Tag Archives: blogging

Cross-Posting and the Fediverse

Over the last few months I’ve been cross-posting a lot less between Mastodon and Twitter.

When I first started on Mastodon last fall, I’d sometimes post to both networks. I’d reformat things slightly if I needed to fit a pair of 280-character tweets and a single 500-character toot. (I’ve long thought that if something takes more than two posts to say on a platform, that’s not the right platform for it.) I’d often linkblog to Twitter, Mastodon and Facebook all at once.

But as I’ve shifted more toward Mastodon being my main social network, and Twitter being where I go in a private window to see what people are saying about politics, retweet a few items, and then leave, I’ve been posting completely different things to each site. These days, cross-posts between the two are almost non-existent.

So What am I Still Cross-Posting?

  • Photos across Instagram, Pixelfed and Mastodon, depending on the type of photo.
  • Occasional photos or text posts to my blog, if I decide they’re significant enough to keep findable or if they fit with a recurring topic.

Plus I’m automatically pushing links to Twitter (and sometimes Tumblr) from:

  • Flickr albums.
  • Blog posts.
  • Instagram photos.
  • Randomly-chosen “flashbacks” from my blog a couple of times a week.

I realized: When I’m not using it actively, Twitter has basically become a dumping ground for me to link to what I do elsewhere on the net.

I don’t think that would fly in the Fediverse. At least not on Mastodon. Maybe if the auto-posts were all unlisted, or on a secondary account.

ActivityPub: Boosting Instead

As the Fediverse grows to encompass more types of networks, we’ll be able to boost instead of cross-posting. Right now I can post this article on a Plume instance and boost it to Mastodon, bringing it into the world of short status updates. In the very near future, I’ll be able to do the same with a photo on Pixelfed. (I sort of can now, but replies and follows don’t work yet.)

Both networks can interact directly with the original post. It’s not an isolated duplicate. And while it’ll display as a link on Mastodon, the network will funnel actions back to Plume. Someone who sees it on Mastodon can reply there, and the conversation will appear both on their Mastodon timeline and the comment thread on the originalpost. And I think that’s awesome.

Originally posted on Fediverse.Blog., and cross-posted the old-fashioned way. You can follow my main Mastodon account,@KelsonV@Wandering.Shop.

Long-Form Twitter: WHY OH WHY?

Twitter is suited for short statements and back-and-forth conversation.

It’s terrible for anything long-form.

Long Twitter threads* and images filled with text remind me of the old tech support days when users would paste screen shots of error messages into Microsoft Word documents and email me the document. It was a terrible tool for the job, but it was the one they knew.

Once you get past two or three tweets (doesn’t matter whether they’re 140 characters or 280, it’s the structure that matters), your ideas will hang together better and be better understood if you write an actual article somewhere. Sadly, Twitter has trained people to stay in Twitter instead of going outside to read the %#$ article**, because you won’t be able to get back to where you were in your timeline, and besides, that’s just too long to read right now.

And that would require you to have, like a blog or something, and what sort of weirdo has one of those? 🙄

So people use what they know, and we get screenshots of long paragraphs that are awful for accessibility. And we get 40-tweet threads that people only see fragments of and take bits out of context. And they’ll reply to tweet #5 complaining about something that’s addressed in tweet #12, but they didn’t see it, because that was hidden behind the “read more” link, and how long does this thread go, anyway? (Scroll bars solved this problem decades ago.) And we get links to articles that people don’t read, but they reply to them anyway — or rather they reply to what they assume was in them.

Which I suppose is what we had in the old days, I mean “nobody reads the articles” was a joke on Slashdot 20 years ago. But it’s still frustrating.

Update: I realized I don’t see this so much on Mastodon. I wonder if that’s one of the ways the culture is different, or if I just happen to not be following anyone who writes/boosts long threads on a regular basis, or if 500-character posts give people enough room to breathe that they don’t feel like they’re already writing a long chain, so why worry about keeping the number of posts down, what’s the difference between 10 tweets and 15?

*To clarify, I’m talking about long threads that are effectively one piece of writing, not a series of “oh, and another thing” follow-ups, live-tweeting as things come up, actual conversations, etc.

**This part is true of Facebook as well.

On Backdating Blog Posts

Most social networks don’t give you the ability to backdate your posts. That’s good, because it provides a trail that you can point to, saying “Yes, I did in fact post this before it became common knowledge/was plagiarized/etc.” But other publishing platforms do. It’s helpful for things like transferring an archive from another site — though it seems a little weird (and vaguely dishonest) to backdate a new post.

That said, I do backdate posts on this blog from time to time, generally when:

  • The post is imported from another site (Instagram, LiveJournal, a comment somewhere, a Twitter thread, etc.), and I keep the original posting date. Basically it’s a smaller scale version of transferring an archive. Sometimes I’ll make a note, sometimes I won’t. But the post was already online somewhere on that date, even if it wasn’t here.
  • I’m splitting an old post into two or more smaller posts, in which case I’ll usually keep the date but adjust one of the times.
  • I’ve got an old draft that I never got around to posting, it’s no longer relevant today, but I’d like to make it available in its original context. In that case I’ll add a note that it was backdated.

There’s also the accidental backdating that sometimes happens when I create a draft in the mobile app and it decides to keep the upload date as the posting date. I try to fix these as soon as I notice. But that’s not really the same thing!

Link Sharing and Source Trails

I read a lot of articles in one of two ways:

  1. Open a bunch of tabs and then read them one at a time
  2. Save a bunch of interesting-looking stories to Pocket and then read them one at a time

So by the time I’ve decided to share a link to the story on Facebook Twitter, Mastodon, etc., I’ve often forgotten where I saw it to begin with.

If it’s a site I follow regularly, or I found it through a search, or if it was recommended by Pocket, no big deal, but if someone else shared the link and I saw it, I feel like I ought to give a little credit.

Now, the share/retweet buttons do automate this trail…but only if you do it immediately on Facebook or Twitter, because they have a nasty tendency to update your timeline when you come back, making it difficult to find the post you clicked on.

(It took me 30 minutes to find this tweet, since I couldn’t remember who had written it, only who on my list had retweeted it.)

This encourages you to share articles before you read them, no doubt contributing to the problem of people sharing stuff that turns out to be total BS, sending it halfway around the world before the truth can get its proverbial pants on.

I’m not sure how much people care about the trail these days. Citing the original source? absolutely. Posting someone else’s idea as yours? Hell yeah, just search for “stolen tweets.”

But the intermediary? Whether you follow the person you retweeted, or you follow someone who follows someone who follows someone who retweeted them, it looks the same to the rest of the world. Back when reposts and linkblogging were done manually, it was a BIG DEAL. I remember people getting upset that big-name bloggers would share links to things that smaller bloggers had already shared without crediting them. (Admittedly, I don’t remember whether it was a common complaint or just a few people.)

On the other hand, if you’re studying the spread of ideas, opinions, information or misinformation, it’s invaluable. And if you’re trying to hide a propaganda operation, you might want to disguise the trail…

But social media users do care about share counts and like counts. Original posters want the validation. Viewers see high counts as social proof that other people find the post valuable. And the platforms themselves use it as a signal to prioritize display in the newsfeed algorithm du jour. So there’s a strong incentive to get people (or bots) to use those share, reblog, retweet buttons.

So when it comes down to it, the normal use case preserves that link trail (even if you only see the oldest and newest links in that chain)…and I’m just an outlier when it comes to the way I use social media.

Deciding Where to Post Online

Things I think about when choosing where to post something original, once I’ve decided to post it.

  1. Audience. Who’s going to be interested in this? Family? Friends? Fans or hobbyists or people in my industry or some other shared-interest group? People looking for troubleshooting help? Do I just want to say something for the record?
  2. Permissions. Who do I want to allow to see this? Am I OK with it being seen by the general public, or do I want to lock it down to specific people?
  3. Type of Media. Long article, short comment, photo, video, link to something interesting? Not much point in linkblogging here these days, while Twitter and Facebook are better suited. A long post is easier to compose and easier to read as an article than as a Twitter thread (though Tweetstorms do have their place). Photos are more likely to be seen on a dedicated photo site than here, but if there’s a story to it, a blog post might work better.
  4. Polish. I’ll sometimes post something off-the-cuff on Twitter or Facebook, then refine or expand it later. Or I’ll post a photo on Instagram in the moment, then when I have time, do a cleaner edit or album on Flickr, or write a story around it here.
  5. Connections. Is it related to something else I’ve already posted? This is why I keep posting funny signs, examples of holiday creep, and convention reports here.
  6. Permanence. Do I want to be able to find it again easily? If so, I’ll probably go with a blog or Flickr (yes, Flickr), because searching for stuff on Twitter or Instagram or even Facebook is such a pain.

So yeah, that’s why I still post some things here, why I only post other things on Twitter, why I post different things to Flickr and Instagram, why I sometimes cross-post, re-post, and re-edit. Am I overthinking it? Maybe, but it’s not like I go through a full checklist every time – this is less a recipe and more trying to write down what I’ve been doing anyway.