Why the Fediverse sucks — Robin Wils's website

Last modified: Tue, Aug 16, 2022

Table of Contents

Introduction

Social media platforms mostly tend to be useful to promote an idea, website or thing. The Fediverse is flawed, more flawed than the closed source alternatives in my opinion.

Server instances

Server instances are not convenient for users which aren’t techy. They have to choose a specific instance (server). Open source often has fragmentation like that. Some people don’t know what to pick, and are too scared to pick anything at all.

A picture of a decentralized network.

Try to explain the instances thing to your mom. It is not easy to explain how instances work. Picking the correct instance can be important since the Fediverse has a cancel culture problem.

Cancel culture

The Fediverse indirectly encourages block culture, a form of cancel culture. It almost can’t be fixed. Anyone can copy a project and add instance block features, since it is open source. Some people join a Fediverse platform because they dislike censorship on platforms. Block culture is just as bad, if not worse.

Most admins block whole servers instead of only one other admin or person if they don’t like someone. I have experienced that annoyance. I suddenly wasn’t able to interact with someone. An admin decided to block the instance (server) which I used. The user should be able to choose what they block. Unless it is content which the admin can’t legally store on their system.

A with expectation versus reality. Reality has less bullets which can interact with each-other.

Blocking doesn’t resolve problems

Blocking people. How naive. Blocking people tends to ignore the problem. It means that you won’t let them learn from other opinions. You leave them in their own bubble. It can make them think that their opinions are great.

But hey, you do you. Enjoy living in your fictional world! A shame that you won’t educate me with your “knowledge”. Every person dislikes something you like. At some point you want to cancel anyone. What a sad way to live.

You shouldn’t ban people permanently. Although spam, or shock images are things you don’t want to see often. It could be better to ban a specific image, or post when the website detects it. That would be a complex piece of logic, but I don’t think it is impossible. It does not align well with the open source, privacy mindset, so I doubt it would happen.

Xah Talk Show 2021-12-26 - Timestamp, shadowbanning

Xah Talk Show 2021-12-26 - Timestamp, shadowbanning

Xah Lee explains his opinion about shadowbanning.

The niche community

The community is rather niche. It is an advantage and a disadvantage. You can only reach and interact with the people who use the Fediverse. The whole idea of social media is being able to interact with others.

People who use Windows won’t feel as invited if many people talk down on them. Microsoft is one of the biggest contributors to open source when it comes to commits on GitHub. Anyone who has the resources can start their own instance. Every place has some “bad apples”.

Don’t keep yourself in a bubble. You want to be able to improve yourself through criticism. If you join a community do not keep yourself blind from opinions which can be used against you.

User interface

Every instance comes with a user interface (UI). The fragmentation problem that I mentioned previously is in the UI as well. I think there should be a default one, with an option to change it if you wish to do so. That is not the biggest problem I have with the user interface though. It misses basic stuff, but the essential functionality does work.

A picture of pleroma notifications and twitter notifications.

I haven’t seen any UI which groups similar notifications. It might even be impossible to add to the protocol (ActivityPub) which these platforms use. Imagine being popular on the Fediverse, and a hundred people like one of your posts. You will get a separate notification for each user. You won’t see one notification of “hundred users liked your post”.

Missing UI features

It isn’t uncommon that you hear that one UI implemented something which other UIs don’t support. There likely isn’t a good standard for the protocol which States what you should be able to process.

Multiple discussions of new features are controversial. The Fediverse isn’t as decentralized as it might seem. Not every UI can handle every feature. It can happen that a post won’t even load on your instance. Talk about good user experience, huh? Maybe centralized social media is just better unless everyone follows the same standard, which is hard to force if something is open source.

It won’t take over Twitter as it is today

Xah Talk Show 2021-12-26 - Big rant, mastodon, open source, social justice, Richard Stallman

Xah Talk Show 2021-12-26 - Big rant, mastodon, open source, social justice, Richard Stallman

Xah talks about mastodon and the open source mindset. Xah used to be a free software fanatic. It is wise to listen to his advice, even if it is a rant. Not everything he says is bullshit, but it might take you more than one talk to get it.

Especially if you are brainwashed by the free software mindset. Some dislike open source, but like free software. They could just work together.

It is social media

It is as addicting as other social media. Endless scroll is a thing. Even the inventor of endless scroll dislikes endless scroll, and claims it is addicting. Most other things you might dislike about social media are also a thing.

It is a good place to interact with specific people, if you need to promote an idea, opinion or product. It is hard to say good things about any social media platform, including the platforms on the Fediverse. It eats your time, and you likely won’t get much great information from it.

One cool thing about the Fediverse is that everything talks with each-other. A video platform can interact with a Twitter alternative platform. This article is mainly about the Twitter alternative platforms, since those are the most used ones.

People claim that it’s just a bunch of hobbyists, and that it can’t compete. Although the people who work on it are getting paid for their work. I think it will exist for a long time in some form, but it will mostly only be used by geeks, unless major changes happen. The Fediverse might suck, but that does not mean that the people on the platform suck.

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