Mastodon / fediverse and languages

This is the english version of a post I published on dec. 07 2023 in PT-BR.

After 48 hours, the poll I placed on Mastodon ended to find out if people followed profiles that published content in languages other than those they speak natively. There were 4255 votes and 792 shares. The reach this poll had exceeded any expectations I could have had. With just over 650 followers when I started the poll, it reached almost seven times the number of people it represented.

In addition to the issue of reach, the results of my poll question were very interesting. For many people who responded and commented, this seems obvious and something you didn’t even need to ask a question to know. However, one thing seems to go unnoticed by most people when it comes to the Mastodon platform and the fediverse in general: as Mastodon / fediverse does not receive algorithmic interference in the process of selection and assortment of posts and in the assembly of feeds, here we have more access to posts from people who write in other languages.

On platforms with algorithmic interference, like commercially exploited platforms, this happens all the time. So, in those spaces, what happens is that – even if you choose to follow a person who writes in another language – the post assortment and display algorithms operate so that you do not see these posts or see fewer posts from languages that are not your native language. The algorithms assume that you only speak the language of your system or the one you signaled by interacting in the first posts you saw on the platform when you started using it (of course, signals such as the geographic location of the device and the declared location of the address IP associated with you when you created your registration also interfere; there are many flags).

On platforms that are not manipulated by algorithms, like Mastodon, this does not happen. So, if you choose to follow five profiles of people from five different countries who post their publications in five different languages, you will see everything that these people publish. This substantially changes the possibilities of interactions with different people and the eventual relationships that are built in these environments. It was to try to find out how people relate to this content that I carried out the survey.

Thank you so much to everyone who responded and participated! I learned a lot from the comments and usage reports.

Let’s continue using Mastodon / fediverse to meet more people and more cool ideas and shorten distances, including removing language barriers!

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