Light Dawns On Marblehead: You Can Use Mastodon’s Verified Identities as Search Filters

Light Dawns On Marblehead: You Can Use Mastodon’s Verified Identities as Search Filters

I was really pleased with the way my Mastodon tool “Gift Article Gazette” turned out. It made me eager to do more hashtag-based Mastodon search tools, but I was worried about spam. After poking into the Mastodon API, though, I think I’ve found big possibilities.

I didn’t realize exactly how much information the Mastodon API delivers. Holy mackerel. It provides a full complement of information about a poster with each post, including what links are associated with the poster’s account and whether they’ve been verified or not using the Mastodon self-verification system. 

This is very exciting because it means we could do some basic content moderation just around whether people have verified an account or not. 

I need to test this because mostly I’ve been pondering, but my hypothesis is that if you limit the results of a Mastodon hashtag search to only those accounts which have at least one verified link (don’t care where) you will have uniformly better results with minimal spam. 

I don’t think verifying any link is a huge barrier to participation entry. 

We could even go further if we wanted, depending how many organizations we could get to verify their identities. 

Wouldn’t it be neat if you could filter #gov posts by people with verified identities at gov sites, or #research or #science by people with .edu verified identities? 

I should have thought of it before – Mastodon’s self-authentication means there’s a built-in decentralized authority structure that we could use to make Mastodon search better. 

Sigh. I am very dim sometimes. 

When you think of Mastodon’s self-verification not only as an identification system but as a *crowdsourced set of authenticated search filters* — suddenly there are possibilities everywhere ! 

I think tomorrow I’ll make something basic that does a hashtag search across several big instances and lets you filter your results by verified gov / edu / whatever other TLDs sound reasonable accounts. Then we can mess around with that and see what we think. 

PS: This didn’t work because I mistook the timeline query results for search query results, but that’s okay because I have a Plan B. Stay tuned.

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