I was listening to the latest episode of the Micro Monday podcast. Usually, it has Micro.blog community manager Jean MacDonald doing the interviewing. But this week had her interviewed by Micro.blog founder Manton Reece.
One thing that came up during the interview was that Jean wasn’t initially sure what Micro.blog would be and what her role would be as community manager.
I mention this because a couple of blog posts came across my radar the other day about Micro.blog and how it’s perceived.
The first was by former member Greg Morris aka @gr36:
This is the second time I have deleted everything; the first time was to start again and work out a way to host my blog on the platform. However, as time has moved on, the blogging on micro.blog has dissolved into more ‘status updates’ and long threads (which are not threaded at all) or talking.
I wasn’t looking for another Twitter; I was looking for short microblogs and others that loved the things I did. The blog posts are still there and written by some fascinating people, but they are hidden under mountains of photos, and videos, and podcasts, and it is impossible to navigate the noise.
Micro.blog is a pretty open-ended system, by design. So it’s not surprising that different people use it in different ways. Some may indeed using it in a similar way to Twitter, while others may go for a posting style like that on Tumblr.
Conversations on Micro.blog work better than they do on Tumblr, which can (from my experience) turn into hairballs, and also fail to retain full context.
As for the signal-to-noise ratio, I find that it goes down as you follow more people, but that’s a criticism that can apply to all platforms. Some kind of filtering system might be a solution, but would add a lot of complication to what’s supposed to be a simple microblogging platform.
Greg goes on:
I can only presume others find the same because my interactions fell away to almost zero and micro.blog as a referee to blog posts dropped at an equal rate to completely zero. Could be my face doesn’t fit, could be a million different reasons but another network to try and carve out space in – no thank you.
There is also a real echo chamber on the platform; it is predominantly US-centric. I am not sure of the location of registered accounts, but the feeds and noise always appear very skewed towards American issues. However, this could be linked to discoverability, as it’s impossible to find people to follow without putting in real work – but enough about the negatives.
I can understand the US-centric criticism, but again this isn’t one that’s unique to Micro.blog.
Discoverability could be better. On that I can agree. But I’ve tended towards discovery through serendipity, and I’m not in a rush to follow more people.
As for the interaction level, or lack thereof, that seems to depend on what it is you’re posting, and who’s seeing it. You get out what you put in, pretty much.
The second post, which was how I found Greg’s post, comes from Matt Birchler and takes up the point about discoverability:
Micro.blog doesn’t show you how many followers anyone else has. This is definitely healthy from some perspectives, but I have found it makes it hard to find out who is interesting on the platform, and who I should expect to put out the most interesting content on the platform. You certainly can take the time to look into people’s post history and figure out who to follow, but it’s more work than it is on other social media networks.
I’d point out that ‘interesting’ is a very subjective thing. And Micro.blog definitely isn’t in the business of analysing people’s content to make that call for you. The lack of follower stats is a good thing. Everyone gets treated as equals.
This is something I think Twitter does incredibly well. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but I constantly find new and interesting people on Twitter and their app makes it easy for me to tell pretty quickly if they’re someone I want to follow.
I’d flip that around, and suggest that there’s a reason Twitter wants to help you follow more people. That way, you’ll stay there for longer, and they can show you more ads and sponsored content.
So what’s my takeaway from the above? Micro.blog isn’t doing anything inherently wrong in how the platform works. In many ways, it does a lot of things right. But it’s a very different beast to Twitter, or Facebook for that matter. It’s much closer to blogging networks of the Blogger and WordPress spheres, though without most of their baggage.
Some people may have a hard time getting used to the Micro.blog system. Especially if they’ve not blogged before and are coming from one of the giant social networks.
I should add that both Greg and Matt are blogging on their own sites now. And Greg mentions that he’s now publishing his own thoughts and not worrying about post length.
One of the major plusses of Micro.blog is that it’s not a roach motel. While they offer hosting for your content, you can connect your existing blog and cross-post to Micro.blog from there. And if you decide that you want your own blog now, Micro.blog makes it easy to take your content with you. And in a form you can actually migrate to another blogging platform. Something you won’t be seeing from Facebook or Twitter anytime soon!