Last week while writing about recent doodads I’ve made for Mastodon, I complained that I found the Google experience rather flat relative to the amount of understanding we as online searchers have developed. We have understandings about social signals and identity verification and content freshness that we didn’t have (or in the case of content freshness, weren’t as relevant) a couple of decades ago.
This weekend, while listening to some excellent DJs on Twitch (recommended: Air Adam, Mix Master Hak, DJ Ray Domingo, DJ Swirlz , Steve Disco Newsome, Hentalia, Vibesmaster G-Nice) , I dived into the Mastodon API with the intention of making something that was capable of filtering Mastodon’s hashtag search thoroughly but not in a way that requires much understanding of special syntax. I ended up with the Big Mastodon Hashtag Search: https://mastogizmos.com/bmhs/ .
Let me show you its features!
What it searches
The BMHS does searches for multiple hashtags across 14 large Mastodon instances. It then removes the duplicates and and presents the results to you in a filterable list.
How it Filters
The BMHS offers a number of ways to filter results, from social engagement to post characteristics to hashtags.
Filtering by social engagement
Each post in the search results has a social score. It’s calculated as a weighted sum of the replies/reposts/favorites: replies get 1 point, reposts 2, favorites 3. (I might change that ratio.)
Underneath the search box you’ll see a slider labeled “Slide to filter by social score”:
You can click and drag the slider to filter your search results by social engagement. The number at the right (0 in the screenshot) specifies what social score is currently filtering the results; it changes as you drag the slider. What ALSO changes is the result count in the search box, so you can immediately see how you’re impacting your search results. (All filtering methods reflect in the search result count immediately.) I made a very very terrible GIF to give you an idea of how it works.
Filtering by Post Characteristics
Beneath the slider you’ll see a series of checkboxes representing post characteristics. Ticking one of these immediately changes your search count and results list:
“Sensitive” means posts marked as having sensitive content. By Bots means posts marked as bot-generated by the API’s response. By Verified Accounts means posts whose authors have self-verified at least one of the links in their bio. By High Follower Count OR Verified Accounts means either verified account posts or posts with more than 5,000 followers; that’s why I call it “Influencer Mode.” You can also use checkboxes to limit your search results to the last day, week, or month.
Filtering by Full Text
The initial search is by hashtag, but once you have the results you can use this form to filter by all the text in the post’s content:
Filtering by Hashtag
Finally, BMHS aggregates the top 20 most frequently-appearing hashtags. Click on one and it’ll filter your results by that hashtag. Click the Reset Hashtag Display button to clear the filter.
Viewing Search Results
Search results appear beneath the filters. I added a couple of visual indicators; posts with a social score of more than 40 are outlined in red. Posts from users who have verified at least one of their bio links are outlined in gold. (If the post has both characteristics the outline will be red.)
I already have some things I want to add to this so stay tuned.