I have a lot of thoughts on this rich text deal and I have put a lot of them down on GitHub but I still need to vent more

Mastodon isn't a Twitter clone but it was made to fill that exact niche. Short posts with mentions, hashtags, and URLs. Such details give the feel of a platform. The velocity, the atmosphere. On a personal level that's just what I like. And I think it would be reasonable to assume many of those who signed up do, too.

A social network is also a kind of common playground. Individuals have the capacity to spoil it for others. For example, when there was a bug in Mastodon that allowed you to make links spin, many made use of it for fun, which spoiled the experience for people with motion sickness. The more vectors there are for how information is transmitted, the more pronounced this is.

Right now, there is not a whole lot of ways that individual posts can escape their boundaries to affect the whole experience. They can use lots of line breaks or a wall of text, but it's limited by a maximum height. They can use caps, but they don't stand out that much. Custom emoji are one of the weaker spots when people use them as fonts, and that's annoying.

But adding more elements to the mix? More control over visuals? People WILL make it look ugly, that's a guarantee.

There's another angle to this. The fediverse is large, and its participants who are not Mastodon have different ideas and design philosophies. Some of them are publishing all sorts of lists and quotes and strike-through items. And when those posts show up on Mastodon, those visuals are lost.

That is not ideal, when it happens! But interoperability between systems with different goals and capabilities can't ever be full, it's a spectrum.

Unless you seek to emulate every system you interoperate with, you have to draw lines. And drawing the line at what Mastodon was designed to do, kind of makes sense to me. The text is the most important part, and we've got that.

What does not necessarily make sense to me is the urgency and fervour with which this issue has been discussed. Although it is not uncommon for Mastodon--for whatever reason--to frame every feature request as a question of life and death, when Mastodon is ultimately a place where we make a meme out of someone's name for a day, and then someone posts a picture of What Must Not Be Named


@Gargron it boggles my mind that people care so much about this, honestly. isn't the entire point of open source software the ability to make your own modifications? if people want it so bad, why not add it themselves? pleroma already has it, why not create an alt on a pleroma instance to... do italics, i guess?

it's really draining to have people be so aggressive about something that ultimately will go unnoticed by a huge majority. i'm with you here.

@nuttgodd @Gargron the reasoning behind all the care and discussion about it is that mastodon is the only remaining software that refuses to acknowledge any formatting, and it leads to broken and illegible posts from those people. its almost like its intentionally obscured too: if you put a link inside of a post, it renders the same color as the rest of the text and has no url preview! which is madness because it still works perfectly if you do happen to notice it!

@desvox @Gargron well, out of all the posts from the 1.2K people i follow, i've never once seen a broken/illegible post due to formatting. also, twitter certainly doesn't have italics or bold or anything like that to my knowledge, so it's really not unheard of for similar platforms to not have this. i also have no idea what you mean about the links, i definitely see preview boxes on urls.

@nuttgodd @Gargron about the link preview thing, apparently it does generate a url preview but with a delay? it didnt generate until i clicked i opened the post in the view column, but anyways, the color for the link in the css has really bad contrast for a link, so when the url preview hasnt shown yet its not visible as a link. the second picture is the same post but on my pleroma instance, where it adds good contrast so that its obvious.

as for twitter not having it: why not improve? twitter never had content warnings, but we do! we have longer posts too! why not add some basic rich text functions too, at least adding enough support so that posts made with them are legible? why is mastodon is the only active ostatus/activitypub frontend that doesnt support some form of html formatting?

@desvox @Gargron why? because: eugen doesn't want to put it on his platform, and people who want it clearly already have it on pleroma. it's fine. CWs are a fantastic, wonderful feature that make a noticeable difference. formatting is an afterthought that is already available through other means.

@nuttgodd @Gargron well i suppose its a bigger issue that causes people to get riled up about it, that having mastodon as the prominent implementation is extremely limiting to the growth of the fediverse as a whole when its a one-man project that wont consider the features supported by the rest of the network. when it concerns something as basic as text formatting, the legibility of posts is at stake here. people use these features and mastodon breaks them, perhaps intentionally at this point. and mastodon wont accept user contributions for features the majority of people clearly want, like configurable character limits and text formatting.

honestly, thats why i care about text formatting. what else will mastodon try to hold us back from doing in the future?
@desvox @nuttgodd @Gargron

Mastodon does not hold back the rest of the ecosystem. Pleroma was the only project that remotely cared about how posts looked on Mastodon, and we no longer care based on the rejection of the PR that made those features look decent.

Use the features or not. If Mastodon users complain because their software does not comply with the spirit of the ActivityPub standard (which is the basic HTML subset defined in ATOM), then refer them to the MR that added support for the basic HTML subset defined in ATOM. If they mansplain why you should not do it for their sake, there's always the block button.
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