This may just be a massive change the site simply isn't equipped for, but I figured I'd throw it out there as a suggestion anyway - some group function like LJ communities/Facebook groups would be great!
It is nice to be able to post to a specific audience. It would enable social interaction and conversation without private messaging. Rather than having to scroll back through global tags, people could search posts within a community. A lot of gripes folks have with "discoverability" and tag syncing could be alleviated a bit I think. (People who feel annoyed/conflicted/whatever about tagging #photo #photos #photography #digital photo #digital photography #picture #landscape could post their photos in the Photography group instead.)
I often see people on Tumblr for example despair about posts "breaking containment" - they mean it metaphorically because "containment" is purely imaginary there, and it's easy for posts intended for a specific group or subculture to explode out of their intended context and turn into fights and harassment. This happens on Twitter a lot too. (For example: someone with a pet spider has no way of posting pics of their spider exclusively to a Yay Pet Spiders group, and instead simply has to hope that their spider pics don't spread outside of their social circle into the broader public where hundreds of people will comment saying things like "i want to kill your horrible ugly pet.")
Communities/groups can be a great way to organize more general static posts like tutorials, link roundups, informational posts, etc and keep them from getting washed away with new activity, which happens in tags - if there was a "cohost newbies" group where someone could pin one "welcome to cohost!" post and others could share their welcome-to-cohost tips, that would be helpful, I think!
Aha! I knew I’d seen a similar proposal to this prior. This feature request for webrings is a similar concept, so I’d also go support that if you support this idea. https://help.antisoftware.club/support/discussions/topics/62000183144
I do really love this idea, and I think there are a ton of use cases you can sink your teeth into where community/group features are concerned. (I’ve long felt like being able to run a group roleplay on Cohost would be a dream!) Being able to narrow down the focus of posts you make to a specific audience would really help to make Cohost feel more cohesive and shape its identity, for sure.
Of course, intra-community drama is always going to be an issue no matter where you go. That’s a hard problem to solve no matter what corner of the internet you’re on.
I think maybe one way to handle it could be to have two different categories: “open” and “closed” communities? Maybe the former, an “open” community, is more like a general “category” that anyone can create and anyone else can post into freely, which just kind of creates a little focused hub for that given subject. The community could have a space to put any details on what kind of content should go there, and then just allow people to fill it up with relevant stuff however they please.
The second could be more of a forum-type deal: I do think some types of online spaces definitely benefit from having a degree of moderation ability. Perhaps this type of “closed” community would require approval by an operator to join, who can then give certain permissions to other trusted users to allow them to curate the place (for example, removing a user who turns out to be a troll from the community).
As for discoverability and controlling ‘containment’, maybe there could be a toggle on a per-post basis for posts made into a given open community to be able to be rechosted elsewhere? Or maybe allowing a given post to be simultaneously posted to multiple communities at the same time. Like… being able to post your fanart of a set of characters into a general fandom community, a community for that specific character, and maybe also a ship/dynamic community all at the same time if that’s a focus of the piece.
Possibly, a closed community’s posts on the other hand could be made exclusive to members and could only be rechosted by members of that same community—keeping it to a self-contained environment. Alternatively, maybe a closed community could be optionally made an entirely private affair on a community level, keeping posts made in it only visible to its members.
These are just things I’m spitballing off the top of my head—I’m sure someone else could come up with more elegant ways to conceptualize this. But I do think that this is a good concept at its core and groups of some kind would help to make Cohost really feel like the website it wants to be.
some questions/thoughts I'd have about implementation, asking aloud to anyone else who is interested in or working on the idea:
- can posts from elsewhere get rebugged into a community they weren't originally a part of (and vice versa?) I'm gonna say this sounds like it could be a similar problem to what people were reporting with the global tags and things getting boosted to wider than intended audiences in the first place; so perhaps it would make sense to treat communities like an independent timeline that doesn't cross over in either direction? maybe there could be something toggle-able about this behavior? idk
- who runs/owns a community? is there a mechanism for shared ownership? how do we minimize drama around this? Or do we have 10 different communities started by different people for the same topic? Is that even a problem? Does anyone own a community? if nobody, how is one formed/started? maybe they're just special tags that you have to subscribe to, and nobody owns them?