Regarding Mastodon hashtag searches:

I’m writing a new Mastodon blog post and want to be sure that I understand hashtag searches - please.

It seems that since I'm running a search when logged into a specific instance, that the results of the search may differ between instances, since each instance chooses which other instances to connect to. (?)

Could someone tell me please if I have a correct understanding of this? Thanks.


@sct_r You can view the federated hashtag results for each instance without needing to log in. For example, here are the federated toots with the hashtag #mastodon on mastodon.social:
mastodon.social/tags/mastodon

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions. :-)

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@ldjb Thanks! That is very helpful info, much appreciated. I was hoping to find that if there was one instance that connected to all (or as many as possible) other instances, that you could then run a hashtag search that would produce results for all public posts with that hashtag on the federated timeline. From what you're saying, it sounds like that isn't possible at this time.

@sct_r Unfortunately, that isn't really possible. Federation isn't done on an instance-to-instance basis, but on an instance-to-user basis. Each instance only has a limited view of any other instance.

That said, looking at the hashtag pages of a well-connected instance such as mastodon.social can be fruitful.

@ldjb. Thanks for helping w/ this. I work w/ volunteers, groups & agencies that do “social listening” on SM platforms to help identify needs, concerns, probs etc. during disasters/emergencies. I'm trying to learn how best to search & where to search on Mastodon so we’re ready when the need arises. It sounds like we’ll need to listen on multiple instances rather than having a single search. I’m sure some emergency toots will get boosted across instances though, so that will help.

@sct_r There was a search engine, cler.ical.ist, which you could use to search across many different instances. However, that was recently shut down over privacy concerns. Perhaps that or something similar will re-emerge at some point. It's still early days for Mastodon, so maybe a better solution will arise, given time.

@ldjb Agreed. Yes I think part of the charm of Mastodon is that it seems that you can find a “home" instance (or several) that feels more like its own community, has its own rules and way of operating, yet still has connections to other instances and the community at large when that is desired. It’s great seeing the early days of growth. I hope to get involved as the platform develops, and will be happy to share feedback as we see how people use Mastodon during emergencies. :)

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