Mastodon needs a new-ish algorithm.

Be aware this is a draft post β€” please adjust your expectations accordingly. Get in touch if this post could use an improvement.

The timeline.

The reverse chronological timeline has been failing for me recently. As has the notifications tab for mental health reasons.

I think I was a little afraid to admit it to myself, but it is.

I log in a few times a day, read only a little bit (whatever is recently posted at the time), miss out completely on what’s posted when I’m sleeping, and have found myself missing posts from people I generally enjoy hearing from.

All the cool kids live on the other side of the globe, so I’m more likely to miss out than not.

Sometimes through some interaction I find a toot that was posted 7 hours ago (while I was sleeping) that I feel sad about missing.

Maybe it’s a social media problem too. Why do I need to hear from all these people? Why do I feel sad if I miss out? I certainly don’t feel that way when I’m away for a few days for IRL reasons. But I do feel that way when it’s just my daily schedule where this happens.


Unfortunately it’s lacking UX improvements too. You can’t hide boosts and/or replies like you can on the home TL. I hide all boosts and would require that on my lists too.

Lists are simply not tenable for me without these “filters.”


Why not use the bell icon for people I enjoy hearing from? The bell icon crowds my notifications and actually overwhelms me so I’m a very conservative user there… and is not a proper solution to the problem anyway. In fact, it brings me to my next problem.

What if I enjoy hearing from 50 people? I’d see about ~200 notifications per day. This is separate from all the other kinds of notifications: boosts, stars, new spam reports, and so on.

I’d love for notifications to be “grouped” in hourly blocks to make them more readable and consumable.

These, I believe, are also growing pains. Maybe they will be tackled one day, maybe they won’t. I definitely feel like usability has been tanking and I’m not a fan.

Maybe it doesn’t need a new “algorithm” as much as a whole bunch of well thought out convenience features to make the current timeline usable.

And, let me be clear: at this activity level, for me, it is not.


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