Following the most followed billionaire sinking in Twitter headquarter, a bunch of high profile people in Python/Django community seemed to have migrated to Mastodon.

I hopped on the trend and created an account and gave it a try. Well not really because I don't have any followers and I didn't toot

Totally unaware of this new universe, Fediverse. What an odd name. I had to look up what it means several times. Looked up the word "federation" even more.

Wikipedia does an excellent job of explaining the fediverse.

The fediverse (a portmanteau of "federation" and "universe") is an ensemble of federated (i.e. interconnected) servers that are used for web publishing (i.e. social networking, microblogging, blogging, or websites) and file hosting, but which, while independently hosted, can communicate with each other.

At first, it looked like a Twitter clone but with poor UI and much slower response. Of course, it's much more than that with different foundational concept: decentralization. Still as a user who's accustomed to Twitter, browsing experience is subpar.

It's a decentralized social network.

"If you are not paying you are the product"

As a user on the social media platform, I prefer it to be centralized than decentralized. Largely due to the lack of the experience in decentralized platform. But I don't care if it's centralized and can be bought by an evil billionaire as long as it provides good service and customer experience.

What Mastodon is lacking so far, from my limited experience, is as follows:

First, the name Mastodon is terrible to begin with.

Second, you must pick a server to join. What the hell. Do you mean I need to look up why I have to choose a server and what the available servers are. Worst of all, I need to pick one that would fit my identify or something. Come on. I don't even know anyone who uses even Twitter around me in real life (very personal). Would non-tech savvy audiences choose to jump over this first barrier just to join a social media. I would predict "No".

Third, due to the decentralized nature, there are many Mastodon clients on the App Store. Mastodon for iPhone... was the one I tried for having highest ratings. Here comes another friction point for users giving "analysis paralysis".

The UX in the app is not the greatest. Same is true on the web. I know it's not mature enough but it wasn't very pleasant to use. I believe this would get better with the influx of users.

Performance. It is slow. Slower than Twitter at least. I can feel it every time I open it on the web.

Lastly, decentralized servers. Servers are maintained and operated by multiple groups of people. This triggers various questions and renders me suspicious of the future of Mastodon most.

  • Could they afford the server hosting?
  • What are the incentives for the operators?
  • What happens if server is not maintained? Do I need to select another server to start over?
  • I'm sure some of them would fizzle out or burn out.

I'm positive there are answers to all of the above in technical terms though.

Hey what do I know. First time I used Twitter, I didn't get it either. Mostly for being so used to bulletin-board-type-of-platforms. Hadn't grasped the idea of retweet. "Why would anyone want to copy and paste over and over again?"

Maybe this Mastodon thing could just be like Twitter I didn't get for the unfamiliar experience and lack of insight. But I don't see my acquaintances in real life using this platform any time soon, if ever.

Plus, I believe Twitter is not going to die with the new owner.