Some people might find the answer to be obvious (yes) but I’ve rarely found it so. In fact, this is a question I often find in the linux community (regarding linux going mainstream, not lemmy) and people are pretty split upon it.
On one hand, you may get benefits like more activity, more content, more people to interact with, a greater chance you’ll find someone to talk to on some specific subject.
On the other, you could run into an eternal September like reddit, where Lemmy would lose its culture, and have far more spam and moderation issues.
I don’t know, what do you think?
A loosely moderated place to ask open ended questions
If your post is
it’s welcome here!
I don’t think Lemmy itself can have a culture. Specific servers can, like lemmy.ml, or even multiple servers forming some kind of a community, but as long as Lemmy is federated and dcentralized then it becoming popular is not going to hurt our community. People can always go form there own community and establish their own server.
It would be daunting if Lemmy got a userbase as big as Reddit, with all the problems that come with it.
On a content level however, there should be enough ways to filter out the stuff you don’t wanna see… but even with the possibility to downvote, more moderation would be in order and a clear consensus of where Lemmy wants to position itself and to what degree less popular opinions should be tolerated. This is a thought process that has to be finished before this place gets flooded with an overwhelming wave of new users (which is rather unlikely anyway).
In regards to moderation, some form of democracy should be implemented for each community mod team. Of course, this should be built in a way as to prevent, or at the very least limit, voter fraud and hostile takeovers.
There could be limits set on the protocol level, like only allowing users to vote in elections on their homeserver (or allowing the homeserver admins to choose which servers’ users they’ll allow?). Each community could also vote (or the mods internally vote) on the requirements for voting, like: amount of time subscribed, activity level within the community, age of account, etc.
Perhaps each community could even choose the type of election/voting system. They could be for a set term, until they get voted out, or a constant approval vote where they lose their position if they piss off enough people.
Hell, if you wanted to go even further, an impeachment process could be included. Or maybe every mod action is publically available to be appealed by the community if need be and if enough actions are overturned they lose their position.
I’m really into governance structures, so people might not care for something like this, but I’ve spent some time writing out ideas for a Reddit alternative with heavy emphasis on governance, both community and site wide. Mainly for the purposes of preventing authoritarian behavior by mods and site admins alike. It’d be pretty cool to see Lemmy adopt things like this.
I think it’s important for Lemmy, as well as other efforts such as Mastodon, to become mainstream because we need social media platforms that are answerable to regular people as opposed to corporate interests.
For better or worse, social media has become an invaluable tool and an integral part of our society. It’s a way for people to get news and to discuss it with their peers as well as a tool for education.
Commercial platforms have the most users, and are increasingly being used for political organization. This is a natural development, since organizing always begins where the people are. However, we must remember who owns these platforms and whose interests they ultimately represent. These are not neutral and unbiased channels that allow for the free flow of information. The content on these sites is carefully curated. Views and opinions that are unpalatable to the owners of these platforms are often suppressed, and sometimes outright banned.
Some examples include Facebook banning antifascist pages and Twitter banning left-wing accounts during the midterm elections in US. When the content that the user produce does not fit with the interests of the platform it gets removed and communities end up being destroyed. This is clearly a problem for any meaningful organizing.
Another problem is that user data constitutes a significant source of revenue for corporate social media platforms. The information collected about the users is referred to as metadata, and it can reveal a lot more about the individual than most people realize. It’s possible for the owners of the platforms to identify users based on the address of the device they’re using, see their location, who they interact with, and so on. This creates a comprehensive profile of the person along with the network of individuals whom they interact with.
This information is shared with the affiliates of the platform as well as government entities. A recent RCMP leak showed how this kind of information is used to spy on Canadian citizens.
It’s clear that commercial platforms do not respect user privacy, nor are the users in control of their content. While it’s important to participate on such platforms in order to agitate, educate, and recruit comrades, they should not be seen as a safe space for people on the left to organize.
Open source platforms provide an alternative to corporate social media. These platforms are developed on a non-profit basis and are hosted by volunteers across the globe. A growing number of such platforms are available today and millions of people are using them already.
All these platforms are developed in the open, and the developers themselves are often left-wing activists (as is the case with Mastodon and Lemmy). These platforms explicitly avoid tracking users and collecting their data. Not only are these platforms better at respecting user privacy, they also tend to provide a better user experience without annoying ads and popups.
Another interesting aspect of the Fediverse is that it promotes collaboration. Traditional commercial platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube have no incentive to allow users to move data between them. They directly compete for users in a zero sum game and go out of their way to make it difficult to share content across them. This is the reason we often see screenshots from one site being posted on another.
On the other hand, a federated network that’s developed in the open and largely hosted non-profit results in a positive-sum game environment. Users joining any of the platforms on the network help grow the entire network.
Having many different sites hosted by individuals was the way the internet was intended to work in the first place, it’s actually quite impressive how corporations took the open network of the internet and managed to turn it into a series of walled gardens. Marxist theory states that in order to be free, the workers must own the means of production. This idea is directly applicable in the context of social media. Only when we own the platforms that we use will we be free to post our thoughts and ideas without having to worry about them being censored by corporate interests.
It’s time for us to get serious about owning our tools and start using communication platforms built by the people and for the people. This is the only way to guard against corporate threats to worker organization.
While I agree with everything you said, there are some big hurdles standing in the way of mainstream adoption.
I personally find the fediverse to be a superior alternative and the answer to a call of saving the internet, taking it back to it’s origins, and pushing forward with modernity to make all the right moves, and for that reason deeply wish they had been invented in the early 2000s, before corporations took over the internet.
Yes, Mastodon had a huge momentum with millions of subscribers because of high profile users getting pissed with twitter, but Mastodon has since stagnated in user registration and all of the high profile users has since returned to Twitter because of audience reach.
Another problem is the content. Since these platforms are mainly used by leftist political users, and not oriented towards content creators, there is no incentive for ‘commoners’ to adopt the services.
Then comes the final issue, which is monetary gain by users. The primary attraction of the various platforms is the monetary gains potential for creators.
Twitter is especially big with artists (and businesses + high profiles/politicians), as twitter is a humanizing platform that, like Mastodon, lets you shout into the void and have people interact with you, your identity, and your opinion. The big names on Twitter can talk directly to their listeners (and profit from it as a secondary mechanic to fame). And the listeners can always keep up with their people of interest. I feel Mastodon cannot achieve the same results for various reasons (albeit, I would say Mastodon already today have replaced the utility of Facebook, and while facebook have shifted away from the personal stream/pages to focus on ‘marketplace’ and ‘groups’ to try maintain relevance; groups itself is a poor imitation of a single-flow forum like Reddit, and frankly, ‘marketplace’ sucks). So, to the issues I have with Mastodon:
Reddit is kinda crap. In my opinion it is a poor imitation of traditional forums. Where sub-forums are user-moderated forum sections, and we essentially just got rid of the categorical organization entity, making it more streamlined and always “latest news”. Yes, I know the goal of reddit is to be a news aggregator, and for that design, it’s fantastic. But, the downside is how reddit grew to replace traditional forums in the mind of the public. Which has lead to information management essentially being lost. This is especially noticeable in hobby subs. Granted, the whole reason for reddit’s success is the constant flow of new information, the ‘user attention’, which is the entire goal of a platform selling ads. People won’t move back to traditional forums, I understand that, but, when you go to a hobby forum, for say, guppies, every day 80% of all new posts are “is she pregnant?”, which literally can only be answered with YES. Guppies mate nonstop and any female exposed to a male carry his semen for up to 12 months. She is 99% likely to be pregnant within the year, even if she is moved to an isolated tank. …so yeah, my point is that, Reddit is not a good replacement for traditional forums, but has become one (shared with Facebook groups), and that is why Lemmy is actually the better platform. Lemmy allows users to host instances with specific interests, and has better moderation tools, the weakness of such a system is the lack of a central point. i.e. multiple instances with the same content topic could weaken the user growth potential.
YouTube…let’s face it. It’s big because it’s profitable. PeerTube cannot compete. If content creators can’t generate an income from PeerTube, then YouTube will always remain the primary platform. I don’t know what can be done about this, I also don’t like how PeerTube works. I mean, it doesn’t feel as streamlined as YouTube. In the case of PeerTube, it is not a replacement, and can’t be, both because of the federated nature and split between instances, and because of the lack of monetization available for its content creators - as, unlike other platforms, meaningful content creation for this particular platform is incredibly time consuming.
CMS/Blogging… well I mean, it doesn’t really matter. I like that writefreely exists, I’ve even paid a few months subscription for write.as as I like the project a lot. Sure, a lot could be done to enhance the experience, and help curate content and reach your reader base on-platform. But blogging is itself a medium that, what is needed, is not another platform (Wordpress is also available on the fediverse), what is missing, is a platform like Medium. The curation of meaningful content for your reader experience.
Instagram… Honestly, I don’t even know what justifies the existence of this platform. What can be done on instagram, could as easily be done on Twitter. The main draw people have to instagram, I suppose, is the ability to generate followers and become an “influencer” and make profits. Instagram in and off itself has no real meaning as there is no way to manage image flow or truly utilize it for exposure. It’s not really about image sharing either. Sure, it sets a standard, but you can’t share real experiences, because people don’t actually care about those experiences, unless you’re “important”, which, again, Twitter serves better to channel communication. So what has potential, is just… a gimmick without purpose, that people pretend has purpose, because, uh. Reasons. Whatever it is instagram set out to do, I feel pixelfed could be used as a functional base; as it is integrated to the fediverse, and the flow could therefore be integrated with your wider fediverse communication. But, do we really need pixelfed? Pixelfed suffers from the same indexing and exposure issue as the rest of the fediverse (which, ones addressed, would make it a proper instagram replacement, and do whatever it is instagram does, but better), but for now, it is difficult to curate content, and without an app it just can’t move out of the box where it sits.
Tiktok - same stupidity as instagram. We don’t need it. It has no purpose other than spam to generate followers to become an influencer, to make profits. If anything, it’s a flow that you can “scroll” to avoid boredom. I understand that people want this kind of passive pass-time, but why can’t we just all pick up a game or read something? So much more productive. A combination of both TikTok and Instagram into “pixelfed”, and a way to curate content and sync your fediverse accounts though, that could be a remedy of utility.
Pinterest is a great resource for hobbyists looking for inspiration or to find people on other platforms through their shared image links. Pinterest is an odd one, because it’s also a really good platform to promote your content and resources. In and off itself, it is essentially a haven for aristry in a way that works just… better. Than instagram ever could. For the purpose both of self promotion and for image sharing. But, I don’t see how this would help the fediverse. It does not need to be part of the fediverse, as I can’t see how it would be integrated without actually defeating the point of integration (to promote your fediverse stuff). It could easily be part of pixelfeds structure to service both Pinterest, TikTok, and instagram. To be a unique multi-purpose platform for collecting, viewing, and sharing graphical media - this way, Mastodon and PeerTube would not have to directly cater to content producers, as they would sync their content through this platform.
Yeah, I agree with everything you’re saying. I don’t really expect fediverse to displace commercial platforms any time soon, and the fact that it’s much easier for content creator to monetize their content.
That said, I think fediverse is now big enough that it’s not going anywhere. It’s also worth noting that open source has a very different dynamic from commercial platforms. Projects can survive with little or no commercial incentive because they’re developed by people who themselves benefit from their work. Projects can also be easily forked and taken in different directions by different groups of users if there is a disagreement regarding the direction of the platform. Even when projects become abandoned, they can be picked up again by new teams as long as there is an interested community of users around them. All of that makes open source far more resilient than commercial platforms. If a company runs out of money then it folds and the platform goes away. Fediverse just needs to have a big enough user base to be self sustaining, and I think we’re well past that point already.
I would also argue that a lot of things that make commercial platforms attractive are actually negatives. A lot of the viral content is often just sponsored advertisements in disguise. Prominent content creators end up shilling for companies while disguising it as being educational content. Veritasium running propaganda for self driving car companies is a good recent example of that. I think any solutions that focus on fast growth will end up creating similar problems in the fediverse as well.
Lemmy.ml as an instance, yes, but not too much.
Lemmy as a federation, yes yes yes, as much as possible. I don’t think there is something I would consider “too big”. But maybe I would prefer it not to grow too fast in order for it to have time to react and adapt to a diversification of culture and even usages.
I want to be more popular than it is now but not mainstream. Just big enough that there’s a passionate community but not big enough that anyone has the urge to sell out.
Short answer: yes, but I don’t think it happen will any time soon.
Long answer: I think the Fediverse in general is growing at a really healthy rate right now. It maintains an active community, but it isn’t large enough for it to fall apart under pressure yet. So it has time for its culture to ferment, and for devs to work out the kinks that come with federation. And hopefully: for fedi implementations to move beyond what the old platforms offered.
Whenever it attracts a larger audience, the culture of fedi will be probably be immovable the same way the early internet’s was (if not more so, due to its decentralized nature actively flying in the face of the ad business and walled gardens which are largely the culprit for the situation we find ourselves in).
I.e., fedi could be a return to normal for the internet, which reminds people what made it cool to begin with. For that reason, fedi’s honeymoon phase would probably last much longer if that happened.
That being said: I kinda want to see more PeerTubers. That’s the only popular implementation I’ve seen that doesn’t have a blossoming community yet.
Sorry if I too broadly expanded the scope of your question lol :p