Filtering contents from the Fediverse Report

Since yesterday, we’re getting federated content from the Fediverse Report. Since the #SocialHub promotes free software, I guess we need to remove unrelated posts from it.

This is cool.

For now, I have unlisted the topic. I do not know how removing the topic would affect responses.

Yeah I have mixed feelings about this. Because the FR Discourse Category now follows my Mastodon account, all the posts that I boost now show up here as an entirely new post. I dont think thats great tbh, both from the perspective of the socialhub (kinda messy and noisy) as well as for the people who’s post I boost.

I think this can work if only my actual posts on FR show up on here (but even then not 100% sure what the added value is), without the boosts showing up. If other people also find this annoying I might just force-unfollow the Discourse category from my Mastodon account.

I would like to clarify that I’m not responsible for this, I did not create the category not followed the FR Mastodon account, just in case people think that I’m the one spamming the SocialHub now.

I agree that the boosts should be identified as such. I think this is something @angus is working on, or to limit the stream to only original posts.

I am sorry though that you feel uncomfortable with the federation itself.

Would it be preferable to have an email mirror of the newsletter?

yeah sorry if I come across very negative here. I think the concept is all super cool and exciting. Its just that from my time writing about fedi I know that people can get pretty sensitive about when their posts ends up in places they dont expect, especially if the new place creates placeholder profiles for that as well.

Would it be possible to follow the wordpress account instead of Mastodon? That one federates as well, and as a bonus it is full text instead of a bulletpoint summary with a link

I think SocialHub shouldn’t show federated posts in “Latest”, because this content is already available on other platforms and anyone interested can get it there.

Local conversations, on the other hand, are very valuable, and unfortunately they still remain siloed. I know that categories can be followed, but so far I haven’t seen any replies from other servers. It also looks like individual topics can’t be followed.


So I just tested by boosting a WordPress blog ( IFTAS is happy to announce the public availability of our ) and that does work really well

So I’d like to request (@how )if this category can follow my federated WordPress blog ( instead of my Mastodon account. That way the content of the blog post gets embedded here. I only post there once or twice a week, so that helps cut down on the boost spam. It also makes the blog show up in full text instead of a link, which fits the context of a forum much better as well.

@angus really cool to see how interoperability also works well with non-microblogging!

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I haven’t been working on this yet, but this is pushing it up my agenda :slight_smile:

Just from a technical perspective, yes this should be possible.

Not yet. The next thing we’re adding are Tag actors (I’m working on this right now). These are the current and possible actors:

  • Category actors (current)
  • Tag actors (soon)
  • Topic actors (later, if it makes sense)
  • User actors (these already exist, you just can’t follow them; follow may be added if it makes sense)

Personally, I feel that just following a single topic may be a bit “granular”, particularly if tag actors exist. In other words the circumstances in which you want to just follow a single topic and not a tag, category or user seem pretty marginal to me. But let’s see.

There are a few examples in Fediverse Futures - SocialHub, you can see some “full topic” discussions (i.e. including replies), for example

Click on the post status icons to see more about the ActivityPub details of that post.

Also, @devnull and I are actively working on getting a link up and running between this forum and Soon!


This is the approach taken by NodeBB as well, FYI. Content from the fediverse is consumed and treated like local content, but built-in discovery features are limited to local content because local content is arguably more valuable.

Keep in mind that once remote content is categorized, it will also be favoured like local content too.

It’s easier for us because all content from the wider fediverse goes into an “uncategorized” bucket. We don’t do category to category follows yet, but as @angus mentioned, we are working on it :slightly_smiling_face:


I wish I could, for now the follow action is pending and then disappears: Discourse is unable to follow WordPress at this time.

I’m not sure it is doable at this point.

I’m going to defederate until we find an interesting approach that satisfies everybody.
That said @laurens we could as well mirror the newsletter: subscribing to it by email – actually the Fediverse Report category started like this, but I could not receive the subscription confirmation email. If you have a way to subscribe an email manually, that could do the trick.

What I like is that, for example, the ForgeFed: "New blog post! 💫…" - came from the Fediverse, and I moved it to ForgeFed. I could as well activate federation there and follow the original actor. But indeed, @angus, if you can solve the orginal post vs. boost and we can easily select only original posts (and their replies), then this is a great way to engage conversation without putting the burden on existing teams and active communication channels: embracing them rather.


I usually enable “watching” for topics I’m interested in, and every time someone makes a comment I receive an email notification. This is very useful feature, but I would prefer to use a modern protocol for that.

Yes, I think it makes sense too (Lemmy supports this).

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@silverpill The thing is, are we square-peg-round-hole-ing the Follow mechanism by allowing users to follow everything?

From a technical perspective, it’s really enticing… make everything an actor and let the user decide.

However, from a usability perspective, the assumption is that a user follows other users. You can stretch that a bit by talking about following groups/categories, but it starts to break down when you talk about following tags, following topics, following your local municipality’s individual classes at the rec centre, etc.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t support topic watching… we definitely should, and NodeBB already supports this locally. Just achieving this within the confines of ActivityPub is a maybe little harder if we wish to utilise the existing follow mechanism.

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When we start having actual federation across applications, like we’re trying to do here in the SocialHub, following non-users will become a necessity.

Think of it as TV. For those born without NetFlix, TV was broadcasting a timely program, and VCRs came to break this pattern: one could record a program (even skipping ads), and watch it whenever. Since all TV programs got online, it’s very easy to compose your own TV not tied to advertiser incentives. In the same way, you don’t need to read a whole magazine if you’re interested in a single journalist. You could as well subscribe to that journalist and read their content. Now, if you subscribe to your municipality feed, there’s a chance only a fraction of it concerns you: ActivityPub could make it easy to follow that information source you need from now until next Wednesday, without the clutter of all the rest of the feed that is not information to you, but noise.

Think about transportation: you could tell your geolocalization app that you want to go from here to there. It would automatically follow the relevant bus lines to get you there so you can know when entering this bookshop will enable you to read on the bus, or if you do not have the time for it. The example is contrived, but the upcoming applications are really not necessarily tied to users-to-users at all.

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Yes, there are other ways to implement “watch topic”, maybe Follow activity is not the best solution. Some Fediverse services already support this feature, but I don’t know how they do it: Fetching a conversation and a Watch Post feature

I’m not sure this is a correct assumption at all. Both UX-wise and protocol-wise, you may want to follow just a topic or a tag or category or whatever, not necessarily a user. All of those things can be exposed as an actor and then you can Follow them. Now, sure, you can do this “locally” and not in a federated way, by sending all the posts between servers and letting each server use its own internal notification mechanism or abstraction. But that presupposes that you are only ever delivering between servers that have such an abstraction. Let me put it this way: imagine that you can subscribe to email notifications from a forum, but you can only subscribe to every single post that is made – not specific topics being created, not posts being created in specific topics, just a firehose of every single new message, ever. This is basically what’s happening in the fediverse right now. “Send it all, and let the other side sort it out”. This is really, really bad for traffic when you start considering actors being managed like an actual inbox. The core of the issue is that ActivityPub is an email-like system, and the inbox is supposed to be for receiving notifications, and there is no guarantee that actors are simply custodial puppets of the server hosting them. The real square-pegging here is the assumption that everything is following the instance model.

It may also be helpful to consider an analogy to WebSub, which is another spec that follows a more classical pubsub approach. You have a hub that sends out notifications for a topic to its subscribers. You could somewhat easily map ActivityPub actors onto WebSub topics. Send a Follow to the associated inbox in order to be recorded as a subscriber to that topic/actor. When a post is made, the local server figures out which subscribers need to receive it as a notification/activity. I say “somewhat easily” because you would have to do some mutation of the addressing properties (to/cc) due to the existence of sharedInbox – an activity addressed to one’s followers needs to also be addressed to the relevant topics’ followers.

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Something I realized when I was writing my own thoughts down on category syncing/mirroring

Person actors send Creates. Group actors send Announces. This is if the group follows FEP-1b12, which Discourse (and NodeBB) categories would, at least for now.

So if @angus is planning on limiting category follow logic to Creates only, he ought to only do it for Persons :laughing:

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That’s fair, I am mistaken.

A Follow activity is actually the right activity, and to advocate for separate activities that do the same thing (just in a different context) would be superfluous.

Front-end UX-wise, though, a “follow list” would be pretty pointless if 20% of it were users, 50% of it were topics I wanted to subscribe/contributed to, and the other 30% were bus and train schedules :smile: That was all I was getting at.

sure sure, but followers and following are private by default, and exposing the contents of those collections in part or in whole is a choice. and the idea of a “user” is an abstraction anyway. so you could express whatever information you think is useful, really. (there’s another dimension to it as well: do you trust that data? are you verifying the other direction of that claim? but that’s a separate topic.)

I would argue that the default assumption within a forum context is that you follow a category, tag or topic, rather than a user. This is reminding me of a conversation we had in Discourse circles back in the day:

A threshold question of sorts, is the distinction between ‘forums’ and ‘social media’. I feel like that question needs to be at least acknowledged before tackling the nitty gritty of ‘Different Users / Same Platform’. Partly because some people dislike social media and like forums, so they naturally resist attempts to employ what are perceived as social-media-like approaches for a forum.

The distinction is historical. Our idea of a ‘forum’ is rooted in a time when it was not possible to curate the experience of a product to individual users. In this narrative, Discourse is the latest iteration of ‘forum’ software improvements going back decades. In this narrative, social media exists in a different track. In this narrative, targeting content on your platform to users based on user preference is part of the the ‘social media’ track. In this narrative, while social media targets content to users to drive engagement which drives advertising revenue, forums give the user more independence and respect and are not concerned with the profit motive. In this narrative, forums are ‘communities’ and social media is narcissistic / solipsistic. In this narrative, forums are egalitarian and/or libertarian, while social media is driven by consumerism and celebrity. This narrative is reflected somewhat in Discourse the product and here on meta.

From a ‘product’ perspective, I think a better way of thinking about the forum / social media distinction is simply that forums are topic-centric and social media is relationship-centric. That’s it. If you just focus on this distinction and put the narratives we have about forums v social media to one side (for the purposes of the product discussion at least), it clarifies the product question of Different Users / Same Platform. It clarifies it, because it allows us to think of the curation of content employed so successfully by social media simply as a product strategy, rather than a practice intertwined with social and ideological narratives.

I still think essentially the same thing now, which is partly why we started with implementing category following, and now tag following, in the Discourse ActivityPub plugin before user following.

Actually, I built a “follow” plugin for Discourse back in the day (CDCK ended up purchasing it) that let you follow users (regardless of taxonomy or topic) and got similar feedback (i.e following users on a forum feels weird). Partly due to that experience (i.e. the feedback I got releasing a “local” version of a user to user follow system in Discourse) I’m not so convinced that “following” users on a forum makes sense.

But I also agree that pluralism is probably the answer here, which is partly why, in my view at least, the discourse ActivityPub plugin should, on balance, also support following users (after categories and tags).


The question boils down to utility. Is it actually useful to support local and/or user following at a first-class level based on what it exposes to the end user?

In NodeBB following a user means you receive notifications whenever they do something (create topics, post replies, mainly). However, with remote users, that’s different. Following a remote user means you’ll begin to see their content in a curated “uncategorized” bucket. I don’t think Discourse has a parallel, which is why there’s not really any utility in following remote users.

Yeah, I mostly agree, albeit adding another uncategorised topic list, in addition to “latest”, “new”, “hot” etc in Discourse is relatively trivial. So it could be done, i.e. “following” (in fact that’s what I did in the (local) Follow plugin for Discourse). We’ll see.

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