#Fediverse does this happen often to you too?

You found a great post, commented to it, only to find out later that a broad discussion was triggered ... but not on the thread branch you commented on.

So if you didn't bump into it coincidentally you'd be totally unaware of that.

I'd like a Watch Post feature that sends me notification of all activity on the thread.

See also: fediverse.town/t/what-features

Would you like to have a Watch feature?


@humanetech I'd like a thread to be *a single thread* instead of the multi-branch mess it is now.

@tinyrabbit I can imagine. But it might impact how conversation takes place.

People going off-topic multiple times, and others responding to that may be just as messy.

In Discourse forum topics for instance you often hear "please stay on topic", or a moderator forks some comments in a new topic.

Fedizens might be less inclined to interact, or would not to explicitly watch/unwatch thread comments to get the desired view of the discussion.


There's one particular things that would be quite helpful in having a single thread..

Right now very often people tend to respond to a sub-branch without having read the other sub-branches, bringing up points already discussed.

On this thread for instance I already pasted the same link to #SocialHub about 3 times.

@tinyrabbit I can see why you would want that, & I'm sure I'm not going to say anything you haven't thought of already, but my thinking is this.

Suppose there's already a single thread, not too long, easy to read perhaps 10 or 20 toots. But one of the toots in the middle is something to which I'd like to reply. The existing system allows me to do that, whereas having a single thread would force me to tag my comment on the end, even though I'm replying to something further up.

CC: @humanetech

@tinyrabbit My wish is to be able to reply to multiple toots, thus drawing a sprawling conversation back together. Then, additionally, have the ability to render the discussions as graphs, like this:


I've written a discussion system that lets you do that. It's currently find for small numbers of users, and extremely helpful, but pig-ugly, and very parochial.

CC: @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech I guess this all comes back to how one likes to discuss things online. Fediverse is only functional for shorter discussions, imho. I prefer forums for longer discussions, and in forums I prefer flat views rather than threaded views.

@tinyrabbit In what way do you see this discussion as different from how it would happen in a forum? To me, this is a forum ... in what way is it not?

What do you mean by "A Forum"?

CC: @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech On a typical forum platform you have a thread-starting post, and then every other post is visible for every other poster. In this discussion I really only see our little break-out thread. If I want to see the whole thing it takes effort. This interface isn't centered around discussions; it's centered around individual posts.

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech And by "forum" I mean typical forum software like phpBB, XenForo, and similar.

@tinyrabbit Right, so in what you're calling a "forum" you see literally a linear collection of posts, each being a comment in the thread. So if I want to reply to some comment further up the (single) thread, I somehow need to make that clear, and it's not in the structure.

That's a trade-off, and I can see why it's a "Good Thing(tm)" in some contexts. I find that limitation extremely frustrating in more complex discussions.

Equally, ...


CC: @humanetech

@tinyrabbit ... I find the inability of platforms to provide a sensible and usable rendering of the more complex discussions *also* to be enormously frustrating. The platform I wrote as an experiment feels much more usable, but (a) it's pig-ugly, and (b) it's really not ready for a wider audience.

If I had more 'net programming skillz then I think it would be the way to go, but I have neither the skillz nor the time.

CC: @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech To me this sort of discussion tree looks quite horrible 😆 I can't imagine the effort it takes to follow that discussion in all its branches, or how frustrated I would be to see virtually the same discussion taking place along a number of different paths. To me it looks like a great way to *socialize*, but a horribly inefficient way to *discuss*.

@tinyrabbit That discussion tree would benefit from navigation tools, and I have those, and that makes it a real pleasure. Open some branches, close off others, hide nodes that don't really contribute, and you end up with the "Real Content" distilled.

As I say, I don't have the skillz to make those tools more widely available, but the chart, when displayed on a decent size screen, can be scrolled around,and the many threads can easily be followed.

Takes a little practice.

CC: @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech I imagine it could look and work similar to a thread-based forum platform (like UBB.threads for example). And the age-old battle between threaded view or flat view in forums has no objective winner, only different preferences 😄

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

If you want to see a beautiful interface for dynamic discussion in a tree-structured thread, I recommend checking out Euphoria: euphoria.io/room/welcome/

@dynamic I agree that it's a beautiful rendering, but structurally, it simply looks like the usual linear layout of a tree. Is that right?

One of the great things about DiscDAG is the ability to tie threads together. Another is to use space to show the actual DiGraph.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

Euphoria threading is not shaped like a tree, but it is a tree-structure, communicated by indentation, in the same sense of the directory trees that can be used for file browsing in certain operating systems.

@dynamic Indeed, which means that is suffers the same problem that in a complex discussion you sometimes have to scroll a long way to find a comment's parent.

This is a hard problem, which is why I'm exploring how usable the "actual tree layout" might be.

My experience is that the static version is fine after discussion is ended, and the dynamic version I have is fine provided you use the navigation tools.

Working on it.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

Tying threads together is not a thing I'd even heard about until you mentioned it in the current discussion thread!

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

My intuition is that a literal tree-shaped render could be useful for review of a discussion after the fact, but I have a hard time imagining it as an interactive interface.

@dynamic DiscDAG is making progress in that regard. It's intended for dynamic discussions, allowing multiple threads that subsequently come together (where appropriate). It needs better navigation tools, and a better UI in general, but it works well for the appropriate context.

Most examples are private conversations, and those that are public are mostly not good examples, but here are some links.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@dynamic Here is an explanation about the Axiom of Choice, and why it's problematic:


Here's a more extensive, free-form discussion about the system itself and some of the problems:


It's almost essential to use Neighbourhood Mode to navigate and follow the discussion a bit at a time, showing that better navigation tools and UI are clearly required.

But I can't imagine trying to follow this in a linear form.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @dynamic @humanetech You have a good point about following branching discussions in a flat thread. In that case compartmentalization and breaking out branches into new discussions when they diverge from the original poster's intention are key. And doing that in social media is... uhm... yeah...

@tinyrabbit A consequence of breaking things out into new discussions is that you can't then tie them together again. If they're genuinely different discussions then that's fine, but if they are different aspects of the same discussion then it's a nightmare. The ability to "fold up" or "abstract out" sections is the thing DiscDAG is missing, and neighbourhood mode is a poor substitute, but when a discussion is large and sprawling, you need to connections.

CC: @dynamic @humanetech

@tinyrabbit I'm looking at being able to select several nodes in DiscDAG and then collapse them under a "Summary Node" which can be expanded or collapsed as appropriate.

CC: @dynamic @humanetech

@tinyrabbit There's a difference between "Shooting the Breeze" (StB) and "Have a Discussion to Reach Conclusions" (HaD2RC). Existing platforms drive everything to StB, and platforms that claim to help with the HaD2RC context just ... don't.

DiscDAG seems to be a step in the right direction. It's needs to go further, but I have none of the skillz, the time to acquire the skillz, or the money to pay people who have the skillz.

So it's stalled.

CC: @dynamic @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

What are your thoughts on Argument Mapping tools? To me they seem much more promising than DAG structured things (I feel like it's pretty unusual to *really* want to pull two separate threads together, and that when it is desirable it could probably be handled pretty well by making a post with links to the parent threads).

@dynamic I haven't seen an "Argument Mapping Tool" for a long time, and I'm sure they've improved, but I've hated every one that I've seen. They have always, to me, seemed to offer nothing over existing linear representations of trees.

And I have frequently use the facility to pull together separate threads. This might be one of those cases where until you have it you don't see the point, and when you've used it, you feel crippled not to have it.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

The DAG flow charts you've been posting require both left-right and up-down scrolling, which seems like an even larger impediment to comprehensive discussion than linear-format thread trees would be.

@dynamic Large, complex discussions will always need some way to render them, and some way to navigate.

I wish I had the skillz to show you my vision ... clearly I'm just not able to make my point.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@dynamic I think I'm just going to end up like Ted Nelson, with a vision of "A Thing" which I know will be better than current stuff, but of which I can convince no one because I have neither the ability to implement it, nor the charisma to inspire others to do so.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@dynamic OTOH, maybe it's just crap, and I'm completely deluded. Maybe a linearised tree is the only thing that will ever work, and the best thing that can ever be.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@dynamic But try this. Start with this link:


If a node that is currently not highlighted looks interesting, click on the author's name to add it to the selection and see it and its neighbours. When you're done with a highlighted node, click on the author's name to remove it from the selection.

Then start navigating around. You can collapse everything except a single node-and-neighbours by clicking the grey box.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech


I think it is certainly not. But probably you have to target other use cases + audiences more. Here, in microblogging domain, it makes most sense to diagram a complex thread graph after it happened. Dynamic view probably not well-suited.

Specialized audience (e.g. scientists) and use cases (argument maps, decision-making, ...) may be excellent to consider.

It'd also help UX designs if your nodes had more semantics than just <text> e.g. linked data vocab.

@dynamic @tinyrabbit

@humanetech WRT getting an audience, yes, probably these sorts of facilities and capabilities are better suited to a more specialist audience than a generic "social media" context.

WRT semantics and nodes, probably, but I have no front end skills. None. Producing a diagram like this is all I can do, so while what you say is probably true, I can't make it happen.

To be honest, I've pretty much decided to give up, and just use it for myself.

CC: @dynamic @tinyrabbit

@ColinTheMathmo you might describe things in text, no ux designs needed.

For semantics, e.g. the simple fact of a 'node' having a title and subject might give many options for re-arranging the UI, collapse branches, etc.

In special domains more meaningful linked data formats can be used. E.g. in IT context you may label your text with "requirement" and "bug", etc.

Can brainstorm a lot on possiblities, but also talk to audiences on their needs.

@dynamic @tinyrabbit

@humanetech I've tried. I've tried for years. No one seems to get the vision, and this is what I've produced to try to help people "get it", but that's not helping either.

Sorry, I'm currently in a really negative frame of mind about this because I'm spent(*) a lot of time trying to explain, describe, or otherwise communicate, and I've pretty much got nowhere.

If I were a front-end person then I'd just go and implement it. But I'm not.

CC: @dynamic @tinyrabbit

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@dynamic It's really, *really* useful in a constructive discussion. Sometimes a single comment to pull threads together is exactly the right thing, and in existing platforms it seems difficult, or even impossible.

DiscDAG (which I suspect you haven't seen) definitely wins for that, but probably won't scale.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@tinyrabbit @ColinTheMathmo

> To me it looks like a great way to *socialize*, but a horribly inefficient way to *discuss*.

If you refer to #fediverse ( #pleroma, #mastodon et al) then I fully agree with you here. And it is very frustrating to see how much good information is lost in unobserved branches that immediately sink into history to be forgotten about.

@humanetech @ColinTheMathmo It's in the nature of social media to have low information density and short cycles, though. It's an ephemeral medium (and I don't really think we should hold on to posts forever).

I've never understood why people try to use facebook (even facebook groups) or twitter for serious discussions. Each to their own, I guess, but it doesn't work well for me.

@tinyrabbit This is why I create the charts. I started using the original C2 wiki shortly after it was invented, and the original idea was to have free-flowing, free wheeling "Discussion Mode" pages which, over time, got distilled down into "Document Mode" pages that captured the information in a form appropriate for future reference. It worked beautifully, until it got too big, and was invaded by people who refused to be enculturated. So it died.

To me ...

CC: @humanetech

@tinyrabbit ...I see many discussions and exchanges on "Social Media" that have really, *really* useful information scattered in the social exchanges, and I want to capture that knowledge for my future reference. So I've developed tools to help me do that.

Charting discussions here is a part of that. Serious discussions don't belong on FB, Twitter, or here, but they don't really belong in "forums" either, because again, the actual information is lost amongst the "discussion".

CC: @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech I've had similar thoughts to your "Discussion Mode" wiki; my idea was to have a forum platform where some users have the role Curator. After a certain time of inactivity in a thread the Curators would be notified of it, and if they deemed the topic/conclusions/posts to be worth the effort they could mark posts in the thread for archival. It would then remove all other posts, change all the usernames in the thread to Anonymous, and set the thread as read-only.


@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech Of course more advanced export features could be added in order to transform fruitful and informative discussions into persistent information.


@tinyrabbit In the original C2 wiki that's what happened, but there were no "admins" or "advanced users". That was fine in a small community, but it's abundantly clear that wider access needs to be controlled. Heavily.

People don't like to be censored, though, and don't like their words to be changed, and their "contributions" to be discarded, so there are problems.

And now people say: "But we have wikipedia ... why bother?"

But yes, to all you've said.

CC: @humanetech

@tinyrabbit With a little effort in the reading, @Chartodon is doing quite well with this widely branching discussion:


As I say, I have tools to collapse nodes and branches, and may eventually distill the conversation, but even so, I'm finding it useful.

CC: @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech Also: your tool is probably a great help if the goal is to curate and archive information when a discussion has run its course. I can really see the benefit of using it there.

@tinyrabbit @humanetech @ColinTheMathmo I've also observed the low density, the short cycles, and regularly consider the purpose of a conversation.

If it's for long-term policy discussions I definitely want that in a discussion forum, mailing list or issue tracker where it should exist for a decade or more. Mastodon I haven't decided about. It's in our power to retain discussions forever but it's not a norm and it's much harder to resolve retention policy on any piece of content than when dealing even with a corporation.

The poll however is about knowing where the action is so valuation comes down to how efficient the fedi should be about drawing attention to the best content (however each user defines best). I'd like it to be efficient without being game-able.

@weex @tinyrabbit @ColinTheMathmo

It is a bit of an issue with microblogging. I've sent numerous "Attention [this and that], contribute to the discussion [here]" with a link to a forum, or lemmy. But hardly anyone does that really. You get good discussion.. as toots, not where you want to have them.

Ppl have an interest to participate, but the external location just adds too much friction. So I end up putting a link to the toot in the forum post. But then people on the forum don't read that.

@humanetech What I've done in the past is to have the discussion spread over several platforms, but then aggregate it "by hand" into DiscDAG. Sometimes people have migrated and had the discussion there directly, others have continued tooting, tweeting, and posting elsewhere, and I've continued to add those under their name to the DiscDAG discussion.That has resulted in a really useful resource.

It's been work for me, but I've been slowly automating it to reduce the work.

CC: @weex @tinyrabbit

@ColinTheMathmo @weex @tinyrabbit

Yeah, that might help, but still.. a lot of work and discipline required.

If #fediverse had a true #forum software that could also federate with #microblogging apps, things might improve.

@ColinTheMathmo @weex @tinyrabbit

Note that I created a #discourse topic a while ago to keep the hope alive that they'll someday add federation support.

They were planning to, and got @NGIZero funding, but dropped their plans later on. Federation could be added as a plugin.

If anyone wants to increase the chance for this to happen, then add Likes to topic posts and preferable add a comment, so it is bumped to the top of the topic list once more..


@humanetech I've tried reading that, but there's just far too much that I'm not familiar with. It's not written with me in mind as an audience, there are lots and lots of terms being used that clearly mean something to you, but which I'm constantly having to try to deduce their meanings from context.

Being in a Forum Format there are no places where I can comment, or ask for clarification, or otherwise get involved ... I just have nowhere to start.

CC: @weex @tinyrabbit @NGIZero

@ColinTheMathmo @weex @tinyrabbit @NGIZero

My 2nd comment is more of a summary:

1. People have too many accounts on too many platforms. That's why they don't participate in a new space.. yet another account --> in a federation they might have a single account everywhere.

2. Communities are siloed, dispersed. You may not know they exist, and many community address similar, overlapping topics --> federated communities could share content ubiquitously, creating content hierarchies smartly.

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