Emojitags and the trouble of the inevitability of Trends

Just read @manton’s old post on the deliberate lack of Hashtags on here. I think the concept of emojiitags is a great idea not least because it’s kind of a more controlled way to tag a post with a certain topic.

This means users have the freedom to tag, but the platform has control over what a tag ca be. Bad actors may not invent new tags or reinvent slightly different tags that denote essentially the same topic only with a slight change of emphasis and all the other tricks of attention generation that free-form tagging lends itself to on social media.

Hashtags and Twitter trends go together.

Emojitags won’t solve this problem, I’m afraid. A limited and controlled topic dictionary doesn’t change that. If trends are not to be made invisible, then there is an incentive to appear in the discovery timeline for the trending tag.

And even if trends are not going to be made to stand out more: Trends are somewhat inevitable. E.g. the hockey tag :ice_hockey: shows what you would expect at the moment: A few posts on the Stanley Cup.

Another problem is that certain forms of content happen to be more successful. Just think of instagram, which is full of cute puppy videos (amongst other things) or tik tok, which has a crazy amount of dancing videos. What I’m trying to say: A platform has a ratcheting effect on content once one (or more) repeatable format(s) is (or are) found and found to be successful.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that. I think this is a somewhat predictable quality of social media platforms, when they grow big enough to sustain the complexities on which those emergent properties are dependent.

So what can platform owners do to mitigate the bad effects of growth?

The answer is probably that growth needs to be slow. And content needs to be actually policed. And discoverability needs to be somewhat limited. And content shouldn’t be sorted by likes or similar.

It seems that micro.blog already does most of these things.