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webrings, but for cohost accounts.

if you're not a million years old, let me just explain what a webring was: it was a list of websites that linked to each other, and on each home page you could find  "this webpage is a member of the minidisc users club"

and you'd get little "previous" "next" and "random" buttons that would let you browse other member's websites.

nostalgia aside, i think a little group membership style thing would help people find the accounts and posters they're interested in. i've already seen numerous "are there any other photographers here?" "what about ham radio?" style posts, so i'm pretty sure there's a need

here is a rough sketch of how i imagine it would work:

  • i start a group, i give it a name, and i am automatically a member
  • i send out invites to other people to join the group, and other people can request to join the group too
  • for any groups i am a member of, i can choose to show it on my profile page, under my avatar and bio
  • perhaps most importantly, i can click "next/prev" and browse through a bunch of different member's cohost accounts, looking for fun chosts

there's some extra fingagling, if I click next to go to someone's page, but they haven't opted in to showing the ring, then i might be a bit stuck. it might be better to put a little banner at the top of the page when i'm actively clicking through members, like a ?from_ring=uuid,  so the menu is in the same place. i'm unsure.

it might be best to only go 'back/next' from members who opted in to having it on their profile, but the little menu bar at the top might be useful regardless.

what order should webrings show on your profile? is it per-user or is it alphabetical? or the order in which your joined them?

also, it might be difficult if there's twenty "photography" webrings. should the groups share the same namespace as account names? should they be free form text entries? again, i'm unsure

should it be possible to merge a webring? the answer is "no because someone will merge it into a lol you're owned webring"

as you can see, it isn't just a "lol get it done" feature, there is some planning to be done, but i do really like the idea

70 people like this idea

I humbly suggest "eggring" as the name for this feature

15 people like this

Love this idea! A thought I have reading through this is I could imagine a model where you have "public" and "private" webrings

"Public" webrings could work sort of like a universal tag. Like there aren't 15 "photography" webrings, just one. Anyone can opt in, anyone can opt out. As the site gets bigger these are useful still but kind of huge

"Private" webrings on the other hand would be unique and have some amount of moderation. There could be three "PhotoPals" and not anyone can join. This could be useful for smaller communities or explicit organization. Like imagine a game dev team decided to have Cohost as their primary method of communication, so they have a private webring "StudioNameDevs" where people can discover/browse the Cohosts of all the devs without it being clogged up by fan accounts.

Now how that moderation (who can join) would work, not sure. The webring could have an owner, the webring could vote on new Cohosts joining, could be multiple options. I just have a feeling that level of "smallness" will be useful as the platform grows

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As much as I appreciate the nostalgia for the retro-internet, I can't say I'm a fan of discoverability tools that require you to ingratiate yourself with a preexisting clique. This seems like it would result in a lot of conflict over who is and is not allowed in various groups, would give weird levels of power to whoever happens to start a group (e.g. Reddit/Discord mods), and would ultimately get confusing when splinter rings ultimately develop or founders go inactive.

I do like the idea of some sort of profile tag system that's purely opt-in by users, with no formal group structure or need to apply to join. (Though really, I think the tag system does a lot of this work already! If you want to find other photographers, just check out #photography and see who's posting there.)

5 people like this

I really like this, even though I can see ways it could present moderation issues. It's a natural fit for human-curated discoverability, which is a core philosophy of the site. I think user tags are also probably useful but this fits in well with something I don't think most social media sites have other than art sites, which is classic  space to throw up the avatars of your friends or people you closely work with, etc.

Social group dynamics always open up the possibility of messiness, which I think may be more of an argument that this is a feature for a more mature cohost with a larger staff, rather than that it shouldn't be done at all. I would love, for example, to be able to list and link out to people like my polycule, my coworkers, my art friends, mutually or otherwise, without needing to make a separate Post for it. I think there's definite value in something like this existing over the long term. Maybe it doesn't take this exact shape? But the idea hits on something.

2 people like this

I love this idea so much more than straight follower/following lists. I miss the sense of wandering & discovery a la web rings or StumbleUpon (yes, I'm a million Internet years old).

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> "Public" webrings could work sort of like a universal tag. Like there aren't 15 "photography" webrings, just one. Anyone can opt in, anyone can opt out. As the site gets bigger these are useful still but kind of huge

it would be nice to be able to tag profiles much like we can tag posts, and search, but the hard problem here is "what order do you display accounts in." you show oldest first, you'll just make popular accounts more popular. you show newest first, you'll wade through empty profiles to find things

it might be easier to show "recent tags used" on someone's profile, which adds a bit of clicking-around browsing-alike discoverability. perhaps if you want to appear in a tag, you gotta post about it, and that's actually a good thing

anyway, i really like the use case of "find the other indie gamedevs in this project"

2 people like this
I don't think it's really necessary to have the complete 1995 webring experience, it could get cliquey really fast. But in a simpler form, this could be a cute feature.

I could see having a little "featured" section on the profile sidebar where you could have a collection of user pages (eg: the "Channels" tab on a YouTube profile). If the issue is a matter of discovering new fellow chosters, profile tags would also cover this pretty well.

1 person likes this

I would adore this! Yes please!!
Also seconding Nicholas idea about public and private webrings! [eggrings!]

For seeing a whole list of members within a webring, I suggest not showing posts, but instead showing profile pics and the username on a new floating window, and making it have numbered pages instead of endless scrolling! And I would suggest just having them in alphabetical order of the username.

I think moderation could get tricky, sure, but that's human nature, this is still a great idea worth exploring!

1 person likes this

This is a neat idea. I think it would be cool to integrate concepts from old web design into modern social media

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would you be able to just look at a list of members in this webring rather than having to click next/previous/random?

how feasible is a timeline which simply had all the posts from public members in it (akin to a twitter list)?

it's an interesting question, and it's a bit of a different use case for what i'd imagined webrings were for. being able to read all the new posts in a group does make sense, but then you kinda have to ask "what about following it". 

my guess is that it's a good thing to add, but it would be a lot more work to map out the feature space. if groups are like users that aggregate posts, can you mute a group? what about blocking a group? etc

the prior art here is something like livejournal's community pages, where anyone could post to a group, rather than to their own page

and i do expect something like that to be in the works

I think pinned posts are a great place to link out to other users you're in some sort of group with. They're basically just long, free-form profile sections, so I don't know that there really needs to be much more of a formal Feature than that. 

Big yes to this please! 

This would be a lot of fun!

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