A Guide to Micro.blog For People Who Have A Love/Hate Relationship With Twitter

TL;DR You don’t have to choose between the platforms, but here are some of the ways that they are different. You don’t have to leave Twitter, but there is a good chance Twitter will leave you …without your favorite Twitter client, that is. You may also be exasperated by Twitter’s refusal to take responsibility for the incendiary hate speech it distributes.

In September 2007, I became Twitter user #8,940,312. That sounds like a big number, until you realize that active Twitter accounts alone number in the hundreds of millions today.

I loved Twitter so much. I started with a small group of people I knew, and then found more and more kindred spirits via recommendations and retweets. I have several friends in “real life” who started as Twitter buddies. But over the years, Twitter has become something I don’t recognize anymore, a place where hate and intolerance and crass commercialism have found a welcoming home.

Today, I am the community manager of Micro.blog, a short-form blogging platform and social network that is independent, ad-free, and dedicated to promoting a flourishing independent microblog ecosystem outside the large corporate silos.

Tweeting is one form of microblogging. But when you use Twitter, your content stays at Twitter. At Micro.blog, you can write short or long posts that appear in the Micro.blog timeline as well as on a blog that you control.

That’s the most important thing to understand about Micro.blog. It is a bit like Twitter, in that you can share short thoughts, links, and photos with those who follow you, but it also offers tools and hosting similar to WordPress for short-form content. (And long form content too, like this post!)

The next most important thing to understand about Micro.blog is that the platform was designed, from the beginning, to prevent abuse and harassment. Your microblog is your own, where you are free to write about whatever you want, but we protect the timeline, where you can @-reply others, through a variety of tools and curation. We have community guidelines that are enforced.

So if you like the idea of owning the content you create and you’d like to participate in a lively community that values respect and support, you might like to come over to Micro.blog.

Here are some tips for Twitter users:

You can cross-post to Twitter. All your Micro.blog posts will appear in your Twitter timeline, if you choose, or you can selectively post only some of them. (I started out cross-posting everything, but soon realized that I wanted to post some thoughts directed at the Micro.blog community, and switched over to selective cross-posting.)

Micro.blog is not an attempt to duplicate or replace Twitter. Because our focus is on supporting thoughtful content creation and avoiding the pitfalls of social networks, we don’t have features you might expect:

  • We don’t reveal followers or follower counts. We do reveal who you are following, which you have control over. It helps other microbloggers find new people to follow.
  • We don’t have the equivalent of retweets or likes. If you like something and want the author to know it, you can reply. We believe this encourages more thoughtful sharing.

Micro.blog doesn’t have a tool for automatically following people you already follow on Twitter. We do have a Discover tab, which is a curated version of the general timeline, so you can find new people to follow. You can search for users by name and handle. You can also look at who other microbloggers are following. Once a week, we have Micro Monday (remember Follow Friday?), where users recommend one person to follow.

Micro.blog doesn’t support #hashtags. Hashtags can be useful on Twitter for following a topic, but they have also been used to facilitate harassment and denigration. In the Discover section, we feature a rotating collection of “tagmoji,” which are emoji used as tags for general areas of interest, such as books, podcasts, and music. Microblogger Jason Burk compiled a useful list of the tagmoji we are using.

It’s still early days. We consider new features very carefully, and we err on the side of not adding them until we are confident they won’t have a deleterious effect on the community.

If you want to get an idea of how it’s working, I urge you to check out the Micro Monday microcast, a short weekly interview I do with one member of the Micro.blog community. Everyone on the podcast has commented that Micro.blog reminds them of early Twitter days. That’s what I love to hear. I loved early Twitter and I love the community that I still belong to there, but I don’t love the company or the platform anymore.

I still post there and still interact with people there. But my heart is at Micro.blog. I’m @macgenie. Follow me and I’ll introduce to my new community of interesting, creative, passionate, fun people.

Revised May 3, 2018 to include hashtags and tagmoji details. Revised August 10, 2018 to mention Twitter’s latest ethics issues, and to highlight the fact that conventional longer blog posts are also possible on Micro.blog.

Jean MacDonald @macgenie