actually, i'd love to hear about this. folks who used "web 1.0" forums, based on stuff like phpBB, extensively, and now use Mastodon, Twitter, and the like:

what does microblogging give you that forums didn't?

my personal answer is that (mastodon especially) lets me more easily define a circle of friends who can see certain posts, and update them about my life - but even that's a hack on top of multiple accounts!

i think I really just want g+. :(

part of what I'm hearing is that people want to be able to consume forum-like communities in a centralized place with consistent markup for posting.

sounds like a well-defined C2S "forum protocol" would help a lot...

@tindall Reach, casual accessibility via smartphone, and (in particular) limits to the length of posts. Oh, and better filtering overall

@tindall A forum is one community, usually - even Usenet was more like a platform for distinct communities. Twitter was (and is) much larger and with fewer community boundaries, which made it easier to explore and make connections - until the constant pressure for “engagement” started to encourage harassment and context collapse, anyway

@tindall …or to put it another way, forums feel like small bounded communities. Twitter at its best felt like a single large geographical area you could move around and form communities within?

@ghost_bird @tindall

I just posted elsewhere that "Community" should be a native concept of the fediverse, imho.

I call it a "Community has no Boundary" paradigm, where you have Groups and (meaningful) Relationships to its participants and other Groups.

Mostly when people talk about Group support in apps it is still this very limited thing, and on fedi the server instance technical boundary is loosely used to mark a community. Guess your timeline implicitly is another one. shorter threads - that usually stay on the topic rather than drifting over time - are easier for my brain to parse

@tindall honestly... mobile versions. forums just stopped being developed and then that was that

@clarfonthey yeah, this is something i definitely agree with. for all it's faults, discourse has done a pretty good job with this, and i feel confident it would be pretty easy to do for most kinds of forum software!

@tindall honestly discourse really isn't a valid substitute for forum software since it really didn't match any of the original vibes it had going for it. it's a flat set of threads; it's a replacement for ticketing systems, really, not a forum

@clarfonthey Lines, the primary Discourse site I use, is not a flat set of threads; it's heavily categorized, plus it has tags within those categories. Perhaps they've modified the software, but this isn't my experience of it.

@tindall last I checked, the categories were treated more like tags and filters than categories, but I might be wrong

@clarfonthey in Discourse a thread can only be in one category, though they can have multiple tags; I don't think that behaviour can even be changed.

Maybe part of the problem is that it defaults to "latest" instead of "categories" view. e.g. looks like a "flat set of threads", but shows better that discussions are all in separate subforums

@tindall Less siloing, more usable mobile Interfaces, there's actually people rather than mostly ghost towns. Obviously two of those three are definitely solveable problems!

@keithzg Heh, which two are you referring to? I think siloing/ghost towns are reflections of the same problem (and maybe can be solved with federation?)

@tindall Hmm you're probably right there, or at least they're related! But I think there's a degree to which the siloing of classic forum setups can be very much a *good* thing; communities can be more tightly aimed and self-policed, for example. Ideally I'd like to be on nice active forums with tightknit communities and focused *and* on more porous, free-flowing social media a la the Fediverse or Twitter.

@keithzg yeah, i completely agree. Lines, a Discourse forum focused on electronic music and Monome gear, is one of my favorite online spaces, precisely because of that focus.

@keithzg @tindall every forum i've been on was made originally for a specific video game or a particular group of friends (with some other people joining later who eventually become members of that circle of friends), so i never thought the siloing was even possibly considered a drawback until i saw this thread

forum inactivity in that context was typically a symptom of a deeper problem rather than something undesirable in and of itself

@keithzg @tindall yeah for me it's definitely the ability to see everything all in one place instead of bouncing around two five completely disconnected sites all with their own different UI behavior and markup conventions.

@tindall I just want what g+ could have been if it weren't Google

@tindall and... Ok the awful thing is I think I have an idea what it would take to build it?

@tindall it would have to be client-side. I hate that but, everyone is so spread out... So it has to be honest about what scopes are possible. But really show us; really let us manage the many ways of contact and the many flow streams of .. the views we get, into our friends lives.

Like bridging everything to a lowest denominator such as what gajim was before it was pidgin back when it was gaim, that was a valiant effort. And it brought a moment of usability. I could at least then have one friend across five messengers in one place and choose my target, etc.

But bring it modern. Update the UI so hard. Circles was a very important idea. The way we all used Livejournal and Dreamwidth... Think further though, it's the friends and comms later of your second brain and its so very personal, it's not some service you connect to Out There, those are only the message couriers.

@feonixrift @tindall Want that pretty much Diaspora? I remember that circles concept/UI was duplicated wholesale from Diaspora.

Admittedly Dispora seems to have petered out (but not sure, they deleted my Kickstarter account and I stopped checking it).

@feonixrift @tindall If it's the "circles" model, didn't they just "borrow" that from Diaspora?

If only we could get Diaspora on ActivityPub, now..

@seachaint @tindall weren't they working on that at one point? I didn't get hooked on diasp... Mainly because circles are no use without anyone to talk to.

Sorry, but I need to step in whenever this claim is made. Aspects/circles/whatever isn't anything novel and Diaspora didn't invent it.

It's simply putting some form of corporate trademark or branding on mailing lists.

@tindall yeah... pretty sure *everyone* wants federated g+/circles, so why isn't this being worked on :>

@f0x I don't.

Circles turn out to be much less useful on close examination and much use than they first appear.

(Long-time G+ user, still active on Diaspora*.)


@tindall I used to be on forums quite a lot in the early 00s, but it was always for purely practical purposes. At some point (2006-7 iirc) I was on irc a lot, on a very nice project with great people, and that felt like a community, but it didn't last.
Fedi is the first place since then where I fell I have something like a community.

@tindall It's crazy how much G+ got right and how other services have adopted at most a rather bare minimum of all that!

@tindall I don't see why not ActiivityPub could be that protocol with agreed upon conventions on how to implement forums with it?

I'd really like to see the fediverse become (even less) microblogging-focused basically

@msh @tindall literally just install phpbb, the wheel is already invented. Maybe it could look less ugly and use nicer smileys but that's it

@piggo i suggest you read the thread you're replying to for the reasons people aren't just doing that.

@tindall yeah sorry it didn't load.
Google+ circles is everyone's dream, isn't it...

@msh @tindall

The thing is that every type of application has its own use cases where it shines. Microblog vs. Forum idem.

I just posted how an interesting discussion forks out in many parallel branches (in my case 30+) and becomes unmanageable (btw, here's the thread hierarchy: )

And forums serve better as archives too, whereas on fedi microblogging.. everything sinks into history really quick and becomes very hard to find afterwards.

@tindall Yeah, pretty much. The the ability to easily segregate different lives without a "switch user" mechanic. Also ideally, the ability to limit personas so my work site doesn't even have a hint of my alts.

I have many lives, very few people are in all of them.

@tindall Deduplication would also be nice, just in case a music loving programmer decides to post a cross persona post, I don't see 2-3 identical copies.

Wow, reading through some of the comments on here, I see a lot of longing for G+ (or certain feature(s) of G+). The only fediverse platform (that I'm aware of) that currently comes close to matching the functionality of G+ Circles, Collections, and Communities is Zap.

Like Circles, Lists in Zap allows one to share only select posts with a subset of contacts. You can have lists for family, close friends, classmates, coworkers, etc. Contacts can be on more than one list.

Collections in Zap work just as they did in G+. They serve to curate one's posts by topic. Others can follow the collection instead of the main channel (for example, if only interested in someone's "tech" posts but not "personal" or "politcal").

Groups in Zap would be like G+ Communities. Zap groups can also be an effective way to get some of that functionality of web forums in the fediverse.

As such, Zap is more than microblogging. Posts can be composed using a subset of Markdown and/or BBCode. Images can be embedded. Hyperlinks can be added. And of course #ActivityPub.

So if any other projects out there are considering incorporating any similar functionality, no need to start from scratch. These features are already working in the fediverse today.

#googleplus #gplus #forums #groups #zap

@xavavu interestingly, when I was attempting to describe federation to my partner and how certain instances can choose to not federate with other instances, she was like "Oh right, like G+ circles?" Obviously it was me not explaining well enough, but still interesting that it was the first example that came to mind. Circles as a feature had good intuition it seems.

Going to have to check out Zap now! I'm consistently amazed at how the memory of G+ still strikes such a chord with so many former users.

I remember the wave of users that came to various fediverse / federation platforms, including Diaspora and Hubzilla. I recall (maybe incorrectly) the Zap project added Collections specifically as a response to former G+ users asking for such features. I wonder how many of those former G+ers are still around the fedi.

@xavavu YMMV, but I just don't want my single username associated with all the circles I might participate in. Oh yeah, totally. For example, I also keep a seperate handle/identity (on a private, non-federating instance) just for family and close friends.

Even then, different Circles (Lists) can be kept for Siblings, Sibs+Partners, Homies , Parents, Parents+Sibs, etc...

I just had a look and it seems Zap is a fork of Hubzilla with a few changes? Sadly they don't mention this anywhere.

Yes, Zap was forked from Hubzilla by the same creator
More than "a few changes" have occured since 2018

In essence, Zap takes and builds upon the "social" aspects of Hubzilla and does away with all the content management stuff (webpages, wiki, articles, etc.). Zap also attempts to simplify user settings which, for some, can be a daunting task in Hubzilla. Another major difference is that Zap federates over #ActivityPub and #Nomad (previously #Zot ) protocols by default, whereas Hubzilla defaults to Zot, with ActivityPub, Diaspora, and OStatus protocols being optional addons.

@xavavu @maze thanks for this explanation. Zap is intriguing, but it would be nice to see examples of it in action in the website.

@xavavu I was on G+ from the early public invite-only Beta through its shutdown. The platform had its strengths, but I think most people fail to recognise them:

Google infrastructure. G+ was very, very, very seldom down, and almost always highly performant. It didn't always have search, but when it did, it was excellent.
Some really good sanitation and hygiene systems. Very few of the problems now endemic to social media (Twitter & FB especially) were rampant on G+. There were some signs, but I poked around enough to recognise that there was actually some very effective moderation occurring. (The 8+ million Communities had virtually no nazism/fascism etc., despite confounding factors such as "aryan" being a perfectly legitimate term in India.)
A good, if not ultimately overwhelmingly compelling, initial user cohort.
Google's moneybags, at least for a while.
Very little commercialism. On the world's largest advertiser, it was an advertising-free zone.
Pretty good photos feature.
Really Fucking Long Posts. You could write a book or three in them. Average length was still about a tweet (120 chars or so).
At various times, a good chat / video-chat feature which for its time excelled relative to others.
A mix of features attempted over the years, some actually pretty good, others not so much. But a decent test bed all told.

Mind, I had a hell of a lot of complaints as well. But there were some good points.

Circles weren't one ;-)

@tindall @xavavu I appreciate this post a lot. I think you've done an excellent job of summarizing the three key social/audience features I feel the Fediverse is largely missing.

There's been plenty of pixels already spilled in this thread about groups/communities and lists/circles, which I agree with—yes to better access control lists! Yes to better social groups! But I want to especially highlight collections, because I think they're so useful for a tailored feed.

I would love to be able to, say, put all my shitposts into a "Shitposts" collection and know that they were being served to people who wanted to read them, and those who didn't could unsubscribe from that collection. It offers a level of granularity beyond simply following or not following a user. I can't say how much I'd love to see greater adoption of this functionality (and the aforementioned circles and groups) in the Fediverse.

@spencer @tindall @xavavu I feel like this would be largely solved by just tagging posts, like you do in Dreamwidth. The server and protocol don't need to know anything -- all the smarts of "collections" could be done on the client, with different clients offering different feature sets around that, according to the userbase's needs.


> consume forum-like communities in a centralized place

This is the main reason why I believe web 1.0 forums died off. Reddit ate their audience by being the everything forum. Not only did it give one login to rule them all, it also gave infinitely-nested replies to allow for discussions to drift into natural off-topic territory rather than a long forum thread being derailed into an off-topic discussion. The cost of deeply-nested replies are extremely repetitive conversations where users unintentionally dogpile one another because they can't see that five others made the exact same point hidden behind a "see more" link.

While early adopters of Tumblr+Twitter were web 1.0 users who migrated, their mainstream popularity is from people who became terminally online long after the web 1.0 forums were eaten by Reddit.

> consistent markup for posting

As much as I'd prefer Textile, LaTeX, or Org Mode to Markdown, all four of these options are strict improvements to BBCode or XHTML with half the interesting tags stripped by the sanitizer.

@tindall I agree with this and your previous reply: one centralized place, and having my own circle of friends.

Having to jump between multiple forums is harder to check "what's new", specially since most forums don't let you 'subscribe' to a few sub-areas - which Reddit let us do.

Small forums can be too empty/not updated frequently enough. And large forums can be too chaotic and you might not actually know anyone participating in the discussion.

@tindall's kind of weird - our strongest association when it comes to defining circles of friends who can see certain posts is Livejournal (or, well, Dreamwidth - Livejournal got bought out by Russian oligarchs).

We never used G+ much, though.

- 🎒 💭

@packbat @tindall dw's ability to define who can see what specific things you post is amazing (and almost none of it originally from lj)

people have been saying really nice things about g+ but i have no idea how it compares

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