Stop Doing Threads



  • YEARS of POSTING yet NO REAL-WORLD USE FOUND for a low character limit
  • Wanted a low character limit anyway for a laugh? We had a tool for that: It was called "SMS"
  • "My post got so long that I had to split it into 10 parts. Stay tuned for the 20 part sequel" - Statements dreamed up by the utterly Deranged

LOOK at what Mastodon Users have been demanding your Respect for all this time, with all the Fediverse and protocols WE built for them:
(This is REAL Posting, done by REAL Mastodon Users)

  • Why communism will win, a 🧵 (1/255)
  • Why I should be allowed to index all your posts for profit, a thread (1/X)
  • The rise and fall of Twitter (283/185,781)

"Hello, I would like a 500 character limit please"
They have played us for absolute fools

I agree with this so much.

There are a number of interesting accounts that I keep trying to follow on Mastodon but their use of threads just makes it untenable for me to follow them.

They post these multi-thousand word essays -- essays that I am actually interested in reading -- but rather than posting a svelte 500 character thesis statement with a link to an actual blog post, they split the thing up into 20+ parts, which means that A) I'm reading the god damned thing backwards and B) they completely dominate my timeline to the extent that if I want to scroll back and find something else that I saw earlier in the day, I can't find it, because my timeline is 90% their-single-post by volume.

Fucking knock it off, people. Blogs exist for a reason. Stop being awful.

Previously, previously, previously, previously.

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29 Responses:

  1. anelki says:

    SMDH people not using instances with higher post limits. is 5000. others are higher. there's no hard cap is the software.

    • ailepet says:

      No hard cap indeed, but most of the Mastodon clients assume posts are under some character limit and display them in a large font and a tight box, as if all posts were basically tweets. Sure, longer posts are always preferable to threads, but I still think it's less convenient (especially for archival purposes) than publishing them on a dedicated web page. Or on Cohost/Tumblr/Seenthis/etc. if the network effect is so crucial to the writer.

      Then there's also the thread as a dedicated form, with short sentences and dumb gifs to keep the reader's attention (it sure used to work on me when I was on Twitter and people made fun of the mere idea of having a website), but a that's a whole other debate.

      • George Dorn says:

        It's barely been an issue yet; every now and then some blog-sized post gets boosted into my feed and it's a minor inconvenience.  If it were more common, I'd either request a feature to lj-cut long posts automatically, or implement it myself in a PR.

        It'd be nice to have an actual lj-cut mechanism so writers could suggest a truncation point for clients...

  2. Birdy says:

    Meanwhile, there are instances out there that have massive character limits for posts, and what do they do with all that power? Post the entire script for The Bee Movie, of course.

  3. Michael March says:

    "Threads" are the only thing that Twitter, accidentally, does pretty well at.  

  4. mykd says:

    But what if we allow admins to increase the character limit for their instances to crazy numbers, and we all have to accept these monster posts turning up in our timelines as well. That will help, surely?

  5. Nick Lamb says:

    Almost always threads are the Wrong Thing™. But, I do see places where arguably they help more than hinder.

    Every six weeks Rust ships a new release, these typically have a bunch of features, like Bakery types now have a taste() method which takes BakedGoods. Mara (@m_ou_se)  lists the ones she can find at least something interesting about as a Twitter thread (and these days presumably Mastodon) with one feature per post. So that means the dozens of people who care deeply about Bakery::taste() can be in their own sub-thread arguing about whether Cake is better than Bread without annoying anybody who is most interested in learning more about the new Goose::HONK constant. In a blog reply tree of course you could hope this'll work out, but it rarely does.

  6. Carlos says:

    I have to confess, I do post long threads on Mastodon/Fediverse.  However, I hate backwards-reading and top-posting as much as any rational person, so I do the (common?) thing of posting the summary/intro publicly, then the remaining parts of the story/whatever as unlisted replies to that one message.

    If the summary intrigues you, you click it, and you get the whole thing in proper chronological order.  If you're not interested, the rest of the followups don't show up in your feed so no clutter.  You might still find that annoying, and I'm sorry.  

    Fediverse was the first social network I was willing to try, not being a single walled garden with a commercial gatekeeper.  I neither wanted to run blogging software or work up a static site generator template on my own, and I didn't want to use a commercial WP or other host.

    Perhaps I should have picked a Mastodon host with a high text size limit (some are 20K, apparently), but I didn't.  I could perhaps move my account to such a host in future.


    • Daniel says:

      Except sorry to say it, but unlisted replies still show up to all your followers.

      Cory Doctorow has complained about this. he tried it... it doesn't work the way everyone expects.

      • Carlos says:

        ... Sheeeeeeeeeeit.  Thanks for letting me know.

        I haven't seen his posts about it.  It is an ugly problem.

        Mastodon has other UI/UX problems that make things harder than they need to be; I hope they are addressed as time goes on.

        • there is a "hide boosts by user", but it only works for users you follow
        • there is no way to actually enable this from your list of follow-ees in the preferences; you have to find one of their posts in your home or local timelines, and then it's available from the hamburger menu
        • it isn't really what I want, anyways:  I want to hide boosts, from anyone, of posts from users that I already follow, as I will already have seen those

        There's a bunch of others, this is just the one I ran into this week.


    • George Dorn says:

      The problem with this approach is that people boost the initial post and then the followups are orphans that never make it to my instance, so I cannot see them with my client.  If I'm interested enough, I can go visit the summary post in a browser, assuming your server allows anonymous users to view unlisted posts.  I do not know why, but often this fails.

      In short, your approach works great if you only want to reach people on your server.  Threads propagate very poorly no matter how you create them.

  7. Koleslaw says:

    It's almost as if the "problem" wasn't one singular thing, and they just migrated the other "problems" along with it because fixing just one thing was the hard part.

  8. Krisjohn says:

    It's not the size that needs to be increased, is the rate that needs to be capped.

  9. The rise and fall of Twitter (283/185,781) says:

    SMS character limits sucked as well. And 9/12 key phones? I really don't miss SMS-era textspeak.

    It bothers me A Lot how Mastodon has just got a bunch of jank from being a Twitter Clone, and it never questioned if those features were good and cool. It's just a grab bag of stolen Twitter R&D (which it is good to steal imo) without much thinking of how it fits into a broader whole. I think Mastodon would actually be better if it aimed more a bit more Tumblr with its functionality.

  10. Rob Funk says:

    Backwards? Am I the only one who reads both Mastodon and Twitter from oldest to newest?

    That would explain the one person I follow who reposts people's threads backwards.

  11. Nikolai says:

    Wanted a low character limit anyway for a laugh? We had a tool for that: It was called "SMS"

    I wonder how many people remember that Twitter's character limit was based on SMS (140 characters + user handle = 160 characters) and it used to be possible to both tweet and receive tweets via SMS on your dumbphone. In fact, that was one of the reasons I joined -- so that I could follow some sports while on the train, long before I had any kind of mobile Web connectivity.

  12. derpatron9000 says:

    Fucking knock it off, people. Blogs exist for a reason. Stop being awful.

    Fucking clown world. I hate that this is a thing.

  13. Nate says:

    Years ago I thought Twitter would be sort of like one-to-many ICQ… I follow interesting people and they send me links to interesting things elsewhere, maybe even things they themselves have produced. A 20 post Twitter thread is like a black fax loop attack: it’s amusing exactly once.

  14. Is this a Cory Doctorow subtweet? Because this is exactly my experience of following him—I’m generally interested in what he has to say, but his threads drown out everything else in my Mastodon feed.

    • jwz says:

      It is not. He's actually doing it in a moderately sensible way, in that the thousand-word essays he posts have their primary form on his web site. The threads he posts are subsidiary to that. Which means that I can't tolerate following his account on social media -- but that's fine, because I can read the RSS instead.

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