I think the idea that a new Mastodon user is supposed to pick an instance based on affinity/interest is the number one thing that prevents people from joining. I think there needs to be a retooling of the messaging to make it about trust.
People don't join email services because of affinity. They do because they trust. They trust Google will be around for a long time. Or that hushmail won't sell their data. Or that Hotmail is easy to use. Etc etc.
What I'm saying is I think I'm going to start hosting an instance for my IRL friends, because they trust me.
The ones who are skeptical about Mastodon will at least try it if I'm their sysadmin and moderator.
@darius I think this is a really good idea, and is actually functionally the only most important motivation for picking an instance imo. but maybe I'm saying this because I'm on mastodon.social and I never look at the local timeline (which is supposedly the main benefit of picking instances based on affinity)?
This is also a reason why I pushed to set up an instance at work. I believe social networks are also an excellent professional tool, or at least in some cases. And for the same reason of trust, I can now tell my colleagues to experiment with Mastodon from the trusted company infrastructure. It also makes the local timeline very interesting because it's only stuff posted from colleagues.
Maybe. But one of the first things people do after joining is look for their tribe, which is often interest based. So maybe you need a reworked message encompassing both.
Another observation, more in favour of your suggestion: few ‘theme’ instances actually have strong themes, as far as users go. A theme is just a conceptually easy way to hop into the rapids (i.e. a place to create an account). But once there everyone rides the same river (fediverse), more or less.
@darius The 'trust' word gets used an awful lot and is close to becoming meaningless. It means three different things in that last message. We should be more careful over it? Don't we *expect* an app to have a good UX, not 'trust' it?
As it happens (trusting, of course, that Mastodon won't sell my data) I'm one user who did choose social.coop because of afffinity.
@darius At same time being able to spin up an instance around affinity groups (or geofenced for locales) would be awesome.
I look at how educators use Twitter with dozens and dozens of hourly chats scheduled around the week.
Trust alone will not overcome the empty network.
Trust, aligned with values, combined with value of service.
Now were talking (to more people)
@darius I think that's a learned behaviour and potentially flawed logic.
Back in the early 90s bulletin boards were specifically about people with related interests. Then people moved onto fan forums, then later joined groups/pages on social networks like Facebook.
The entire premise of Mastodon is that you're following people that are tooting things you're interested in hearing about. It makes logical sense you'd join a server with the kind of people you're likely to follow.
@darius if you only direct people to "the most stable" communities than that becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
We will end up with only a handful of very large instances that are well-funded, and the rest of the fediverse would effectively be a ghost town.
This would ultimately lead to a social network that's less resilient. If one of those big servers closes or "goes rogue", you lose a large swathe of the network.
@darius Hmm. I see where you are coming from, but I think too much of the world now expects mobile services for "free." The affinity/interests model is great in my opinion because it seems more sustainable. We all love the same interest and will, as a community, keep it going. That is, I trust you, a human with the same interest as me more than a group of shareholders in a vacuum that is only concerned with profit.
@darius this gets back to one of the biggest things complicating broader adoption, for a normal user coming in with little context choosing an instance isn't some fun decision, it's like choosing a health plan. early adopters don't understand that because they find the tech / implementation inherently interesting and think everyone does.
@darius "join a topic specific instance and enjoy the focus of its local timeline!" is infuriating to me because it's promising filter quality at the cost of an infrastructural commitment. it's a recipe for non-technical users feeling burned when they realize what they're locked into. (because afaict people are STILL bikeshedding about seamless perfect account migration, jfc)
@jplebreton @darius honestly rather than seamless account migration i'd be much more interested in seeing Masto acknowledge that people have multiple identities, that they can exist in different communities at once, that one's identity is manifold and always in flux, rather than singular and immutable.
@jplebreton @darius one bitter irony of Masto to me is that that it chose to emulate the UI of Tweetdeck (which i don't really like) but not the functionality of Tweetdeck (the ability to wrangle multiple accounts, the reason i use it regardless of clunkiness). this also means i can't, say, see notifications on my bots without logging in to them in a separate session
@six I knew there was something off-putting about the push for a unified blockchain identity people were pushing. This is it. They talk of anonymity and censorship, but not the need for multiple identities. I don't doubt their solutions can accommodate this, but that it doesn't seem to be considered in their discussions makes me think it's also not considered in the design and engineering.
@six @jplebreton @darius something I noticed after a short time using Mastodon was that a lot of people seemed willing to actively manage several separate identities, despite the difficulties and overhead involved in doing so.
At the time, I attributed it to childishness, having done similar when I was young online, but I'm reconsidering that judgement now. Maybe there is something useful or intuitive about maintaining personas.
Either way, better account mgmt is worthy.
@darius This topic was a major stopping point for me for a while. Instances all seem to sell themselves like topic-based forums, even though they're not.
When I was first shopping for an instance, I was pretty shocked that none of them (at the time) had any mention of their data use, security, etc. Most had a standard "no nazis" moderation policy, but not a lot of information besides that.
@darius I'm the data point that doesn't fit (there's always one). I joined when a friend ( @woozle ) pointed me at an instance geared towards one of my hobbies. Admittedly, now, I probably would be more concerned about longevity of the instance, but my friend runs one too, so I suppose I have somewhere to fall back on :)
@aaronpk Haha so says another self-hosted instance-of-one user :)
As an aside, do you experience weird caching things? I do think most beginners should join a populated server because otherwise they are going to be seeing a lot of seemingly-blank profile pages when they click through to profiles of people who are mentioned that their instance hasn't interacted with before
@aaronpk oh awesome. Can you share the code with me? I am writing my own extremely stripped down server that is meant for bots *only*, so it lets you create new accounts, make/delete posts, and it accepts follow requests, and that's basically it! (also allows the creation of new accounts via API because bots) Anyway, another dirt-simple reference implementation would be a huge help since there are not good "here is what ActivityPub messages should look like" resources I can find
@aaronpk Yeah I am working off those, currently at the IRC/Discord stage. I got the stuff in the blog posts working but weirdly I'm having problems where Mastodon likes my keypair signing for most things except for an "Accept" follow message. Even though it's the same keypair and code. (Messy reference code would be great, even if you just emailed me a zip or something)
@nev @phildini @darius I’m not sure... When I lived in a small northern town and travelled to a small city, I needed socks. In my small northern town, the choice would have been easy: socks or no socks. But when I went into city’s local Zellers (when there was such a thing). They had a whole wall of socks, different styles and colours, even a men’s and women’s section. I was so overwhelmed I left without any socks at all. Choice can be hard when you’re not used to it.
@darius "Ideal" approach would be people running trusted instances of their own. And I think we need to get closer, here, to a reality where people either don't want or can't have instances of their own so they need access to something "trustworthy". Maybe the whole instance management and user "sharding" across instances could be handled in a more innovative approach... 😉
@darius Looking into setting up an Idle Thumbs instance for anyone interested. We may not put out podcasts that often at this point but we’re good at hosting and keeping things online for a long time. (Eg our forum which has been kept alive on modern hardware and software, with all history and accounts preserved, for 14 years)
@darius But email isn’t something one would ever think of in terms of affinity. Social media sort of is? I think this would be a non-issue if there were true account portability across instances. Then people could join the “default” but move easily when they find where they really want to be.