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Request: Toot topics/categories #1208
The Collections feature over on Google+ allows users to categorize their posts by topic and set the privacy level of certain topics. Other users can subscribe to those individual topics. It's an innovative approach to sharing that I wish was more common in social networks.
I think this would be neat to incorporate into Mastodon. Say Alice often posts about cats, dogs, fish, and national politics, but I only follow her for her cat content. She could put her cat toots in a Cats category, and I could subscribe to Alice#Cats without getting any of her other stuff. On the other hand, if I just wanted to see everything Alice posted, I could follow her as normal. For a really cool twist, I could even selectively mute some (but not all) of Alice's categories.
I'm new to Mastodon, but I've already noticed that the community tends to dislike political content that's not CW'd. This would provide users more control over their feeds without relying on CW conventions: I throw my political toots into a Politics category, and my followers who aren't interested can simply mute it or subscribe to other categories.
I expect this would be a big change, but I really think it'd add some unique and valuable functionality. What's more, it would be a feature quite unlike anything on Twitter, which would help Mastodon continue to set itself apart.
I'm inclined to think that adding a special categories feature would overly complicate the system. Nobody wants to have to remember to click a button on each post and select a category from a drop-down list: It would quickly become an annoyance and many will often forget to use it.
This system should definitely rely on tags. I'm more in favor of #7988 for this purpose: Be able to follow some users only for posts containing given tags rather than everything.
Beyond that I'm up for an interface feature to either group or colorize posts based on category.
But Mastodon has a high character limit, and hashtags can often be embedded in sentences rather than added separately at the bottom. The main issue is that fewer users may want to keep track of a categories field for every post they make, as most want to write something then just click 'Toot' without worrying about other things. Also it may be hard for some to decide by which criteria to categorize their posts... eventually they end up with something similar to tags.
Perhaps groups might be an alternate idea? Also Mastodon has a system that allows users to make their own lists... maybe that can also be upgraded to better include this functionality?