Mastodon is a good technical achievement, but that’s not enough. Some thoughts on a path to success. Open for discussion.

@stopsatgreen I have this huge list of features people have been asking for (44 issues open on GH right now) and like 10 of them are about abuse-prevention. But I had to prioritize other features first, the ones that make people use the service in the first place

@stopsatgreen Re: funding, firstly, development of Mastodon and hosting of this instance is funded by my Patreon. Secondly, it's open source. You don't need me or to keep going - you can start your own instance, and decide how it's funded. The code is already open source and licensed under AGPL, it'll never be able to be closed down or bought out.

@stopsatgreen Uhh I appreciate having Medium articles being written about my project, but I have some issues with the content. It's not "mostly" a single developer, it *is* just me. Secondly it's not even less than a year it's less than 4 months in total, so give me some time, jeez

@Gargron @stopsatgreen It is also built on GNU social, which has shown its own ability to be self-sustaining. As awesome as Mastodon is at the moment it is still under very heavy development. I am not sure it is even really out of beta. From what I can see the a lot of the success of mastodon is based on the fact that @Gargron is looking at it from more than a purely developer standpoint. Look at a lot of the other gnu social implementations to see the difference.

@Gargron I don’t think voluntary contributions are enough. At some point, if this does well, you’ll need to sustain yourself, potentially grow the team, and scale the platform up. What’s the plan for funding that?

@stopsatgreen I don't need to scale the platform (beyond the reasonable for this flagship instance) - the point is in many independent instances run by different people. Perhaps I could offer setup/support as a service.

@Gargron I understand this completely. But this is partly the problem; anti-abuse measures need to be at the core of the platform, not added at a later date; otherwise, you’ll run into the same problems Twitter has. This is why I think the project needs to be self-sustainable, and to include a larger team, made up of not only developers.

@stopsatgreen And how is such team to emerge? Who is going to spearhead a crowdfunding campaign... you? I'd participate in a jiffy (in addition to Patreon). @Gargron

@Gargron @stopsatgreen Don't worry, us users are very impressed with what you have done so far

@Droesjka @vic23 @Gargron @stopsatgreen Same here. Impressive.

Interesting how the author of the article doesn't seem to like participating. Was here for a day, went away for a few days, returns with an article but doesn't seem to actively respond (no replies at all, apparently). Also, he reblogged the 'three months' post, so he knew. But I see he's a marketeer and a 'speaker', that might explain.

@Postma @Droesjka @vic23 @Gargron “I see he's a marketeer and a 'speaker', that might explain”. Don’t know what you mean. I’m also a developer and a technologist and a user, does that help my position at all?

@stopsatgreen @Gargron @Postma @Droesjka I meant to say how can you already have this opinion about a new social network which is run by 1 person and is very much in beta which you have only been participating in for no more than three days?

@vic23 @Gargron @Postma @Droesjka My opinion is: I’m impressed with what I see as a technical achievement, but technical achievement isn’t sufficient for a great platform. I don’t think that’s a controversial position.

@stopsatgreen @vic23 @Postma @Droesjka I don't think that's controversial either. But I think you misunderstand the nature of the federated network. The platform already exists in the many older GNU social and StatusNet instances. And they have *awful* mod tools, so whatever I implement will already put me ahead of the curve. Besides, not like Twitter has been doing a good job of dealing with abuse either, and they have tons more resources.

@Gargron @Postma @vic23 @Droesjka “not like Twitter has been doing a good job of dealing with abuse either, and they have tons more resources.” Yeah, that’s what I worry about. Twitter are trying to patch in anti-abuse controls, because they didn’t worry about it early in the project. You shouldn’t use them as the benchmark, because you have the opportunity to do better.

@stopsatgreen @Postma @vic23 @Droesjka I know the importance of this; I've had gamergaters take over my notifications on Twitter before. But everything has its time

@Gargron Happy to correct those details — I just saw that other people had contributed to the project (, which is why I said ‘mostly’. And contributions go back to January, so under a year. But I can update the article, sure.

@Gargron Breathe in and breath out You're doing a great job! Love seeing it grow 👊🏻 @stopsatgreen

@Gargron I’m sorry if you feel like I’m being overly-critical. I’m happy to debate all the detail in my article, and to concede where I may be wrong. But I stand by my broad point that what you’ve accomplished so far is technically admirable, but technical ability isn’t sufficient to create a great platform.

@stopsatgreen I think one thing you are missing in your article is that mastodon exists in the greater context of gnu social and the federation. Your points 2 and 3 are already taken care of in that context. There are clear plans for taking care of much of what is wrong with twitter, but development takes time.

@stopsatgreen One of the biggest problems with twitter is that it is pay-to-play, it is just that its users aren't the ones playing, the people selling things to the users are paying for the users. Mastodon is a system that can be paid for by the people using it. Sustainability is a completely different thing here than it is for twitter. Twitter needs to make a profit, mastodon needs to keep a server running. Paying @Gargron for dev work would be nice too.

@stopsatgreen Also I think that a real name policy is one of the worst things you can do if you don't want rampant abuse. It protects the people who are in positions of authority and privilege and removes protections from those that aren't. An American teenager would often have no danger from people knowing he was being a jerk online, but a closeted gay person could face significant social or legal problems if they were outed.

@stopsatgreen "A shortfall in funds increases the chances of being forced to take on outside funding or unwelcome advertising." Can you explain how this works seeing that currently there are practically no funds and development still happens? Also, funds seem to only be (albeit marginally) increasing.

@stopsatgreen Most of your points are valid. The article would've been much more useful if you'd focused on the how? of achieving them. Especially in light of the campaign.

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