverflow-style.

@kensanata i wish there was a feature to amend a toot for saying basically ”no answers necessary any more”, because now if you delete and redraft you lose the thread.

@xarvos @kensanata has it? i've only seen delete & redraft, but then, i've also seen some speculation about edit function coming. i don't know, i can only wait and see if it's implemented at some point.

@Stoori @kensanata it’s already implemented, but maybe not yet released

@Stoori @xarvos @kensanata From Since older Mastodon versions would not understand the edits, the function is disabled in the web app until more Mastodon servers upgrade to 3.5, but all parts are already included in the release. The original and previous versions of the posts are saved and remain accessible through a history view. And people who have previously shared the post get notified about any edits, so they can un-share if there’s foul play.

@Stoori Sometimes, when you're desperate, simply deleting the original toot might actually be a good idea. 🤔

@kensanata that, too.

though when i'm asking help for a specific question, i usually want to keep the question visible even after i've got helpful answers, because you never know when someone else needs to find the same info.

perhaps this isn't so important as i think, because the discoverability of past toots is not so good after all. :D

@Stoori Haha, yes. It's a tragedy. And then there are people like me who delete their older toots anyway… Better write a blog post somewhere and post that link from time to time. 😃

@kensanata I find clicking on the timestamp to reach the original toot counter-intuitive.

But I guess it's the same on Twitter so it does not bother newcomers that much?

I'd rather have a clear "permalink" button.

@kensanata This really seems like a workaround and I think, a people-centric platform like Mastodon is just not the right place for that kind of discussion. IMHO, community-centric platforms like Lemmy are much better for that. But TBF, you won't find enough people over there for every topic.

@qoheniac I disagree and have been using the Plants group and the Hob group for bread posting for a while now.

@kensanata i prefer to setup relays 😏 that way i can have access to other servers toots without actually having to follow anyone in there

@kensanata true... but maybe talk with the admin of the instance and explain the benefits of it 😉

@r3pek @kensanata What is a relay? Is it invasive or rude to set up a relay without consulting the site admin. For example, I have a single user instance but would like visibility and search capability of a larger instance say,

@andyc you can't push into the servers, but you can configure your server to push everything into the relay, and the relay will push everything it knows about to your server @kensanata

@r3pek @kensanata Now it is slowly beginning to dawn on me why I have just 4 followers (2 of which are me) :-)
@r3pek @kensanata sorry to labour the point but what if 257 Mastodon sites push into this relay, will my little site be then bombarded with the entire content of all 257 sites?

@andyc yep. But you can block domains that don't interest you (as admin). That way you'll filter a lot on the origin and won't put much stress on the server @kensanata

@kensanata Interesting! Have people made games related group accounts?

@e_eric I'm not sure about the number of followers the various groups have. If you just look at you can see a few of them. Strangely enough, many of them seem to be German. 😆

@kensanata Wahnsinn! (And no, I will not check the spelling of this half remembered word from my high school days)
(Okay, I did.)
(And I've added the second n back.)

@kensanata guppe is a neat hack but i really would like to see it "built in" and not tied to a domain that could go down for months like did late last year before coming back with the AP actors on a subdomain which ... my account was not following. hard to trust.

i use tags too/primarily and assume im missing people who arent in a close orbit, but cybre has a pretty busy federated timeline so it's fine enough

@rrix Sure. At the same time, I'm happy that multiple solutions exist. In the comments of my blog post you'll see some (like the hob bot, or qoto groups).

@rrix The controversy (such as it is) between and hashtags on Fedi is a recapitulation of the debate between Unix and Multics, which only superficially died decades ago.


@kensanata Hmm. If I search for some hashtag I do find toots from people outside of my instance. I'm not sure if these are then only from people which federate with my instance, though. Is this what you mean?

@schaueho Yes, exactly. Somebody on your instance caused them to be "imported" into the local database. This mostly the same as all the toots that came through the federated timeline, but also the "import using URL" feature, and maybe some other activities that I don't know about.

@kensanata Thanks for this and the blog post. This explains why search on my single user instance is almost useless.

@andyc Yeah, exactly. Small instances are extremely different.

@kensanata Hmm. If I search for 'emacs', I see content from instances I have never heard of by people I don't follow. However when I examine the post it's actually part of a thread with someone I do follow.

Going off relays. I think periodic searching and following people of interest might be a better option for me.
@kensanata or supplemented by ' emacs' perhaps.

A relay seens like mindlessly sucking all content regardless, invasive to the host instance (most need approval), slightly antisocial and may bloat my previous database with irrelevant rubbish.

Come to think of it, didn't have an implementation of groups way back in 2009? How was this implemented? IIRC it seemed to work OK.
@kensanata plus supported consuming your stream over XMPP including real-time keyword alerts. Those guys (Evan, Dustin and team) were brilliant
@kensanata Maybe I'm over thinking this. My original requirement (once I'd realised the limitations of a single user instance) was to widen the scope of my 'emacs' tag search to Fosstodon [other tech savvy instances are available].

While not ideal or integrated, a Google search for


...may help identify like minded folk I might want to follow (or not).

@andyc You're not overthinking it, I think. This is a great way to discover new people.

@kensanata Sorry/not sorry: By searching for @tea I seem to have *created* it.

As Larry Wall never quite said, there's more than one way to autovivify!

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