A heuristic for choosing people to follow on Mastodon

An experimental guide to make the Mastodon timeline both rewarding and useful


Following my post yesterday about Finding ‘connectors’ in Mastodon, Ton Zijlstra was kind enough to point out his 2008(!) post Conversational Symmetry and Twitter in which he too was looking at followers / following ratios, only back then it was on Twitter of course.

The key to his approach is “For me, social media ia all about conversation”, and like my more recent look, he was looking for accounts that had a fairly balanced follow/follower ratio.

He coined a couple of more labels for people with extreme statistics:

  • Large antenna array accounts have a very LOW follower:follow ratio, with a very large number of follows and few, if any, followers - these are people who Ton characerises as : "… one on one interaction is not your goal apparantly. You’re building a phonebook, or you’re soaking up a large collage of everything that’s being posted …"
  • A-lister was his term for the accounts with a very HIGH follower:follow ratio, the ones I called either Just Famous or Broadcaster based on how many posts they made - Ton came to a similar conclusion about these “It’s the celebrity profile so to speak. You can use it as mass media then”

A heuristic for choosing people to follow on Mastodon

Combining my thoughts from yesterday with a little reflection on my current practice, and the added seasoning of Ton’s thoughts re-shared, I’ve come up with the following heuristic that I’m going to play with as a guide to my follow activity on Mastodon:

  1. have a goal in mind for your use of Mastodon in so far as it relates to developing a knowledge network
  2. follow promiscuously anyone who looks even slightly interesting
  3. but be ready to unfollow at a whim too - let your gut be your guide
  4. look at the ratio of followers:followed and the number of posts (aka Toots on some clients)
  5. for accounts which have interesting content, a very HIGH followers:followed ratio and a reasonable number of posts (the Broadcasters), consider adding the RSS feed of their account to your feed reader, and unfollowing in Mastodon
  6. for accounts which have a very HIGH followers:followed ratio and a LOW number of posts (the Just Famous), seriously, why bother? Cull the follow!
  7. for accounts which have a very LOW followers:followed ratio (the Large Antenna Arrays), again why bother?
  8. for the ones that are left, engage them in conversation on anything that looks interesting - you will be pleasantly surprised how nice people are

What is your approach?

#100DaysToOffload 25/100

Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change