On Hubski, you follow people, which determines which posts you see. This is how the site has worked for about 9 years. As time has passed, I have increasingly scrutinized the intent and outcome of this approach. These are two primary reasons why:
1) In our 10 years, Hubski has never grown large enough that the global feed is significantly different from the feed of someone that follows a modest amount of active users. In theory, as Hubski gets more users, different user's feeds will show different content as the people they follow post and share a subset of the global content. In reality, Hubski has a small active userbase, and any significantly active post gets shared to most users. Basically everyone sees the same posts.
2) Comments, not posts, are how users most potently add/subtract value to/from Hubski. We have a mechanism to follow people, but it applies to content they post (primarily external), instead of the comments (primarily personal) that they make.
For the past several months, I have been thinking about the site critically. I have been questioning every aspect of it, and trying to reassess every assumption that I have made.
One important assumption that I made early on was that posts should earn their audience, but comments need not. To be honest, I never actually thought about it in that way. It is the web forum default. Reddit, Hacker News, and most other sites let comments come in, and then moderate them after they have been posted. It makes sense. Who wants to comment on a forum where every comment must be approved?
Once I did begin to challenge this assumption, however, I started to view Hubski's sharing mechanic differently, as well as our moderation tools (which are primarily focused upon countering offending comments).
Challenging this assumption has led me to contemplate an experiment with this change:
Your feed will be determined by the tags that you follow. The comments you see will be determined by the people you follow.
Your feed will be determined by the tags on them. Posts won't be added to your feed by others. Circledotting a post will increase its visibility by giving it a higher rank over time relative to posts with fewer circledots in the same feed (this happens now). There will be a global feed where you can see all posts.
The posts you view will only show comments from people that you follow, and those comments that they share. Circledotting a comment will make it visible to anyone that follows you. There will be a global comment stream where you can see all comments.
If you filter a user, you won't see their posts or comments, regardless of whether you follow the tag on their post, or if their comment was shared with you.
Mute might no longer be necessary.
The goal of Hubski has always been to create a place for thoughtful discussion on the web. I'm happy to discuss my reasoning for this experiment below. I do ask that you consider it with an open mind before taking a strong position either for or against. Also, we have experimented with changes before and discarded them, reverting back. If we try this as an experiment, that would not be an unlikely outcome.
Thoughts are appreciated!