Opinion Anyone here using Mastodon?

Smarty

Member
GMC Elder
One day a developer got entirely fed up with Twitter. His issues with it were manifold, but essentially boil down to a lack of community building, a centralized authority, and a lack of control to prevent online harassment. And if you need to be convinced how clueless Twitter can be managed, read here, in so far you have not seen for yourself the infuriating decisions Twitter has made on the topic of moderation.

So this developer decided to create his own Twitter-like platform, minus all the Twitter drawbacks. This new platform is called Mastodon, and while nowhere near the size of Twitter, it's steadily growing.

Some of the advantages of Mastodon:
  • Mastodon is decentralized. Anyone can start and host an instance (technically a community) anywhere, on e.g. a server they own. Its decentralized organisation makes it much harder to (ab)use the platform for political or commercial activities, and when instances are lost to government overreach, the damage is very limited to the platform as a whole. A downside from decentralization is that unless precautions are taken by instance owners, data from a single instance can be lost.
  • Twitter has a single set of rules (or so they claim). With Mastodon, instance owners can create their own rules. You can pick your instance(s) on your personal preference of subject, language, rules, etc. Mastodon still allows following people on other instances and vice versa, and you can have multiple subscriptions.
  • Instances can (but do not have to be) invite-only, allowing stronger control of who you're interacting with.
  • Messages can be (but do not have to be) moderated, based on the instance owner's organization.
  • Mastodon instance owners can block out users or instances (communities) they perceive as toxic. Users can also do that for themselves.
Oh, and at Mastodon, tweets are called toots. Yes, that's a bit of a groan.

So - who here is on a Mastodon instance? What's your experience so far? What are you missing from Twitter? Anyone willing to host a GM:S related instance? I'll admit I'm not on Mastodon yet - I never tweet, so I'm not sure why I should toot. But given a fun instance with fun like-minded people, that might change.
 
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Never heard of it! Sounds interesting, as long as it has any kind of install base. Guess I'll do some googling!
Edit: Googled, and found this: https://mashable.com/2017/04/05/mastodon-wont-survive/#Od1VvqA69aq0

Those were my general feelings on the idea of an instanced Twitter, too...and it's been out for a year apparently, and I'm just now hearing about it. I dunno. Googling "mastodon," it's not even the top (or second!) result. ):

I'm curious now, too. Does anyone actually use this? It's kind of a neat idea, but it seems to be trying to fix problems that most people won't care about....
 
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Smarty

Member
GMC Elder
No, Mastodon is also a Metal band, doesn't help. The overall branding leaves a lot to be desired anyway.

And concerning install bases, let's concede that the whole project feels very much in motion and currently there's a bit too much explaining required here and there for broad adoption. The privately hosted instances can be a problem too, as they're not as fast as available as we're used to with the cloud hosted services of the big companies out there.

Since the whole thing is decentralized, it appears there's no easy way to get a definite user count (especially considering instances can be marked complete private). There are a few websites aggregating users over known instances, but they're not live counts. They all point to 1 million+ users. Here's one:

https://lou.lt/@mastodonusercount

Growth seems slow at the moment, although they do get their spikes whenever Twitter f's up.

Whether you care about it probably depends entirely on your Twitter experiences, I would think.
 
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I'd like it to succeed just because it's not run by a huge company datamining from all the users. I think it's got huge hurdles to jump, though:
1.) The branding. Like you said, it's not good, for lots of reasons.
2.) Ease of use for the average user. I looked at the site and read the description and went "f***************k this." The idea of having separate little communities that can cross with each other sounds nice on paper, but it's confusing as hell. With Twitter, people just follow me or they don't. If I hear of an artist, I can find them easily just by searching. Mastodon's way of doing things seems way too complex.
3.)Userbase. Who the hell is going to jump ship from Twitter when it has 99% of the market? This one's not as bad, because I always feel that way, and then people end up jumping to new platforms sooner or later. I'm not sure Twitter is on its death bed yet though, haha.
4.)I could've sworn I had one more, but I can't think of it now...I'm sure there are more problems though, lol.

I dunno. It'd be nice if they grew. I think they should rebrand though, and I think they should make it easier for new users to switch over. I think that even though they're all separate instances or whatever, they should all tie together somehow by default, letting users decide whether they want their handle spread across the entire network or whatever. User handles should be global. I know he's trying to make it so "anyone can set up a server!", but that comes with some headaches for the end user. He should set up a nonprofit foundation that ties all the separate bubbles together better, or he's going to have a hard time getting real adoption, I think.

And ugh, rebrand. Mastodon just sounds gross and blah. Pick a cuter animal with a cuter name.
 

Roa

Member
Decentralized social media sounds messy. Plus, I would like to know how you actually go about changing the abuse situation unless you just sit around in lobbies tuned to your sensibility only.

Also, while the abuse is a real issue, a lot of people put stupid **** out there and get legit backlash for it. Get what they dish out. People are just going to regress to echo chambers if they can only reside on servers that are like minded.
 
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Niels

Member
No, Mastodon is also a Metal band, doesn't help. The overall branding leaves a lot to be desired anyway.

And concerning install bases, let's concede that the whole project feels very much in motion and currently there's a bit too much explaining required here and there for broad adoption. The privately hosted instances can be a problem too, as they're not as fast as available as we're used to with the cloud hosted services of the big companies out there.

Since the whole thing is decentralized, it appears there's no easy way to get a definite user count (especially considering instances can be marked complete private). There are a few websites aggregating users over known instances, but they're not live counts. They all point to 1 million+ users. Here's one:

https://lou.lt/@mastodonusercount

Growth seems slow at the moment, although they do get their spikes whenever Twitter f's up.

Whether you care about it probably depends entirely on your Twitter experiences, I would think.
Yeah was thinking about the band when I read tge title
 

Smarty

Member
GMC Elder
I'd like it to succeed just because it's not run by a huge company datamining from all the users. I think it's got huge hurdles to jump, though:
(...)
2.) Ease of use for the average user.
Agreed. Part of the problem is the very technical words in use - instances, federations, etc. It shows the thing has been made by developers. But this is easy to fix.

The idea of having separate little communities that can cross with each other sounds nice on paper, but it's confusing as hell. With Twitter, people just follow me or they don't. If I hear of an artist, I can find them easily just by searching. Mastodon's way of doing things seems way too complex.
No, as I understand it, it is still very easy to follow other users if you know their handle. In addition, users can optionally approve of who follows them, allowing more control over who sees their messages.

3.)Userbase. Who the hell is going to jump ship from Twitter when it has 99% of the market? This one's not as bad, because I always feel that way, and then people end up jumping to new platforms sooner or later. I'm not sure Twitter is on its death bed yet though, haha.
Not for a long while, no. Though as I understand it the intention was never to replace Twitter, but to provide an alternative.

I think that even though they're all separate instances or whatever, they should all tie together somehow by default, letting users decide whether they want their handle spread across the entire network or whatever. User handles should be global.
They are. They're a combination of username and instance where you subscribed to.

I know he's trying to make it so "anyone can set up a server!", but that comes with some headaches for the end user. He should set up a nonprofit foundation that ties all the separate bubbles together better, or he's going to have a hard time getting real adoption, I think.
That's currently possible, but maybe it's a good thing that these kind of initiatives do not depend on the single developer. But I can certainly see solutions in which cloud services are used where you can deploy a Mastodon instance with the click of a button, in the same way that Azure can deploy web applications like WordPress on a virtual server. I think uptime can be a big issue with unreliable servers or user bases that outgrow their server limits, but I can also see the advantages of moving away from cloud services that have to comply with national laws to shut down services or hand over user data.

Decentralized social media sounds messy.
Actually decentralization of services is becoming more and more important these days, if only to eliminate the single point of failure. And it already has a proven track record for distributed source control and cryptocurrency. Also, it's the technical explanation of how the service works, and does not have to shine through to the user.

Plus, I would like to know how you actually go about changing the abuse situation unless you just sit around in lobbies tuned to your sensibility only.
Careful. There is a very, very big difference between well-established crimes like abuse and harassment versus people just being sensitive about subjects. That said:

The first is solved by having instances (communities) run themselves when it comes to policing the platform. Obviously the usual reporting tools are available as well as the options to both block out users as well as users coming from particular instances, as well as (mentioned above) the optional ability to choose who gets to follow you. But in addition the administrator picks his rules as well as the moderators to help out, so its effectiveness is dependent upon that particular's instance's organization and eagerness to solve it. What helps is that Mastodon instances by their design are much, much smaller in userbase that the Twitter behemoth.

When it comes to sensitivities, the intention behind Mastodon was that you can go both ways. Want a better way to protect your users, then it's up to you. If you want to join or create places where anything goes, then you can do that too.

People are just going to regress to echo chambers if they can only reside on servers that are like minded.
As I understand it, the point behind Mastodon was to build better communities with people with shared interests, not echo chambers. And since you can easily peer past your instance into feeds on other instances, and subscribe even, this isn't even true.

However, if it avoids having armies of (automated or not) trolls land upon an account with disinterested overworked moderation teams not jumping in, then that seems like a win.

But anyway, I was looking for experiences with the platform, but I guess few if any here so far have tried it?
 
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As I understand it, the point behind Mastodon was to build better communities with people with shared interests, not echo chambers.
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," or whatever.
No, as I understand it, it is still very easy to follow other users if you know their handle.
That's not what the article I linked said. I don't know how true it is, though.
They are. They're a combination of username and instance where you subscribed to.
That's a big difference for the end user. Do I follow Bilbo of the Shire, or Bilbo of Middle Earth? Having to find out/remember the "last name" of an account is a pain Twitter doesn't suffer from. If I know an artist's name, I can find them on Twitter instantly. Not so with Mastodon, from what I read. That's a big problem, I think.
 

Smarty

Member
GMC Elder
That's a big difference for the end user. Do I follow Bilbo of the Shire, or Bilbo of Middle Earth? Having to find out/remember the "last name" of an account is a pain Twitter doesn't suffer from. If I know an artist's name, I can find them on Twitter instantly. Not so with Mastodon, from what I read. That's a big problem, I think.
I don't think discovering user handles goes through the platform alone. Plenty of people use profile information in various websites to list their Twitter handle, or their Email signature. But in any case, I don't see why a certain global search across public instances cannot become available at some point.

There's always the 'block' button. Makes Twitter insta-nice again.
That's fine for blocking a single user, but it doesn't help much against the usual flash mob tactics applied by for example the Nazi's - pardon me, the Alt-Right.
 
L

Lonewolff

Guest
That's fine for blocking a single user, but it doesn't help much against the usual flash mob tactics applied by for example the Nazi's - pardon me, the Alt-Right.
Thankfully this hasn't happened to me yet (and I have a $hitload of followers on Twitter).

From personal experience, usually the grief is caused by one or two people who get promptly blocked if I feel they are being unjust.

If I yet a heap of people suddenly causing me grief, I have to take a hard look at what I have posted to make sure I wasn't being a dick, which can happen also (albeit unintentionally for the most part).
 

Roa

Member
Actually decentralization of services is becoming more and more important these days, if only to eliminate the single point of failure. And it already has a proven track record for distributed source control and cryptocurrency. Also, it's the technical explanation of how the service works, and does not have to shine through to the user.
Yeah, but that's crypto currency. It's literally valued and marketed because of it's decentralization, no controlling government or taxes, able to spend without a bank or government knowing what it was spent on. People use it for the anonymity and skirting history. Things people don't care about while using social media. What people care about in social media is consistency and convenience, and simply being decentralized doesn't really hurt the bottom line on that concept, except negatively where it might be building walls up between members and communities.

Careful. There is a very, very big difference between well-established crimes like abuse and harassment versus people just being sensitive about subjects. That said:
I don't know about that sometimes. When in Germany, you can get your door kicked in and placed in cuffs for saying something against Islamic faith or people from coming in from those areas, seems pretty muddy to me. In fact, a lot of problem with twitters is that what people think is abuse and a crime in one place, isn't in another. How are they supposed to hold up the laws of one country and apply it to the platform as a whole, especially the overzealous ones? I mean, some legislates are seriously consider trolling and memes to be legal offenses now. This **** is exceptionally bad in places that are far-left leaning now days.

A lot of stuff being reported just simply isn't violating the terms of use, and so its never dealt with even when people think it should be.
The first is solved by having instances (communities) run themselves when it comes to policing the platform. Obviously the usual reporting tools are available as well as the options to both block out users as well as users coming from particular instances, as well as (mentioned above) the optional ability to choose who gets to follow you. But in addition the administrator picks his rules as well as the moderators to help out, so its effectiveness is dependent upon that particular's instance's organization and eagerness to solve it. What helps is that Mastodon instances by their design are much, much smaller in userbase that the Twitter behemoth.
Oh man, blocking for offence is one thing. choosing who gets to follow you on social media is another. Blocking someone just because they are in another group is literal cancer and I believe only serves to make sure you don't receive criticisms, new audiences, or outreach. That would have to mean people are blocked by default before they even see someone's content. A social media platform filled with a bunch of steve shives just sounds awful to even participate in. Idk about you, but Id rather not be on a site where if you like a trump page, you instantly get blocked from 10% of the site and are unable to even see opposing views. That's extremely unhealthy.
When it comes to sensitivities, the intention behind Mastodon was that you can go both ways. Want a better way to protect your users, then it's up to you. If you want to join or create places where anything goes, then you can do that too.
....I mean.. I guess? Just seems like glorified exclusive chatroom at that point vs being something you actually reach out to people with, but what ever floats your boat...if that's how you want to use it..

As I understand it, the point behind Mastodon was to build better communities with people with shared interests, not echo chambers. And since you can easily peer past your instance into feeds on other instances, and subscribe even, this isn't even true.
well, if they don't have you preemptively blocked that is.


However, if it avoids having armies of (automated or not) trolls land upon an account with disinterested overworked moderation teams not jumping in, then that seems like a win.
That's fine for blocking a single user, but it doesn't help much against the usual flash mob tactics applied by for example the Nazi's - pardon me, the Alt-Right.
When you are a figure head being abducted into force mainstream media with large audiences, and you go ahead and say stupid **** that most people are avidly against, prepare for backlash. Anita Sarkesian and Trump comes to mind. Its easy to dismiss them all as bots, but the reality is, often their opinion is rubbish and most people know this and don't want to stand for it. Why one side gets considered harassment and the other virtuous is just mainstream string tugging and pathos vs ethos. It's pretty easy to paint everything with classicist victim narratives now days. Literally no one would care who Anita was if she wasn't being forced onto a platform for people to be spoon fed.
 

Smarty

Member
GMC Elder
Yeah, but that's crypto currency. It's literally valued and marketed because of it's decentralization, no controlling government or taxes, able to spend without a bank or government knowing what it was spent on. People use it for the anonymity and skirting history. Things people don't care about while using social media. What people care about in social media is consistency and convenience, and simply being decentralized doesn't really hurt the bottom line on that concept, except negatively where it might be building walls up between members and communities.
But that's not very different from how forums work, isn't it? Except that's now extended to a Twitter-like format. An actually, with improved capabilities of following users Twitter-style in other communities.

I don't know about that sometimes. When in Germany, you can get your door kicked in and placed in cuffs for saying something against Islamic faith or people from coming in from those areas, seems pretty muddy to me.
If that's the case, how can a party like Alternative für Deutschland exist, and be allowed to have members and run for parliament? Because they sure have a lot of things to say about those.

In fact, a lot of problem with twitters is that what people think is abuse and a crime in one place, isn't in another. How are they supposed to hold up the laws of one country and apply it to the platform as a whole, especially the overzealous ones? I mean, some legislates are seriously consider trolling and memes to be legal offenses now. This **** is exceptionally bad in places that are far-left leaning now days.
It's true that some countries are investigating what the limits of online behavior should be, which seems fair, since it already includes death threats. It's not true that it's difficult to uphold rules that are acceptable by the laws of the majority of countries, because as it is, that's a low standard.

A lot of stuff being reported just simply isn't violating the terms of use, and so its never dealt with even when people think it should be.
Your president has said things that are clearly violating Twitter's terms of use, but he gets a free pass because Twitter has a chicken-out rule that allows them to avoid taking any action if whatever they said was "newsworthy". But let's be fair, even if Twitter was serious enough about it, they'd probably be short on hands to keep up.

Oh man, blocking for offence is one thing. choosing who gets to follow you on social media is another. Blocking someone just because they are in another group is literal cancer and I believe only serves to make sure you don't receive criticisms, new audiences, or outreach. That would have to mean people are blocked by default before they even see someone's content. A social media platform filled with a bunch of steve shives just sounds awful to even participate in. Idk about you, but Id rather not be on a site where if you like a trump page, you instantly get blocked from 10% of the site and are unable to even see opposing views. That's extremely unhealthy.
That's not how it works of course, especially given that no such automation exists, and that public posts can still be seen. You can only void your right to respond to them, unless you also have an account with a more trusted community.

When you are a figure head being abducted into force mainstream media with large audiences, and you go ahead and say stupid **** that most people are avidly against, prepare for backlash. Anita Sarkesian and Trump comes to mind. Its easy to dismiss them all as bots, but the reality is, often their opinion is rubbish and most people know this and don't want to stand for it. Why one side gets considered harassment and the other virtuous is just mainstream string tugging and pathos vs ethos.
I would call doxxing and a barrage of hatred through death threats, bomb threats and rape threats, all harassment, yes. It really isn't that difficult.

It's weird that you get far less of those when you give a free pass to foreign influence on your elections, create policies to wreck the economy, the environment and healthcare, when you incite hatred, plan to waste billions on building a wall, push even more weapons into schools, blow up peace negotiations in the Middle East and threaten the entire world with nuclear fallout than what you get when, for example, you say that some video games are sexist.
 
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Roa

Member
If that's the case, how can a party like Alternative für Deutschland exist, and be allowed to have members and run for parliament? Because they sure have a lot of things to say about those.
Because being authoritarian and crushing opinions and entire parties that have the right to exist just makes you look like a fascist. Individual people are easy targets and don't get the same backlash while still being effective.

It's true that some countries are investigating what the limits of online behavior should be, which seems fair, since it already includes death threats. It's not true that it's difficult to uphold rules that are acceptable by the laws of the majority of countries, because as it is, that's a low standard.
yeah, as it should be.

Your president has said things that are clearly violating Twitter's terms of use, but he gets a free pass because Twitter has a chicken-out rule that allows them to avoid taking any action if whatever they said was "newsworthy". But let's be fair, even if Twitter was serious enough about it, they'd probably be short on hands to keep up.
IE:?


I would call doxxing and a barrage of hatred through death threats, bomb threats and rape threats, all harassment, yes. It really isn't that difficult.
Nobody doxxed her. They put forward information on a public reaching platform she was spear heading with other people's information and money. She didn't spend the money(hundreds of thousands of dollars) the way it was supposed to, and wound up on the UN platform in bad faith. People have the right to know that. In fact, there is video evidence of her laughing about misuse of funds and self admitting she was only doing this to grow her platform and hated gaming and had to learn a lot in order to even make this uproar. There was also suspect she even spent parts of the money to send the death threats to herself, because she really is that conceited and confident, and that nontransparent, already caught bullshitting to not only people opposing her, but her entire own fanbase about what was going on with her brand. All that **** did was grow her fame and get her mainstream attention, while GamerGaters were constantly putting out warnings not to harass her and how it would hurt their image.

She is kind of low in character dude, messages of controversial feminism aside, its not hard to imagine how she is full of **** unless you put blinders on for sake of her having a vagina.
It's weird that you get far less of those when you give a free pass to foreign influence on your elections, create policies to wreck the economy, the environment and healthcare, when you incite hatred, plan to waste billions on building a wall, push even more weapons into schools, blow up peace negotiations in the Middle East and threaten the entire world with nuclear fallout than what you get when,
wut?
...for example, you say that some video games are sexist.
Everything is racist, everything is sexist, and you have to point it all out!

I'm not even a gamer, I had to learn a lot to even talk about this

Yep, infiltrated an entire community she had no interest in just to flood it with political dogma and tried to seize control over social discourse of it, had company endorsement and magazines insult gamer's intelligence and moral standing when she couldn't go unchallenged, undeniably ran off with people's money committing fraud, doesn't allow discussion anywhere and actively labels proponents harassers when they speak on their own platform while she strangleholds the conversation she introduced. Was given a free ride to press talks and the UN for claiming harassment that couldn't even be verified she didn't manufacture it where she spoke about said community where they wernt even allowed to represent themselves there either. All they wanted to do was play their games.
I dont endorse harassment, but everyone in the public sphere deals with it, even her main proponents like Sargon, who even he had video responses and death threats made towards him daily. He just realizes its all idle talk and moves on like a rational human being instead of drumming a controversy out of it and blaming an entire group of people for a few individuals that there is on way to even know who they are linked with. She weaponized it. It's funny, for someone who complains about harassment, she sure does like to call people **** in public crowds who are never given a chance to defend themselves.

Yep, she's a grade A piece of ****.


All she did was say a video game was sexist though :rolleyes:
 
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Smarty

Member
GMC Elder
Because being authoritarian and crushing opinions and entire parties that have the right to exist just makes you look like a fascist. Individual people are easy targets and don't get the same backlash while still being effective.
While we're at it, could you cite sources?

Links to examples and articles here: https://www.change.org/p/twitter-officers-suspend-or-cancel-trump-s-twitter-account
But, you could have googled that yourself.

Anyway, any discussion about safer social platforms is bound to end up being about Sarkeesian again, which is a shame because this wasn't about her. Or Trump. Mea culpa. Anyway:

Nobody doxxed her.
They did. Her and family members, in fact, to the point where moving places was necessary. But you could have googled that.

They put forward information on a public reaching platform she was spear heading with other people's information and money. She didn't spend the money(hundreds of thousands of dollars) the way it was supposed to, and wound up on the UN platform in bad faith. People have the right to know that.
Because you care so much about the people who have donated to this particular non-profit? Any other non-profit you care about so much? Like, the nearest church?

Spending aside (I have no clue about the details of it), Feminist Frequency being non-profit, tax-exempt organization, you could just check out the organization's public tax form of course. And report to the authorities if you think something is wrong. Pretty sure Gamergaters have already tried that without success.

In fact, there is video evidence of her laughing about misuse of funds and self admitting she was only doing this to grow her platform and hated gaming and had to learn a lot in order to even make this uproar.
That's new to me. I'd like a link to that video please. It's also illegal for a non-profit, so I guess that if you're right, this incriminating evidence should have put her behind bars right now!

There was also suspect she even spent parts of the money to send the death threats to herself, because she really is that conceited and confident, and that nontransparent, already caught bullshitting to not only people opposing her, but her entire own fanbase about what was going on with her brand.
We'll need more than suspicion and speculation to go on. Especially since making fake threats that provoke criminal investigations, are punishable by law in most countries. My god, you've got so much on her to put her behind bars! What are you waiting for?

All that **** did was grow her fame and get her mainstream attention, while GamerGaters were constantly putting out warnings not to harass her and how it would hurt their image.
They weren't, for example, saying that harassment is plain wrong in the first place? Priorities, priorities...

She is kind of low in character dude, messages of controversial feminism aside, its not hard to imagine how she is full of **** unless you put blinders on for sake of her having a vagina.
I actually watched the videos that stood center of all the drama. Good points were made. Not sure why everyone got so upset. Also not sure how one goes about becoming the target of online hatred in such a way that it proves their point. Am I to believe she must have written applications against social media APIs to send herself automated threats? Wow, devious.

Yep, infiltrated an entire community she had no interest in just to flood it with political dogma and tried to seize control over social discourse of it, had company endorsement and magazines insult gamer's intelligence
Low bar, as it turned out.

(Sargon of Akkad stuff)
Skipping him now, and for the rest of my life in fact. For obvious reasons.

All she did was say a video game was sexist though :rolleyes:
Several. But I don't think you watched any of her videos, because your 4chan pals already poisoned the well for you.
 
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