I crawled into bed last night and checked my phone. Surprisingly I got notice of a post of mine on Mastodon being taken down. It turned out the instance has implemented rules for automated posts and I simply hadn't been aware of them. So they had taken down my automated afternoon blog post.
The change was simple enough, they simply wanted to ensure automated posts include the "#hachybots" hashtag so that individuals on their instance can easily choose to block that tag if they want to avoid seeing automated posts.
No sweat. My body ended up waking me up at 5:30 this morning, so after my morning shower I decided to quickly make the change. While in there though, I decided it was time.
I also made the decision to go ahead and disable the automated posting to Twitter. I only barely engage over there anymore, and the meager traffic I do get, Twitter is not a big driver. I'm creeping closer and closer to fully exiting there. We'll see.
One of the worst things during this Twitter migration is that a lot of people (including technologists) have positioned Mastodon as a Twitter replacement. It isn't. The federated model means it can't be in a lot of ways, ever.
For example, this Mastodon thread highlights one of the big challenges when it comes to becoming a centralized emergency platform, the way Twitter has. Mastodon, quite literally by design, can't currently become that.
A friend of mine ventured into Mastodon this week and immediately was turned off by the inherently challenging UX from the start. Things that should be simple, aren't. (And this is something I've also highlighted before.) Like, the act of following someone when they are on an instance other than yours, is non-trivial, which is a huge issue for new users. Or liking someone's post when they are on another instance is shockingly difficult. These are the things which have to be solved for it to ever gain mass appeal. Even I, a fairly capable technology user and fan of Mastodon, grow tired of these issues.
Moderation is an ongoing issue and discussing how it will be handled. If you report a tweet, if they are on your instance, great the mods can deal and action accordingly. As it is, if you report a tweet of someone who isn't on your instance, it goes to your instance mods. They can discuss if they want to block this user from the instance, or if they are seeing a lot of users from a particular instance get reported, it could escalate to them unfederating with that entire instance. Imagine 4chan opened a Mastodon instance. Imagine those trolls letting loose on Mastodon. The network would simply block that server and refuse to work with them.
But that doesn't solve harassment and attacks. Another part of Mastodon's design is of minimizing exposure. People can't simply search for a keyword and find people to attack like on Twitter. You, the poster, have to choose to use a hashtag, doing so gives your post potentially more exposure to people who search that hashtag or who follow it. If you do then you're opening your self up to possibly random people engaging. But this is only a first-level defense. Someone is going to, eventually, build a bigger Mastodon search engine which does enable full text search, etc.
Scaling and malicious attacks. Handling attacks from malicious actors. There has already been a moderate scale attack by folks on a domain attempting to basically DDOS the network. Seeing this play out has convinced me that I don't ever want to run my own instance. It would seem fun to be on my own for branding and the act of owning my Mastodon identity, but things like this would put it very-much out of my skill technologically right now.
All of that said...
I continue to really like Mastodon, but that is because I've found a good instance with a strong overlap of my own interests. I don't know how much of that is because of Mastodon itself.
As much as social media relies on you finding and following the right accounts, I have come to believe Mastodon's success for each individual relies on them finding the right instance for them. Which is no different than finding the right forum, or discord, or just - community.
Overall an interesting insight into two people who were trying to highlight some of the things coming to light as cryptocurrency goes through this bust period.
But when he started to point out that, in crypto markets, the familiar pattern of the Ponzi scheme – a kind of fraudulent investment that only pays out as long as new investors are joining – could be seen again and again, no one seemed to want to know. Block’s posts on Twitter were studiously ignored by a world caught up in the great speculative investment boom of 2020 and 2021, when the stimulus programmes governments deployed during the pandemic created a huge bubble in asset prices. Novice investors piled into anything that offered enough risk – bankrupt companies, blank-cheque vehicles, crypto, NFTs (digital ownership tokens) – and in doing so sent their prices, as the saying goes, to the moon.