The #Commodon List
Welcome to the landing page for the list of #Commodon (communication and media studies) scholars on Mastodon. Below you’ll find information on how to browse and/or add yourself to the list. If you have questions that aren’t answered here, feel free to reach out to either of the list maintainers, Josh Braun (UMass Amherst) or Bethany Klein (University of Leeds).
At the moment, there are two versions of the list. Scholars may add themselves to either or both of them:
If you'd like to be discoverable by other scholars in communication and media studies on Mastodon, you can add your account information to this opt-in list on Google Docs. This version is still the most complete, but it’s not in a format that allows accounts to be easily searched or automatically followed. Hence the creation of the second version of the list…Visit
If you want to be included in a version of the list that exists as a portable data (CSV) file, simply follow the account @firstname.lastname@example.org to be automatically added. The advantage is that search tools like this one, constructed by sciences.social admin Mark Igra, draw on these data files to make scholars’ accounts searchable by discipline and keyword. Individual users can also use Mastodon’s “Import” feature to follow the accounts listed in such data files en masse.Follow List Account Download CSV Browse/Search the List
Frequently Asked Questions
Who maintains the lists?
The Google Doc is maintained by Josh Braun (UMass Amherst) and Bethany Klein (University of Leeds). Josh also maintains the data file version of the list and the associated Mastodon account.
How can I use the data file to follow a bunch of comm and media scholars simultaneously?
If you want to follow everyone on the list, you can simply download the data (CSV) file and then upload it to your Mastodon account. This how-to guide shows you how and where to upload the file (it’s discussing how to migrate from Twitter, but I’ve linked to the bit about uploading a CSV file with the list of people you want to follow, which works the same way in both cases).
Alternatively, if you want to follow just some of the accounts and not all of them, Mark Igra’s “Find Academics on Mastodon” tool will allow you to search/browse the list and join any accounts that interest you with one click.
Who can be added to the lists?
Anyone who self-describes as a scholar of communication, media studies, or an adjacent field is welcome to add themselves to the list. That said, accounts that attempt to spam or abuse the list will be removed at the discretion of the maintainers.
What if I’ve been added to the list by accident?
The maintainers do their best to ensure the opt-in nature of the list and see that people are adding themselves and no one else. However, in the event that your information somehow gets added to the list without your consent, please contact one of the maintainers, Josh Braun (UMass Amherst) or Bethany Klein (University of Leeds) to have it promptly removed.
Aren’t people going to follow @email@example.com by accident and unwittingly opt into the list?
I guard against this possibility in four ways. First, the account itself and any links back to it that I’ve created all contain a note that following the account will result in being added to the #Commodon list. Second, follow requests must be approved before someone can successfully follow the @firstname.lastname@example.org account, so no one can follow the account without my notice. Third, when someone does request to follow the account, the account sends them a direct message notifying them that doing so will result in their data being added to the #Commodon list and advising them that they may rescind their follow request or unfollow the account to prevent this eventuality. Fourth, and finally, the @commodon account will seldom, if ever, post making it less likely that people will stumble upon it by accident.
I tried adding myself and my account isn’t showing up. What’s going on?
Additions to the list are manually approved by the maintainers. This is to prevent abuse and allow us to ensure that people are indeed adding themselves to the list and doing so knowingly. In the case of the Google Doc, this means approving suggested changes to the document. In the case of the data file, this means approving follow requests to the @email@example.com account after messaging users to ensure they understand that following the account will lead to the inclusion of their information in the data file. These actions may take some time — anywhere from an hour to a day — so please be patient. That said, if you believe that your request was somehow overlooked or denied in error, feel free to contact the list maintainers Josh Braun (UMass Amherst) or Bethany Klein (University of Leeds) to have the issue addressed.
If I follow the @firstname.lastname@example.org account to be added to the data file list, is the account going to start tooting at me?
The @email@example.com account will be used solely to collect information for the data file list. It will typically not post anything. The rare exception may be if there is an administrative announcement about the maintenance of the list, but I anticipate that these will be very few and far between. If you’re looking to follow an account that brings you posts by comm and media scholars from across the fediverse, try @firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also wish to follow the #Commodon and/or #MediaStudies hashtags.
What data get added to the lists?
What information you add to the Google Doc version of the list is entirely up to you. Everyone adds their Mastodon handle, of course. Nearly everyone also lists their name in the Google Doc, and many people give their institutional affiliation E.g.,
@email@example.com (Josh Braun, University of Massachusetts Amherst)
The data file version of the list is assembled by a script that collects your username and real name from your Mastodon profile (or, rather, whatever your profile lists as your real name). It also includes any hashtags you may have placed in your profile bio.
What happens to my data when I add it to either list?
The #Commodon lists are publicly available, meaning that anyone can view or scrape the data you’ve provided. This is why the lists are opt-in — no one’s data are being posted publicly without their consent. At the same time, there are differences between the two versions of the list in terms of how visible/accessible your data are. The Google Doc list, like all Google Docs, is optimized for perusal by humans and unlikely to be highly visible in Web search results. With a modicum of effort, it can be turned into a data file akin to the one used in the other version of list, but the data is not in this format by default.
The data file version of the list stores information in the CSV (comma-separated values) format. A document of this sort can be opened and browsed in a spreadsheet application like Excel or LibreOffice Calc, but — more to the point — it can also be imported by a Mastodon user to follow accounts en masse or combed by one of the various open-source tools folks like Mark Igra have developed to allow people to search for Mastodon accounts by interest or professional affiliation. Because the data file list is in a format that’s designed to be easily utilized by software programs, it’s always possible that it will be put to unanticipated uses.
Having said all this, the data kept in the lists are minimal by design and are limited to the information that you presumably already wish to be public if you’ve chosen to add your name and handle in the first place.
Why are there two versions of this list? Why don’t you simply convert the Google Doc into a CSV file?
My (Josh’s) initial choice of Google Docs was, frankly, a bit haphazard — I instinctively grabbed the tool I figured would have the lowest barrier to entry among academics who spend half their lives with word processing tools. It also initially seemed like a good fit with the existing Mastodon community’s concern for contextual privacy. “Useful friction” is sometimes used to describe elements of Mastodon’s design philosophy and I recognized that folks who opted into adding their name to a Google Doc weren’t necessarily opting into making their data easily exportable or machine-readable — the sorts of things you need if you want to allow bulk following or account search.
As the list has grown, however, I’ve gotten more and more requests for these sorts of affordances, and other academic communities on Mastodon have set up their lists for this sort of functionality from the get-go (see, for instance, the Mastodon Sociologists community). So, I figured it was about time to make some move in this direction. But in doing so, I recognize that it is still important to respect the contextual privacy assumptions that people may’ve had when initially signed their names to the list. Thus, I think it’s important to have everyone who wants to be in the data file version explicitly opt in.
If or when the data file becomes as complete as the Google Doc, I may revisit the decision to maintain two separate versions of the list.
How do I update my information?
To update your information in the Google Doc, simply suggest a change to the document from a Google account that is clearly associated with your identity. One o thfe maintainers will merge the change at our earliest opportunity, thus removing the information. Alternatively, if you prefer, you may contact either of the list maintainers (Josh Braun or Bethany Klein) to have changes made to the document on your behalf.
The data file version of the list will automatically reflect any changes you’ve made to your profile each time it is updated. This will typically be done daily, but if a change is urgent feel free to contact Josh and he will schedule an update sooner.
What sort of responsibility do you take for data I’ve added to the list?
The point of this list is to help people find your Mastodon account, which involves making your data publicly available in the formats described here. I have limited control over what happens to the data you’ve decided to make public in this way. That said, I will do my best to maintain the integrity of the things I can control. I pledge to be responsive to requests to update or delete information from the Google Doc. With respect to the data file version of the list, I control the @commodon account on the sciences.social instance that individuals follow in order to add their data to the list. The script that is used to create a CSV file from the follower list of this account is open source so that I — and anyone else who wishes — can inspect the code and assure ourselves that it does nothing nefarious.
As the list maintainer, I also run the script regularly on my own machine, so as to reflect changes users make to their accounts or their choice to remove their data from the list in a timely fashion. I upload the resulting CSV file to Web hosting I control. I am also in close contact with the developer of the script. In am a volunteer, not an IT professional or a cybersecurity expert, and your should not trust me with any information that you regard as too sensitive for someone with my hobbyist background. In short, I am a fallible human being who will do his best to be responsible and be a good citizen with respect to stewarding your information.
I want to remove my data from the #Commodon list(s). How can I do so?
To delete your information from the Google Doc, simply suggest a change to the document from a Google account that is clearly associated with your identity. Alternatively, if you prefer, you may contact either of the list maintainers (Josh Braun or Bethany Klein) to have your account information deleted from the Google Doc.
To remove yourself from the data file version of the list, simply unfollow the @firstname.lastname@example.org account and your information will automatically be removed from the data file the next time it is updated. This will typically happen daily, but if a change is urgent feel free to contact me (Josh Braun) and I will schedule an update sooner.
I need to contact you about something related to the list, but I’ve deleted my Mastodon account. How can I get hold of you?
My (Josh Braun’s) contact information is available via my university profile page. Feel free to reach out.
More About the List
As users poured into Mastodon from Twitter toward the end of 2022, numerous lists of accounts were started to help academic communities find one another on Mastodon. Among these was the list of scholars in communication, media studies, and adjacent fields, which I started and subsequently maintained with the help of Bethany Klein. The list now includes over 550 accounts and continues to grow. As it’s gotten bigger, some growing pains have also become apparent, which I’m now attempting to address.
The initial version of this list was a Google Doc that I threw together as a sort of extended #FollowFriday exercise. But it was quickly — and wisely — pointed out to me that a list of this nature should be opt-in, and so within hours of posting the initial list I wiped it clean and re-started the document from scratch with a more thoughtful MO focused on user consent. Users could add themselves to the Google Doc by suggesting an edit via an account that was clearly associated with their identity, or — if they preferred not to use a Google account or wished an alternate means of confirming their identity, they could message Bethany or me directly to have their information added.
My initial choice of Google Docs was, frankly, a bit haphazard — I instinctively grabbed the tool I figured would have the lowest barrier to entry among academics who spend half their lives with word processing tools. But one aspect of maintaining a list such as this as a Google Doc, which might be regarded as a bug or a feature depending on one’s point of view, is that the format doesn’t make the accounts simple to peruse, nor does it allow users to follow the accounts they’re interested in en masse. This initially seemed like a good fit with the existing Mastodon community’s concern for contextual privacy. “Useful friction” is sometimes used to describe elements of Mastodon’s design philosophy and I recognized that folks who opted into adding their name to a Google Doc weren’t necessarily opting into making their data easily exportable or machine-readable — the sorts of things you need if you want to allow bulk following or account search.
As the list has grown, however, I’ve gotten more and more requests for these sorts of affordances, and other academic communities on Mastodon have set up their lists for this sort of functionality from the get-go (see, for instance, the Mastodon Sociologists community). So, I figured it was about time to make some move in this direction. But I needed to figure out how to do so while still respecting the contextual privacy assumptions that people may’ve had when initially signed their names to the list.
Right about this time, the admin of the sciences.social instance, Mark Igra, stepped in with a helpful suggestion. He was building a search tool to help scholars find one another on Mastodon. Each time a search is run with his tool, it combs the publicly available data files associated with the various opt-in lists of academics to produce results — while it may cache a copy of these files for up to a day, it doesn’t permanently store any data locally, leaving control over users’ data to the various list administrators. But a list is only included if its data is in the right format. Mark was also producing a tool that would create such a data file from the “following” list of a public Mastodon account. His idea was simple: Create a Mastodon account for the comm scholars list and ask anyone who wished to opt in to the data-file version of the list to simply follow the new account. The tool he built then does the work of regularly converting this list of followers into the oft-requested CSV file.
I've taken him up on his offer. The account associated with the list, which you can follow to be added to the data file, is @email@example.com. Mark has open-sourced the CSV creation tool so that I — and anyone else who wishes — can inspect the code and assure ourselves that it does nothing nefarious. As the list maintainer, I also run the script on my own machine and upload the resulting CSV file to Web hosting I control.
More Ways to Connect With Comm and Media Scholars on Mastodon
There are lots of additional ways to connect with communication and media studies scholars on Mastodon. The #Commodon and #MediaStudies hashtags are great places to look, and on Mastodon you can follow a hashtag the same way you would an account, meaning that any posts with these tags will automatically show up in your timeline. You can also follow the CommunicationScholars group, an account that automatically boosts any post in which it’s tagged to everyone following the account. Tagging the account in your own posts will share them with all the other comm scholars subscribed to the group. You can also search for scholars on Mastodon using Mark Igra’s “Find Academics on Mastodon” tool.
Here are a few other more general groups, hashtags, and resources potentially of interest to comm and media scholars on Mastodon:
- Hashtags: #AcademicChatter
- Groups: AcademicChatter, PhDStudents, PhDLife
- Instances: sciences.social (for social scientists), hcommons.social (for humanities scholars), zirk.us (also for humanities scholars), journa.host (for journalists and journalism educators), newsie.social (also for journalists and journalism educators).
- Additional Lists of Academics on Mastodon
Finally, if you’re finding Mastodon’s discovery tools to be a bit clunky initially, I highly recommend checking out an app like Toot!, which has tons of usability tweaks to make navigating discussions and browsing different instances a breeze. One lovely thing about an open platform like Mastodon is that any developer can build their own interface for it, so there are lots of different ways to experience and discover content on the service. Elk.zone, for example, is also worth checking out — it provides an alternative Web interface for Mastodon that former Twitter users may find more intuitive.