Two New Gizmos to Explore Mastodon: Hashtag Search and Trending Content

If you use Twitter, you probably know about its recent decision to limit content visibility to registered users only. Add in today’s adventures in rate-limiting and Twitter is a plain mess.

I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time on Mastodon. It feels more like a community than Twitter has in the last ten years; even though I have 1700 followers, about 1/3 of what I had at Twitter’s peak, there is an unbelievable amount of engagement. (I care about that because it feels like there is a meaningful flow of information and ideas happening, not because I want to be an influencer or any of that nonsense. For the last few years on Twitter I’ve felt like a shipwrecked sailor throwing out bottles that never, ever came back.)

With the increased activity on Mastodon I wanted more ways to explore content. Since I use my own tiny instance and Mastodon content is scattered across lots of instances, searching Mastodon isn’t as simple as going to a central location and plugging in a keyword. Furthermore, Mastodon makes it easy to protect your privacy and there are certain hurdles to doing full keyword searches across the Fediverse.

On the other hand, the Fediverse is VERY friendly to hashtags and trending content, and makes them easily accessible. So I made a couple of Gizmos to take advantage of that.

In January I made a Gizmo called MastoWindow, which lets you browse hashtags one instance at a time. That’s great if you just want to browse an instance, but no good at all for search. So I made MastoWindow 2! Enter a hashtag and MW2 searches for it across Mastodon instances with more than 1000 users that are registered on Instances.Social. (At this writing that’s about 80 instances – MW2 uses the Instances.Social API to generate a list of Mastodon instances every time the program runs.) Currently image thumbnails are not being returned because I want this to be a fast search.


If you’re more interested in links that are hot around the multiverse, check out MastoTrends. It’s really easy to use: just visit the page. It’ll automatically populate with a collection of trending content from across several random Mastodon instances. It’s just for getting a quick idea of what’s being passed around Mastodon – — if you want to do a deeper dive on popular content, check out FediTrends , which is more extensive than these Gizmos.

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