Turns Out Mastodon Sucks 2022-09-19
There is this thing called social media. Basically web based frameworks that allow people to post content like text, images, and videos so that other people can see them, share them, and comment on them. Much of the content on social media is garbage, but I think there may be some not-so-stupid content there too. The bad news is that the most popular of these frameworks are owned by greedy asshats who specifically setup their services to monetize the people who use them. The good news is that there are some federated social media services that are supposed to give you a similar (or perhaps better) experience without the monetization. A federated service is one that typically is run by many people using many different domains instead of a single domain and owner. A couple of examples could be Facebook which is owned by one person, and perhaps Hubzilla which could be hosted on snork.ca as well as many other domains.
I already tried a bunch of self hosted federated social media frameworks, and didn't like most, but ran Hubzilla for a while until I found out what a nightmare backups and restores are. Moving the service to a different server was a complete mess. I had not tried Mastodon because it is too resource heavy for me. So, recently I figured I would sign up for an account on someone else's Mastodon server. I wanted to follow Jason Scott and Moby Dick, so I went with botsin.space. As it turns out, I just deleted my account after about a week of trying it. First, I think it is important to point out that two of the most popular corporate social media silos are Facebook and Twitter. Facebook has a lot of fancy features like longer posts, previews for links, group areas, and even a marketplace where you can sell crap (just don't try to sell a crossbow of they'll block your use of marketplace). Twitter on the other hand has limited post size and is really just a content creator and follower aggregator. I guess you can reply and repost things, but it is not as richly interactive as Facebook. Mastodon, is more like Twitter than Facebook.
I admit I haven't ever had a Twitter account, but I still had hopes that Mastodon would be a way for me to quickly smash out links to my posts here at snork.ca or just plain old stupid dog photos. I wasn't used to the Mastodon interface for managing followers and who I follow but it wasn't hard to figure out. It has feeds of what is essentially my crap, crap on the local server, and crap from lots of other servers. It looked like it would maybe be tolerable... until I started fiddling with links to snork.ca. If I upload a photo to my Mastodon account it ends up on the botsin.space server and I no longer have much control over that content. Don't get me wrong, I know that posting an image on snork.ca means I can't stop some wanker from taking it and doing whatever she likes with it... but at least I don't hand over real rights to some corporation to do with it as they please. So... if I link to a photo my Mastodon post will just have a text based link to the remote photo. If I link to a snork.ca post I get a preview box, but it doesn't show the image from the post. I put a meta statement on all my posts with an og:image specifically so I can get decent previews. After some fiddling I realized that Mastodon won't bother making a preview if I use og:image but it WILL if I use twitter:image.
Now that is disappointing. As someone who dislikes the silos of big supercorporate social media I am probably a likely candidate for having a federated social media account. Yet, Mastodon seems to be encouraging me to use Twitter specific meta tags in my web pages in order to get a decent looking preview. In fact it is also encouraging me to just upload my content to their server anyways if I want the best looking posts. This doesn't feel like a service that is encouraging me to think about and care about my content and its ownership. The stupidest part is that as a new Mastodon user it would appear that the best way to make my posts look good is to go get a Twitter account, start making posts there, and then link to them in my Mastodon acount. Bah, what a failure.