Six Months In: Thoughts On The Current Post-Twitter Diaspora Options

from the the-decentralized-world dept

Today is six months since Elon took over Twitter and began this bizarre speedrun of the content moderation learning curve in which he seems to repeatedly… not learn a damn thing. Over and over again he makes ridiculous choices that have made the entire platform less welcoming for speech, more willing to obey government demands, and even when he finally comes around to realizing that what Twitter was doing before was a sensible approach, he reimplements it in the dumbest possible manner. It’s uncanny that one guy could be so bad at this.

There have been a bunch of attempts at filling the void left by an unstable and untrustworthy Twitter, and it’s been fascinating to watch how it’s all played out over these past six months. I’ve actually enjoyed playing around with various other options and exploring what they have to offer, so wanted to share a brief overview of current (and hopefully future options) for where people can go to get their Twitter-fix without it being on Twitter.

The Decentralized Leaders

Back in December, as I got comfortable with Mastodon, I was somewhat confused as to why anyone would spend the time and effort to invest in building up a new social graph on another centralized social media platform, which would just become subject to all of the same issues that Twitter and other centralized social media platforms had faced.

I still stand by that today, though now I think there are three really interesting decentralized social media protocols worth paying attention to. A decentralized protocol-based system is interesting for all the reasons I outlined in my paper a while back, so I won’t repeat them all here. But, it creates much better incentives, and avoids the possibility of one random jackass controlling everything. Some of them may have to deal with jackasses who have influence, but none can control the overall system, and just that fact alone is incentive for anyone prone to jackass-tendencies not to go full jackass, or people will… just route around them.

Here are the three most interesting decentralized projects:

ActivityPub/Fediverse/Mastodon: 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’s plenty of tech news, tech policy folks, and computer security folks. And, the conversations are much more engaging (it sucks up way more time than I used to use on Twitter because something about it seems to encourage more conversational setup than Twitter).

That said, the limitations are real. The learning curve aspect of it really seems to anger some people, and some of the early decisions, while there were reasons given for them, clearly are limiting some ability of the fediverse to reach that next level. It still can get there, and I’m excited about the companies who have embraced it, as well as the variety of really amazing clients that are now being offered, such as Elk and Phanpy both of which provide a more Twitter-like experience for those who want that, or Mastodeck, which provides a Tweetdeck-like experience.

There are also ActivityPub-compatible platforms that are not “Mastodon” but connect with Mastodon and actually fix some (but not all) of Mastodon’s limits. But, some of the concern is that people so associate the wider Fediverse with “Mastodon” that they don’t even realize you can sign up for services that interoperate with Mastodon, but which include tools like quote tweets and search. So, services like Calckey, for example, are building out some more user friendly features. It’s not Mastodon, but it feels like Mastodon with a better UI and interacts seamlessly with Mastodon.

Another “limitation” to Mastodon is its cultural norm against “algorithms.” I think this is somewhat misguided. I get why people don’t like the algorithms on centralized social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, but when done right, algorithms are super useful in making it easier for you to find more signal over noise. The problem has been who controls the algorithm and what are they tweaking it to do.

With Mastodon there are some 3rd party algorithms, and some of them are really useful. But a few others were shouted down, and shut down, by people who believe that there should never be any algorithms in Mastodon at all, and that’s unfortunate. In the early days, I would talk about some of the cooler Mastodon algorithms I’d been finding, but after a few them then were yelled at by a bunch of Mastodon users, I’ve generally decided it’s not worth promoting those useful tools, for fear that people yell at them to shut them down.

Bluesky: I started writing this post last week, and at the time, I was talking more about the theoretical possibilities for Bluesky, and why I’m really excited about where the project is heading. But over the last week, really, it went from being a tiny obscure platform a few people were testing to “the new hotness” and has been repeatedly trending on Twitter, as lots of people are checking it out, including some big names.

I’ve written a bunch about the project from when it launched, and when Elon completed his takeover of Twitter, I had jokingly sent someone at Bluesky a note asking if they might be able to code a little faster…

There’s almost no learning curve, and it does provide a very Twitter-like experience, though with some limitations, as you might expect from an early beta offering.

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).

Also, while there are a growing number of folks joining it, it’s still an invite-only beta, and that’s deliberate, not to “build buzz” as some people assume, but because there still is a bunch of functionality that hasn’t been built yet, which the team knows they need to have before really opening the doors.

The team has been working like crazy on those features, including its federated setup, so that it’s truly decentralized (right now you can only use it through Bluesky’s own service). I’ve seen some people complain that making it federated will “ruin” it, but that’s almost entirely based on their experiences with ActivityPub federation, which does have some limits and is presented in a manner that confuses at least a certain segment of people who encounter it.

But there are ways to build federated systems that aren’t confusing. Anyone who uses email already recognizes this, perhaps unconsciously, because that’s a federated communication system.

Most importantly, the team at Bluesky know that this was a serious weakness of Mastodon, and are designing to make the federated part be less pronounced and something that the average user won’t need to care about, but which will allow for some really interesting developments.

The Bluesky team has also been quite open and upfront and willing to engage on these issues, and trying to find the right path forward. I know that some people remain annoyed that Bluesky built their own protocol, the AT Protocol, rather than adopting and building on ActivityPub, but the team behind Bluesky has been quite clear from the beginning that they considered all options on the table. Before she became CEO of Bluesky, Jay Graber wrote the definitive exploration of decentralized social media networks back in 2020, and has laid out the pros and cons of nearly every approach.

While people may not understand why certain decisions are being made, it’s often because they haven’t deeply thought through all the pros and cons of every approach. Bluesky, from the beginning, has tried to build a setup that takes the best concepts of a distributed social media system, and build them in a way that minimizes the problems, limitations, and pain points that some have had with something like Mastodon.

Just as an example, Bluesky has been clear why there were limitations with ActivityPub that would limit how useful Bluesky could be:

Account portability is the major reason why we chose to build a separate protocol. We consider portability to be crucial because it protects users from sudden bans, server shutdowns, and policy disagreements. Our solution for portability requires both signed data repositories and DIDs, neither of which are easy to retrofit into ActivityPub. The migration tools for ActivityPub are comparatively limited; they require the original server to provide a redirect and cannot migrate the user’s previous data.

Other smaller differences include: a different viewpoint about how schemas should be handled, a preference for domain usernames over AP’s double-@ email usernames, and the goal of having large scale search and discovery (rather than the hashtag style of discovery that ActivityPub favors).

Finally, I’ll just make quick notes on two “controversies” that have already hit Bluesky, and both of which I think are misguided. First, the service does not yet have a “block” feature, which is generally considered an important first option for safety of users on a social media platform. I’ve seen a lot of anger over this, and even people insisting to me that it proved that Bluesky was ill-prepared to run a social network.

But, that’s not true. Graber explained in a long thread that blocking will be introduced very soon, and the reason it wasn’t yet had nothing to do with them not prioritizing it, but rather because the underlying system is designed to be decentralized and federated, there are a ton of questions about how block works across multiple servers, that couldn’t be answered until the federation setup was ready, and that hasn’t been released just yet (though it will be soon).

They’re figuring this stuff out, and trying to do it right, rather than rush something half-assed. It’s a good approach and one that I find encouraging. Update: On Friday evening, a few hours after this article went up, Bluesky rolled out the block feature.

The second “controversy” that has popped up a few times in the last week is that their terms of service are full of scary-sounding boilerplate legal language that people regularly misunderstand, and then attribute the worst possible motives to the company. I mean, we’ve done posts on this exact thing before. It always happens.

No, Bluesky hasn’t banned screenshots. It’s not planning to take your artwork and sell it. Admittedly, some of the terms of service are clunky (and I think there are a couple of the terms that, in their present form, will run into trouble with the EU if they’re left in place). But, the company came out publicly last week and admitted these were quick boilerplate terms, and they had already begun working with lawyers on a complete rewrite that will be user friendly.

nostr: On this one, I can already hear some people groaning. 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. In talking about it with friends, I’ve had multiple people say that they were tempted to build tools (clients or otherwise) for nostr as an afternoon project, because it was just that simple.

Nostr isn’t federated like Bluesky or Mastodon. There aren’t distributed servers. Instead, it’s just a bunch of clients and relays, and using standard public/private key infrastructure (I know, I know, but keep reading), you can just publish and the content travels across relays to various clients.

It’s elegantly simple. And… it works. Mostly. It’s heavily dependent on what clients you’re using, but as noted above, it’s so easy to build a client that lots of people are, and some of them are proving to be quite featureful.

Of course, the differences in clients can also be confusing. Some let you delete, some don’t. Some have “likes,” some don’t. Some let you upload images, some don’t. Basically the simplicity of the protocol means that all of the features have to come at the client level, which can be a blessing and a curse. For a few months I was using one client, which looked nice, but really didn’t have many features, and it was confusing. Then I started playing around with some others, and began to realize why some people really like it.

And, there’s lots more development happening these days on it, including from some very thoughtful people who have been thinking about how to build a good decentralized social media app.

For most (especially non-techie) users, it’s probably not worth figuring out nostr yet. But the simplicity of the protocol, combined with the pretty active development going on, and some fun features I’ve seen on some of the clients, makes me think there could be something pretty cool there that shows up in the future.

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.

All three of these are fascinating to watch, as we’re seeing real efforts to build a decentralized/distributed social media ecosystem. I don’t think one of them has to “win.” I’d like to see all three (and others?) thrive, and they can learn from each other. Eventually we’ll see bridges linking them all together as well (some early versions of that have shown up with things like nostr-ActivityPub bridges, and there will be more).

There are, of course, a bunch of other attempts at such systems out there as well, with a bunch taking the “web3” approach with cryptocurrency and tokens being a big part of the deal. I’ve yet to see one that’s been all that interesting to me. There was Secure Scuttlebutt, which always was interesting, but also had some serious limitations, and it seems that nostr (which was partially inspired by Scuttlebutt) may just be a better overall approach to such a system.

I’m not big on prognostication as to where all this goes, but at a first pass, Bluesky seems to have the elements to become the most “mainstream” of these options, and the team does seem focused on that as a goal. Mastodon has been going through some changes, and I think that enough folks involved there realize that some of the earlier decisions may have turned out to have been wrong, and more hostile to new users, but I think they’re trying to fix some of that, not by copying what other services are doing, but implementing them in a more Mastodon-like way. Nostr is the most “out there” approach, but the enthusiasm and development still has me excited to see what unique solutions come out of it.

Centralized offerings: As I said, I’m a lot less interested in putting in the effort for another centralized offering. There are now a bunch, but they… all have real limitations. got lots of attention early, but… just feels too focused on news content to actually be all that useful. T2, by some former Twitter employees, is nice, and works, and looks like Twitter, but… is just another centralized clone. If I were them, I’d be looking to make use of Bluesky’s AT Protocol as soon as they can. People keep talking about Spoutible, but… the company has made some very odd early choices that make me not trust them to handle a social media system. Substack has its “Notes” feature of course, but I’ve written about that already.

Just sticking with Twitter: This has to be at least mentioned, as many people remain on Twitter, and certain communities don’t seem motivated enough to move. It still remains possible that somehow Twitter will stop making ridiculous decisions. But, the last six months is… well… not encouraging. Still, inertia is a powerful force and it can win.

Either way, this is a rapidly evolving space, and I’ve been really fascinated and encouraged by what’s happened over the past six months on Mastodon/ActivityPub, Bluesky, and even nostr. For all the talk of a lack of competition, we’re now seeing a ton, and competition leads to experimentation, and experimentation leads to innovation.

When we hit the one year mark of Musk’s Twitter takeover, I imagine the world of decentralized social media will have continued to evolve and improve, and I’m really excited to see where it all goes. For folks who are still on Twitter, you obviously can do what you want, but I will say that none of these services are that complicated, and it’s worth exploring the world out there. You just might find you like something.

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Companies: bluesky, twitter

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Comments on “Six Months In: Thoughts On The Current Post-Twitter Diaspora Options”

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Anonymous Coward says:

What's good about Elk?

You seemed impressed with Elk. I tried it out for a couple weeks and didn’t notice anything better than the stock Mastodon website. What did you like about it?

Autrach Sejanoz says:

Regarding Bluesky...

To quote indie game developer Christine Love: “Come on dude we already gave a Jack Dorsey social media service a shot and it sucked. We all agreed on this! You cannot trick me into giving him a second chance! You really do not need to hear this one out! You could be free of ever thinking about Jack RIGHT NOW if you wanted!”

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Anathema Device (profile) says:

Re: Re:

From Wikipedia

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey first announced the Bluesky initiative in 2019 on Twitter. The company’s Chief Technology Officer (and later CEO) Parag Agrawal was its manager,[3] inviting initial working group members in early 2020. The group expanded with representatives from existing decentralized networks Mastodon and ActivityPub. The group coordinated through Element chat software. Twitter commissioned Jay Graber of the Happening decentralized social network to compose a technical review of the decentralized social network landscape.[2] She was hired to lead Bluesky in August 2021.[10][11] Bluesky formally incorporated in late 2021 as a public benefit LLC[3] separate from Twitter with Graber as its chief executive officer and Dorsey on its board of directors.[12]

Dorsey funded it, and his company made it, and he’s still on the board.

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Blake Stacey (profile) says:

They’re figuring this stuff out, and trying to do it right, rather than rush something half-assed.

I’d believe that if functionality as basic as blocking wasn’t on the list of features to be delivered on Tuesday.

Graber explained in a long thread that blocking will be introduced very soon, and the reason it wasn’t yet had nothing to do with them not prioritizing it, but rather because the underlying system is designed to be decentralized and federated, there are a ton of questions about how block works across multiple servers, that couldn’t be answered until the federation setup was ready, and that hasn’t been released just yet (though it will be soon).

So… not prioritizing it.

If you can’t do X before you finish Y, and you push something out the door before Y is ready, then you didn’t care about X.

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Blake Stacey (profile) says:


Admittedly, some of the terms of service are clunky (and I think there are a couple of the terms that, in their present form, will run into trouble with the EU if they’re left in place). But, the company came out publicly last week and admitted these were quick boilerplate terms, and they had already begun working with lawyers on a complete rewrite that will be user friendly.

And, again, that comes across as a “move fast and break things” mentality which gets my hackles up. These are supposed to be the professionals. If something on Mastodon or the wider fediverse happens without adequate planning, well, it’s like witnessing the dishes get done in a commune: on a basic level, I am just amazed that it happened at all. If they aren’t ready with their Terms and Conditions, should we think they are ready for the much more demanding task of Trust and Safety?

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Matthew M Bennett says:

None of those things are taking off

No one has even heard of them except for Mastodon, and that merely got a small post Musk bump cuz most “journalists”, like you, were desperate to hurt Musk and give another option. The buzz is over now and so mastodons user base is is dropping precipitously.

Meanwhile, Twitter is doing fine, and all of us over here in the other half are delighted in how mad it makes you.

(oh, discovered a whole lot of government corruption while we’re at it)

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jim jameson says:

Re: Nah, that is BS

You are delighted because it is now a cesspool of unbridled bigotry, and for entertainment, you have a side-cesspool of conspiracies.

Spunjji (profile) says:

Re: If you love Twitter so much...

Why do all the folks who proclaim to love Twitter so much spend so much time elsewhere bellowing incoherently at smarter people?

I guess it has something to do with them being dumb enough to take the “Twitter Files” bait. Mmm-mmm, delicious nothingburger served up with hill of beans as a side, washed down with a storm in a teacup.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The white supremacist lot aren’t very subtle about how much they want to bully people into submission, as well as their violent ways.

ECA (profile) says:


Seems to have been found wanting.
Asif he has been in a CAN most of his life and had Never needed to interact NOR try to understand what the hell was happening around him.
As an open network Forum. Who do you need to listen to and Abid to.
Each and every gov. that you are able to be seen by. You need to know the LAWS of that country or HAVe someone that DOES.
Your rights with the Corps and What you can/can not say and get abused by them. In 1 form or another.
The Laws and rule of The USA are NOT those of other countries including 230. It was NOT required that other nations SIGN on the dotted line for this.(go look at their local News and papers, how THEY are controlled)

Joining SOME other more private chat services, CAN limit what you see. Mostly cause you are Looking for certain chats. And All of you know this. reading the + side to everything, means you only hear what you want.
For Some reasoning, Lots of people have never been Shown how to deal with contention. being able to debate or analyze What is said.
(and Thanks to all of you for contending with myself)
Sitting in a dark room listening to The same music for 40 years lets you LOVe the Music you love. But you will never find a New artist you may like of hate. Liberace, was cool, but so was Tomita, So is Jarre.
The REAL problem tend to be What isnt being Played and heard.

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Bloof (profile) says:

It baffles me that anyone would want anything to do with another Jack Dorsey social media project. He thought Elon was the best man to take over and guide twitter into the future, so much so he’s still a major shareholder there, he things crypto is the future of money, he gave right wing turds a backchannel to twitter management to escape moderation and publicly decried the ‘left wing bias’ of people he hired, and his current company has been accused of helping to launder the proceeds of crime. Twitter was already known as a hellsite before Elon took over and that was Jack’s doing.

It’ll be interesting to see how he centralises Bluesky and burns all the early supporters and employees a second time around.

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Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve nestled in on Mastodon. I like that it has no algorithms. I discover new people through the posts and boosts (retweets) of the people I follow. I like that nobody can namesearch or search for text terms to specifically start fights with others. I like that artists aren’t de-ranked or memory-holed by an algorithm for sharing terms such as “commission” or “Patreon”, like they were on Twitter.

I don’t understand what benefits algorithms would confer to me as a Mastodon user.

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HA2 says:


Generally, the intended benefit of recommendation systems is content discovery. “Here’s some stuff you might like” is pretty useful to have – for discovering people to follow you might not have thought of because you’re not yet following anybody who’s following them.

It might not be something you need, but there seem to be plenty of people who do want something like that.

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Blake Stacey (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ve been on Mastodon since spring 2017, and I think it could be possible to do a recommendation system in a principled way. For example, browsing the “Federated” timeline is drinking from a fire hose: it shows all the public posts that your home server is aware of, i.e., pretty much everything posted by everyone that anyone on your instance happens to follow. Some way of displaying that which isn’t purely chronological could actually be a benefit. This could be implemented on an instance-by-instance basis and customized to fit the local community standards. And it would be unobtrusive. Don’t care about it? It’s not being wedged into your home timeline, so you can close it and go on your merry way.

Anathema Device (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Some way of displaying that which isn’t purely chronological”

There are other ways – ‘Trending’, and ‘local’. There is also the tried and true ‘Don Melton’s feed’ method 🙂

Following hashtags also helps.

Being able to make lists of people you don’t follow (because they just post too damn much) would be great.

Blake Stacey (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Yeah, I get much more use out of the local TL than the federated. I think there could be room for a more sophisticated take on the latter than is available at the moment, but that’s just a vague notion on my part.

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Anathema Device (profile) says:


I would really like to be able to search my own posts, and possibly the posts of people who permit it.

I would also like to be able to add hastags, alt-text and content warnings to posts I want to boost because I won’t share posts that lack them when they need them. I’ve tried politely asking users to add these so that boosting them is easier, and got accused of being ableist (it’s apparentlyn ableist to ask for alt-text to help people using screen readers on a post advertising art, because the poster might have arthritis – as do I 🙁 ).

I’m also very worried about an apparent move to centralise new users onto a single server, which will then make that server a target for capitalist takeover. Mastodon is a beautiful but fragile platform, and it could disappear as a decentralised entity if enough money is thrown at the right people. Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk are the kind of people I don’t want anywhere near it.

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Anathema Device (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, but the important thing is that no one is manipulating the results or the order in which they turn up.

If you want to be pedantic, all the code behind Mastodon contains algorithms, but you know full well it was being used in a particular sense here – the way it’s used on Twitter and Facebook and Google, to put popular sites and posts with high engagement (or chosen by the owners or paid ranking) first.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yep. By algorithms I meant the way that Facebook & Twitter & Google use them. I really dislike how people get pedantic and try to use stuff like “Chronological is an algorithm!” as if it’s some kind of gotcha when it’s clear that most people mean “the stuff that most social media sites do to try and steer people toward garbage and/or drive engagement”.

Danny says:

The Mastodon gatekeepers annoy me to no end. You were right to say that they shout down any conversation about expanding Mastodon over its current bare-bones experience.

If I can get into Bluesky and if it doesn’t suck, I might migrate there. Mastodon is just full of NIMBYs.

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Anathema Device (profile) says:


“Mastodon gatekeepers”

  1. Mastodon was designed to serve the under-served minority.
  2. There isn’t (yet) a single ‘Mastodon. Mastodon is a protocol. If you don’t like the server you’re on, there are plenty of others, and you can set up your own and still interact with the fediverse

You can always shout back or mute or block people who are being annoying. You can mute individual conversations too. You have many more options than Twitter currently offers.

“Mastodon is just full of NIMBYs.”

Do you even know what that term means? See point 1 and 2 above. Make your own space if none on offer suits you. It’s what you make of it.

A lot of the people complaining about the Mastodon experience aren’t bothering to create one that doesn’t suck. I give Mike credit for putting the work in. Not sure why he care if people yell at him though, because the tools are there to mute the most annoying, and it’s not like you have to fight an algorithm to be seen, regardless of approval. It’s kind of like his own site here, in fact.

Pseudonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

My first experience with Mastodon involved an instance that literally got harassed out of existence by a bunch of right-wing assholes who did everything in their power to spread misinformation about it.

This isn’t an inherent problem with Mastodon or decentralization, obviously, but gatekeepers do exist and they can cause significant problems for anyone who isn’t a cishet white dude.

Anathema Device (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“an instance that literally got harassed out of existence”

And that was horrible – still not common though.

The problem with Mastodon and a lot of servers is lack of staff. Single admin instances are vulnerable to this kind of attack and to admin tantrums.

So the answer to that is making sure you join a server with more than one admin and a robust set of guidelines for dealing with trolls and other bad faith actors.

I note Bluesky was immediately hit by brute force trolling attacks, and it responded by ‘shadowbanning’ a bunch of trans users.

It’s also making personal block lists publicly available which is just disastrous

Anathema Device (profile) says:

“Bluesky is not run by Dorsey”

He’s on the board, according to the Wikipedia article on it. There’s nothing in that article about the current funding, except to say Musk’s takeover affected it. So is Dorsey funding it at all, or what?

I’m with those who say if Dorsey’s involved in any way, they want nothing to do with it. It may be wonderful, but Dorsey shit the bed over Musk and Twitter.

Nostr just sounds like a confusing and stupid idea from the start. It might suit some tech heads but the people who find Mastodon difficult will never, ever use it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Uh. If Bluesky wasn’t building their own protocol, why bother doing anything? Some of this stuff sounds downright tribal, with “reasons” invented after the fact. “I demand that there only be one platform! I mean protocol! But I really mean platform, deep down.”

Yeah, account portability seems like it would be the number one priority for me. No one has this, and it wasn’t literally a core bit of any open-source project? dafuq?

Questions for anyone:

Why is federation confusing, and why do people think that would ruin Bluesky? Is this a group with no overlap with the algorithm-hatin’ crowd?

learning curve
Is this just in general, or WRT Twitter users.

“limitations” … “some of the early decisions, while there were reasons given for them, clearly are limiting some ability of the fediverse to reach that next level.”
Beside text search and quotes? (Maybe account portability, which exists nowhere but possibly BlueSky.) Such as?

Jon Reeves (profile) says:

Learning from the past

I really hope the people implementing these protocols have looked closely at NNTP and USENET — not to copy them, but to learn from them. These protocols dealt with distributed moderation and similar problems over 30 years ago, though admittedly imperfectly and after the fact. From the comments I’m reading here, I’m not convinced that has happened.

jarocats (profile) says:


Who chose the name nostr? I know it kinda sounds like “noster” (Latin), but every time I see it, I’m compelled to silently append “il” to the end. And why not a Nostril social media site? Instead of tweets, people can send snots.

Anathema Device (profile) says:


“Nostr, which stands for Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays, aims to create a censorship-resistant global social network where users are identified by a public key rather than a name or user handle like on most social platforms”

It also sounds like ‘Nostradamus’ and is similar to the old French for ‘our’ (‘nostre’), so I guess pointing (inaccurately) to the future/being ‘our’ home/platform.

Jack was being a clever dick.

Baloo Uriza (user link) says:

The wrong horse

Man, anybody going with Bluesky or a commercial, centralized platform after all this watched Tumblr, Friendster, MySpace, LiveJournal, Twitter, Google+, Google Buzz, YikYak and Vine die and learned nothing whatsoever from the experience.

nerdrage (profile) says:

Twitter must have a lousy business model

Why isn’t Facebook, Google etc jumping all over themselves to replicate Twitter and herd the refugees from the Muskpocalypse into their cool new app? Twitter’s business model even pre-Musk must really suck for nobody to be willing to jump on this opportunity.

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Bloof (profile) says:


Because nobody trusts Google to back any new project long term and Facebook’s management are the same right wing kind of sh*tty, but competent at it. Neither option would have users lining up to jump on board a new project, even if the alternative was Elon’s dumpster fire.

jtds (profile) says:

in defense of Post

I understand the danger with centralized platforms, but think decentralized platforms have a weakness to acknowledge also: it’s hard to get people paid for their work on them. (Email got by, I suppose, but was never in need of huge, ongoing Trust & Safety staffing in the way that social media requires. What email did require, we eventually paid for with tracking.)

I’m enjoying Mastodon and hope it succeeds, but sometime soon these decentralized services will need to spend a lot more on everything, and I think it’s a big unknown what happens then. gets $$ by taking a cut of micropayments to the writers/publishers that publish there; potentially cutting the value of surveillance generally. Like Bluesky, they’re not relearning moderation but in contrast, they have a clear and appropriate way to pay for it. And, of course, centralization simplifies the technical challenge greatly.

(Admittedly, a big problem with Post right now is that the true posters aren’t there — the vibe is kind of sterile.)

Anyway, decentralization has clear upsides. But there’s something to be said for a centralized service with a socially aligned business model. It may be too optimistic to hope for Post and Mast/Bluesky/Nostr to form a duopoly that replaces Twitter, but for now that’s my hope.

xyzzy (profile) says:

Definition of newspeak "algorithm" please?

Clearly someone has improved on past usage of the term “algorithm”, the one which has been commonly understood from around the 17th century, and used in the software industry for most of my lifetime, where everything, except a specific implementation, is an algorithm, just drawing text, algorithms, logging in, lots of algorithms, this reply, a gadzillion algorithms, you see the pattern. You cannot have software without algorithms, sorry. So, can someone define in terms a software engineer could understand, what “algorithm” means in this particular context? Is it a bit like “woke”, as in, “it means whatever I want it to mean”? 😉

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Anathema Device (profile) says:


“what “algorithm” means in this particular context?”

It means the set of rules used by a particular platform or instance to produce search results, recommendations, and trends. The rules Google uses takes into account when producing search results are not just whether the sites listed have the most relevant or best match for the search term. They also consider the popularity of the site, the user’s former searches, recency of updates on the site, and payment by advertisers.

The word ‘algorithm’ is being used exactly in the same way as it is in software, and is used by software. The ‘rules’ are set by people, just as they are in software.

When talking about Mastodon versus Twitter, the algorithms are far less/not influenced by who has paid, advertising, former search patterns, and Elon Musk’s daily shitfits and ego boos.

Is this what you are looking for?

bhull242 (profile) says:


I wholeheartedly agree. Like, if people said “unweighted algorithm”, “trivial algorithm”, or “simple algorithm”, that’d be one thing, but this whole thing with saying “I don’t want an algorithm to do the sorting; I want it sorted chronologically,” or whatever is nonsensical.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Pretending you don’t understand a word’s colloquial use just because it has a technical meaning in a field you’re familiar with doesn’t make you look smart, it just makes you a pain to talk to.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:

No one who understand the technical meaning are pretending that they don’t understand the colloquial meaning, they rightly highlight that the colloquial usage in this context is lacking and imprecise. And that’s the real problem, people who don’t understand the actual meaning and uses the colloquial definition to talk about something that actually requires the full definition. This is especially important if it pertains to something that affects millions of people and how lawmakers use the colloquial meaning to write bills and laws.

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anyhow the Chinese way will ultimately prevail says:

Level one:

I just read your post hey-elon-let-me-help-you-speed-run-the-content-moderation-learning-curve

nice piece, fair enough.

But at the very first level of trouble, what about, “I guess we should fully and quickly cooperate with the police, by providing every info that we have, and with judges, by taking down images they rule illegal as soon as they let us know” instead of “I guess we should take that down”?

I wouldn’t dare say this solves everything. Far from it. Publishing forbidden stuff only require a “click” while police and justice need days, weeks, years even, just to decide. Obviouly, the media WILL be overrun by forbidden stuff, and only a fraction of offenders will ever get caught and punished. People WILL get hurt, with things that unlawfully hurt them being published. And the media will run in legal trouble when a country justice rules something forbidden while another rules that is is legit and cannot be put down (meaning, it probably will need to have some “this piece is only accessible in such and such country” feature)

But at least every one in the chain would do its job, judges ruling, police running after offenders, and the media, well, just publishing stuff instead of hiring inhouse police and judges who couldn’t be perfectly align with real world police and judges

In the long run, justice and police will have to adapt, learn to streamline ways to quickly put down content and catch offenders. And THEY will get the blame (as I see it fit) for either being too soft on offenders, or too hard on non-offenders (Hello, China…), and more likely, both too hard and too soft at the same time (because, of course).

Anyhow, being decentralized or centralized exposes to the very same issue and do not solve it in anyway: the media, by very definition of a media, is between As who wants to publish stuff, Bs who likes to see it, Cs who see stuff as just unpleasant noise they just discard themselves, and Ds who wants it down for everyone. With no simple way to decide who the media should favor. And no single technical solution to implement it.

The main difference: in centralized, the decision to favor As, Bs, Cs or Ds applies across the board, one (ring of) moderator(s) rules them all. While in decentralized some parts will favor As, others will favor Ds, and each need its own ring to rule just their tiny domain; making it far less cost effective and favoring either free/unruly speech (justifying state regulation), or piggybacking on a main provider of decisions, effectively returning to centralized regulation (which will be taken over by state, obviously). And all this, under scrutiny of state justice. Centralized media may have some moderate power to oppose to state centralization (but will eventually comply, resistance is futile), decentralized have none of this power and will comply even faster (except for small, “dark” and tracked down sites). Anyway we’ll end up will fully state compliant media.

FMHilton (profile) says:

Mastodon not easy?

I’ve been watching the demise of Twitter with bemused indifference. It’s burning down all its’ bridges before they cross them, and I’m pretty amused by that.
So when I heard about Mastodon, I hied over there and registered.
Now, I’m an average American of average intellect (ok, so I’m lying, being on Techdirt is not for average intellects, so help us heaven) but I don’t understand what is so hard about finding your way around it.
I figured out how to set up an instance and my home page, etc. It’s not hard at all if you’re interested in a customized experience.
Sure, there are some limitations (and Mike has cited them all) but it’s a damn sight better and more relaxing to be on Mastodon without fearing being swamped by Trump apologists and fascists of every stripe on your feed.
I’m also signed up with Elk, which is a streamlined alternative.
Blue Sky just smacks of another attempt of getting back at Twitter and Musk for having destroyed the pig stye it was.
Yeah, all the media are there and noted other people.
But that does not save Twitter from being a hole in a ground which is not worth saving.
And I don’t know why anyone is still on there. It’s a vast wasteland of stupidity and hate.

Nemo_bis (profile) says:

Mainstream social

I’m not sure what makes BlueSky more likely to be “mainstream”.

In the Tranco list, which considers also the number of DNS requests and therefore partly captures the amount of activity from mobile apps, the main domains (, remain at a rank between 500k and 1500k, while alone is orders of magnitude bigger at a rank < 10k.

So far I only see yet another for-profit, loss-making, centralised, USA-centric, proprietary service which has turned a few million dollars in cash and celebrity endorsements into a small niche of users.

Sure, it’s “mainstream” in the same sense that VC-backed startup bankruptcy is mainstream: it happens a lot and it’s socially acceptable/desirable in mainstream discourse.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Rather like with systemd for Linux (or even VHS), it is endlessly amusing to watch technical issues get elevated into religious wars, with people furious that their top priority isn’t everyone else’s top priority.

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