Don't know if there's any point in saying this, but just to put it out there: I just blocked ICYMI (Philosophy), a bot that randomly boosts my post (as I'm on a list of philosophers).

I don't know who maintains that bot, and I can see why it may sound like a good idea. But, um, Mastodon, for me at least, is not quite about that kind of thing.

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@kinozhao I did the same after it boosted some posts of mine that had nothing to do with philosophy. I don’t mind boosts in general, but it seemed weird for a philosophy bot to do this at random and out of context. So I opted out.

@SylviaFysica @keithwilson @kinozhao

Yeah, it’s my bot. Sorry that it wasn’t helpful for you guys. The bot doesn’t do any content analysis and relies entirely on boosts and likes by other people. I weigh boosts and likes by philosophers higher in the hope of getting content that other philosophers find interesting, but it often boosts stuff that has nothing to do with philosophy unfortunately.

@keithwilson I think the thought is to present a "snap shot" of what philosophers talk about, including non-philosophical/non-academic stuff.

It's the sort of thing where I really do see the appeal of it from the consumer side. But, from the producer side, it really veers towards creepiness real quick.

The fact that there's no declaration of ownership on its github page doesn't boost confidence either.

@kinozhao Agreed. I can see the value in posting toots with a particular subject matter; e.g. those containing the hashtag. But I’m not sure that a snapshot of what philosophers talk about in general is particularly useful or interesting (though I guess its 200 or so followers disagree!). A browsable list of toots would seem to be a better option.

@kinozhao @keithwilson

It makes me feel good when I see that I am boosted so I thought idea was to improve philosophers’ self-esteem…

@ehud @keithwilson lolll are you not then disappointed that it's a bot and not a human, though?

@ehud @kinozhao Hehe. I guess it works as a discovery mechanism, which is the bot’s stated purpose. I’m just not sure that indiscriminate boosting is the way to achieve this. But perhaps that’s just me…

@keithwilson @ehud @kinozhao

There is discrimination in that the bot follows certain criteria (as detailed in the documentation). I think the real problem is that there is so few philosophy posts on mastodon, so the bot defaults to boosting seemingly at random. Maybe I should lower the number of boosts dramatically…

@philippsteinkrueger @keithwilson @ehud
Huh, interesting. What do you use to adjudicate if a toot is philosophical? boosts by other philosophers? (genuinely curious)

@kinozhao, yes basically boosts and favorites by philosophers. Actually it’s two different functions: one is that the bot follows philosophers so what it sees is already shaped in this way. The other is that favorites and boosts have a higher weight if they are by philosophers…

@keithwilson @ehud

@philippsteinkrueger @ehud @kinozhao I’d suggest it would be better to boost only philosophy posts, where those include specific hashtags (e.g. ) or are copied to known philosophy lists. Where there are many to choose from, these could be prioritised in the existing way, but that would remove the problem of seemingly random posts.

@philippsteinkrueger @ehud @kinozhao I appreciate that your intentions in developing this bot were good, and there is definitely a need for something like it in the philosophy fediverse to improve discoverability. But in light of how this works in practice I wonder if it might be worth considering a different system of selecting posts to boost.

Hi @keithwilson, thanks for the suggestion. Hashtags and lists are Mastodon's native discovery mechanism, but the problem is that they don't work – that's why I started the bot in the first place. Many people just don't use hashtags, and looking at the posts that do come through with the hashtag philosophy, it's a lot of life wisdom stoicism quotes and very little else...

@ehud @kinozhao


So the result would just be a replication of what people have that already follow the hashtags and the lists and further discrimination would be as difficult as it is today, because there are almost no interactions.

Another way that I'm thinking of is using the (somehow weighted?) number of philosophers a poster follows or is followed by. That might contribute to a more topical feed but has it's own problems. Idk, what do you think?

@ehud @kinozhao


I personally think that the feed doesn't even have to be 100% philosophy. I think about it more as a feed of posts that might be interesting to philosophers, and that could be much broader of course than philosophy posts strictly speaking.

@ehud @kinozhao

@philippsteinkrueger @keithwilson @kinozhao

I don’t mine the serendipitous nature of it, but I guess it depends on how you feel about the social aspects of posting more broadly. I also don’t really like to define what philosophy is…

That said, it occurs to me that what folks are describing is sort of a random filter on top of the philosophy guppe group. Seems more organic than the hashtag thing, but maybe a combination of both can also work.

@ehud, @keithwilson

I'm hesitant to conceive the bot as a filter on top of the hashtag or the guppe group (those are being closed down anyway, no?) or a combination because these systems are just not being used enough. If they were being used, there would be no need for the bot in the first place and discovery would be easy.

At the moment, philosophy on here is pretty dire. I think I'll wait and see if it picks up again and in what way before I invest more time...


@philippsteinkrueger @ehud @kinozhao I appreciate that was the aim, but I found that regularly having my non-philosophy posts boosted out of context and seemingly at random did feel a bit creepy, as @kinozhao put it, which is why I blocked the bot. (Sorry!)

@keithwilson No worries! I'm also happy to have the bot unfollow you of course...

@philippsteinkrueger @ehud @kinozhao I think that depends a lot which server you are using. I suspect that posts from people listed on the philosophy lists filtered by tags, and maybe weighted by likes and boosts give a higher quality set of posts that are relevant to those interested in academic philosophy. Though perhaps you’ve already tried that and it didn’t work so well…

@kinozhao I originally had an owner label on the bot but I removed it after I got tormented by Mastodonians who told me all algorithms were evil.

@philippsteinkrueger ah, I had not considered that.

I had a sense that you weren't trying to be entirely anonymous, because then you wouldn't have made the github page.

To me, Mastodon is built on the idea of having control over one's audience, any many people (myself included) moved to Mastodon explicitly for that purpose.

Many people here turn on follower request for fine-grained control. I haven't felt the need to do that yet. Nevertheless, having an authorless bot circulating my content to a group of audience I have no control over (or access to, for that matter, since we're on different servers) kinda defeats the entire purpose.

@kinozhao Sure, I understand that.
For what it’s worth, the bot respects “nobot” statements in user’s bios and posts…

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