The social media world has been shaken up in recent weeks like never before, perhaps like never before. Many researchers are turning their backs on Twitter, the platform they have preferred until now. Many seem to be looking for a new home in the Fediverse, more precisely on Mastodon.
What is Mastodon?
Mastodon is a “distributed microblogging service” (Wikipedia). in which numerous users can log on to independently operated servers and still communicate with each other. And even though verified accounts on Twitter seemed to be the exception rather than the rule for researchers, there now seems to be a need to be able to prove the authenticity of an account in Mastodon.
Mastodon has a simple mechanism for this, based on linking from the Mastodon profile to a website and the website back to the Mastodon profile. The link is then shown as verified in the Mastodon profile. The trust that is placed in a website is transferred to the profile in this way.
To provide opportunity to researchers to self-identify as a researchers at a particular institution, it makes sense to link this verification to a research profile that represents that person’s scientific activities. This allows quick insight into whether a person who is perceived as an expert:in terms of position or title also has this expertise on this topic. After all, a person with a doctorate in information science is not automatically an expert in epidemiology.
At TIB, we use the open source research information system VIVO for research profiles. We have extended it with the feature to add Mastodon IDs and thus verify their Mastodon profiles. We will soon be documenting this publicly so that third parties can reuse it.