TL;DR: The fediverse doesn’t seem to work for me.
I’ll take a step back first, and that sets me on twitter. So I don’t really do twitter. As in, I almost never tweet. I have followers but no mutual follows. I don’t feel like I know anybody I follow; or rather, nobody I follow knows me. I never get direct messages. I just open the website, and scroll through the Latest Tweets of people I follow like @paniq and @foone and a bunch of artists like @moshimoshibe.
There’s a few things I don’t like about twitter. The UI is annoying. The APIs purporsely hinder 3rd party clients. It’s a proprietary silo.
Then there’s the bad people saying bad things, of which I am reminded when I talk to people outside of twitter and when I take a glimpse of the trending topic list, but that is something that does not affect me, because I don’t follow those kinds of accounts. My feed is quite well curated.
Enter mastodon/pleroma/whatever. The fediverse. Take twitter and make it work like email. Federated. That’s nice! I self-host my email for fun. This should be able to fix the things I don’t like about twitter: I can make my own UI, my own client, we all can, it’s all free software.
Now, small instances. They promise community. This is the kind of interaction I don’t have, or maybe don’t care to have on twitter. I’ve looked around the fediverse, sadly haven’t found any I like. Removed that, what do I want? A reliable, no drama, high uptime instance. What’s most likely to give me that? The biggest instance. And it so happens that it links accounts with pixiv. Guess who has a pixiv account already? We are set.
The thing is, I don’t have any people to follow on the fediverse. Or rather, I follow a handful of people, but they don’t really post. The only one that does is crossposting from twitter. So what do I do? I read twitter.
Some days I try again. Browse lists of instances. Read their local timelines. Try to find people. But no luck.
Are you into, say, the BSDs? Join bsd.network. Free software? fosstodon.org. Or host your own for yourself and your friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the BSDs and free software as much as the next nerd, but “hey I upgraded OpenBSD, went fine” (me too!) is not the kind of content I’m looking for. And friends? Please, if I were to set up an instance I’d be alone in it.
Philosophically, it’s not like that works if we are aiming for small instances either. I mean, if you took all the FOSS users on twitter and put them all in the same instance, you’d get something not unlike mastodon.social. Big stuff, not a community.
On practical terms, what’s the difference? I can follow people on any instance, people can follow me from any instance (but shouldn’t, because I don’t post). Unless they are on some instance that breaks federation, I guess.
My local timeline is mostly japanese, which I don’t speak. Yeah, so? I can browse the local timeline of any other instance if I feel like it, no problem. And yet, those times I’ve tried to I haven’t found much of value.
And finally, there’s the matter of trust. Why should I trust some random small pleroma instance to be well managed?
PD 2023-02-07: Twitter is dying and most of the people I followed on twitter have moved over. Federation is broken with japanese instances, so I migrated my account to @firstname.lastname@example.org. My mastodon timeline is now better than my twitter timeline, overall.