I need to get something off my chest. Buckle up folks.

I'm deeply concerned about the future of the and open social protocols. NOT because of the recent Twitter news, but quite the opposite.

The way so many poo-poo'd and decried those efforts was heartbreaking. It shows a severe blind spot in the "libre" community.

Listen, if you don't understand why Twitter, why iOS, why Microsoft (back in the day), etc. is popular, you just don't get this fight.


UI/UX will win with users EVERY DAMN TIME. The only way free protocols can get any mainstream traction is if the UI/UX is *as good if not better* than proprietary alternatives.

People will use Twitter, IG, Facebook, etc. for the rest of time…if the UX is way better. Period. End of discussion.

That's why Twitter's foray into open protocols is SO IMPORTANT. If they can bring their UX knowhow into the discussion, that's a GOOD THING. This can't just be libre-geek-hacker world forevermore.



I am sorry... but have you seen the UI/UX of Twitter recently?

It's atrocious, slow, confusing as all heck, a complete disaster

Mastodon was confusing for me at first, but honestly, the lack of constant attention grabber is a sweet relief.

Not saying that there is no room for improvement: there is a lot of room for improvement, but I am honestly not sure at all if Twitter is the best company to turn to for a better Mastodon UI.

@ParadeGrotesque In a straight up two-up comparison between and Mastodon in a browser, I would agree Mastodon is quite respectable and Twitter does have some issues.

But I'm talking more holistically…the process of signing up, finding content you care about, staying engaged with the right kind of notifications, feeling included in important conversations, etc.

Also Mastodon-compatible mobile apps (at least on iOS) are a mixed bag, at best.


Then you and I have had a very different experience. I feel a lot more engaged & interested on Mastodon than on Twitter. Signing in is pretty much the same, and I am a nobody on both platforms so being included in conversations is not an issue.

Tusky is a wonderful Android app, and one which is almost as good (if not better!) than the original web UI. I have always refused to install the official Twitter client, for obvious reasons (user tracking, etc). Make of that what you will.

@ParadeGrotesque @jared this actually encouraged me to try out tusky and just a 2 second look at the app and it looks so much nicer than fedilab. thanks :3

@jared @ParadeGrotesque I disagree with this from the pov of a user who is signing up for the first time. The first thing Mastodon asks you to do is "pick an instance".

Forcing a choice on something they don't yet understand is the worse way to onboard users.

And sadly it's inherent to the design of federated services.

Centralized services have a huge advantage here: user gets to make no choices. No instance to choose, no mobile apps to compare.


You have a point. I think it's more minor than how you present it, but, as you remarked, it's the nature of the game with a federated service.

Perhaps a web site introducing Mastodon and allowing you to pick and choose an instance based on your interests would be useful in that case? Does a web site like that already exist? 🤓


@teleclimber @jared @ParadeGrotesque agree this is a source of much friction. I consider myself *very* tech savvy and didn’t understand this at all when signing up. I believe has improved a lot since then though.

@jaredmoody @jared @ParadeGrotesque in my case I understood what "choose an instance" meant, it's just that I couldn't find an instance that seemed like an ideal fit. So I was stumped. They were all very similar and yet differed in some ways. I wasted maybe 20 minutes and finally ended up on a German instance (I'm in Los Angeles and don't speak German) because it seemed well managed.

@jaredmoody @jared @ParadeGrotesque

It's like going to the cereal aisle in the grocery store if you've never eaten cereal in your life.

@jared @ParadeGrotesque I agree with @jared on this - the sign up process alone on Mastodon is poor enough to discourage many.

My 2nd highest complaint would be lack of an official mobile app. People equate service with app. That “mastodon” searches yield only 3rd party apps is disconcerting if you’re not expecting it

@jared I share some of these concerns, though I'd phrase things a bit differently.

On UI/UX: a huge element of this is simply *accessibility*, not as in disabled-access, but as in _anyone_ even *knowing* about the tool. Or if you prefer mindshare.

This is a huge part of the stick MSFT beat Linux (and Apple) with, until Google kicked both their butts with Android. Being the most popular might not win you respect, but damned if they don't know who you are.

@jared There's also a hard-to-describe and poorly-appreciated dynamic of costs, _not_ in the strictly financial sense. But the party/ies who can drive standards over others will win that particular cost battle, and dictate standards. Twitter's not as invincible as many people think, but it's likely more so than Gargron alone (though Gargron plus Other Interested Parties could get interesting).

Interestngly, Google employs the economist who's had most of the interesting things to say ...

@jared ... about fighting tech standards wars, Hal Varian.

(And no, Google's not Twitter, though they're all but certainly interested in this.)

It's surprisingly easy and inexpensive to sideline an exceedingly prominsing and useful technology or protocol for years or decades. The history of comms tech is littered with this (packet-switching / TCP/IP case in point, AT&T's role was hugely significant). This is another such case.

@jared the problem is they suggest to implement a new closed protocol.

@jared the ui on facebook is quite bad, people use it because their friends and groups they need are there

@jared Totally agreed... It'd be nice if there were more #UX focused conversations going within #foss/open software projects. It's been a long-standing complaint of mine that so many foss apps are... well, clunky and hard to use.

@jared Of course, maybe that shows that more of us #UX and #design focused people just need to get involved and offer our services. I feel as though people like @dansup are doing a good job with that: both paying attention to UX and design, and crowdsourcing expertise by reaching out to the talented people around them.

@dragfyre @dansup Yeah, there's a lot of good work going on and I don't mean to besmirch anyone's FOSS contributions. I'm just concerned about the general tone of conversation which discounts commercial software/networks because it's proprietary without understanding the benefits of large, well-funded teams when it comes to UX. We need to respect and learn from their progress, not just ignore or belittle it.

@jared I wonder if FOSS is too stuck in mindset of creating tools. Of course, pragmatic tools were the first priority but now FOSS is finally expanding into social networks, and they're more entertainment than tools.


that way of thinking about software "apps" and "users are sheep that like shiny UI and addictive buttery UX" is a problem in itself. users should be more active participants in their experiences with software. that's a big ask for people who are used to the crack people distribute these days, but if we move the line that divides developer and user a bit things might be a lot better and easier to develop and grow.

we can't compete with megas on their terms, we need to come up with something that doesn't make sense to them that they can't copy without destroying their business model.
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