I—a nerd—actually really like Mastodon most of the time, but I would like it so much more and feel like it was doing a lot more good in the world if it were more welcoming and easier to use. When I raise these points on Mastodon, I get a steady stream of replies telling me that everything I’m whining about is actually great, that valuing a “pleasant UI” over the abstraction of federation is shallow and disqualifying, and that that people who find Mastodon difficult don’t belong anyway, so I should “go join Spoutible” or whatever.
And of course this stuff shows up in much worse ways for at least some Black and brown people on Mastodon.
I hate it that I can’t in good conscience encourage Black friends to get on Mastodon, because I know they’re going to be continuously chided by white people if they mention race or criticize anything at all about Mastodon itself. I hate that “a difficult sign-up process keeps out lazy people with bad culture” is a thing in so many Mastodon conversations. (Fun fact, if you hold this idea up to your ear, you can hear them say “sheeple.”)
I feel like Mastodon is a return to the internet of the 2000s, both for good and bad. It’s decentralised, and not owned by a billionaire whose sole metric is “engagement”. But also its interpersonal frictions are like being on Livejournal as a teenager with mods constantly sub-tooting their ongoing dramas and it’s exhausting keeping up with it all. Worse is the old guard of Mastodon who refuse to see the problems with their platforms. I had hoped that the influx of genpop using it in a non-standard way would reluctantly drag the platform into addressing some of its problems (e.g. grassroots quote-toots, even if the software doesn’t actually offer that functionality) but I really don’t know if that’s actually going to happen now.