Monday, May 15, 2023

Post-Twitter Diaspora Options

Mike Masnick:

Over the last six months I’ve spent more time on Mastodon than anywhere else, and the community there is fantastic. I understand why some people complain about the onboarding process, or the lack of some features (text search and quote tweets being the two biggest). But, honestly, if you spend 15 minutes playing around with stuff, and follow a reasonable number of active accounts and (most importantly) start interacting and actually talking to people, it quickly becomes a very fun place.

Obviously, that only works if the communities you want to interact with are there, and for me, there’s definitely a critical mass of the kinds of accounts I find most interesting.


There are also a ton of misconceptions about Bluesky, which can be a little bit frustrating, but that is part of today’s ecosystem. Contrary to what many people seem to believe, it’s not a blockchain and is not built on a blockchain. Also, while Jack Dorsey provided the seed funding for it, Bluesky is not run by Dorsey, and both Dorsey and Bluesky CEO, Jay Graber, have been somewhat public about where they disagree on where they expected Bluesky to go, with Graber sticking to her vision and Jack focusing more on a different protocol (that one’s up next).


If people thought Mastodon was too confusing, they’re not going to like nostr, as it seems to confuse people a lot more. In some ways, this feels ironic, because the amazingly cool part about nostr is just how freaking simple it is. From a technical standpoint, nostr is kind of beautiful in its simplicity. […] This is the protocol that Jack Dorsey seems most interested in these days, and he spends a lot of time there (and, also just convinced his parents to join nostr as well), so even as he helped kick off Bluesky (and Twitter!) if you’re following where his interest lies, it’s clearly on nostr right now.

Do Bluesky and nostr support RSS?

Dave Winer:

I definitely want Bluesky to just go away. I don’t like it because if it gains traction it has potential of replacing Twitter as the festering turd in the middle of what should have been a vibrant growing market that keeps anything else from rising in competition with it.

John Gruber:

Bluesky is going to skyrocket to mainstream popularity and actually replace Twitter, and Mastodon cannot, because Bluesky is being designed to be simple, fun, and — most importantly — easy to understand.

I’m not trying to provoke. I like Mastodon, especially using @ivory, and I love the community I’m in here. And maybe our community will stay here. What makes Mastodon good for us nerds is that all the non-nerds aren’t here.

But it’s obvious already: regular people instantly grok Bluesky. They’ve had months to sign up for Mastodon and haven’t — because they don’t understand it, and what they see of it doesn’t look like fun.

MacKenzie Sigalos and Jonathan Vanian:

Bluesky has exploded in popularity over the past few months, according to data provided to CNBC by market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, although it still lags far behind Twitter in total download volume.


Bluesky appears to be gaining more attention than decentralized messaging app Mastodon, which attracted a lot of interest in November as a possible alternative to Twitter. In April, for instance, Mastodon only had 90,000 downloads, the Sensor Tower data showed.

Via Nick Heer:

Measuring the popularity of decentralized services based on the number of app downloads seems like, at best, a flawed metric. Because Bluesky is available only by invitation, it has only about 65,000 users. And, while Sigalos and Vanian have effectively written off Mastodon based on the number of downloads of its official app, an independent bot reported over 210,000 new users in the last week of April. If the numbers from Mastodon User Tracker’s bot are to be believed, the network had 10,526,195 users at the end of March and 11,509,031 at the end of April, a difference of nearly a million users.


2 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Pains me to say, but Gruber is probably right; the biggest problem Mastodon has is that its supporters take themselves far, far too seriously. It's just not "populist", and its design is more-or-less exactly intended to keep it that way, for the comfort of those who dwell there. It's Usenet vs AOL, all over again. Bluesky is simply going to provide the easy route for the masses, and while we don't have to like it, it's a failure we need to own. The Fact that Dorsey has a clear hand in this pie is icing on the cake. I desperately want to be wrong about this, truely.

Which is a shame, because ultimately Mastodon is the best short-term alternative, and we really don't just want another decentralised nerd echo chamber for credible competition. We need actual humans too. I am of course delighted that certain communities have made their homes there, blindness in particular for me. But as long as I have other interests, like politics, I'm going to have to keep looking at alternatives, assuming the Mastodon crowd persist in elevating their noses toward legitimate civic conflict.

Nostr? It might be simple, but its primary virtue is censorship-resistance, i.e. its primary audience will sadly tend to be Libertarian gobshites who think individual right to say whatever they want is a virtue that trumps resistance to abuse imposed by server operators. While I am not unsympathetic to the misfortunes of those who have legitimately been censored without cause, it's a poor argument against Mastodon, because anyone can host a server, and the voluntary consensus among server operators provides a check against clear abuse, quite unlike Twitter or, at the moment, Bluesky. If there really is an unwelcome message to a majority, it will tend to be relegated to a minority of instances, but in general a controversial opinion will still be welcome as long as there are people intellectually willing to embrace it.

So I guess my hope is that Mastodon does somehow win, but also that it changes. Server operators should carve out there own spaces and on-boarding processes, to resist fiat imposed by the Mastodon client code (we see already that is the default instance in the official client, say). Exactly how is left as an exercise to the poor sod who read this comment, because that's time they'll never get back. Sorry about that!

Old Unix Geek

I learned a new compound noun today: "Gobshite". "Gob" as in "Shut your Gob" and "shite" as in excrement. Quite graphic really. I wonder how a generative AI would draw that. Thanks Sebby!

I tend to think that censorship resistance is a good thing in a world full of would be censors. And I tend to think it is up to every adult to filter out the "gobshite", but I can understand the value in adding metadata to suggest the content of a tweet, or equivalent. For instance, beware, graphic video of victim.

Leave a Comment