Getting Started On Bluesky

So you finally signed up but not sure where to start? First of all welcome! Here is some information to know to get started on the blue sky network.

So, how’s tweeting over here? A post on Bluesky is officially called a post, but you can also name it skeet (contraction of sky and tweet). As you prefer. It is limited to 300 characters, with optional pictures (with alt text limited to 1000 characters) and an embedded link card. The users are named skeeters or skydivers, and the timeline is renamed as the skyline. And just like on Twitter/X, “mutuals” (people who follow each other) are also called moots.

Where do I start? Well, of course, like on any social network, the first thing to do is to fill out your profile so that we know a little about who you are, it is very important to help people find each other. Then I recommend you to take a look at all the settings, in particular “Home Feed Preferences“, “Content Language” and “Moderation / Content Filtering” in order to customize the type of content that Bluesky will display to you, including language(s), minimum number of likes (I suggest to set it to zero to see all posts), and sensitive content. Also enable the “Require alt text on images” setting to force yourself into the habit of putting descriptive text on your images. When you post a message, don’t forget to fill in the language(s) of the message, it’s useful for feeds and to display the translation link to other users. However, some of these settings are tied to the machine you’re using, so you’ll have to check both the web version and the mobile client separately.

Finally, to use third-party apps like those listed below, it is strongly recommended to create application passwords (“Settings” then “App Passwords“), which will be different from your main password, so you don’t have to share the latter and give limited permissions to third-party applications (including the ability to simply delete your account).

Where are the hashtags? On Bluesky, hashtags are not treated the same as on X. They are just keywords like the rest of the message. Moreover, the hashtags are not (ye) clickable on the official interface (but it’s planned), and there is not (yet?) a trends section either.

So how do you discover content? This is the strength of Bluesky: rather than being interested only in profiles selected by a secret algorithm or in trending hashtags chosen by the platform, it is possible to subscribe to what we call feeds : based on more or less complex and powerful criteria (keywords, language, number of likes, set of profiles, follows etc…), it is possible to create message flows on precise or even specialized subjects (literature, cinema, art, computers, cooking, and so on). These feeds are viewable by anyone, and more importantly, they can be created by anyone (however, different degrees of complexity require different skills in programming knowledge). A significant advantage over other social networks which are based on only two algorithms: subscriptions, and a mysterious “for you” selection of which few people know exactly what it is, and which really chooses “for you” what you need to see.

In order to discover these feeds, you can use the “Discover new feeds” section of Bluesky of course, but there is also the goodfeeds site which allows you to search by keyword, top50, or randomly. If a feed interests you, you can add it to your list to subscribe to it, in order to consult it more easily, by clicking on the “+ Add to My Feeds” button at the top right of the feed page. The feeds you have added to your list are accessible via the “# Feeds” link on the left, or the “#” tab at the bottom in the mobile application. It is possible to pin feeds in order to make them appear first, in a personalized order (see “# Feeds” then the gear wheel, or “Settings” then “My Saved Feeds“). It is also possible to like a feed (without even needing to add it to your list), to show your particular affection for this feed and bring it up in the overall stats (additions/pins are not taken into account as it seems). Pinned feeds also appear on the right of the Bluesky web interface, in the same order, just after the “Following” link (on the mobile app, they are located at the top, and you can navigate by swiping left or right ).

Some feeds that I recommend:

  • Discover (posts that would potentially interest you based on your likes)
  • OnlyPosts (posts from people you follow without reposts and replies)
  • Newskies (first skeet of everyone, if you want to say hi!)
  • Followers (displays the skeets of people who follow you, excluding mutuals)
  • Sci-Fi Fantasy Books (a feed made by my girlfriend, full of posts talking about Sci-Fi Fantasy Books)

After adding some feeds, do not hesitate to follow the profiles that seem to post messages that interest you, in order to grow your homepage (“Following”) with even more interesting content and discover even more profiles . Do not hesitate to go wild at the beginning in order to quickly start getting content, even if it means unsubscribing afterwards to refine.

And if you’re interested in creating your own feed, here is a list of sites that will get you started (in order of possibilities and complexity) : goodfeeds, BlueskyFeeds and/or SkyFeed. Also, here is a video explaining how to make a feed: Creating your own Bluesky Custom feed (with muted words).

Where are GIFs? Videos ? Support for GIFs and videos is currently being implemented, it is currently possible to add a GIF to a post by manually copying/pasting its URL from the GIPHY or Tenor site, and videos from Youtube or Vimeo (and music from Apple Music).

And what about polls? DMs? Haters? Trolls? These aren’t yet implemented, at least as of this writing. Yes I know, it’s hard… but a little patience! (Except haters and trolls… those we can do without).

I liked Tweetdeck, does it also exist for Bluesky? Affirmative! There are multiple alternatives, mainly deck.blue, Tokimeki Bluesky and SkyFeed. Besides, I recommend using one of those interfaces, even if you didn’t use Tweetdeck before. Confusing at first maybe, but once you get used to it, it’s much more pleasant and powerful to use than the original Bluesky interface, which is very simplistic and close to that of X. Not all of Bluesky’s functions are implemented, but to navigate, reply, consult the feeds (or create one yourself in SkyFeed), it’s a treat. And some are mobile-friendly!

Even more interesting, deck.blue offers features that aren’t currently supported by the official app, but which are actually implemented in the official network! For example the usage of tags (adding hashtags to a post), curative lists (the opposite of mute lists) and the possibility to add links with a custom text, like this: How to use deck.blue’s new Markdown link feature in Bluesky.

Can I customize my username (handle)? / How to verify my account? Yes, you can modify it whenever you want by going to “Settings“, then “Change handle“. And if you have a domain name, you can use it as a handle by choosing the option “I have my own domain“. Just add a TXT field in the DNS then validate the domain (or sub-domain). It is a form of verification/certification since only the domain or site owner can obtain the corresponding handle, so if you see for example @cyberciti.biz, it cannot be a usurper (unless the account or site got hacked). Be careful though, in all cases, the history of handle changes is public and cannot be deleted (for now). Do not recycle a Bluesky account! I should also mention that your old handle(s) can be reused by anyone once you have abandoned them.

How do I invite people to join the network? Since February 6th 2024, anyone can join Bluesky without the need for an invite code.

How do I find my X/Mastodon follows? As people sign up, it becomes very likely that some of your followers have also signed up for Bluesky. To find them easily, there are several ways, listed further down on this page, “Find/import profiles” section. Small clarification regarding reliability: these tools use the similarity of handles and usernames in order to establish the link between two profiles. It often happens that the handle was taken by someone else, and that it is not the person you are looking for. So pay attention to the list that the tool gives you in order to follow the right people.

A little work about privacy: Everything is public on Bluesky, apart from your e-mail address, date of birth, IP, mutes and invites. Even non-logged people can access it for example on firesky.tv or twexit.nl. So don’t count on the “closed” side of the beta as a protection against strangers. Finally, and this especially concerns artists: all published content, including images, can be used as they see fit, without limit: see Bluesky’s Privacy Policy which clearly states, among other things: “We use your information for various administrative purposes, such as: Pursuing our legitimate interests such as direct marketing, research and development (including marketing research) […] Improving, upgrading, or enhancing our Services […] Developing new products and services“.

That’s all, you can go now, good discovery, and respect your fellows! (In real life too, by the way).

As a bonus, some additional useful links:

Anything to add/edit to this article? Feel free to leave a comment under this post. And if you want to find me on Bluesky, my handle is: @mwyann.fr

Le même article en français : https://www.mwyann.fr/posts/908

Last modification of this article: 2023/10/12

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