Tag Archives: social networking

How I Use(d) Google+

With yesterday’s news that Google+ is shutting down next August, I found myself looking again at my exported archive from the network. This time I was less interested in the format (which has changed since January – you can export as JSON instead of HTML if you choose, and it includes media now), and more interested in what I had posted there over the years.

Early on I used Google+ a lot like Twitter: short statuses and link sharing, most of them short enough they could have been cross-posts.

After that early period I still mostly posted short items, but not as short. More like Facebook, really. I checked a few and found some tailored cross-posts, where I’d cram something into 140 characters for Twitter, then restore the missing words and abbreviations for Google+.

I tried using it as a blog. I did a few longer text posts and some photos, and a handful of galleries: A partial solar eclipse, Endeavour’s stop on the way to the museum. I contributed to a shared photo gallery from SDCC, and I’d share the occasional post from someone I followed.

Somewhere in there I’d figured out what felt like Google+ instead of what felt like Twitter or Facebook.

But most of my friends went back to Facebook, and the few people and sites I was still following on Google+ were also available elsewhere. So I stopped visiting, and I stopped posting.

From around 2015 on, it’s mostly auto-posts from my blog and the occasional picture that Google Photos’ auto-stylize feature actually made look interesting.

Ironically, I got my first +1 in ages on yesterday’s here’s-where-you-can-find-me post!

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.

LOLSpam Returns as a Super-Simple Mastodon Bot

Back when I was comparing social media archives, I considered resurrecting my old LOLspam project as a Mastodon bot. I never quite got around to it, partly because I was able to do most of what I wanted to automate using IFTTT, so I stopped investigating that last 5%.

Last night, I threw together a quick and dirty bot to post a random item from a text file in about 20 minutes.

Then I spent three hours going through the Twitter archive for @LOL_Spam, pulling out jokes that are too dated or cringeworthy. (I hope I didn’t miss any. It was midnight by the time I finished, and I was really tired!)

This morning I modified the script to take a second file as a queue for new items.

  • I can add new items to the queue file as I find them.
  • It’ll post from the queue on a schedule (using cron).
  • When it uses up the queue, it returns to posting random posts from the archive.

If you’re interested in funny/odd spam subjects (and you’re OK with swearing and occasional lewdness), check out @LOLspam@BotsIn.Space. You can follow from any Mastodon or other Fediverse account.

The script itself is called fedbotrandom. I wrote it in Perl, using text files, so I could just put it in cron on any *nix box instead of worrying about language/database support or installing a runtime or DB engine. I’ve made it really simple on purpose, and while I do plan on writing some better error handling when I have time, It’s already more complex than I wanted it to be!

You can find me on Mastodon at @KelsonV@Wandering.shop.

How Mastodon is Different from Twitter

Not thrilled with Twitter lately? Mastodon is a good alternative social network that’s not controlled by one monolithic ad company.

It works a lot like Twitter, but with some key differences:

  • Posts are 500 characters
  • Mix public and private posts from the same account
  • Spoiler warnings!
  • Chronological timelines! You see posts in the order they arrive, not the order that some algorithm thinks will make you angry enough to “engage” more.
  • No ads!
  • Less data mining!
  • Human moderators!
  • Each server is its own community within the larger “Fediverse,” and they can all interact with each other.

Wait, what’s that last one again? Mastodon is not a centralized service, but software run by many different people and organizations. You can join a server (or “instance”) that suits you (or start your own!), and you can still interact with people on other instances because the servers talk to each other to make a larger combined service (“federation”). Think of it like choosing an email provider: You can still send to people on other providers, get replies, etc. Mastodon uses a standard called ActivityPub for this, which means it can interact with other software that uses that standard as well.

Join Mastodon gives you a quick run-down, and helps you choose an instance (don’t worry, you can always move later on). Some helpful guides (hat tip to @Canageek@cybre.space) include:

You can find me at @KelsonV@Wandering.Shop for general discussion, @KelsonReads@BookToot.club for books, and @KelsonV@Photog.Social for photography.

Oh yeah, there’s also this short video:

Mixed Feelings: Facebook Has Shut Down (Some) Auto-Posting

I have mixed feelings on Facebook closing down automated posts to personal* profiles. It might cut down on spam, and it will lead to better descriptions on link posts, but it also locks you further into their silo.

You can still write elsewhere and link back to it on Facebook, but you can’t use WordPress Publicize or IFTTT to post it, or Buffer to schedule it. You have to do it manually, which adds more friction, and you can’t time-shift it. I used to spread out look-at-this-cool-link posts using Buffer, and queue them up from Pocket while offline, but I can’t do that anymore.

If you want your Facebook audience to see your words or photos, it nudges you to maybe just post on Facebook to begin with (never mind that you want its main home to be somewhere you have more control). And it’s another way for them to get you back onto the site so they can try to keep you there for another 15 minutes, see some more ads, and generate more value content for Facebook.

Then again, I can’t help looking at it in terms of the debate over cross-posting from Twitter to Mastodon. There’s an argument that if you’re not actually on the platform, you’re not contributing to it. And while that debate tends to focus on auto-posts from a specific mismatched (and hostile) community, I think it’s fair to consider the broader context that if you’re not at least following up, you’re not really participating. (I’m especially guilty of that with my cross-posts to Tumblr.)

Though I suppose it matters more to a smaller community like the Fediverse than to something as massive as Facebook.

*Pages and groups can still accept automatic posts through the API, but those supposedly represent a business, or an organization, or a public persona rather than a “real” person.

Expanded from a Mastodon post on Wandering.Shop.