Mashable Doesn’t Understand Mastodon

These is a pretty bad article on Mashable on why Mastodon won’t survive. I’m telling you its a terrible article but you’re probably thinking “Arthur, all you write is terrible articles” and you’d be correct. This one is no different.

However there are things about this peice originally written by @LanceUlanoff in April of this year that are just not quite reasonable about Mastodon that I am going to address.

William Shatner Doesn’t Need to Use Mastodon

Believe it or not there are tons of social circles and groups that thrive without William Shatner. I know! I was shocked to learn that one too. Lance thinks this is detrimental to the platform. In fact Lance counld’t even remember which instance he signed up with. This seems less like a design problem and more of a Lance problem. Most people don’t forget which email provider they use.

Lances’ List

Lance wrote a small list of reasons that he believe the platform will fail titled “Everything that Mastodon gets wrong”. Let’s dig in.

1) Terrible name
Mastodon implies large, slow, frozen, and dead for thousands of years. The logo is cute, but the service right now stinks almost as badly as a thawing woolly mammoth.

Interesting. Compaired to other open source social networks I think the name is great. Let’s see there is:

  • GNU Social
  • Diaspora
  • Friendica

I think the cute image of the friendly furry beast is actually pretty rad.

2) There is no single Mastodon
In trying to satisfy a spike of new users, Mastodon broke the cardinal rule of social media: it separated them into silos and made it hard if not impossible for them to all socialize. This unfortunate design makes Mastodon feel more like a bunch of chat rooms rather than a cohesive, growing social network. The Federated Timeline helps, but it’s not the default view.
And I get that having a decentralized social media platform, Mastodon creator Eugen Rochko’s big idea, helps create safe zones from groups and topics, but it’s really a terrible approach that will lead to a stagnant growth and way more opinion bubbles, which is the last thing we need.

Okay, I’m totally lost on how Mastodon “made it hard if not impossible for them to all socialize.” I effortlessly have found tons of users from different instances that I follow just by clicking the follow button.

3) Toots
In trying to be the anti-twitter, Mastodon’s Rochko chose the dumbest and most ridiculous post name possible: Toots. This too-cute take-off on Tweets literally hurts me every time I say and do it on Mastodon.

Again, this is great and feels less like a platform problem and more of a Lance problem.

4) Handles are meaningless
User handles do show up in Toots (blech!) but not in the URLs for users’ Mastodon homepages. Giving users numbers (mine is 995) instead of identifiable website addresses makes Mastodon feel amateurish.

Nope. Everyone has a username.

If you can’t find people by name, then how can you follow them on Mastodon? Someone in one local Mastodon timeline may not appear in another (Sorry, Mr. Shatner). To see everyone (at least I think you see everyone), you have to troll the Federated timeline, open a Toot (blech!) and add them there. Twitter and other social networks already have this stuff figured out. Why is Mastodon better? It’s not!

username @ url

6) Apps feel like a science project I started using Mastodon in Safari. It was not a good experience. At least there’s an app…or apps.

Sigh. Again, I have to point out the email analogy. There is no single email application but several. This is an open project not a product from Apple which brings me to the next point.

Decentralized Networks Can’t Fail

Now I could be wrong on everything on this list. It’s totally possible. As much of a hard time that I’m giving Lance he’s probably way smarter than me on so many things that me making this post is just ludacris. But decentralized networks just don’t die. There are still hard core users of Diaspora and GNU Social. We can’t even count user numbers as a real metric of a social network becaise compared to Facebook no one uses any other social media network.

Even if Mastodon drops down to only 3 instances with 15 regular users between them if the network continues to be social it serves it’s purpose.


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