The blog

Microblogging on the fediverse

So today I read this post by icyphox titled Stop joining (archived) and I thought I’d put my thoughts in writing. And out came the following pointless mess.

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.

icy writes:

Are you into, say, the BSDs? Join Free software? 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 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 2020-10-23: (archived) has some good points against the fediverse and mastodon in particular.

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 My mastodon timeline is now better than my twitter timeline, overall.


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