Where Discover Doesn't Help

A discussion is going on about how to discover people with your interests when the Micro.blog Discover timeline doesn’t really help. In a post in this thread, Khürt wrote:

I’d like to discuss F1 and photography and hiking in New Jersey etc.

I actually share Khürt’s frustration when it comes to my own niche interests.

As I review the main timeline of posts, I haven’t seen anyone else express an interest in the topics of F1 or hiking in New Jersey. In my case, I am passionate about Star Trek:Voyager, and even have a podcast about it. There are some ST fans on Micro.blog, but not enough passionate ones to engage in regular conversation or to build an audience. So I scrapped my plans for quitting Twitter because I wanted to be able to reach a larger audience for a niche interest, and Twitter has zillions of Trek fans.

Quitting Facebook meant that I lost my connection to thousands of guinea pig owners. On Micro.blog, we have four that I know of. But I was sick of Facebook, so the tradeoff was worth it.

Khürt also said:

The Discover feed is useless. Hand picked by people who don’t have similar interest to me.

Discover is intended to feature all the topics that people here post about. Anything that meets our guidelines gets added, while striving not to have one person or topic dominate the feed. I intentionally exclude software development posts for the most part, because that interest group is firmly established. Manton even created a special WWDC feed this year to separate that topic from dominating.

We are not filtering out topics like F1. There just are not any posts to add. For a lively community on that topic or other specialized topics, you probably need to find a forum or follow hashtags on Twitter.

When I interviewed Gabriel Santiago for Micro Monday (aka @Gabz), he made an interesting observation:

To be honest, at first I felt out of place because most of the people I happen to follow are coders, developers, engineers, things that I am not… Then I realized they are just normal people and we have common interests.

For general interests such as food, music, film, travel, kids, pets, etc., I think Micro.blog is pretty great. I have gotten a window on so many interesting experiences around the world. For some niche interests (such as the pen and paper notebook folks), it does offer an engaged micro-community. But for others, it’s not yet reached a critical mass and I don’t know if it will in the near future.

Tip: One of the Discover curation guidelines is the Buddy Bench principle. If you want to find someone who shares a particular interest, write a micropost asking “Hey, are there any fans of ___ out there?” We add posts like that to Discover.

Jean MacDonald @jean