An update on likes and boosts in MoodleNet

Back in March of this year, we published a post entitled What we talk about when we talk about rating systems. While the fundamental approach that we outlined in that post remains unchanged, we’re tweaking the implementation of it for the beta launch in November.

We’re all familiar with the ability to ‘reshare’ and ‘like’ content on social networks. On Twitter it’s called ‘retweeting’ and ‘favouriting’, while on Mastodon (see screenshot below) it’s ‘boosting’ and ‘favouriting’

Boosts and likes

This approach is unproblematic for status updates, but of course with MoodleNet we’re also dealing with resources. As a result, to make things simple, the approach we outlined in our previous post was that there would be a single option (‘likes’) on resources.

Likes on resources

This would serve not only to allow a user to easily re-find something they’d liked via their profile, but it would be a vote for the resource within the collection. Simple, straightforward, and effective!

Likes on profiles

The problem with this, as pointed out by Mayel (our Technical Architect) is that this isn’t in line with Fediverse conventions. We want to be interoperable with other federated social networks, and with those, ‘likes’ don’t show up in feeds, — but ‘boosts’ do.

This led us down somewhat of a rabbithole, as there are several ways we could fix this. One thing to bear in mind is that both ‘likes’ on comments and likes on resources should show up in the relevant section of a user’s profile.

As MDLNET-372 outlines, we initially considered three options:

  1. Users have the option to ‘boost’ or ‘like’ comments, but only ‘like’ resources (which, behind the scenes is actually ‘like+boost’). Likes show up in the timeline on user profiles.
  2. Users can ‘applaud’ (like+boost) both comments and resources. Applause shows up in the timeline on user profiles.
  3. Users can ‘boost’ or ‘like’ comments, and ‘applaud’ (boost+like) resources. Both applause and likes show up in the timeline on user profiles.

Eventually, however, we rejected all of these options, because they would force users into an option where they have to both like and boost something, rather than perform these actions separately.

Finally, there’s terminology to inspect here as well. While Mastodon and Pleroma use stars and call them ‘favourites’, Twitter and Pixelfed use hearts and call them ‘likes’. Given that we want to use stars instead of hearts, we may as well stick with convention and call them ‘favourites’!

The solution to all of this doesn’t sound groundbreaking, but still involved a bit of thought: MoodleNet users will be able to ‘favourite’ and/or ‘boost’ both comments and resources. Favouriting something means it ends up on your profile, while a boost is both a way for users to give a thumbs-up to a resource and share it with their followers.

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