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Blue skies, smiling at me.
Yes, the grass can be greener and the sky can be bluer.
As many of my social media connections will now know, X (Twitter) recently introduced a trial where new unverified accounts will be charged a $1 per year subscription (NZ$1.43) to be able to post and interact with other posts.
This trial was rolled out in New Zealand and the Philippines around mid-October.
NZ has frequently been used as a testing ground for new technologies and products, before releasing them to the rest of the world. We are a small country with a reasonably technically literate population who embrace the new. Although small in population we are a large enough sample to make the trial worthwhile and get quality data to make final tweaks before releasing the product or service worldwide.
Initially, there was outrage and confusion, with a lot of misunderstanding. Some people thought it was $1 per post, others thought it was $1 per month, while those who actually read the press release realised that it was $1 a year for new signups only and that existing users would not be affected.
It strikes me that much of the misinformation spread throughout the world these days is caused by people commenting after skim-reading headlines rather than reading and understanding the details.
Before this change in policy by the platform formerly known as Twitter, I had been lamenting many of the recent changes there and had looked at other options, including the platform Bluesky. The only issue with Bluesky is that you need a code from an existing member to join, and members are typically given 1 code a week. I had the app installed on my phone for some months, but without a code, was unable to complete the process. Midway through September, I was gifted a code and finally got myself on the new platform. What a breath of fresh air. No ads, No bots, my feed contained the chronological posts of the people I followed rather than what some algorithm suggested I wanted, and posts seemed so much more considered and far less toxic. I decided to shift my focus to Bluesky but retain my Twitter account as I have so many good naturist connections there.
While I had connected with a few of my Twitter refugees, I was finding it difficult to see who was on the new platform to reach out to them. What we needed was a Feed for Naturism, and it seemed that there wasn’t one.
For those unfamiliar with the platform, Bluesky has a feature called Feeds. Sometimes it can be more productive to follow a Feed rather than follow individuals. While following individuals is certainly the norm, Feeds are more topic-focused than individual-focused.
Feeds are filtered content based on the inclusion (or, as I later discovered, exclusion) of specific keywords. Feeds are created by users and take a modicum of technical knowledge, although there are services and online help to assist with their creation.
There is a feed called Kikorangi, a Maori word that translates to blue sky, which pulls in every post (or are they bleets?) that mentions New Zealand. Typically this feed rolls over with predominantly local New Zealander’s posts with occasional comments from people elsewhere in the world commenting about New Zealand. I thought we needed something like this for naturists.
After Googling “How to create a Feed on Bluesky” and looking at a number of the responses, it appeared that I would need a third-party app and some technical coding to achieve my desired solution. I consider myself technically competent, but I do find that I give up easily if I don't pick things up quickly on the first attempt.
I thought that it wouldn’t be long before someone more technically capable than me would set up a naturism Feed, and then I would find my tribe.
After a few weeks on Bluesky, I found the lack of a specific naturist Feed was bothering me more and more, and I felt that our community needed a presence to help bring us all together.
I looked again at the requirements of creating a Feed and embarked on the task of generating the code to capture all posts using the keywords Naturism, Naturist, Nudism and Nudist. After a couple of hours and a few failed attempts, I had enough code to publish my feed to the Bluesky site.
Initial results were not quite what I wanted, with the inclusion of some sexually inappropriate content. I was then that I had to learn how to exclude specific keywords from my list, and version 2.0 was ready to publish. This time the results were more in line with the desired outcome, although there was still some content, mainly from the Furry community, that was sexually graphic. I am not smart enough to remove these images, but the content filtering settings on Bluesky are much more configurable than on other platforms. Close enough would be good enough.
The day after I published my Naturism feed on Bluesky, X introduced the trial charging new users, and a mass departure from Twitter began. Despite the charges only applying to two countries and only to new signups, not existing members, the exodus seemed more a vote of no confidence in X than an objection to the charge itself.
Only getting a code a week, it was frustrating that I couldn’t help more of my contacts escape the sinking ship. It felt like we were in lifeboats looking for survivors adrift and pulling them into safety.
While the site formerly known as Twitter is fast becoming a toxic and hostile place, we must remember that for many naturists it has long been a valuable networking opportunity and a place where we could congregate.
Here is hoping the Bluesky can become a suitable alternative as the X platform crashes and burns.
Bluesky lacks some features such as direct messaging and GIF posting, but I gather that they are in development. First impressions are promising.
For those of you already on Bluesky, look out for the Naturism Feed. hopefully, this will make reconnecting on the new platform easier.
If you are already on Bluesky and have codes that you haven’t already given out, then please consider reaching out to your naturist contacts on X and throw them a lifeline. Leave no one behind.
Thank you for reading. Have a comfortable day.
Let's get physical.
It's not the willpower I lack, I have lots of that.