Any other thoughts that I had to write about this week were pushed back by the news that Elon Musk is closer in his goal to outright buy all of Twitter. That news, unlike any Twitter news over the past five years, has driven more people than ever to Mastodon.
I host two Mastodon instances, which are servers that the free, open source software lives on, maintained and administrated by individuals as opposed to a centralized company. This means that there are thousands of different servers that an average user can join, though most flock to ones that seem larger and more active.
My main instance, tech.lgbt, just celebrated our five year anniversary about two weeks ago. This past week has seen almost 700 new user signups, which has been way more than we’ve ever gotten. I scaled up our server once already this week, and had to make some manual adjustments to account for the growth. I am likely to scale it up again, thanks to some tremendously helpful Patreon supporters, which will now be able to cover server costs that I have been paying solo in the past.
My hope is that most of these new users give Mastodon a real try, and stick around. I know it’s hard to get on a new platform, especially one that looks a lot like an existing one, but functions fundamentally differently. I have an (out of date) guide up, which I plan on expanding over time, but it’s hard to expect people to fully grasp a new platform as they sign up mainly out of frustrations with their existing network.
There are plenty of people celebrating a Musk takeover of Twitter, but anyone looking at how he has handled companies or criticism in the past has reason to worry. Last week, when he first floated the idea, he then appeared at TED for an interview. Based on his responses, people in the community moderation space grew even more concerned about his apparent lack of knowledge for how hard the problem really is.
I’m not saying that Mastodon is perfect. Far from it. There are the same community moderation issues that exist everywhere, along with the wrinkles that come from working with a decentralized platform managed by people who make calls based on their own standards.
But still, I welcome all of the new users, and hope that a new way to view platforms gives more people ideas on how to build the future of the web.
If you made it this far, why not share this newsletter with a friend? Or share with me some of the things that you found that you liked this week. Either way, I’m thrilled!