Following users UI reset

At the beginning of the week I announced several new features in Micro.blog, including a change to show who someone is following on the web version of Micro.blog. While working on this feature, I inadvertently changed the behavior to remove you (while browsing a user’s profile) from the list of who someone was following. If you looked at a user’s profile, you were never in their following list even if they did follow you.

While this was a bug, there was a long thread on Micro.blog with some good arguments for why this change was actually a feature. We shouldn’t have to worry about checking whether someone follows us. After all, an important part of Micro.blog is to never show follower counts, and to never let a feature grow into a popularity contest and source of judgement. The content someone posts should speak for itself.

This created a lot of confusion, though, because it didn’t work like anyone expected. I think even the people who liked it could tell something needed to change.

I was out of town this week and away from my computer most of the day. This left me some time to try to see both sides of this feature, and I kept coming back to this: the whole point of showing who someone is following is to discover new users. It’s not about how many people they are following. It’s not about whether they are following you.

(As an aside, with a platform based entirely on blogs, no one should read too much into followers anyway, because it doesn’t count all the people who might read your blog in an RSS reader or find it from a Google search.)

I’ve now tried to reduce this feature to its simplest form that solves the problem of finding new users. So in the latest version of Micro.blog on the web and native macOS app, I’ve reverted the change from earlier this week and replaced it with a list of who someone is following that you aren’t following already. We’ll be updating the iOS app as well and submitting it to Apple.

From an API standpoint, the previous behavior is still available. Third-party apps can make the best choice for the user experience they’d like to see, although if people like this change I’d encourage third-party apps to also adopt it.

Thanks to everyone who offered feedback on Micro.blog or in email. It means a lot to us that y’all care that we get this stuff right.

Manton Reece @manton
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