How Mastodon was prepared for Elon Musk’s Twitter to fail.

Eugen Rochko is the CEO of Mastodon — the open-source decentralized competitor to Twitter. It’s where a lot of Twitter users have gone in our post-Elon Musk era.

The idea of Mastodon is that you don’t join a single platform that one company controls. You join a server, and that server can show you content from users across the entire network. If you decide you don’t like the people who run your server or you think they’re moderating content too strictly, you can leave and take your followers and social graph with you. Think about it like email, and you’ll get it. If you don’t like Gmail, you can switch to something else, but you don’t have to quit email entirely as a concept.


Yeah I’m curious what form the groups will take. There are are group channels now to a small extent but they’re hardly noticleable. It seems like he wants to win over people from facebook next. I’m a little concerned about the impact that will have on the the culture of Mastodon since when the last boost from Twitter happened due to Elon’s takeover, some people brought attitudes you’d expect on Twitter.

I don’t always agree with Eugen’s decisions but it’s interesting to see the Fediverse get more press at least and he did a pretty good job of explaining it to those who are totally new to it.

There is a pull request up for groups in Mastodon, but it hasnt been updated in a long time. It is also completely incompatible with Lemmy.

Would you be willing to comment on how compatible it would be or is with the fediverse at large and the (new) ActivityPub protocol for groups ?

Activitypub groups are nothing new, they have been used in Friendica, Hubzilla, Peertube and Lemmy for years. I described how it works in FEP 1b12. Mastodon decided to create a different implementation which isnt compatible with any of these.


There is a pull request up for groups in Mastodon, but it hasnt been updated in a long time. It is also completely incompatible with Lemmy.

What I honestly do not get is why platforms with evidently less features, more restrictions, and less compatibility get the most attention. Or, to be honest, I think I know: They just promote themselves stronger.

Mastodon is not that bad. It’s just a shame that they limt the character number. Would be nice to have real groups, too. Oh, and if they could implement good ways of private posting, that would be a blast. While we are at it, they could implement local posts (blogs). Maybe not only blogs, but also photos, videos, and other files. Wikis are not much different from blog posts, either. In fact, you could even implement an add-on system for whatever content to be hosted and shared (webDAV, and calDAV calendars and cardDAV addressbooks would be the icing on the cake). The problem is that most of that content would be hosted on your local instance, so you’d have to add means to authenticate remotely (as in OpenWebAuth) and control read/write persmissions of users on other instances federatedly. Oh, and in case you want to port your identity to a different server, it would be a dream to move all your history and content with you. Or even host your identity synced over multiple instances, so if one is not temporarily or permanently not available, you just switch to another one until it is back online.

I know, this is all science fiction, but maybe one can hope for some of it to be added to Mastodon within the next two decades… Sorry for the promotional rant for Hubzilla and, with some simplications, also (streams) - which started to provide all that 12 years ago, including the open source code for it, ready for copying from Open Source to other projects.

There is so much choice in the Fediverse of existing platforms. I wonder why people usually focus on the simple ones and expect them, against their philosophy, to grow into full-featured ones…

So i’ve poked around the fediverse a little bit and I wouldn’t underestimate the power of “ease of use”.

And while I think microblogging is the worst format for social media … I again wouldn’t underestimate how relatively attractive it is to follow a person and just send off a small message and get one back … the direct personal interaction of a straight forward microblogging platform is probably quite good for ramping people onto a new system.

Part of the problem is that Mastodon is arguably not a great citizen of the fediverse. Maybe no platform is to be honest (I really don’t know). In my view, there’s a point at which a certain level of dominance that ethically demands action in favour of the fediverse over the particular platform one works on. In Mastodon’s case, that point has probably been reached … maybe a while ago.

Without a strong sense of such a culture … I fear the fediverse will always have the potential to go the way of Linux Desktop: (IMO) a fractured, confusing (and probably lower quality than it needs to be) array of options that puts-off many would be open source users and so never took off even after it was too late (ie, everyone uses android and iOS now anyway).

Twitter also apparently has groups of some sort, though I don’t know how that works. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, groups exist in the fediverse outside of Mastodon, including here but also Friendica and Hubzilla, with which Mastodon users can and do interact.

Beyond that, there’s also been a good deal of talk about how useful groups are outside of the idea of luring facebook people over, especially in relation to allowing people to find others of similar interests etc. Personally, I find this rather convincing from a Mastodon perspective and hope that that’s part of Eugen’s reasoning, because I think a grouping structure plus a freeform chatting/microblogging structure are a complementary pairing.


In a way it’s slightly redundant since each instance is already a “group” though it would be interesting to see how people from various instances can create groups for specific topics and goals. I’m a little leery of luring too many facebook users here too quickly and the impact that will have on moderation and how respectful the culture here remains but it’s ultimately inevitable. The group structure you mentioned sounds interesting though a bit like Discord so who knows if that’s in his thinking too.

Instances are by no means like groups on mastodon except in the case of niche and smaller instances, which are cool but the minority on a user basis.

On mastodon, instances in general are best thought of as not useful from a user and UX perspective IMO. They simply don’t do much for the user.


That’s a valid point and I was speaking more from my personal experience as it was a niche one that drew me to mastodon and I have remained there though that experience is diminished as the instance grows. I don’t know what form these “groups” will take as I haven’t scene the code and was imaging though it sounds like it lacks interoperability with Lemmy which is big missed opportunity to say the least.

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