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Discussion on: A (Belated) Hello World!

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luckierdodge profile image
Ryan D. Lewis Author

I'll get around to doing a full post on this eventually, but here's the gist of what I've found both with Mastodon and the Fediverse as a whole: the technical mechanics are pretty much all or mostly there and relatively solid. Making an account, setting up my profile, "tooting" and replying and following all worked flawlessly. From that perspective, it is a nearly perfect substitute for Twitter.

Where I'd say it struggles is two things: moderation and network effect. For the latter, twitter has a pretty clear first-mover advantage. People use Twitter now because that's where their friends, favorite brands, and celebrities are at. Those people are, in turn, on Twitter because that's where the people are. Mastodon doesn't have that, and it doesn't offer any very obvious unique features. What it does have going for it is its federated, decentralized nature and not data harvesting as a business model. While these are attractive to folks like me, they aren't a big attraction for your average users, sadly.

And that federated, decentralized bit is a two-edged sword. While it means you can't be easily deplatformed or silenced, it also means that going into the federated feed is like drinking from a very gross, unpleasant firehose. Especially because people who were deplatformed from a site like Twitter, sometimes for good reason, often find or make their own space on federated tools.

I am, for the most part, a social media lurker, so I haven't posted a ton. But I've found some accounts to follow and spent a decent amount of time curating my feed and ensuring that I'm seeing things that I want to see. But it's unfortunately not a full replacement for Twitter just yet, at least not for me.

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

The people behind the firehose tend to get stuck in their own circle of federated instances, because most places let you block other instances.
My experience has been that nastiness is shut down very quickly - hence the resort to places like Gab and Parler .

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luckierdodge profile image
Ryan D. Lewis Author

I'd tend to agree, I did find that after applying the "block user" and "block instance" buttons relatively liberally, things cleaned up quite a bit. While blocking wasn't a tool I felt particularly compelled to use on other platforms, it might just be a necessary evil when it comes to federated platforms.

I also do find myself wondering if I would have a different experience with a more niche instance, rather than a general-purpose instance like mastodon.online. Certainly might be worth comparing the two.

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

I generally use one instance which I found randomly, and it's mostly populated by developers and the like.

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luckierdodge profile image
Ryan D. Lewis Author

Yeah, I might do some shopping around for a niche instance to try out. I went with a more general one because I wanted to get a feel for the "average" user experience, but long term I suspect a more personally relevant instance might make for a better home. Guess we'll find out!