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CAPCOM changes

This post is a somewhat overdue announcement about recent changes to the setup of the public CAPCOM instance hosted at gemini.circumlunar.space. I made the change a few weeks back, but there hasn't been too much yet in the way of visible consequences, however that will change tomorrow!

Once the public CAPCOM instance hit 100 feeds, I stopped accepting new feed submissions, for a few reasons:

I felt that if the instance kept growing it would soon become difficult to keep up with the amount of daily new content

I really wanted to encourage people to set up their *own* personalised solutions for following content in Geminispace. Trying to follow *everything* which happens is unhealthy. Letting other people curate things for you can work, but it's nice to take full control over what kinds of thing do and don't appear on your screen every day.

I wanted a break from having to manually add new feeds to the configuration on a near daily basis.

However, after some feedback, I have decided to try something different, rather than leaving the instance capped at the first 100 feeds to have appeared.

CAPCOM is open for submissions once again, but instead of emailing your URL to me for inclusion, you can do it yourself with a Gemini query by following a link at the CAPCOM page (indeed, quite a few people have already done this!). When you submit a link, it gets appended to a file, which is allowed to grow as large as Geminispace does. On the first day of each month, a cron job runs the following pipeline to randomly select 100 unique feeds:

uniq submitted-feeds.txt | shuf | head -n 100 > active-feeds.txt

Those feeds are then aggregated by CAPCOM for the remainder of the month. This way the scope of the CAPCOM instance can grow without limit over time, but the actual amount of new content to be found each day should remain fairly constant over time. Each month will feature a random mixture of old and new capsules, so it should never start to feel "stale" after a long time. Importantly, if you find a capsule that you really love on CAPCOM, you should find some independent way to follow it, because it is not guaranteed to be included in the next month's sampling! Right now, there are 126 feeds included in the sampling pool, which means each feed has a roughly 80% chance of being included when the new sample is drawn on January 1st (and because the list is de-duplicated with `uniq`, you can't increase your chances by submitting your URL multiple times!). It's practically certain that some of the feeds you are currently used to seeing updated on CAPCOM will not make the cut and will disappear (of course, they may get shuffled back in at a future time). On the other hand, it's practically certain that some newly submitted feeds you've never seen before will show up to replace them.

In short, CAPCOM will offer you a slowly shifting random sample of what's happening in Geminispace. Poking your head in from time to time will be an excellent way to discover new capsules, totally uninfluenced by their age or popularity. However, it will no longer be an excellent way to follow any particular capsule long term (although, at least for now while the pool is fairly small, feeds have a good chance of staying in the rotation for several consecutive months). For this, you should either look into using a Gemini client with built-in support for the new Gemini page subscription standard, or run your own local version of CAPCOM, Spacewalk, gmisub, or similar software.

This change is going ahead because I honestly think it's best for the Gemini community as a whole, but I realise for some people this might not be a happy change. People who browse Geminispace primarily from mobile devices don't have as wide a range of clients to choose from in order to get good subscription support, and those platforms aren't easy places to use tools like CAPCOM. Some people using real computers may not have the technical skills to setup their own version of these tools. In light of this:

I'd like to encourage all client authors to consider adding support for Atom and/or Gemini page subscriptions to your client.

I'd like to encourage anybody who does setup their own local version of CAPCOM, Spacewalk or gmisub to make a gemlog post explaining how they did this to make it easier for others to follow in their footsteps.

I'd like to encourage anybody who runs their own aggregator and their own public server to consider sharing your aggregator's output with the world.

I've published the original list of 100 feeds that have powered CAPCOM for the recent past (link below). If somebody wants to setup a "classic CAPCOM" aggregator which just follows those 100 feeds for the rest of time, they should feel absolutely free to do so. I'll even link to it from the flagship CAPCOM page.

Before ending this post with some relevant links, I just want to say that checking CAPCOM every day is, by far, my favourite point of engagement with the entire Gemini project. It is basically *exactly* the community and the content I envisaged for Gemini and I couldn't be happier that it already exists. Thank you to each and every gemlogger who makes this space what it is - the frequently and infrequently updating, the verbose and the succinct, the serious and the whimsical. Let's keep it up in 2021!

CAPCOM software

"Classic CAPCOM" feed list

Spacewalk software

gmisub software

"Subscribing to Gemini pages" companion spec

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