This is a post for Twitter users. Your yearly reminder that Twitter is run badly by terrible people, it's getting worse, and you're in a neverending cycle of hell, doomscrolling.

OR, you can come over to Fediverse. If you were on app.net back in the day (or really, micro.blog last few years), I can invite you to appdot.net or you can join anything on the fediverse.party, or join Mastodon - just don't choose mastodon.social or other >10K user instances, try to spread out a bit. We're all safer if we decentralize! Don't just put a different Man's boot on your neck!

Fediverse has better social interaction, you can choose to look at just your home (people you follow), Local, or the entire nearby Federated feeds; some days Federated's too much. Dip my toes in and see if anyone interesting is up there, otherwise just see what my friends are saying. You can post world-wide, local, followers-only, or "direct" (not quite private, but close). You can block & report people, or block an entire instance if they're all assholes.

The tech is better. Most instances have a 500-char post limit, some have higher limits, and some allow Markdown or raw HTML markup (most don't, tho). Quote-tweeting doesn't really exist (screenshot-dunking is a reportable offense), threading actually works. You can enable some local & global trending tags, but don't. Search is deliberately less useful, to prevent bad actors from searching keywords and attacking you in a private conversation. If you want it to be searchable, add hashtags. It's not 100% secure from scanning bots for ads or "research", but they're uncommon.

The culture's probably a bit of a shock if you spend all your time in the shit. People have their own interests, but aren't generally screaming about every disaster. There's, on the mainstream instances anyway, no fascists, tankies, transphobes, or Republicans (they've been exiled to "truth.social", a Mastodon fork without federation). You'll have to find actual news sources instead of random links promoted by Russian spambots.

Couple of get-started guides for you:

And I'm here:

I promise you it's much nicer than what you're putting up with now.

comic by KC Green

Paid Twitter

I said years ago Twitter should have a paid no-ads tier.

But now, I think they should do microtransactions, with their own microcurrency, the birdseed (BS), roughly 1 BS = $0.01 but look out for bundle sales!

Emoji gachapon packs cost 300 BS for one pull, 3000 BS for a 10x with guaranteed S-tier; keep pulling, maybe you'll get that đź’Ż you need (0.00062% chance). Avatar from webcam/front camera only costs 1000 BS, avatar from anime builder is 200 BS, a new avatar "costume" or filter costs 100 BS, uploading a photo is 10,000 BS. Every post costs 10 BS, or special packs of 200 for 1500 BS. Faves cost 69 BS, of which 7 BS goes back to the faved person, quote-dunking costs 666 BS. Following costs 100 BS, blocking is free.

This would just about fix Twitter. In that nobody would put up with it (well, millions of phone gamers do, but there's sometimes an actual game under the microcurrency shit); but apparently they don't mind being spammed at which costs far more.

Or you can Join Mastodon for free, and not be on the same network as the orange shitgibbon and every crazy person screaming at each other because they don't know where the block button is. That's nice, too.


Way back in 2017, Manton Reece (who'd previously made Tweetmarker, a last-read-syncing service back when multiple Twitter clients existed, but then he quit using Twitter!) had a Kickstarter for a microblog/Twitter-like service where you'd host your own content, and a book about that.

3 years on, what's happened with micro.blog? How's it compare to blogging, fediverse, and Twitter?

No book yet, he's kicked the deadline down the road from 2018 to February 2020. Necromancers have a more strict understanding of "deadline". I have no leg to stand on mocking someone else's procrastination, but I do it anyway. Not just out of "where's my book?", but also it'd hopefully explain why he's made some of these decisions.

The service currently mostly hosts content on his silo, a Dreamhosts Hugo configuration, either free as micro.blog/username, or paid as username.micro.blog or your own DNS name pointing at the silo. Or, you can syndicate posts from any other blog, but there are difficult limitations.

There's no easy way to tell, but I believe the userbase is in the high hundreds or low thousands, mostly free. I follow a good number of busy people and see far <100 posts/day.

Microblogging: Micro.blog is, as Manton describes it, only for microblogging. Which means different things to different people.

To me, the Twitter experience was finding your friends at meetups, and links to long blog posts and art, often reposted widely, and then you'd have a discussion in replies. We wanted to see all our friends' replies because that's how you found out what was interesting to them. It was a social RSS reader.

Later as Twitter sabotaged the community to try to become a new Facebook, it devolved into brainless blipverts and morons shouting at you. I think the restriction of short posts cuts off oxygen to your brain and you start to die, which is why people panic and hate so much there. That's the part you shouldn't emulate. I blame Twitter for much of the political situation of the US.

fediverse has a few defense mechanisms against becoming Twitter. Long posts, and content warnings (intended to hide adult or possibly annoying content, often used as humorous titles or to minimize long posts for those not interested) encourage thinking about a post. You can have an intelligent discussion, not screaming slogans at each other.

The early Mastodon (specifically, not so much the other servers) community was rabidly anti-business and anti-celebrity; and I do mean rabid in the way they attacked Wil Wheaton, of all people (he said "Don't be a dick!" and they were dicks to him). There's places more neutral now, but most extremists are still federated. Gab's ludicrous move to fediverse didn't do much for them, since many servers block them and even try unpersoning anyone who doesn't. But mastodon.social is a hive of scum & villainy like Twitter, so beware of large instances.

Manton's view, as I understand it, is that microblogging is just conversation in short SMS-like messages (280 chars for m.b, which maybe provoked Twitter into doubling its 140? But fediverse posts are 500+). Titles are not allowed, or it becomes just a link with no context, summary, or images (except the current bug/design flaw which does post 16x16 flyspeck icons of your images).

In WordPress, titles are not realistically optional. The scheduler and batch editors are nearly unusable without them, all the blog themes look bad and can't be easily navigated. WordPress is for writing—I don't like the Gutenberg editor, but they clearly understand the power of Johannes Gutenberg's printing press—generally long, coherent thoughts and essays. Even short linked-list content, like my music of the day, needs to say what it is first, and I put effort into writing puns, poems, or suggestive descriptions. Just irreconcilable.

Art: m.b does sort of support photography. Originally it cropped all photos square, compressed to some small size, run thru one of a few ugly filters like it was still 2010—but now if your post is hosted on the silo, it'll post a photo unmolested, I believe. If hosted elsewhere, and you have no title, and low enough char count, it might post your images, rescaled to some smaller size, after some processing time; all the joy of 24 Hour Photos for the 21st Century. There's even a separate iOS app Sunlit, sort of an Instagram clone, but rather pointless since the main m.b app or Icro (a 3rd party iOS client) will read the whole timeline and also post images. Now's a good time to see this in action, as there's a "pin" for posting a photo every day for the month.

If you have a title, you get the flyspeck icons instead of actual art. This might be my biggest problem. I put effort into making a post fun & interesting, and it's stripped to a bare text link.

Tagging: m.b has its own solution, which is a limited (10? 4 of which are America-centric sportsballs) set of emoji. If you post ? it'll show up in a discover tab about books. It's pretty quiet.

This is totally incompatible with WordPress, where categories are named, or Twitter or fediverse, where is standard, so you need both to syndicate your taxonomy. Since m.b doesn't pick up any post content with a title, I'd have to put emoji tags in the title which is weird and puts a bunch of hex escapes in the URL slug. And most of my posts are unclassifiable, because I don't talk about sportsball; where's the Scheme programming emoji? The Sumerians invented a system of syllabic writing 5200 years ago to get away from pure hieroglyphics because they couldn't have enough symbols to represent every idea. Maybe in another few thousand years this new hieroglyphics idea will fade out.

There's no search function in m.b, though search engines generally crawl some or all of the timeline. Search in fediverse is limited to your own posts and stars, public hashtags, and user accounts, but also search engines and all sorts of research and marketers scan the public timelines, it's easy to find anything. Blogs are nice and persistent, and search engines work fine with these.

Reply hazy: In Twitter, a post has a permalink, and if you click that it shows the post & replies, as you'd expect from a silo. Actually, it now makes you hit "more" links all thru the thread because Jack hates the Twitter-that-was.

m.b has no visible permalink in the apps, but does on the site. Except where it doesn't, like in replies, where you need to click the reply date to see the reply & one parent, then the upper name, and you can see the thread.

WP of course only has comments, but they're just down there.

fediverse permalinks show only immediate parents & replies, except the root post shows all replies (sometimes including 1000+ reply "hellthreads" which will peg your CPU, it's great fun).

In theory, all of these are connectible by webmention protocols and ActivityPub and IFTTT, in practice even nerds like me only have patience for one cross-wiring.

Identity: Possibly the weirdest part of micro.blog is the sign-in system, which has no password. It sends a token to your email, you click the link and you're logged in until you clear cookies, which I do rather often. Since there's no username/password, the browser can't remember it for you, and there's nothing in 1password. Somewhat more dangerous than other email recovery systems, since there's no "something you know and something you have", it should probably have at least a recovery PIN.

Remember the "pins" from Art? They're achievements, but hidden away in the site, Account, pins; there's no way to see anyone else's, or compare to global stats, or anything like that. Likewise, you can't see anyone's follower/following count exactly, tho it does list "Following N users you aren't following".

The profile if you're using the free account is incredibly minimalist; an avatar and short bio, no ability to theme it. If you pay for the silo, you can theme your Hugo instance, but it's fairly limited because most Hugo themes don't work with title-less posts, either.

Back in the day, Twitter let you customize your colors and page background, but now it's generic with a little header image if anyone looks at your profile.

fediverse has a much more extensive bio, up to 4 key/value links (I use them for Blog, BBS, Patreon, and Pronouns), and tabs for all your pings (aka toots/awoos/posts, depending on server), pings & replies, and media posts.

Of course, you can do anything with WP; I'm on the Twenty Sixteen theme, but heavily customized, and I may strip out the stock CSS soon to make a few tweaks easier.

Where are we? So, this blog seems nearly ideal to me now. I need to clean up my categories, and there's a few site & style hacks I'd like to make, but it's the happiest I've been with a technical system in a long time. Audience is good, at least by current standards. I'd love to get more, but Scheme, RPGs, music, movie, videogame, & book reviews, and space news may just be a niche intersection.

Syndication is my big problem, and unfortunately micro.blog is by far the least capable of the 4 places my posts go out to, and aside from commenting does nothing an RSS link wouldn't do better.

I couldn't, or wouldn't, go back to a SMS-level Twitter service, so posting on m.b the way it's "intended" isn't useful.

Be like Luke. Delete Facebook.

I deleted mine a few years ago, and it's great to be free. See also:

Though since then, micro.blog has stalled out and is the ugliest, least capable of the social networks I'm connected to. It's a useful comment system on my posts.

Fediverse, whether Mastodon or Pleroma, is much more capable, a W3C standard, and is growing fast without most of the problems of "social networks". The former App.Net community is at Appdot.net.

Twitter to Join Fediverse!

Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard. ?

Which to me just sounds like ActivityPub with extra steps. My immediate shitpost reaction was "Twitter's new servers will only federate with Gab and 4chan."

But to be serious a second:

  1. Mastodon.social has 423K users; 10% are "active". M.s is a social mess, really an open sewer; reading the Federation timeline on it with a LOT of filtering is unpleasant or impossible. Much of the content there is kind of unpleasant; it's more left-wing but just as bad as Twitter is. For a while, I had the instance blocked, but it interfered with me following & being followed by friends who live there. I'd like them to leave for a nicer suburb, but they won't yet.
  2. Pawoo.net has 590K users, but it's on the fringes of Fediverse and gets blocked or silenced by a lot for porn publishing. shrug
  3. Twitter has 330M users; probably 1% are "active", but that's still 3.3M users, 6x more than the biggest Mastodons. Every social problem of M.s is going to be vastly worse, and it'll need a fairly different software architecture than Mastodon or even Pleroma (which is more efficient, but we haven't seen any big Pleroma instances).

I think if Twitter does adopt ActivityPub, they'll need to split into a bunch of servers. Ideally they'd take a cue from GeoCities and have regional or interest-based servers, so there'd be california.twitter.com, paris.twitter.com, hongkong.twitter.com, hiking.twitter.com, apple.twitter.com, etc., and on a big naming day they'd make everyone pick their new home. Cap them at 100K or something sane. Then they could participate in Fediverse like everyone else.

More likely Twitter will be intensely boring and character-less, and name them 1.twitter.com, 2.twitter.com, etc., and have some hack where the front end routes users to their shard, there won't be a Local or Federated timeline at all, and they'll just wreck the Federated timeline with the Twitter firehose of shit.

New Twitter UI

Speaking of social fucking media. The new Twitter UI is ridiculous. It's now impossible to have a bookmark to your "Latest Tweets" view or set a preference to only see that instead of "the algorithm" picking shit for you, have to manually click a star icon which has no mouseover text, title, or hints, I want you to see the source for this button (turn away if you're squeamish):

<div class="css-1dbjc4n r-1awozwy r-18u37iz r-1h3ijdo r-1777fci r-1jgb5lz r-sb58tz r-utggzx r-13qz1uu">
<div class="css-1dbjc4n r-16y2uox r-1wbh5a2 r-1pi2tsx r-1777fci">
<div class="css-1dbjc4n r-1habvwh">
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<span class="css-901oao css-16my406 r-1qd0xha r-ad9z0x r-bcqeeo r-qvutc0">
Latest Tweets</span>
<div class="css-1dbjc4n r-obd0qt r-1pz39u2 r-1777fci r-1joea0r r-1vsu8ta r-18qmn74">
<div aria-label="Top Tweets off" role="button" data-focusable="true" tabindex="0" class="css-18t94o4 css-1dbjc4n r-1niwhzg r-42olwf r-sdzlij r-1phboty r-rs99b7 r-1w2pmg r-1vuscfd r-53xb7h r-mk0yit r-o7ynqc r-6416eg r-lrvibr" style="margin-right: calc(5px + ((-1 * (41px - 1.5em)) / 2));">
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<path d="M22.772 10.506l-5.618-2.192-2.16-6.5c-.102-.307-.39-.514-.712-.514s-.61.207-.712.513l-2.16 6.5-5.62 2.192c-.287.112-.477.39-.477.7s.19.585.478.698l5.62 2.192 2.16 6.5c.102.306.39.513.712.513s.61-.207.712-.513l2.16-6.5 5.62-2.192c.287-.112.477-.39.477-.7s-.19-.585-.478-.697zm-6.49 2.32c-.208.08-.37.25-.44.46l-1.56 4.695-1.56-4.693c-.07-.21-.23-.38-.438-.462l-4.155-1.62 4.154-1.622c.208-.08.37-.25.44-.462l1.56-4.693 1.56 4.694c. 1.62-4.155 1.622zM6.663 3.812h-1.88V2.05c0-.414-.337-.75-.75-.75s-.75.336-.75.75v1.762H1.5c-.414 0-.75.336-.75.75s.336.75.75.75h1.782v1.762c0 .414.336.75.75.75s.75-.336.75-.75V5.312h1.88c.415 0 .75-.336.75-.75s-.335-.75-.75-.75zm2.535 15.622h-1.1v-1.016c0-.414-.335-.75-.75-.75s-.75.336-.75.75v1.016H5.57c-.414 0-.75.336-.75.75s.336.75.75.75H6.6v1.016c0 .414.335.75.75.75s.75-.336.75-.75v-1.016h1.098c.414 0 .75-.336.75-.75s-.336-.75-.75-.75z">
<span class="css-901oao css-16my406 css-bfa6kz r-1qd0xha r-ad9z0x r-bcqeeo r-qvutc0">

Are you fucking kidding me.

They removed the ability to set your own profile's background color & image some time ago, back in the day everyone's Twitter pages (if they knew what they were doing) looked unique and like a home page, but now it's entirely gone. There's a little swatch of image behind your profile photo, but nobody'll ever see it.

Conversations are even harder to read, but the site's been just broken for conversations for years. Kara Swisher's interview/monstering of Jack proved that.

I'm sure there's more to hate.

Come over to Fediverse, if you actually want a quieter place to have a few conversations, and a relentlessly non-algorithmic timeline; Mastodon's more baseline what-Twitter-was-like for good and bad, Pleroma's a better server and client but often smaller, isolated instances (porn and weirdos, yay!). Don't be a gigantic flaming asshole there and it'll be fine; well, and Gab is sorta federated except everyone blocks them, so even flaming assholes have a home.


A day that will live in infamy: Twitter emailed me to make sure I knew I joined Twitter 11 years ago today (really?). And then put a banner in front of my notifications (which I still see even if I don't read my timeline), so I said fuck it and hit post, made the swamp a little shittier.

But. 11 years ago, Twitter was really fun. WWDC lunch & event planning, and other nerds finding our weird Objective-C hobby useful and profitable, and all the weird social events which even antisocial nerds would enjoy because it was software-mediated. The normals hadn't really found their way there yet.

At first there was just a little post form on a page, and you had to reload to get updates. Then nice clients came out, like Twitterrific (great for just reading the stream, invented "tweet" and the bird icon, his name is Ollie), Twittelator (great for lists and filtering), and Tweetie (neat UI design, invented pull-to-refresh). And favrd, which was like a leaderboard for funny Twitter.

Then everything started to go wrong. Normals and their predators got on, and humor took a nosedive as thieves stole jokes and reposted memes. Twitter started making their web app usable, and limiting their API, and telling the client devs to go away. Eventually they bought Tweetie and mangled it and then killed it, because everyone at Twitter is too stupid and tasteless to maintain good software.

I've told of the time around App.net and on in Mastodon. I'm still there, generally quite happy with it; there's a bunch of App.net refugees around. I'm kinda sad a bunch of people I like are still on Twitter, there's a hell of a good world out here away from all of that.

Kara Interviews Jack

But I can't read all the tweets in Safari, because the "moments" feature doesn't work: "403 Forbidden: The server understood the request, but is refusing to fulfill it." Reloading it in Chrome worked. Neither of them has me blocked.

As @ashleyfeinberg wrote: “press him for a clear, unambiguous example of nearly anything, and Dorsey shuts down.” That is not unfair characterization IMHO. Third, I will thread in questions from audience, but to keep this non chaotic, let’s stay in one reply thread.
—Kara Swisher
I grade you all an F on this and that's being kind. I'm not trying to be a jackass, but it's been a very slow roll by all of you in tech to pay attention to this. Why do you think that is? I think it is because many of the people who made Twitter never ever felt unsafe.
Got it. But do you think the fact that you all could not conceive of what it is to feel unsafe (women, POC, LGBTQ, other marginalized people) could be one of the issues? (new topic soon)
—Kara Swisher
Yeah, it's Chinatown, Jake.
—Kara Swisher

I would've quoted Jack, but he literally said nothing of substance in the entire thread, only "we tried". Tried and failed, Jack.

What a catastrophe, a giant horrible threshing machine of hate with a doofus asleep at the wheel.

The right solution is to shut Twitter down and switch to federated systems. Fediverse routinely "blocks" instances which allow abusers; those instances can remain their own little world, but not interact with the rest of us. And users can block or mute people and domains based on their own needs. I recently muted mastodon.social, the "flagship" instance, because it has many abusers and little moderation. The Federated timeline I see now is so much nicer without m.s. If I want to see what Eugen or their local timeline is doing, I still have an m.s account I can check in with, but I don't bother unless someone refers to current drama and I feel up to reading drama.

Don't Be a Dick

So, Wil Wheaton ( previously "I Hate Twitter" ) was just chased off the Fediverse (he still has an account on a siloed non-federating instance, which isn't really useful to anyone else). His last statement's pretty clear, so I put that down below.

"Please do your very best to be kind to each other. The world is a terrible place right now, and that's largely because it is what we make it."

I know some of the people doing the harassing. There's no point in even arguing with them: They've decided he's in Two Minutes Hate, perhaps because he has a friend whom they don't like, and won't consider "Don't be a Dick", or having empathy, tolerance, or self-awareness that some of them aren't such great friends to have, for one hot second.

While Gargron has condemned harassment, it doesn't fix the problem, since there are entire instances where 4chan-like behavior is accepted; all you can do is block accounts or those entire instances, and it still poisons the Federated timeline for a while.

I'm not sure any level of moderation fixes this shit.

This is why I highly recommend owning your own blog, and broadcasting that out to other services where people can read it; even better, read this and many other blogs in your RSS aggregator or RSS reader ( currently free! ) of choice. It's OK to put some ephemeral chat on other services, but remember those are owned by other people, and are easily attacked by angry, stupid mobs. If a stupid mob shows up here, I don't approve their comments and it's done. It's the Castle Doctrine of online posting.

Wil Wheaton @wilw@mastodon.cloud August 29, 2018, 3:02 PM https://mastodon.cloud/@wilw/100635779449174251 (will be a dead link soon)
I have been notified by an Admin here that they are getting 60 reports a day about my account. As far as I can tell, I'm not breaking any rules, and I've done my best to be a good person here. But this admin is going to suspend my account.

It's the Admin's instance, so I fully support their choice to eliminate a source of frustration, but something to consider: a person who is doing nothing wrong can be run off one instance by a mob from another instance. That seems ... not cool. 1/x

But it's been made very, very clear to me that I am not welcome in the Fediverse, and I hear you. I hoped to find an alternative to the birdsite where I could find the same fun community that existed over there in the beginning, and it's clear to me that I won't be finding that. Before I leave, I want to just make something very clear, because I've spent most of my life being yelled at by people who don't know me at all, and I want the record to be clear. 2/x

During GamerGate, I was dogpiled and mobbed and brigaded and attacked by thousands of accounts. I started using a blocklist that was supposed to help stop that. I did not know that the blocklist I signed up for also had a lot of trans women on it. When I found out, I did everything I could to remove those women from the list I shared. When there were still innocents on the list, I stopped sharing the list entirely. Despite this, a mob has decided that I'm anti-trans. 3/x

This lie that I am anti-trans, or anti-LGBQ, is deeply hurtful to me (I know it's nothing like the pain LGBTQ people deal with every day, as they simply try to exist in a world that treats them so badly, but it is still hurtful in its own way to me). I just want to make it extremely clear: that is a lie, and the people spreading it are misinformed.

So I'm leaving the Fediverse, which has treated me with more cruelty, vitriol, hatred, and contempt than than anyone on the birdsite ever did. 4/x

I know that I'm well-off, well-known, and as a CIS white hetro dude in America, I live life on the lowest difficulty setting. I know that I have very little to complain about.

But I still have feelings, and I really do care about the world and the people in it. What I see is a lot of anger and cruelty directed at the IDEA of me, from people who I just hope don't realize that it really does hurt me, in my heart, to be accused of being someone I am not, and to be the target of a hateful mob. 5/x

Anyway, take your victory lap and collect your prizes. You've made it clear that I'm not welcome here, and even though I disagree with the action this Admin is taking (banning me when I didn't break any rules doesn't seem right), I respect and support the Admin's decision to run their instance the way they see fit.

Please do your very best to be kind to each other. The world is a terrible place right now, and that's largely because it is what we make it.



Twitpocalypse Now

The big winners of this so far have been ActivityPub servers, especially Mastodon, and micro.blog, where I've seen a lot of people finally jump out of the boiling pot (I was gonna say "frogs" instead of "people", but the whole right-wing frog avatar thing…). My handles are in that About page above you, if you want to follow.

If you're picking an ActivityPub instance, be aware that mastodon.social is a giant possibly-hostile mess like Twitter, and not really a "community" like many other instances. Pick a smaller instance, read the timeline on their instance's front page, and make a more informed choice. You can communicate with almost everyone in the Fediverse and see a similar Federated timeline from almost any instance, but the Local timeline will be different.

If you were on ADN, you can ask me for an mdhughes@appdot.net invite. Pleroma is also interesting, and might be more to your taste.

Anyway, welcome to the free world, ex-twitterers!