Square format can be nice for some pictures, other ratio are cool too, I'm not debating which one is better (none of them is, it's a matter personal preferences, blabla bla) but imposing any of them is a problem for all others…
Even if we can publish non-squared images, having to display them as squared at some point mostly ruins them 😔, and ruins the whole ability to publish non-squared images.
And even more when: 1) this is where and when people first encounter them (first impression matters a lot) 2) this is the only "gallery" view where you can visualise all photos from somebody account, as a whole.
That issue applies to mostly all non 1:1 images, but is way worse in one particular case: panoramic pictures.
As a counter example, for instance the masonry effect that is (was…) included in MomentUI does pretty well the job.
I (came and) stayed on Pixelfed almost only for that feature, despite all the design flaws that make it very often frustrating/painful to use.
On a broader and more… philosophical (?) point of view, I'm having trouble with the idea of using free software and suddenly realizing that I'm actually as (or more) constrained in my "freedom to share photos" as in let's say Instagram or other GAFAM silo, on something as fundamental as "having to crop everything to 1:1".
That wouldn't be so much of an issue if the software was designed *and* presented that way : that would be a big flaw in my opinion, personally I would be strongly against that design choice, and that would mean PF would never be fitted for me, but that could be an assumed design choice, then no problem. (But I don't have the feeling that was a design choice you made, am I wrong ?)
One side note on that "MetroUI/MomentUI" debate : as an author/publisher, having the ability to choose how I want people to discover my content "by default" is cool. I mean, being able to give them "masonry grid view" or "squared grid view".
But as a person watching other people content, I would really love to have the ability to choose to switch on the fly between one UI/picture organisation to another (and maybe enforce one by default ?). Depending on the profile's pictures, the screen you're using and so on, both have their pros&cons.
Once that first issue is fixed, there is still plenty to say, but that would be a game changer.
On the other side, to me removing MomentUI or such kind of nice non-square format UI would end in a no-go and uninstalling PF.
(I hope that did not sound too harsh, I tried to be honest about it 😅)
PS: I'm using Pixelfed 95% of the time on a desktop computer. That might partly explain why I dislike that forced squared grid, yet that doesn't mean I like it when watching from my phone (it's even worse to be forced to see the picture in a smaller size because the format is not adapted to a phone screen).
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