Best ways to navigate social media?
July 21, 2009 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Metafilter and other social media sites are excellent places to learn new things. Yet it's probably true for everyone that most of the world isn't like me and doesn't like the things I like, and I don't have the time to check every topic for interest value. How do you use Metafilter and similar sites to most efficiently find topics/people that interest you?

Being a bit older now , visiting sites like Reddit and Digg can get a little depressing. While there is still gold there to be found, it's somewhat crowded out by "younger' topics of interest. Even a place like Metafilter which seems to have an older and generally more intelligent crowd produces a lot of topics that will never interest me. Of course, I don't just come here to find stuff I was always interested in and opening my mind to new things is all part of the fun. Yet I can't see how anyone has time to sift through every new topic for interest value. So I am wondering - do the clever insiders have ways to sift through the content to increase the overall interest value? I understand the simple use of tags and the popular favorites on Metafilter, both of which I use often, but maybe for example there is some way of identifying like-minded users and following what grabs their interest? Maybe there is some other way I haven't even thought of? Care to share how you make the most efficient use of these sites?
posted by vizsla to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
posted by dfriedman at 3:48 PM on July 21, 2009

I use reddit in a way that satisfies me pretty well, i unsubscribed from the main reddit page and only choose reddits for fields I'm interested in. it's a completely different website than the general front page, which is in my opinion just about as juvenile as digg. I love reddit because i only see what i want to see.
posted by unsurmountable at 3:49 PM on July 21, 2009

As an additional insight using an rss reader allows you to customize what you see in much the same way as i use reddit, except it actually pulls the headlines from the actual websites you are interested in.
posted by unsurmountable at 3:53 PM on July 21, 2009

For me, the most powerful site is

It's far from perfect, but it gives me enough to get started.

My workflow is as follows:
1. come up with 5-6 tags that may describe what I'm looking for.
2. for each tag look up what's popular. e.g. Sometimes that sprouts something.
3. if that doesn't work, try to combine tags. e.g.
4. Experiment with a number of tags, and track sites of interest.
5. For sites that hit the target, lookup the site in delicious to find other tags that people have used to describe it. e.g. (
6. make a new list of tags, and repeat at step 1.
posted by TheOtherSide at 4:05 PM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

I also use to find other users who happen to regularly tag quality resources. I then look at those users to see what else they're tagging.
posted by TheOtherSide at 4:12 PM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I use google.

[search topic] where [search topic] is whatever you're looking for.
posted by wfrgms at 4:27 PM on July 21, 2009

The older I get, the less I browse and the more I search. The gold is in your search terms, always. Sure you can find things randomly from time to time, but how often, and is it worth the time? I do keep a few BoingBoing "random crap" sites in my RSS reader, but just a few, and nothing like the firehoses of Digg or Reddit or anything like that.
posted by rhizome at 5:18 PM on July 21, 2009

I would never be able to keep up with metafilter without using a RSS reader. The reason for that is because you can quickly skim each entry and if it looks like something you don't care about you can move on to the next one instantly with a single keystroke or mouse click. The reader keeps track of which entries you've read, just like an email program, which in conjunction with the "next unread" keystroke/button means you always see new content and never something you've already seen. It keeps your place for you and you never again have to worry about pagination or something falling off the main page. If you get behind you can "mark all as read" to catch up, but I rarely do that as it's easy to flip through even a few hundred entries in a couple of minutes if you're skimming. Another advantage is that the feed contains the entire post, including the [more inside], so especially for sites like AskMe you can skim the whole text without having to click and wait for the page to load. When you combine that convenience with the fact that you can assimilate dozens (or hundreds) of sites into that same interface, it really saves a boatload of time.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:52 PM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

My favorite aggregator is Plain and simple - I look for drama. Look enough and you'll develop an eye for it.
posted by torquemaniac at 9:08 PM on July 21, 2009


Yea it's overrun by pubescent girls who post melancholic Flickr photos and Chuck Palahniuk quotes, but it's also a super-easy way to keep up with like-minded people and what inspires and interests them. The posts of all the people you "follow" appear in real-time on your dashboard, a la the Twitter timeline. If you really like a post, you can reblog it into your own tumblr. It's less about searching for something specific and more about being picky about who you follow, so that in that stream of multimedia, you know there will always be some posts that catch your eye. Just don't get hung up on community gimmicks such as "Tumblarity" and how many reblogs you get.
posted by amillionbillion at 1:40 AM on July 22, 2009

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