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Eugen @Gargron

Over the years we've had many high-profile Twitter users join Mastodon, and most haven't stuck around (that I know of). I'm curious if it's the network effect being stronger for them, if it's a culture mismatch re: famousness, or something about Mastodon's features that's lacking for them.

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@Gargron personally, i’d put my money on the uphill battle you’re fighting against twitter here: even for nonfamous users like me, it’s a new network where i have to build new contacts vs an already established circle of friends/audience. even if mastodon was twitter-sized, it’d still be a start from (mostly) zero.

@Gargron when you're use of social network is more into reaching your audience rather than finding/arguing with people/friends (must be hardcore when "famous" to talk with people that have no side-interests in ya) so I guess it's kinda hard to choose a platform where you lack most of your audience.

Usually you end up where your people are :o

@Gargron it's certainly not the features. Several people that I've had take a look at Mastodon have all said they didn't want to use it because there were more people on Twitter.

@Gargron Pretty sure it's "the network effect" like you said it. People is used to Twitter and Facebook for daily posting and follows other people where they are. Twitter grow fast several year ago because facebook couldn't afford the spontaneity that Twitter offer and other things like ads everywhere. Social network by definition can't work decentralised in our modern world I deplore it. "Normal people" have to have a easy and unique location point to bring a mass of people together ...

@Gargron Have their bounce-rates been higher than bounce-rates for "normal" people? I recognise that metrics for this are not easy to gather without disrespecting the privacy of users, generally. I'm just wondering whether the "null hypothesis" has been rejected here. :)

@cathal Well, kind of by definition the pool of people I'm thinking of here is much smaller. But from my unscientific impression/observation, we have plenty of non-famous people being long-term active users, but I barely know of any celebrities regularly posting here.

I would list names but I don't want to come across as calling out famous people for not posting more...

@Gargron I do think there's likely to be an "audience addiction" effect at play, though I find personally that I get waaay more engagement over here on Mastodon than Twitter. And on Twitter I'm walking away from 3k followers, so the disparity is massive.
I do think some metrics to compare might be useful though. It mightn't hurt to gently reach out to some people and directly ask, given they're by nature a small group?

@cathal I was considering reaching out. But again, worried about appearing pushy, and I suspect many responses would be "Oh yeah, I am going to use it I just forgot" which would not lead anywhere and not be overly introspective.

@Gargron @cathal And even of the substantial responses, many would be about Mastodon's software and community a year ago.

@Aaron @cathal Community-wise I am not sensing a substantial difference in culture between last year and now. Software, yes, definitely.

@Gargron @cathal You mean users' attitude, interests, and demographics? Sure. But I also meant the raw number of users and how quickly the timelines move. Those have a big effect on the overall experience, and surely they've increased over the past year.

@Gargron @cathal Don't worry, I'm back. I'm back. Unfortunately I didn't bring my 1,500+ followers from Twitter with me, but its tough being such an internet celebrity.

@lychee @Gargron @cathal Twitter was just fine before the celebrities arrived. It's difficult work to get followers on any social network. Can't buy them on Mastodon.

@dustin @Gargron @cathal Time to start the follower selling business on #mastodon! I'm going to be making tens of dollars in no time!! 🤑

@Gargron I'd say it's a cultural mismatch in a different way; a lot of twitter users I see coming here treat it as a way to increase their "reach" through reposts and not a real social network, bringing their twitter attitude with them.

@Gargron (to be clear, I'm not implying anything general about people who use repost bots — I know some pretty great people here who use them — but it's definitely a problem with the overall culture of that site)

@Gargron I would feel confident in saying it's what I think you mean by the network effect. Their followers don't follow them to mastodon and they don't grow enough "market share" on mastodon fast enough in comparison.

Of course, the reason their followers don't follow them to mastodon is very few people *move* to mastodon. They start a mastodon account in tandem, and then when it isn't as popular, drop it again.

@Gargron I was certainly not a "high profile" twitter personality, but most of my friends joined mastodon because I straight-up left twitter.

Very few people are willing to take that jump.

@InspectorCaracal Yeah, that's rare. The people I'm thinking of have a lot of power to effect change which makes it an extra bummer.

@Gargron The people with that kind of power are usually too worried about losing it to actually use it. *sigh*

@InspectorCaracal @Gargron
I pretty much only ever really engaged on Mastodon. I think the same reasons I like it here probably make it feel insubstantial to someone used to treating social media like a megaphone. The village feeling is strong here, and while it's still global, it feels small and familiar.

@Gargron Only libre people (i'm french, libre isn't free in out language) are inside decentrilased network like Mastodon. For Mastodon to work for "normal people", marketing has to be done and it's against the goal of libre spirit. I've worked on the marketing side of a company and oh god, never again. But yeah, without that, you can't touch the "rest of the world" sadly :/

@xefir I am not against marketing to the outside, I have run ads on Twitter/Instagram in the past, not super effective though because obviously my budget is microscopic

@Gargron My first thoughts: Twitter is explicitly a wide subscribable broadcast network with a reply-channel, while Mastodon is a local channel network with the ability to opt-in to broader issues.

If you want to broadcast, the wide reach of Twitter is a better network; Mastodon allows finer-tuning of content-i-want-to-see.

@Gargron tl;dr - it’s a network effect ++

@Gargron Some more thoughts:

On Friday Last I just got annoyed with Nazis, and decided to take a break from Social Media for a week or so.

Obvs that didn't last, as here I am. Joined originally in the Great Rush of April 17, and like most everyone else, didn't stay more than a few weeks.

So, back again, and on returning my TL here is pretty much dead. I have a whole bunch of folk I followed here who came over from Twitter at the same time, none of who are still on here, famous or otherwise.

@piersb Yeah that's... problematic, if you happen to follow people who came at the same time as you and left at the same time as you, and I suspect a lot of people might be in that situation. How could that be fixed?

New users follow the admin (me) by default, and admins are ideally active so there's that, but people who signed up in Apr 2017 are not in that group...

@Gargron My go-to would be something along the lines of "people-who-you-follow-are-following..."

- Take the set of people I follow.
- Pull out the people they're following that I'm not
- Some kind of filter that they need to have posted in the last X days

@piersb Damn!! I really really wanted to put that functionality in. It was even in the software before 1.0 came out! But people put their foot down, I don't remember which one it was, abuse concerns or echo chamber creation, or both.

@Gargron

As someone coming back after a year away, it feels like it would be a huge help.

Could it be an option that could be turned off-or-on at an instance level?

- This instance does not allow recommended-follows; if you make your home here you won't be promoted at all
- This instance allows recommended-follows if you are on the instance, but not from federated instances
- This instance allows recommended-follows from anyone we are federated with

@Gargron @piersb what about making this a separate activitypub service that you can subscribe to if you will?

@saper @piersb There probably already is something like that! For example: vinayaka.distsn.org/ The problem is people won't find it if it's not in the main UI that you see after sign-up. Experienced people who search around the network are the ones who need those features the least

@Gargron @piersb I think this:

if we find a way to neatly integrate other services info the UI we would win gold. Mastodon does not need to implement everything. I like the way federated wiki for Ward Cunningham uses plugins to extend the way the wiki items are presented to the user; but those are still client-side plugins that need to be installed. We will have to find a way to balance federation, UI consistency and security (what if a malicious third-party federated service injects some JS).

@saper @Gargron @piersb how about an extension to the search? When you search for a hashtag it could show you people who've recently posted with that hashtag and have a follow link?

@saper @Gargron @piersb for example in the space below the hashtag results here you could have a people header and a list of people talking about with a follow button next to their names.

@Gargron @piersb I think this is where the power of the "common bond" instances are needed. When folks come to #socialcoop, they see themselves as joining a #coop-focused community as well as a mastodon instance, so the local timeline means there's a built-in crew of fellow-travelers right off the bat. As a result, we get a steady trickle of 1-5 such applicants a day, and a good number have stuck such that new folks aren't met by silence or irrelevant strangers...

@Gargron But the bigger problem is this: I can't curate a new bunch of people to follow.

My home TL is dead for reasons given above.

The mastodon.social home doesn't have enough traffic of the sort I'm interested in for me to be able to pick up signal I want.

The mastodon.social federation seems to be rolling along nicely - but mostly in Japanese. Which is lovely, but in terms of helping me curate a new feed is a non-starter.

@piersb I wonder if a trending hashtags section might have helped you...

@Gargron Definitely would.

Having said that, I've been back for four days now, and tonight's the first time I've posted on mastodon.social web rather than via Amoroq; I'm assuming that any trending-hashtag type fixes would take some time to propagate to mobile clients, which tends to be mostly how I engage with social media.

@Gargron maybe a Discovery tab with smart , curated options including hashtags, trending topics and users based on hashtags I've used or searched for before. Also need to improve the notifications to make new users come back, sending discovery suggestions via notifications and simply inviting them to come back if they haven't logged in lately. Mastodon needs an app of its own with all their features included. Small details in apps keep people coming back and checking their phones for more info.

@Gargron So my current plan is to try and see who's still posting on my home TL - in the hope that they're still relevant - and try to find some of their RTs/followers/followees in order to try and curate something that works.

@Gargron

1 It's confusing having to select a server, normal people will be like what?

There is a much better description of how it works on your patreon page than on the Mastodon page.

Second barrier, what is toot, come on. Use normal easy to understand language. Like post.

A star instead of like? Why?
People like both giving and receiving hearts.

It's not that easy to understand the main options at once. Post just scroll by when clicking on the earth.

@hellohi The Patreon description is better? 😲

I doubt toot is a huge barrier by itself, after all people use tweet.

Twitter used to have stars and people hated when they were changed into hearts, so that is arguable.

Could you explain your last point in different words?

@Gargron

I work with UX and I'm used to various interfaces, but if I find some of the interface unclear so will millions of people, and all these small things add up. People can't be motivated to learn yet a new vocabulary, you get Linux kinds and geeks. But only mainstream if it's easy or they have too.

Why limit to 500 words? I can still post more on Twitter, but have to link which often sucks.

Also want to add that you are doing really great work! Thanks.

@Gargron

Two things that will have me getting back to Twitter.

Newspapers posting on Twitter.
Should be able to get some news sites to post here.
Not much adult content. The adult content makes it hard to recommend.
Adult avatars should also be NSFW.
And adult posts filtered away by default.

I hope this takes off.

As for the UI, avoid word such as Federated timeline, not an easy word, and together with words such as Toot, it adds up.

@Gargron

Probably one of the biggest problems at first is to find users and the language setting.
Every language is on by default, and you have to click the languages you don't want to see.

To filter posts you get a regex filter option.
This is great for the 0.1% of users who know regex and understand what it will do here.

For others things like that makes people feel uneasy n outside. If you could have some premade filters, a few easy examples.

@hellohi @Gargron

I had no idea that filtering languages out was even an option.

Have just turned it on for mastodon.social, and now may (may) be able to curate from the federated instances.

I don't know whether that will filter through to my Amoroq preferences, or if it's settable/changeable there. Would be good if it was.

@piersb @Gargron
My thought was that you should select languages you want when you create an account.

@hellohi @piersb @Gargron a wizard to help the new user select their settings could be good

@Gargron I would say part of it is the size of the audience.

But one of the good things here is it's levelled. There's no rankings or class system. Everyone is just people.

Maybe that's a disadvantage for them?

@Gargron Weird. I bounced right off Twitter, never engaged with it at all, but Mastodon? I fell right in and was immediately at home. Though this might have to do with the several years between introductions, I dunno. :/

@Gargron I use Mastodon, but I didn't have an active twitter account before. I was turned off by the number of large, impersonal accounts, and it was obvious that I'd be fighting algorithms built to encourage me to follow such accounts. It is just another form of advertising, and I'd pay money to avoid it.

@Gargron On the other hand, Discord is where most of my friends are, so I am having a hard time moving to IRC/XMPP/Matrix.

@Gargron IMHO the only way around this will be to give Mastodon something that Twitter doesn’t provide (and libre/federated ideology doesn’t count). Mastodon provides everything that Twitter does, but not much more, and people are going to need a serious incentive to jump ship from the site where all their friends are to one with many fewer people.

@Gargron I suspect it has a lot to do with the size of the user base and their intentions/interest While it has its negatives, the huge pool of users on Twitter means you can have any kind of conversation anytime, political, personal, there are comedy accounts and big personalities to follow. Mastodon is more intimate and direct. Twitter is the big city with the social anonymity/freedom thereof and mastodon feels more like your local neighborhood with a community center and good neighbors.

@Gargron I can't speak for high profile Twitter users but I think new users could get involved more easily if there was trending topics (or an equivalent) or a suggested users feature like @piersb mentioned. As a noobie (of 3 days), I've found it a bit hard to engage. My local feed isn't very active & doesn't seem to have many topics that interest me, while the federal feed may have interesting topics but it's almost too active (I haven't used the language filter yet which will no doubt help).

@Gargron I'd say the more high profile you are in a network, the more invested you are, it's more difficult to leave or shift your priorities elsewhere, eypecially if that elsewhere has limited reach and you have to build your network from scratch.