I remember, years back now, coming across someone arguing with fervor that proprietary software was better than open source software because it was more secure. It was a culture shock to me, because usually I am surrounded by people for whom the benefits of open-source software are self-evident. I got the same feeling today arguing with some folks who genuinely believe that being locked into a proprietary, centralized silo is actually better than having control over your own platform...
Decentralization isn't everything. It's not the goal in itself. There is a long tail of product design decisions that make or break a platform (which is why I find it kind of silly that Bluesky spent 2 years arguing over protocol design, though that's a different story). But that point is that decentralization is the foundation for a viable platform. Without it you're doomed to repeat the path of hundreds of social media apps of the past... Just a different paint on the same exact structure.
A lot of things are built on random pieces of code (see NPM libraries) or code that is crucial, but kept as a burden on a single developer (see the OpenSSL vulnerability case).
Having said that, FLOSS has a ton of positive features. It is just not automatically more secure.
All pretty much the same, just different UI
Twitter - timeline of posts, sometimes images and videos you can like and respond to, also follow acounts
Facebook - timeline of posts, sometimes images and videos you can like, comment and follow accounts
YouTube - timeline of recommended videos you can like and comment, under them you also have timelines. Can follow accounts.
Instagram - timeline of photos you can like and comment, or you can follow accounts
TikTok - timeline of recommended videos you can like and comment, you can also follow accounts
Reddit - subtimelines of posts, images and photos, separated you can "like" and comment
Twitch - just copy YouTube description
@didek I would argue in favor of a more separated view. Fine differences make a huge differene in sum. Take Reddit for example. I can spend hours inside a subreddit about funny cats and then switch to a history subreddit that only allows text posts. Different experience. In a way Reddit is organized in high level decentralization whereas one could say that Mastodon and other fediverse networks are organized on low-level decentralization.
@didek Regarding the other examples, since the experience is much more algorithmically determined, they fail to be ethical in the first place. A central authority in control of the algorithm is highly problematic.
@Gargron Totally agree. Thank you for all your work on Mastodon.
They (Cohost) think they're better because they're nonprofit, but there are plenty of bad nonprofits. I mean, just look at all the problems with philanthropy.
Profit or not, by creating a closed platform, they're looking to put themselves in a position of dominating other people, if Cohost is successful.
@Gargron personally, i do think decentralization is important, and i'm glad Mastodon is decentralized
however, i'm not completely sure decentralization is absolutely necessary for a viable platform
furthermore, decentralization, and especially federation, does come with different tradeoffs, and i don't think sweeping them under the rug does anyone any good
@Gargron There's really no need to neg a new entity that posits itself as offering a similar service to the project you're working on, man.
Decentralisation has it's benefits, no doubt, but you must admit it's also lead to mastodon being a more unsafe place due to any personal choices on here (like blocking/muting) being easily avoided by bad actors, whole instances being set up for the express purpose of housing nazi's and pedophiles, and a standard amongst the code that's still being enforced by a single point of power (which is so lovingly called a "benevolent dictator for life") who will say things like "blocks get misused" right before touting the fact that open source should allow people to freely choose to do things their own way.
And to a point, there's proof that you agree with at least some of those points. I remember nazi's were explicitly excluded from who was allowed to use mastodon in the ToS at some point? If dogmatic belief in these points (Open source > proprietary, decentralized > centralized) overrules every other problem, then you can't be surprised that other people look for/create other spaces for themselves.
@Gargron Long story short: "decentralisation isn't everything" then why are you treating it like it is.
I think decentralization is important. One of the fundamental protocols for the functioning of the Internet and the Web is DNS which is a decentralized and distributed protocol. I think Mastodon in a future version could interact with the DNS protocol. For example, those who own a domain name could enter public keys or information about the instances to which they are enrolled in the TXT record.
@gargron I wish them well because I think there's room for other approaches, but there's a lot of wishful thinking in their about pages and their funding model. Not going to yuck anyone's yum though; if they think they've managed to figure out content moderation at scale then bully for them. I'm skeptical that this will outlast the "bright shiny" bubble that has plagued every social network I've been on since identi.ca et al.
But descentralized platforms are much more clear in regards of content moderation. You go to the places that you like and if there is any disagreement you go to other places.
@Gargron a viable platform is a sustainable business model. I still think Co-operative Platforms are the only way to move forward with respecting user privacy while maintaining expensive infrastructure and allowing non-technical users to participate.
@Gargron my old boss used to think like this (I work in InfoSec) and he was always touting how Linux was inherently insecure because threat actors can pivot off the source code blah blah blah.
Clearly he was an idiot…
@Gargron It's not so simple. Mastodon is a rare open source project that makes money. You invested in yourself (and us!) by building it first and then thankfully finding money for it. You could probably quadruple your income by doing literally anything in the US considering the leadership and skills you have demonstrated. That's a huge opportunity cost. Most businesses need to borrow money just to get started. But some borrow too much, and resort to exploitation to make it back. This is bad.
@Gargron alternatively, consider https://twitter.com/jlongster who built a great product, but ultimately didn't feel it's worth his energy. He burned out. He's trusting "the magic of open source" to keep things going. I hope it works out, but if not, who is this model in service of? Maybe some capitalism and bureaucracy isn't so bad if it keeps our favorite projects alive.
@Gargron I had a discussion at work with someone who said the first, though at least he was honest with why he preferred non-open source: because if software breaks a thing, someone needs to take responsibility, which (generally) doesn't happen with OS. (i don't agree, but I understand his position in that exact situation)
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