Link previews or ads

Sometimes people ask for link preview cards in the timeline. Maybe eventually we’ll add them, controlled with a preference. But so often they are in your face, cluttering the timeline, overshadowing perfectly good content. Here’s yesterday’s post on my blog, displayed as intended:

Screenshot of my blog post about stopping to buy some shoes.

There’s a subtle link on the text “a brand” because I thought people might be curious about the shoes. But that wasn’t the point of the post. I almost didn’t include the link at all.

And now here’s how the same post looks on Mastodon:

Screenshot of Mastodon with a giant link preview image for Lems shoes that is bigger than my actual text post.

What the…? Did I write a short post about serendipity, or did I post an ad for a shoe company?

(Now there is a secondary issue, especially on mobile, where inline links can be confusing or even abused with spam links. There are other ways to solve that.)

So much of social media feels like a show, where everyone is outraged or promoting their own content, the timeline itself just a collection of billboards along the highway, one after another getting your attention. I don’t want that experience. Not having ads is a strength we should lean into.

Manton Reece @manton