July 9, 2023 9:30 am

bad analogies

Twitter as town square

Mastodon is confusing

Mastodon is inherently too confusing for mass market adoption, and in ways that can’t be fixed without some central authority coming in and imposing a solution, which is against the fediverse’s ethos. That doesn’t mean Mastodon is doomed or bad. Just that it’s never going to achieve mainstream popularity.

Daring Fireball: Threads

Twitter is mainstream

Twitter is actually very confusing and while it seems big in amongst the chattering classes, it certainly hasn't achieved "mainstream popularity".


Facebook2.98 billion
WhatApp2.78 billion
Instagram2.35 billion
iMessage1.3 billion
WeChat1.3 billion
Facebook Messager1 billion
LinkedIn930 million
Telegram500 million
Twitter400 million
Discord196 million
Mastodon13 million

Note that iMessage comes default installed for iPhone users.

Mastodon is a Twitter replacement

People are looking for something different than Twitter because Twitter sucks. Mastodon was designed to be different from Twitter because Twitter sucks.

Twitter sucks because of the way that works and Twitter sucks because of the way that it's run.

It makes little sense to complain that something offering an alternative way of something different is, in fact, an alternative way of doing something different.

Freedom to run your own instance is dismissive

@Chanders @shengokai
But it's not just the affordances. It's also a question of the welcome, of how much other communities' insight into connection by these means is valued. I watched one well-known tech guy tell Dr. Flowers to just go build his own instance. Dr. Flowers quite properly said that was the geek's say to say, "Fuck off." You're right, Chris, that critical mass matters but the welcome communities feel here has an impact on that, and some feel more welcomed than others -- thus far

Telling someone that they have the freedom to go build their own instance isn't (necessarily) telling someone to fuck off. (Maybe in that case it was, I don't know the details.)

There are 4 software freedoms that geeks talk about, the freedom to use, study, improve, and share your software.

The point is: you could. Start up a Nazi site, start up a community around knitting. You own it, with all of the maintenance costs that are implied with ownership, and it seems like a pain in the ass frankly to run these servers.

But it's up to you. There are no gate keepers.

It will then be your problem, and people can complain that they don't like your politics.

Principles are ideological zealotry

I would like to see Mastodon thrive. But the platform’s ideological zealotry is obviously holding it back and seemingly isn’t going to change.


Holding it back from what, exactly? Do we think that the reason you start up a Mastodon instance is to become the next Twitter?

(And as an aside, I'm not sure what Daring Fireball re-titled the original article from "Why did the #TwitterMigration fail?" to "Why has Mastodon adoption stalled?" which I think undersells what a lunatic Bloonface seems to be.)

Darius Kazemi has a document on why you should run your own social network, and in it he sets the goal of having a maximum of 50 users.

The main reason to run a small social network site is that you can create an online environment tailored to the needs of your community in a way that a big corporation like Facebook or Twitter never could. Yes, you can always start a Facebook Group for your community and moderate that how you like, but only within certain bounds set by Facebook. If you (or your community) run the whole site, then you are ultimately the boss of what goes on. It is harder work than letting Facebook or Twitter or Slack or Basecamp or whoever else take care of everything, but I believe it's worth it.

What does thriving mean if your goal is to nurture your community?

Social media is social

On traditional “social media” platforms, in particular YouTube, the interactions are often not especially social. The platforms facilitate a kind of intellectual consumption more-so than conversation: conversations flow in one direction, from creator to audience, where the creator produces and the audience consumes. I think a better term for these platforms is “parasocial media”: they are optimized for creating parasocial relationships more-so than social relationships.

Drew DeVault

Probably the best way to see this fallacy in action is reading about Brands Town, a culture-jamming satire project.

Brands Town is a satirical role-playing game where players make up fake brands, develop their own lore, and role-play on the related Mastodon instance. Because Mastodon is part of the fediverse, this weird little game takes on dimensions of performance art, parody, and creative design. It doesn't stay on one server!

Brands Town


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