I’m a big fan of the fediverse. As of right now (8 November 2022), it deeply sucks. Why?
Because nobody expected Elon Musk to be this stupid.
We expected some daftness, sure. But actions like cutting the entire human rights team, accessibility team, and AI ethics team, plus limiting moderation, have people abandoning Twitter and searching for alternatives.
Nobody wants to live in a free-for-all wasteland. “The right to free speech” is built on “the right to take the consequences.” Without moderators, Twitter is a cesspit.
The Fediverse resembles Twitter, except it is run by volunteers on donated equipment. Every time Twitter did something stupid, we got a few thousand folks looking for a better way. We’ve grown steadily as a result.
Almost hourly Musk demonstrates that he doesn’t understand people, doesn’t understand how Twitter is used, and picking stupid fights. I’m told that last Friday, the biggest Mastodon server got 70,000 new users. If you add in all the hundreds of other servers, we’re looking at hundreds of thousands of new accounts. Many servers doubled or tripled in usage.
Here’s a graph of the number of users interacting with our server.
Nobody expected Musk to be this stupid.
Nobody expected this flood of new users.
If you get an account and find it’s slow? The volunteers are working as hard as they can. Scotty is shouting “She canna take any more!” over the roar of the struggling servers. New servers are being installed, but physical equipment must be shipped and mounted and plugged in.
The servers that are doing well, ironically, are the alt-right ones. The worst Nazis already fled Twitter, so they set up their own Mastodon servers. The rest of the fedi automatically blocks those monsters, but they’re actively recruiting both abusers and victims. I’ve seen more than one LGBT person innocently sign up for a disguised white supremacist instance and get a torrent of abuse.
Be patient with the volunteers. They’re doing the best they can. We’ll catch up as soon as we can.
The truth is, nobody can prepare for a stupid billionaire.
 No, the Fediverse isn’t exactly like twitter. Each server is a community of interest, like “BSD Unix folks” or “book lovers” or “LGBT in tech.” They can all talk to each other. We have content warnings, so that people can interact with difficult content as they wish rather than having it jammed into their face. Each server does its own moderation. (My server blocks the alt-right, TERFs, racists, ableist jerks, and cryptocurrency scammers.) Where Twitter has been increasingly negative and stressful over the last few years, local control means the Fediverse is downright sweet.