Nov 7

On the Post G+ Social Conundrum


We're 8 months into the diaspora. I'm still miserably missing the G+ scene, and it seems as though a lot of other folks feel the same way. I think we can do better than we have been. G+ was an anomaly. It worked for us because everybody else hated it, which would kill any service that didn't have a titan like Google backing it. We are unlikely to be so lucky again. Big Social alternatives like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit have not been working out. To my thinking, it is not really desirable that they work out. There is a movement away from these toxic social spaces which many of the most interesting people are a part of. If we ever did get Facebook working, we'd still be missing everyone who is part of #DeleteFacebook.


Our best short term solution is to strengthen small social spaces. Forums like this one, or Small ~50 person discord servers. The comment sections of blogs.


Our best long term solution is to get more people onto federated social media services, like Mastadon or Diaspora. These have the benefit of all the modern features folks have come to expect from their social media. They're also more stable, since they're not dependent on a single host maintaining them. They're less likely to create skewed power dynamics because of the same reason.


The best way to accomplish both of these goals is to have interesting conversations in the spaces you like best. Be as interesting as you know how to be. Then link people to the interesting conversation. If it's interesting enough, they'll want to participate. They'll create an account. Once they've got their foot in the door, it'll be easier to get them interested in the next cool conversation, and the next. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit can be useful for funneling new people out of those spaces and into our small and interesting spaces, but aren't good for much else.

Nov 7

I think you’re right about it’s being important that no one else used G+—here’s why. The big services like twitter and Facebook get used by folks for other things: non-gaming professional purposes, non-gaming related politics, family, non-gaming friends, etc. on G+ I could just delete any weirdo who was using the service for those purposes. Discord and forums create gaming focused micro spaces, and so avoid those problems. it’s so scattered, I find it hard to keep up with it all, but I agree that this is where the action should be for the moment. I’m going to get on Mastadon and Diaspora and see what they’re like. Anyway, my basic point is that I’m with you.

I think g+ also worked because there's a tipping point in big social media services. They start out trying to maximize the pleasure and usefulness of the service, because that's what brings in users. Once they hit a certain critical mass of users, and they're integrated enough into those user's lives that they know those people won't leave, they stop trying to maximize the user experience, and start trying to maximize the profit they can extract from users. This is why Facebook and Twitter USED to be good, and aren't anymore. It's also why G+ stayed good while it lasted. It never hit that point of critical mass. Never turned around to aggressively profit off of us.


But that's all in the past now.


Mastadon and Diaspora are great, but they lack a strong Tabletop community as yet, and they don't function the way most people are used to. I'll be happy to answer any questions you have as you explore those spaces.

I think step one for stuff like this is people like yourself just posting there thoughts and discussions here. Otherwise it's a bit like people who update their blog to say, "hey, I'm going to start updating my blog again soon." I need to make more of a point to share ideas here. Twitter is a mess and no real discussion happens there. (Or, it doesn't work that well as a place to foster good discussion.)

100% agree. I honestly felt pretty stupid for a few hours after I posted this, because it does feel like updating my blog to explain why I'm not updating my blog. In retrospect I think I'm glad I wrote it, because it helped me crystallize what I want, and I've seen some good discussion around it. But until theory is paired with action, it's useless. As my annual nightmare season comes to an end, I"m planning to make supporting better RPG spaces part of my job.

Nov 7

One problem is that you often can't link back to the conversation, at least not when it's on small Discord servers that screen membership. So it can be difficult to draw people in to the conversation.

Nov 9

As a user of Mastodon, Diaspora and a dabble of Hubzilla (oh yes, I did write about that before...), I am glad you are feeling a bit better about them. I really think they are the way to go; the way we should have always been.

Oh I've always felt great about the technology. My problem with them has always been, and still is, the lack of a robust OSR community. Something we still need to fix, which is why it's a long term solution. Right now, we can't tell people "Join Mastadon so you can participate in all the great OSR conversations happening there!" because...there are no great OSR conversations happening there. We need to get the people who are there connected, and we need to bring in more early adopters to lay the foundations.

I'm with you, for sure. This place is nice for a start, but something more permenant would be great. Pluspora and mastodon have been a learning curve issue and a lack of time. I'm quite lazy with reading blogs. Feedly is too big.


I'm down though. Take me somewhere where I don't need to feel like I'm working

That is my goal. The plan is to start here, but it can't just be here. It needs to be all over the place.

Diaspora looks like the best option, mostly because it allows long form posts, which Mastodon doesn't. It's unusual structure (with "pods" and so on) is probably a barrier to entry. For example, does it matter which pod you join? Does whoever owns that pod control your experience in some way? Can you switch to other pods? Can you talk to people in other pods? etc.

Nov 9

I can answer many of these questions. So Mastodon "could" offer more characters, but it is up to the admin of any particular instance. However, there are other solutions that talk on the same protocol as Mastodon (ActivityPub) and are more long fillable.


So if you were more a lurker and commenter, but not necessarily a long form writer (which seems to be me of late), you can stay on Mastodon. However, if you are chatty and whatnot you can use something like Plume ( to actually blog. Those posts get sent to other ActivityPub services and lurkers on things like Mastodon can boost your article, comment etc and you would see the activity on your Plume instance.


I do like Diaspora, but there are definite primitive aspects of it. It had the potential to be something so much more than facebook...almost 10 years ago... It is also a different protocol and Diaspora people cannot


One of the co-founders committed suicide and the development has slowed greatly. It really needs some fresh blood because it really does have potential.


It does not matter what pod you join in Diaspora, nor does it matter what node you join in Mastodon (just remember they cannot talk to each other since they are separate protocols).


The admin of the pod can have some control, they can control what other pods they federate with. The privacy mechanisms in Diaspora are kinda primitive as @Nick LS Whelan has spoken about in pluspora once upon a time; you can only "Ignore" that works is something I don't even quite understand. WRT administrative control however, if you think about it so does Facebook and the admin of this site here.


You can switch to other pods and talk to people on other pods. However, Diaspora does not allow you to do a full export/import. It was one of the features requested but stagnating in the project.


Here is a great article that explains the whole Fediverse thing:


Nov 9

Oh! I also meant to say there are a shload of other services out there that do some kind of node based federation. I wrote about some of these others when G+ was about to die:


I know some of this is kinda stream of consciousness, but feel free to ping me and ask clarifying questions. I have been thinking about this a bunch. ...still haven't come to hard conclusions; I am just one person, but thinking about it nonetheless.

The "complexity" of Federated Social Media is mostly a matter of perception. You make an account, you follow people who interest you, people who follow you can see what you post. Simple stuff.


The way the technology works is a little more complicated, but you don't need to know how the technology works when you're just using the service.

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