Web dev at the end of the world, from Hveragerði, Iceland

Social media.

A number of events have been converging recently to force me to think about how I approach my social media.


The first change was discovering that many of the more thoughtful voices that are critical of the current AI Bubble – the ones with the training and academic background to actually know what they’re talking about – are active on Linkedin, which made it immediately quite a bit more interesting to follow as a social media network.

Now, the timeline algorithm clearly isn’t too fond of making their posts obvious (or, at least, is unpredictably weird about it) and your existing Linkedin network does a good job of cluttering up the place, so it’s still not nearly as useful a platform as it could have been.

But definitely more useful than I thought previously.

Still not enjoyable and not an experience I recommend, but with a more careful selection of who I follow, it now tends to regularly surface a link or two that I’d never have found otherwise.

Personally, I only follow a few people, don’t post much, and mostly open it a few times a week to lurk a bit.

With those caveats, it’s ended up more useful than I expected.


It isn’t a secret that, even though I’ve been using micro.blog since 2018, I’ve never been particularly happy with it’s functionality. In fact, micro.blog bugs have been a recurring theme on my notes blog over the years.

The core service has always been unpolished and only partially reliable. Bugs keep cropping even as the number of official micro.blog apps and features keep growing. The UX is eternally rough around the edges. “Rough” in the sense of a student sketch that never gets the attention needed to become a final work, not in the sense of something worn over the years through loving use.

It’s been obvious for a while now that micro.blog is unlikely to ever deliver its core service of blog hosting and social media cross-posting with the polish and reliability that I’d hoped for as a user.

But replacing it has been tough because I’d need to replace both the blog hosting (with an iOS posting widget) and the cross-posting, and figuring out a better way to post my bookmarks never seemed that important.

Micro.blog’s community has always been quite friendly and easygoing. The absence of any ability to engage using non-textual signals such as reactions or starring means that even the smallest interaction requires more emotional and cognitive effort than on any other social media platform. That is by design but, in my opinion, a bit of a mistake. Low-investment signals such as reactions work remarkably well to establish and maintain exactly the kind of loose ties that bind online communities together.

Still, the people are nice, and that’s always been a factor in my continued use of the platform.

But I think it’s fair to say that after years of complaining, I’m probably not a good match for the service.

I haven’t cancelled my account, but I haven’t used it for a few days now. I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s cheap enough to keep going for a few months while I think about it – keep the automated parts going – but I don’t think I’ll ever return to being a daily user.

Of course, this means I’ve had to rethink my use of cross-posting, but that is something I’ve had to do anyway, because Mastodon’s vibe has changed for me over the past few weeks.


Over the past few months my follower count on Mastodon has been ticking up from 5000 and is now nearing 6000.

This isn’t much, to be honest. Many accounts on Mastodon are much bigger and my follower numbers wouldn’t even be big enough to be a rounding error in the follower counts of some of the bigger accounts on old Twitter.

Through most of my history of being on social media, the experience I’ve had has, for the most part, been proportional to my follower count at the time.

If anything, increase in followers has had diminishing returns. Your posts don’t get 10x as many likes or stars even though you’ve gone from one hundred to one thousand followers on a social media site. Nor do the links you post get 10x as many clicks.

You do increase the odds somewhat of a post gaining enough traction to begin spreading outside of your follower circle, but that’s not something that’s reliable. It’s still largely down to luck.

Mastodon has also always suffered from a “reply-guy” problem. You tend to get more replies there, proportionally, than on any other social media network (this is good), but a substantial proportion of them are rude, condescending, and often just polite enough to plausibly pass as sort of not abusive (this is bad).

(If you’re worried that you might be contributing to the problem then you probably aren’t. Trust me, these guys – and it’s always guys – never have that thought cross their minds for even a fraction of a second.)

The reply-guys tend to come from outside your social circle. They usually aren’t people you’ve engaged with on a regular basis. They tend to pop up as soon as a post gets boosted across the network and begins to appear on other instances.

What’s become noticeable as my follower count creeps towards 6000 is that the vibe of Mastodon as an experience is changing.

The first change I noticed was that many of the replies now seem to be coming from social contexts that I’m very unfamiliar with. They’re filled with references and mentions that might as well be from a strange language.

That’s so right. It’s like when the fleebdoop florbed the bladdagoo. It’s very octoplaco.

I’m not going to quote actual replies here because I don’t want to embarrass anybody or make them uncomfortable, because the actual contents of the replies is not the problem and I’m not looking for somebody to “translate” them for me.

The issue is that semi-regularly getting replies I don’t understand changes the posting “calculus”. If I don’t understand the replies despite them being in English, then that means I probably don’t understand what it is they’re responding to or what might make them respond negatively. I don’t have enough of a shared social context to gauge what an unknown proportion of my followers feel is appropriate.

This feeling of unpredictability translates to replies as well. Mastodon, as with many other social media networks, surfaces replies to followers as well, and if you can’t predict how your followers will react to your posts, you can’t predict either how they’ll react to a post you’ve accidentally highlighted to them by replying.

Bluesky has a similar form of reply visibility and, although it’s configurable, the defaults mean that bigger accounts over there end up having the same concerns.

I’ve heard people mention that above a certain size, the social media experience changes. The numbers I’ve heard vary a lot, as they seem to be dependent on both the design of the social media site and the prevailing culture.

One of the co-founders of Dreamwidth described the phenomenon well in a thread over on Bluesky, which I’m going to quote from here:

Someone who has never had more than 100 followers literally cannot comprehend the sheer volume of the responses you get. Even if individual posts don’t get a ton of replies, if you post with any frequency, it accumulates.

Once you hit the first degradation threshold, your experience gets a little bit shittier. It’s overwhelming volume, but the people who are following you are mostly ideologically, socially, and culturally aligned to you. You have the same concept of social media manners.


And then those people start reposting your more viral threads, and you get people following you who are three degrees of separation from the people you are most likely to vibe with. And three degrees of separation is the second degradation threshold.

The second degradation threshold is where you start getting the constant, low-grade sand-in-a-pearl annoyances. The person who wants to argue with everything. The 15 people making the identical shitty “joke” that’s actually just doing the exact thing you’re complaining about, “ironically”.

The people who look at a post that contains no question marks and think “there is an implied question here and I will answer it!” and leap to offer the most basic advice that you already thought of because you have existed for more than three seconds and can, in fact, think of the obvious answers.


It is constant. It is never-ending. You cannot escape it. Every time you post anything at all, opening the app means wading through twenty garbage replies for every reply from someone who is actually cool and you’d vibe with just fine if you chatted with them.

You want to bitch about a minor annoyance? There will be 40 people all giving you the same useless advice. You want to squee about something you’re enjoying that’s making you happy? There will be 40 people coming to scold you because that thing isn’t morally pure enough.

Every post. Every day. About 75% of the time you compose a post, you will get halfway through writing it and think “I can’t deal with the replies this will get today” and delete it. You stop talking about things you enjoy, because you’re tired of people shitting on them.

Now, I’m lucky in that much of what she describes above won’t apply in my case, at least not to nearly the same degree, simply by virtue of the fact that I’m a white male. People just aren’t as rude to middle-aged white men as they are to other groups. And my account is still small enough to not experience all of the negative effects she’s describing.

But there’s still that same vibe change that’s happening. That same unpredictability and noise that forces you to be a little bit more careful about what you post.

And that means that cross-posting doesn’t really work any more, because blindly cross-posting the same thing across different social media is now too risky.


I have fewer than three hundred followers on Bluesky and that service also has different character limits and slightly different reply dynamics.

I’m actually enjoying Bluesky quite a bit. Most of the comics and publishing folks that I followed on Twitter have moved over to Bluesky. Many of them tried Mastodon but got turned off by the aggressive reply culture, which is fine. Services shouldn’t have to be everything to everybody.

It also has different character count limits and link handling.

Posts created using the cross-posting tools I’ve tried create actual HTML link formatting: the text appears linked, without a URL or link preview.

This seems to trigger a warning in Bluesky client apps for those who click on the link and that, along with the absence of a preview, is a little bit annoying.

Even if I had as many followers on Bluesky as I do on Mastodon (unlikely to ever happen, honestly, as it took me seven years to get to 5000 on Mastodon), I’ll still be better off treating the two differently because of these issues and the overall different dynamic.

My approach to posting on social media needed to change anyway.

What am I doing now?

Over the past few days I’ve been testing a much less complicated system.

I’ve always considered social media posts to be ephemera and I don’t think it would work for me to integrate them into my main blog. Link digests and turning more worthwhile threads into blog posts honestly fits my style of blogging much better than having a links category integrated into the blog itself.

I decided to lean into that and rely instead on something much simpler:

Text files.

I save links and quotes as text files in Drafts on iOS and whatever text editor is around on other platforms. Then I copy and paste those into the social media apps, editing each post a bit to suit the service. Bluesky posts might include just the link and a pithy comment. Mastodon posts get more quotes.

It’s a lot less complicated than what I was doing with micro.blog. In many ways it’s a lot nicer, largely because text editors are generally good for, well, editing text and micro.blog’s editing widget is a half-baked iffy thing that never quite worked properly on any platform I tried.

I’m going to keep the notes/bookmarks blog around, at least for now. If I end up cancelling my micro.blog account in the future, I’ll try to upload a copy of the notes blog somewhere.

The social media scene overall has been quite chaotic and unpredictable for a while, so I have no idea whether this approach will work in the long term.

But I think it’ll do for now.

You can also find me on Mastodon and Bluesky