Is Silence Too Blunt?

Over the last few months people have started using the "Silence" feature to ensure their social timelines contain just the accounts they want to see, and this is great as there are a few fundamental differences between "Silence" and the less-agreesive "Mute" feature. Mute will prevent posts from a specific account from appearing in your timeline unless that post is a mention. Silence takes this one step further by not showing any posts in your timeline that come from or even mention the accounts you don't want to see. This heavy-handed super-mute function came about as a direct result of some of the repulsive antics of individuals on App.Net and Twitter, and these same antics can be found all over the web on various social networks. People should not have to put up with such asininity after leaving high school, so the Silence function was born. That said, it may be a little too blunt a tool.

As of this writing there are three accounts on the 10Centuries network that have Silenced me. This is completely okay1 as I understand that my excessive posting habits or unintentionally brusque jokes can put people off. 28 other Silences are in place across 12 accounts, and it doesn't matter who is using the feature2. What does matter is the effect a Silence can have on a conversation.

Because Silence will block posts even mentioning a person that has been silenced, if there is a conversation going on and a Silenced account is brought in — either as a mention or as an active participant — it completely blocks the rest of that conversation from the full list of participants, even if they're being mentioned. I think this is completely unfair. The purpose of Silence was to improve our enjoyment of the people and conversations on 10C. The fact that just name-dropping an account can completely stifle that conversation is no good. As of 10:00am Japan Time on November 2nd, there are 64,372 social posts on 10Centuries. I've written 18,085 of them, and I'm mentioned in another 17,032. For people who are Silencing my account, that's a lot of posts they're not seeing, many of which I may just be a mention and not an active participant. It's stifling conversation and, more than this, it's unfair to the people who just want to relax and enjoy some good conversations with people on here.

Perhaps the meaning of "Silence" needs to change?

Here's what I'm thinking about doing, and I'd love to hear your feedback — especially if you're one of the people who doesn't want to see my posts in your timelines.

I'd like to weaken Silence by making it act more like Mute. With Mute, you will not see posts written by the muted account unless you are mentioned. This means that you can still participate in the conversation or watch it take place. Viewing the thread in conversation view will show the entire conversation including posts written under the muted account. I think Silence should work this way as well, allowing conversations to naturally take place with one little difference: Silenced accounts will be redacted in the post as seen in the mockup below:

Mention with a Silence

This would permit conversations where Silenced people are mentioned to continue or, at the very least, be acknowledged so that conversations do not appear to abruptly end, seemingly without reason.

What do you think? Should the Silence function become less blunt an instrument? Do you have a better idea to make it possible for conversations to continue even when Silenced accounts are mentioned? I'd love to hear your feedback. You can get in touch via or @10centuries on the social site, or via this site's contact form.

  1. I will never make it impossible to block, mute, or otherwise ignore the various accounts I run on the service.

  2. It really doesn't add any value knowing who is Silencing or Silenced, though an account that has been Silenced by a large number of people would raise alarm bells, and I'd investigate for activities that go against the rather simplistic Terms of Service — basically not being an intentional jerk to people.