I want to talk about algorithms on social media. Specifically about how mastodon and the Fediverse often write on their presentation page or feature list about how they "don't have algorithms" because they display posts in chronological order.

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Obviously, I think we can all agree that using chronological order *is* an algorithm, but my point is not to be pedantic but to ask everyone how we feel about this choice of algorithm, of displaying all posts in chronological order.

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Every algorithm has flaws. The chronological order also have flaws. If someone posts infrequently, their posts will be flooded on my timeline by people who post very frequently. And so, as a user, if I don't look at mastodon very often, I will miss a lot of posts from the rare poster and see of lot of posts from the frequent poster.

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The algorithm of chronological order, which we say in impartial when comparing to the Facebook feed algorithm, is not so impartial. It favours user who post very frequently. It gives them more voice. The one who shout the loudest or the most often is the one who is most heard.

So I'd like to propose alternatives that I feel could be more fair for everybody.

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Proposition #1: A feed which groups posts from the same user. When I open my main timeline, I would see 1 entry per user, maybe their most recent post, with a button to expend the block and see their previous posts. Kinda like opening their profile page. Ideally the system would have a way to know which posts I already saw in a previous visit and would hide those behind another fold. This way, if someone post a lot of message, they don't flood my timeline.

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I'm sure you had this experience already, of trying to follow a cool person or bot, but it floods your timeline because it posts too frequently, so you're forced to unfollow it. As for the user who post very rarely, I would have a much higher chance of seeing their messages. Every user would be able to choose which algorithm they prefer: chronological or grouped. Ideally, this would be a simple toggle switch at the top of their timeline.

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Proposition #2: The next logical step but quite more ambitions: A set of tools that are easy enough to use so that every end user of Mastodon and the Fediverse is capable to customize their timeline. Basically, a set of tools to "make your own algorithm!" Maybe have a priority list to "show posts from these users first".

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Maybe, combine that with my first proposal. Maybe you want to customize how many post per user you see: instead of 1, you say 3. I don't have all the details for this but I would be welcome to brainstorm with you if you're interested.

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These are my proposals. Now, I want to hear what you think!

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And then, if we find the idea to be popular, I would like to know what would be necessary to make it happen. I'm not a programmer so I have no clue, but maybe you know? Who do we need to talk to? Every front-end and client developer? Or is that more on the Mastodon/ActivityPub API side?

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I understand why chronological order is the most popular option for social media. It's easy to implement and generates a sense of urgency. "Come back often, because you could be missing out!!!"

But I would like Mastodon and the Fediverse to be better than that. To be the more humane version. One that understands that we have other things to do than be glued to our screens.

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Update: Having now read your answers, I now understand better. It seems to be something that needs to be done by the creators of Mastodon and Pleroma and others on the database/server/API side.

I'm not sure who to contact. Who are the people making those?

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