17 votes

The best Twitter alternatives

36 comments

  1. [4]
    Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    I watched a nice video talk about this from Beau of the 5th Column (cool guy, check him out on youtube), who noted that Twitter isn't actually the "Biggest Loser" in all this, that people are...

    I watched a nice video talk about this from Beau of the 5th Column (cool guy, check him out on youtube), who noted that Twitter isn't actually the "Biggest Loser" in all this, that people are abandoning Twitter in droves for absolutely any/every other Social Media site out there ... except FB, which oftentimes isn't even making it into the discussion about Twitternatives.

    (I just made up that word now; I'm quite proud.)

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      Thrabalen
      Link Parent
      Well, of course people aren't leaving for Facebook. We're trying to escape a social media platform run by a narcissistic billionaire.

      Well, of course people aren't leaving for Facebook. We're trying to escape a social media platform run by a narcissistic billionaire.

      2 votes
      1. cfabbro
        Link Parent
        Hey, that's totally unfair! Zuck isn't a narcissist, he's an egomaniacal megalomaniac. Totally different things! Musk just happens to be all those wrapped into one though. ;)

        Hey, that's totally unfair! Zuck isn't a narcissist, he's an egomaniacal megalomaniac. Totally different things! Musk just happens to be all those wrapped into one though. ;)

        3 votes
      2. asteroid
        Link Parent
        Actually I do know some people who are... not exactly leaving Twitter for Facebook, because they never quite left the latter, but stepping up their Facebook game. Not comfortably, necessarily, but...

        Actually I do know some people who are... not exactly leaving Twitter for Facebook, because they never quite left the latter, but stepping up their Facebook game. Not comfortably, necessarily, but Mastodon doesn't appeal to everyone, and it's the only way to reach their community.

        One such person is famous copyeditor BC Dreyer. Another is SF author Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

        1 vote
  2. [4]
    eladnarra
    Link
    Interesting to see Cohost mentioned! I've joined a mastodon instance, but I'm likely sticking with Cohost as my main social media site going forward. I like that it isn't trying to be Twitter....

    Interesting to see Cohost mentioned! I've joined a mastodon instance, but I'm likely sticking with Cohost as my main social media site going forward. I like that it isn't trying to be Twitter. Twitter was horrendous for my mental health. Cohost (so far) has been great - CSS crimes combined with long posts about Andor and shitposting? Super fun.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      How did you find people to follow? I'm on CoHost but it's a ghost town. There's no way to discover people to follow so unless you trade nicknames with people from other channels it's just blank.

      How did you find people to follow? I'm on CoHost but it's a ghost town. There's no way to discover people to follow so unless you trade nicknames with people from other channels it's just blank.

      3 votes
      1. eladnarra
        Link Parent
        I started by following some of the Cohost creators; they repost a lot of different people, which helps broaden your view quite quickly. I also searched out names of people I followed on Twitter,...

        I started by following some of the Cohost creators; they repost a lot of different people, which helps broaden your view quite quickly. I also searched out names of people I followed on Twitter, and on Twitter I searched for anyone I follow who mentioned Cohost.

        Next I searched a bunch of tags I was interested in following - personally I want to cultivate a different feel from my Twitter, so I focused on hobbies and a few pieces of media I'm interested in (rather than politics, COVID, etc). I followed some folks making interesting posts in those tags. Also, you can follow tags, and there's now a new "Bookmarked tags" feed which shows you every post with a bookmarked tag - I switch over to it if my main follow feed is slow.

        Once you start posting in tags and people find your posts, you can also obviously start following people back, if you like what they're posting.

        There's definitely a bit of friction - but honestly I quite like it. I've been able to be very deliberate in what I want to experience, and that's quite wonderful compared to the Twitter timeline showing me people's likes or whatever.

        1 vote
  3. [21]
    fleg
    Link
    After a quick look counter.social seems to be a Mastodon fork/instance. No idea why it was singled out like that.

    After a quick look counter.social seems to be a Mastodon fork/instance. No idea why it was singled out like that.

    2 votes
    1. [16]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      The story from Jester's side is that he blacklisted all IPs coming out of Russia, Iran, and a few other countries that run a ton of disinformation and troll farms. Eugen, who maintains Mastodon...

      The story from Jester's side is that he blacklisted all IPs coming out of Russia, Iran, and a few other countries that run a ton of disinformation and troll farms. Eugen, who maintains Mastodon and runs Mastodon.Social, called this a "racist" and de-federated CoSo and politicked a few other big instances to de-federate them as well. So Counter.Social forked off its own thing.

      The whole thing kind of shows off one of the issues with adoption of Mastodon, which is the dominance of a certain overly precious and arbitrary internal politics that stems from Mastodon.Social having sort of monopsony power in determining how useful the federation will be for any one instance. Hopefully a few other large instance nodes appear and get popular enough to where the influence of those groups gets diluted.

      7 votes
      1. [11]
        NoblePath
        Link Parent
        I don’t fully understand what you said. And I think that points out a big weakness in mastadon and related projects, and open source software in general. What made twitter, facebook, tumblr and...

        I don’t fully understand what you said. And I think that points out a big weakness in mastadon and related projects, and open source software in general.

        What made twitter, facebook, tumblr and others great is how easy they made it for busy folks to understand what was on offer and how to use it. People are getting smarter, i think reddit requires more effort to get into and is nevertheless very popular.

        As someone kinda geeky, i could no doubt with time and effort get probably as far as launching my own instance of mastodon. But I wouldn’t trust myself on security. And while understand federation from 30,000’, the details and implications are lost on me. Also, i find ui/uc on mastodon and (much worse) discord to be baffling and bewildering.

        I will not be surprised to be proven wrong, but neither do i expect to be.

        5 votes
        1. [10]
          whispersilk
          Link Parent
          Regarding you not fully understanding what NaraVara said, here's my attempt to make it clearer: Jester said that he blacklisted all IPs from Russia, Iran, and a few other countries. In response,...
          • Exemplary

          Regarding you not fully understanding what NaraVara said, here's my attempt to make it clearer:

          Jester said that he blacklisted all IPs from Russia, Iran, and a few other countries. In response, the person1 in charge of mastodon.social de-federated sounter.social, which means that nobody with an account on mastodon.social would see anything posted by people with an account on counter.social. As an analogy, imagine if GMail said "we are no longer allowing people who have gmail.com accounts to communicate with people who have protonmail.com accounts. If you're a GMail user and want to send emails to or receive emails from protonmail.com, tough luck." The person in charge of mastodon.social then convinced some other big instances to do the same thing, so counter.social said "okay, screw this, we'll go off and be our own self-contained thing and not worry about being able to send messages to and from other servers at all."

          The whole things demonstrates an issue with Mastodon adoption, which is that — since mastodon.social is home to 90%2 of all Mastodon accounts — if mastodon.social de-federates you then you lose access to 90% of your audience even if you have an account on some other server. This is better than Twitter, where if the person in charge decides to ban you then you lose 100% of your audience, but not by much. In some ways it's worse, because mastodon.social makes de-federation decisions on a server-by-server basis, so your server may be de-federated when you haven't personally done anything wrong. Hopefully some other servers come along and get big enough that mastodon.social is only home to 50% of all accounts, or 30%, or 10%. If any single server is a smaller part of the ecosystem at large, that server's decisions have less influence over the other servers in the ecosystem.


          1: I say "person" but in reality this may be a team, or a foundation, or whatever else. Person is just shorthand for whatever governing body makes decisions at mastodon.social.

          2: 90% is a made-up number. The point is that mastodon.social is home to a very large percentage of all Mastodon accounts in existence.

          8 votes
          1. [2]
            fleg
            Link Parent
            It may be suprising, but... something similar happens daily in the email world. Having a smaller email server is a constant uphill battle against having your domain blocked by other providers....

            As an analogy, imagine if GMail said "we are no longer allowing people who have gmail.com accounts to communicate with people who have protonmail.com accounts.

            It may be suprising, but... something similar happens daily in the email world. Having a smaller email server is a constant uphill battle against having your domain blocked by other providers.

            Examples:

            6 votes
            1. whispersilk
              Link Parent
              Oh, absolutely! I think there are two big differences between the two right now. First, the email situation isn't quite as absolute — it's all heuristics, checking IP ranges and compliance with...

              Oh, absolutely!

              I think there are two big differences between the two right now. First, the email situation isn't quite as absolute — it's all heuristics, checking IP ranges and compliance with various standards and whatnot, and can be worked around or reversed — while de-federation is effectively just putting a domain on a blocklist and being done with it. Second, the email situation is one-way: GMail users (or users of other large, generally trusted servers) can always send emails to whatever small server, they just may not be able to receive emails in turn. De-federation is bidirectional.

              There are definitely parallels, though, and I do wonder if Mastodon will every grow/evolve to the point where it has to do the same kind of heuristic spam filtering that email does.

              3 votes
          2. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            That was a very very good translation of what I said. No notes. Thanks!

            That was a very very good translation of what I said. No notes. Thanks!

            3 votes
          3. [2]
            Eric_the_Cerise
            Link Parent
            The gist of this is dead-on, but you are focusing on mastodon.social (which isn't nearly as big as that) when you should be focusing on creator and BDFL Eugen Rochko, who unofficially tends to...

            The gist of this is dead-on, but you are focusing on mastodon.social (which isn't nearly as big as that) when you should be focusing on creator and BDFL Eugen Rochko, who unofficially tends to control-or-at-least-influence what 90% of the Mastodon world does.

            2 votes
            1. mtset
              Link Parent
              This... is not true, at all. There are two major forks used by dozens of instances each, plus three other production quality implementations of the protocol and half a dozen new ones that sprung...

              unofficially tends to control-or-at-least-influence what 90% of the Mastodon world does.

              This... is not true, at all. There are two major forks used by dozens of instances each, plus three other production quality implementations of the protocol and half a dozen new ones that sprung up this year. Eugen is losing his grip fast.

              2 votes
          4. [4]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            I think that might be out of date. Creating new accounts on mastodon.social is disabled (at least sometimes) so a lot of the new users are going elsewhere. This is hardly a random sample, but it's...

            I think that might be out of date. Creating new accounts on mastodon.social is disabled (at least sometimes) so a lot of the new users are going elsewhere. This is hardly a random sample, but it's not a large percentage of the people I know from Twitter who created mastodon accounts.

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              whispersilk
              Link Parent
              No, you're right, 90% is a very exaggerated number, but mastodon.social is still the largest single instance by far. According to this it's almost eight times as large as the next largest...

              No, you're right, 90% is a very exaggerated number, but mastodon.social is still the largest single instance by far. According to this it's almost eight times as large as the next largest English-speaking server, and only has a single close rival in any language (pawoo.net, which is a Japanese server).

              2 votes
              1. NaraVara
                Link Parent
                Yeah, and in addition to it having a large chunk on its own I think Eugen has a lot of political clout with managers of other big servers so if he decides he doesn't like you you're kind of...

                Yeah, and in addition to it having a large chunk on its own I think Eugen has a lot of political clout with managers of other big servers so if he decides he doesn't like you you're kind of screwed.

                Th3J35t3r (the alias of the guy who runs Counter.Social) is a bit of an asshole to be sure. So I think it was probably something like he got criticism for his decision and he reacted in a non-productive way that really escalated things. He's some sort of privateer hacker who seems to do some kind of cyberwarfighting on behalf of US National Interests. Weird dude.

                3 votes
              2. skybrian
                Link Parent
                Interesting list. I wonder what the "HTTPS" and "Obs" columns mean?

                Interesting list. I wonder what the "HTTPS" and "Obs" columns mean?

                1 vote
      2. [4]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        I don't have good sources for the politics, but I've seen claims that some other instances are thinking about blocking mastodon.social due to disagreements about their moderation. Or maybe they...

        I don't have good sources for the politics, but I've seen claims that some other instances are thinking about blocking mastodon.social due to disagreements about their moderation. Or maybe they already have?

        I find it all rather opaque. Like, how can you tell how good the moderation is on any given server? Also, how can you tell which servers are blocking each other? Do you get a good error message or does it just not work? You can get some idea of the politics by watching the #fediblock hashtag but it's fragmentary. Since I don't recognize the people, I don't know who to believe.

        It seems like there ought to be charts and maps for which servers block each other, rather than depending on rumor. This is something people deciding on a server should be able to find out easily.

        On the other hand, if you take a detached view of things, it's pretty interesting to see all this political stuff being worked out. I wonder if we will end up with more splinter groups, and if they will start giving themselves names and talk about their identities more.

        With open source projects it's a lot easier to tell what the forks are, since the more prominent ones set up websites and blogs describing themselves.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          I think we need to think of Mastodon servers as less of a long-term commitment than we currently are. It's an open platform so, in theory, you just kind of use whatever server until you find some...

          I think we need to think of Mastodon servers as less of a long-term commitment than we currently are. It's an open platform so, in theory, you just kind of use whatever server until you find some point of contention and then leave for some other server. Eventually, with enough use and iteration, I think the Fediverse in general will settle around some averaged out norms around what the ground rules should be.

          This is how the blogosphere of old worked, a general set of norms and values coalesced around how to behave and what the ethics of the space should look like with sort of a window of tolerable variation on things. These blogger norms actually carried over between different groups and even people who viciously disagreed on, like, politics, still came together on upholding these general values see here.

          So there will be some balance of experimentation and normalization across the fediverse over time. It'll look more evolutionary and organic than the "centralized platform owner makes policy decision" model people seem to have gotten used to. It's been interesting watching people I assume were people who weren't all that online in the early 2000s starting to grapple with a sample of how goofy and weird and kludgy the internet used to be before the walled garden enclosure acts boxed it all up. I definitely see a lot of "but how am I supposed to do things?" type questions and people having trouble when the answer is "However you want! (As long as it's technically possible)."

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            Yes, if you think of it as ephemeral communication where your old posts will likely disappear, I think it’s fine. I’m on my third server and haven’t bothered to back anything up yet. I don’t know...

            Yes, if you think of it as ephemeral communication where your old posts will likely disappear, I think it’s fine. I’m on my third server and haven’t bothered to back anything up yet. I don’t know if everyone casually creating accounts on fediverse servers expects that, though? Mastodon admins aren’t making any promises as far as I can tell, but they also aren’t warning new users to back up any posts they want to keep. (It seems like new user onboarding could use some work.)

            I guess you could say the same of Tildes or Twitter or any other forum software. Implicitly, being “part of the web” means being searchable and being able to create links and have them mostly not break. Mastodon posts don’t show up in search engines so it doesn’t replace a blog or GitHub as a place to post articles when you want it to serve as reference material.

            On the other hand, thinking of your old posts as valuable to archive for historians or grandkids seems kind of old school? The modern way to think about it is as bad opsec. Sharing links to Mastodon posts is sometimes considered kind of rude, though they do have URL’s like anything else on the web.

            I’m skeptical that community norms like that can survive getting outside attention; attempting to educate the world to follow your rules seems like kind of a big job? Maybe it would be better if Mastodon posts didn’t have URL’s, to avoid making any implicit promises.

            And I’m not sure the historical perspective holds up. I have achieved pre-Google email and G+ posts, and I never refer to them. I rarely look at email that’s more than a couple years old. And I have a dead blog which is still on the web, but I hardly ever refer to that either, and there’s maybe one or two posts that aren’t entirely dated. The stuff I want to keep is mostly photos and documents in Google Drive and YouTube videos, and I really should have a better way of backing it up.

            1 vote
            1. NaraVara
              Link Parent
              Yeah the lack of stable, referenceable links makes Mastodon a challenge for political or journalistic users who need this to be a platform of "record." It's weak at archival stuff, but people will...

              Yeah the lack of stable, referenceable links makes Mastodon a challenge for political or journalistic users who need this to be a platform of "record." It's weak at archival stuff, but people will probably need to build a better way to do it.

              3 votes
    2. [3]
      Thrabalen
      Link Parent
      Because it used to be a Mastodon fork, then they branched off and defederated. They are their own thing, and have been making code changes over time. Essentially, imagine a road branching off in...

      Because it used to be a Mastodon fork, then they branched off and defederated. They are their own thing, and have been making code changes over time.

      Essentially, imagine a road branching off in two separate directions. The main road is Mastodon, the road that went left is Counter Social. The road that took a hard right is Truth Social.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        mtset
        Link Parent
        Isn't counter social run by Jester, notorious primarily for lying about hacking things? He doesn't strike me as a left wing paragon.

        Isn't counter social run by Jester, notorious primarily for lying about hacking things? He doesn't strike me as a left wing paragon.

        5 votes
        1. Thrabalen
          Link Parent
          As someone who's spent a good deal of time on Counter Social in the past month, it's a very lefty place.

          As someone who's spent a good deal of time on Counter Social in the past month, it's a very lefty place.

          3 votes
    3. asteroid
      Link Parent
      Counter.social is a fork of Mastodon. Jester, the guy behind co.so, had objections to security/privacy rules with Mastodon. (He detailed them but I have forgotten the details.) The UI is the same...

      Counter.social is a fork of Mastodon. Jester, the guy behind co.so, had objections to security/privacy rules with Mastodon. (He detailed them but I have forgotten the details.)

      The UI is the same but you don't get the federation.

      1 vote
  4. [7]
    th0mcat
    Link
    I'm running a Pleroma instance at https://toot.thomcat.rocks, you all are welcome to join if you'd like. No code of conduct at the moment, but I'm blocking and defederating with servers that are...

    I'm running a Pleroma instance at https://toot.thomcat.rocks, you all are welcome to join if you'd like. No code of conduct at the moment, but I'm blocking and defederating with servers that are friendly to racists, trolls, and spammers. I also block all IPs from Russia, Belarus, China, and Iran on the firewall the server lies behind.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      LukeZaz
      Link Parent
      There's a couple twitter threads I came across recently by @rahaeli on Twitter that would probably be useful to keep in mind if you're going to run something like this yourself:...
      • Exemplary

      There's a couple twitter threads I came across recently by @rahaeli on Twitter that would probably be useful to keep in mind if you're going to run something like this yourself:

      https://twitter.com/rahaeli/status/1593819064161665024 (this one's to do with U.S. copyright enforcement and so probably doesn't really apply if you're outside of it; even so, other places like the EU have similar concerns, just with different agencies IIRC)
      https://twitter.com/rahaeli/status/1594756281650524160

      I post these less as a statement that you must address these things right now – you're obviously running a very small server that's unlikely to have to care anytime soon – but rather because it's generally healthy to be aware of things like this when hosting other folks' content.

      4 votes
      1. th0mcat
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        This is super interesting and absolutely fantastic information, thanks!

        This is super interesting and absolutely fantastic information, thanks!

        2 votes
    2. [2]
      cfabbro
      Link Parent
      Isn't doing that what caused counter.social to get de-federated by Mastodon? Are you not worried about the same happening to your instance?

      I also block all IPs from Russia, Belarus, China, and Iran on the firewall the server lies behind.

      Isn't doing that what caused counter.social to get de-federated by Mastodon? Are you not worried about the same happening to your instance?

      1 vote
      1. th0mcat
        Link Parent
        Meh, maybe, right now I'm the sole user so I don't see it happening.

        Meh, maybe, right now I'm the sole user so I don't see it happening.

        1 vote
    3. [2]
      riQQ
      Link Parent
      I'm curious: why are you blocking these countries?

      I'm curious: why are you blocking these countries?

      1. th0mcat
        Link Parent
        I'm running it out of my house and I'm not a cybersecurity expert, don't want to risk exposure to my family from the real pros.

        I'm running it out of my house and I'm not a cybersecurity expert, don't want to risk exposure to my family from the real pros.

        2 votes