Tag Archives: hashtags

Discover books update, day 2

I love how the Micro.blog community is using the new emoji topics that I wrote about yesterday. We started with books because many people were already sharing what they were reading or wanted to read in 2018. This is working out so well that I definitely want to improve and expand upon it.

Some people have asked for more topics, and several already work: music, basketball, football, and tv. I’m thinking that some of these will pop up in the Discover section when they are actively being used, or when there’s a special event. For example, during the Super Bowl you’d see 🏈 to click on.

On Micro.blog there were some good discussions around this feature. Chris Aldrich said he was already using different book-related emoji, and Ben Norris wondered about supporting those too:

I love this! I thought I was ironic that you started it almost right after I went through and posted the books I read this last couple years on my microblog. I used πŸ“– instead of πŸ“š though.

I decided to add the open book and bookmark to the books topic, so they all map to the same place, but stopped short of adding all the other single-book emoji because I thought they might be confused with notebooks. After a few more days it may be more obvious how we should treat this.

Belle Cooper also had a good question about whether this is really much better than hashtags:

This is a cool idea, but I’m not sure I get how it can’t be gamed compared to hashtags. Or is that not the point of using emojis instead?

My answer is that they can be gamed, but the limited number of emoji means we can have a better sense of what people are writing about. It’s just simpler. Also, the backend implementation is not a search; it’s a live collection of posts that is updated whenever Micro.blog sees something new, and there’s a mechanism to easily exclude any inappropriate posts that show up without needing to block users or delete posts.

The Micro.blog community has grown a lot in the last couple of weeks. Every new feature has the potential to change how people interact with the platform, and I think this experiment with books has been almost completely for the better. I don’t think every post needs emoji β€”Β most microblogs will continue to be mostly text and some photos β€”Β but sprinkling in an emoji every once in a while will start to add value to the Discover section, and it also keeps Micro.blog fun.

Books on Micro.blog

Micro.blog doesn’t have special support for hashtags. It doesn’t automatically link them. There’s no global search yet. While Micro.blog users can include hashtags anyway, especially if they are cross-posting to Twitter, I’ve found that the timeline is much cleaner and readable without hashtags.

I’m not saying we’ll never have hashtags. But I’m not in a particular hurry to introduce native support for them. (Once a feature is added, it can’t easily be taken back. So we try to be deliberate in everything we do.)

Hashtags and Twitter trends go together. They can be a powerful way to organize people and topics together across followers. But they can also be gamed, with troublemakers using popular hashtags to hijack your search results for their own promotion or unrelated ranting.

It’s the organizational and discovery aspect of hashtags that I most want to bring to Micro.blog. There have been several recent discussions on Micro.blog about book clubs and reading, and this seems like a perfect topic to experiment with. I’ve also noticed that people love to include an emoji in their microblog post as a kind of theme indicator β€” everything from πŸ“š to πŸ€.

Today we’re introducing a search collection using emoji, starting with books. Just include πŸ“š with your microblog text about a book you’re reading or related topic, and your post will automatically be collected on /discover/books. There’s also an emoji link at the top of the Discover section in the iOS and Mac apps. (Make sure you’re on the latest version of the apps released yesterday.)

If people like this, we’ll generalize it and start surfacing other topics. Enjoy, and happy reading!