Twitter is in crisisThese days. Elon Musk is the new owner of the service. The service has lost more then half its staff through resignations and layoffs. It has made erratic changes in its platform and product strategy and is currently facing reports about its financial health.
In true tech-industry fashion this upheaval has led to a multitude of options, some still in the germination phase, others fully formed and waiting to be revealed.
Mastodon, one of these pioneers, is one of the first to emerge. This network is built on ActivityPub protocol. It allows others to join and/or build their own servers and interact with each other’s content.
Eugene Roshko, the creator of Mastodon — and currently the only full-time employee — said in an interview with TechCrunch that the service has increased numbers very quickly, and now has 2.5 million monthly active users across at least 8,600 different servers. Mastodon directs two of these. The largest, mastodon.social has 881,000 registered members, 210,000 of whom are active.
Rochko has closed down Mastodon servers to allow for new subscriptions. He described it as a “victimless” decision because there are many other places where you can sign up for an account. You can still interact with the wider Mastodon community. The move created a strange demand/scarcity situation. People and organizations approached Rochko to request access to his servers.
“The main reason for closing logging right now is because it’s too much of a burden for DevOps, to scale, beyond the number of users [we have now],” he said. “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh, the software isn’t good enough to scale,’ or whatever. That’s not really the reason, it’s just a matter of not having a dedicated DevOps employee at the moment. I can’t manage all this organizational stuff and the rest. It’s easier to just close the registrations and make sure the people who are already there have a good quality service, than to let more people sign up and then slow down. Hence I have to stay up, sleepless nights fixing things.
“The decentralized nature, and the fact that there are plenty of other servers to choose from to score, means it’s a victimless kind of decision.”
Now, Roshko is looking forward to the next steps of his operation.
Mastodon as it currently exists was set up as a not-for-profit organization, mostly funded through a Patreon account set up by Rochko that currently brings in $31,000 per month — a number he says has “risen dramatically over the past month…from $7,000.”
Mastodon will remain not-for-profit, Roshko said, but is looking into what he describes as a split model, “like a Mozilla model, where the non-profit will continue to work on the core product, which will remain open-source, non-profit, etc. in, and we might start a for-profit side business.” software-as-a-service, first to provide mastodon hosting for those who want it.”
The goal, he said, is “a sustainable and fair business…we’ll just do the hosting and the server will be completely under your control. And obviously we allow you to take your data and transfer it to your hosting provider in the future, migrate from another hosting provider, etc.
Contrary to the established approach WordPressHe said there are no plans to integrate ads as part of the hosted service. It’s an attitude that seems to stem from his feelings for them, but he doesn’t completely ignore them.
“You have to take into account the federal nature of the networkHe said. Anyone can create a new platform using the ActivityPub protocol [that Mastodon does]But they have completely different software, with different expectations, and different features. It could even be used to display ads, theoretically.
“As a user, the question is: Are you going to a site that displays ads? To make those ads more effective, the service tracks your location and interests. Or are you going somewhere else that doesn’t have it? Mastodon is not interested in advertising and implementing ads in its code. It’s open-source and free, so anyone can modify it. They can modify it at their own risk using different business models.
Operators of Mastodon servers? He said he left it open to them but, ironically, he’d rather something not like what Musk mentioned on Twitter.
“I think I see a way in this kind of framework to build interoperable social networks; you can think of a single server as a separate social network, like Tumblr or Instagram.” “With interoperability built in right away, I think it makes sense that they would be able to explore different business models, or perhaps build different features. Paid accounts are probably the most fair model that could emerge from the ecosystem. App.net attempted to do something similar in the past, but it didn’t work. It wasn’t clear if it was due to the account paying, or because they hadn’t really built a quality flagship product.
He revealed that he’s also been talking to investors, though for the most part it seems a lot of those willing to give him money don’t really understand what he’s trying to do, with a recurring theme being the idea of further commercializing the platform.
“Over the years, I’ve certainly had a lot of unexpected cold contacts from various VCs. I used to ignore them, but now we have Felix. [Hlatky]He is primarily a CFO but does not hold the title. Now I forward it to him and then he tries to talk to them, or sometimes I tune calls,” he said. “We’ve been trying to talk to some VCs about this business hosting thing in the last couple of weeks. They are interested in the mainstream product, but have little interest in the sustainable business of hosting. VCs won’t be of any assistance here. We don’t allow them access to the main product. We don’t allow them to enter the main product. This isn’t clear.
Mastodon has become famous for how it commands attention in the wake of the Twitter drama — so much so that it triggered a new Musk-era rule blocking links to rival social networks, Suspension of Mastodon’s presence on Twitter in the process.
It is also fascinating because of its approach to the social space.
Mastodon is built on an open-source, “unified”, concept. Different servers talk to each others using the same protocol and share the content. Server operators monitor the activity hosted users.
Although it may sound confusing to a beginner there are tools available to import your Twitter account into Mastodon and maintain much of the same experience.
The metaphor describes servers as a herd of animals or mastodons that move in the same direction, but are distinct from one another. The spirit of mastodons isn’t extinct, but we can move on from this metaphor. HingeOpen source is something many social media platforms, including Twitter are looking into.
Mastodon seems to be a particularly popular platform. The mobile apps of the platform see an average of 4,000 downloads per week, but it reached a peak of 149,000 on Android and 235,000 iOS.
Roshko stated that the spike in activity occurred after Twitter announced a series of job cuts. These included those responsible for managing media communications, moderation, security, and regulation as well as many other teams. artistic.
In fact, it’s this inverse difference — the fall of Twitter equals the rise of the Mastodon — that plays so well for the latter at the moment.
It remains to be seen if it will. It is clear that Twitter’s ups and falls as a platform have been a key feature of the company from its inception. Many have wondered if they will continue to do so. Think Better As A UtilityThere is no work.
Twitter has grown and stayed the same. Twitter has grown and stayed the same. Social media is changing.
It seems sometimes that technology advances happen in a matter of hours, but other times it takes many years. (Read more about how Roshko spent those years at TC+.)
Mastodon is concerned about the financial side.
First, you had a role in the company’s growth. Rochko may not be the only full time employee, but he is. Mastodon’s private servers have five additional freelancers who act as moderators. Felix Hlatky, who is listed on the About Mastodon page, also serves as financial advisor. One area of focus was figuring out how to attract more people in a stable way.
Roshko stated that the $31,000 a monthly he earns through Patreon isn’t enough or stable enough to pay a staff. However, he has been looking at a secondary business to generate more steady income for the company. He offers services to host Mastodon servers to others.
“I’m the only full-time employee,” he said, “and the rest—five people—are on contract at the moment.” “I am looking to expand the staff full-time and have been working on some job listing. It’s a slow process. It would be much easier if I could speed it up. It’s a new frontier for a company that has been a one-person venture for six years. It’s been great up to now, but we need more people.”
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