On Saturday, Wales and England fans watched their team’s playing against each other in the famous Six Nations rugby match in Cardiff. As always, this receives a lot of attention on social media as fans provide a running commentary and develop conversation with others.
To understand how these conversations are formed over time, this blog post features a very quick and brief analysis of the social network surrounding the discussion of the Wales vs England match on Mastodon. Also, given that Mastodon is a part of the wider fediverse, it will be interesting to see how users across different instances engage with others – especially instances which refer to specific regions (e.g. Scotland, Wales, Ireland)
Building Reply Networks
A reply network is generated based upon posts which mention a set of related hashtags. These hashtags include a combination of generic hashtags (just to broaden the conversation) and some more specific ones which are relevant to the match. These include #SixNations, #rugby #ENGvWAL, #ENGvsWAL, #WALvENG and #WALvsENG.
Based upon the method discussed in a separate blog post, the reply networks were generated from the aggregated timelines of each hashtag. Replies were extracted and added to the network as a directed edge if it featured a reply based upon the presence of the
Overall, a total of 67 instances were featured within the complete reply network across all 178 users. The top 10 instances are shown as follows.
Of the most popular instances shown above, a few of them are regional specific. These include toot.wales (Wales), mastodon.ie (Ireland), mastodonapp.uk (UK) and mastodon.scot (Scotland). This is important as it goes to show the power of the Fediverse as different communities from different locations engage with one another.
Without going into too much detail, nodes in the network sized according to in-degree and are colour coordinated according to the instances they belong to. In this case, nodes coloured in red represent users which belong to toot.wales, green for mastodon.ie, white for mastodonapp.uk and blue for mastodon.scot. Everything else is in black.
This is what the network looks like when animated over time in the order that the edges appear.
It’s by no means the most elegant animation in the world, but you can see there is an obvious cluster in the centre of the plot where the conversation begins to pick up between Irish (green) and Welsh (red) users.
This is just a quick blog post, showing what you can do with reply / discussion networks. Let’s be honest, this blog post isn’t anything special. I thought I just put it up anyway in case someone out there finds this remotely interesting. I just wanted to find a quick way of animating networks at the time.