Thoughts on Twitter, Musk, and Alternatives…

I have really really tried to mostly avoid discussing Twitter and Musk and everything that has happened over the past, year and a half to two years there. I do occasionally share news in the link blog posts, but even there, I mostly just avoid it. I am pretty outspoken about my dislike of Musk and Twitter on other forums but not on my own forums.

Watching this death spiral is really entertaining though.

And it is a death spiral. It may not actually result in the death of Twitter, god knows we won’t get that lucky, but it’s just increasingly looking shittier and shittier over there. I stopped using Twitter completely the day Musk took over. I deleted a bunch of random secondary meme accounts I had after that, and I did log in a few times to pull all my Tweet archive data. I want to, someday, maybe, write a Python Script that will parse through it all and compile it into a bunch of daily digests I can dump into a WordPress blog, for posterity. I also started running some Python scripts before the API was cut off to delete all my old Tweets from the site. As far as I know, I still have my @ handles, mostly kept to prevent them from getting scooped up by spammers and bots.

I am not sure though. I blocked Twitter shortly after I started using NextDNS (Referral Link) everywhere. I can’t even check on my own accounts without a bunch of extra steps anymore. At this point, I really don’t care. I am not going back ever so long as Musk is even remotely connected to the service and I doubt he ever gives it up. I do keep watch from the sidelines. I see mentions of large businesses or politicians or news outlets moving permanently to Threads. I see people talking about how blue-checked bots are topping all the replies. I see complaints about all the crypto scams and weed gummies being advertised. I see it, and I quietly laugh to myself. Because all of this happening was clearly going to be the outcome of a big winey racist narcissist forcibly taking things over.

I’m not entirely convinced this wasn’t the intended outcome honestly. People like Musk, with their “free speech advocacy”, generally dislike actual open discussion and speech. They dislike when people can talk openly to each other and let ideas swell and become reality while smashing down stupid racist bull shit and conspiracy lies.

Fun fact, you can post a tweet with phrases like “Transwomen aren’t women” but if you post about “CIS people” you get flagged for using a slur.

Probably the first and biggest stupidity was the new pay-to-play blue check system that was implemented pretty early on. Blue Checks were originally issued as a way to verify people and companies were actually who they were. Someone at Twitter would do due diligence to make sure @McDonalds was actually run by the popular restaurant chain. This also meant not allowing blue checks for “@MacDonalds” or “”@McD0nalds” or various other typo-style fake accounts. It meant something. Early on, this was changed so Blue Checks just meant you had a paid subscription. Anyone could get a blue check. It also showed that you were supporting the racist jackass and his company, so a lot of previously verified celebrity types, refused to pay. Some were given checks anyway, which also upset these companies and people since it of course, implies support. It’s essentially a false endorsement.

As more advertisers fled the platform as it became increasingly filled with assholes and bots and scams, the Blue Check system has just been pushed more and more in a desperate attempt to make up for lost ad revenue. The irony being that even if EVERYONE signed up, it’s not where neat what advertisers were paying. The latest stupidity is that they now require new users to pay in to start posting. It’s pushed as a way to “deter bots”. Twitter doesn’t seem to understand just how cheap $8/month/account is for priority visibility for scams. One might wonder if it’s still worthwhile if so many are jumping ship, but it’s like those scam emails full of spelling errors. The scammers do this to weed out the intelligent users so only the choices of marks remain. Twitter is doing a GREAT job of weeding out the intelligence from its system leaving nothing but easy marks for these scammers.

I almost would feel bad for these people if they weren’t mostly the same people pushing all the hate-filled stupidity on the world in politics during the past decade. But that’s probably left to another discussion, if ever.

The really funny part is how this isn’t even the first time this has happened to a microblog service centered around “Free speech”. Gab, Truth, Parlor, and others I am sure I’ve forgotten are all basically complete failures after they failed to take off and get any real traction after being filled with right-wing extremists which at best just drives away any legitimate advertisers. Truth recently pushed a scam IPO as a way to grift money for Trump’s lawsuits which is failing pretty spectacularly.

Because of course it is. It was a grift to funnel money in a “legitimate” manner, and now it’s just a bunch of bag holders getting fucked over.


I have not really quite settled on a good alternative to Twitter yet. I’m not entirely sure I really NEED one. I wasn’t using Twitter a lot before the fall, though I had used it since 2006 when it was very very new. The alternatives all have their own sort of pitfalls.

Threads seems to be the most active. It’s run by Facebook and is technically a spin-off of Instagram. I kind of like Threads, because it’s full of people posting Toy photos. Basically, everything I used to like about Instagram, before it became TikTok but with ads every 3 posts, is Threads. I don’t super like that it’s a Facebook property. I also hate how the timeline feels really really algorithm-driven.

BlueSky feels the most like “old Twitter”. and I don’t mean “2021/2022 Twitter”, I mean like, “2007-2008 Twitter”. OLD old Twitter. But it’s also kind of dead as fuck. Even now that it’s open to anyone without the need for invites, it feels a bit deserted.

Mastodon is probably my favorite. People claim it’s “hard to use” but it really isn’t. The real technical hurdles on Mastodon kind of stem from servers and admins who tend to be a little… eccentric, for lack of a better thing to call them. There are admins who will ban entire other instances because ONE user on that other instance says something that is kind of maybe offensive to … somebody. Or heck, even blatantly offensive to everyone. But the whole server gets banned over one person. Which feels a bit shitty, especially since there also feels like a lot of mindset that “once banned, it’s banned forever.”

The federation also had some weirdness. Sometimes I get a new follower, so I go and check them out to see if I want to follow back, but in the app, they LOOK like they have a blank profile. But if I open their profile in a web browser, it’s complete and they have posts. So there is clearly some weird syncing issue there. I’m not familiar enough with how the federation works to know the details, but from what I have gleaned from other discussions, it’s something like that. Or maybe that server is banned for some reason.

It’s also kind of clunky to re-toot something, from that something. If I link to a Toot, and you want to re-toot it, from what I can tell, you need to cut and paste the URL and do a search to find it from your own server. Or do a weird login jaunt from the local server. And it’s all very doable, but it’s cludgy as fuck.

Anyway, I kind of post to all three, sometimes I post the same thing to all three, sometimes I kind of segment it out depending on “audience”. Not that I really have an audience. My pseudo plan is to mostly use Threads for Toy stuff, and BlueSky or Mastodon for everything else. I’m not entirely sure yet. There also aren’t really easy tools to post things like, blog posts, automatically to Threads or BlueSky. This was a factor that always felt like part of why Google Plus failed.

Next Door is Something Else

Social Networking is so bizarre on all the little niches that get built up. I’ve been involved in so many social networks over the years in some way, It’s interesting to watch them rise and fall and evolve, sometimes incredibly frustrating. sometimes too. I could definitely do without the TikTokification of LITERALLY EVERY social website. From LiveJournal to Myspace to Facebook. We all hop along chasing easy connections.

What bugs me is just how much they all try to be the same. The real obvious one I already mentioned, is that little row of circles at the top of the screen that leads to an endless path of random 15-second video clips. There is also the incredibly annoying “algorithmic feed” that everyone has. People have given up complaining about it these days, but I heard lots of “normal people” complaining about that one. Everything used to just be “everyone you actually follow, in revere chronological order”. You could scroll down to the last thing you saw, and know you were done.

Anyway, it seems weird to have all these social networks, but when they all stay more in their lane, they all serve good, different purposes. Part of it is about mindset. If I want to see photos, I used to go to Flickr, then I started going to Instagram. Now there isn’t really anywhere because Instagram is all TikTok videos. Threads is kind of more photos, but frankly, I am already tired of and done with Threads. I don’t need another Twitter replacement, I have Mastodon. Mastodon serves its purpose well, follow interesting nerdy types and make slightly shiposty posts.

I still keep up with Facebook, sort of. I’ve mostly used Facebook to follow family members, but in the last few years I’ve started branching out a bit into groups. I don’t really post much there at all though. I had ideas of posting more on Facebook via pages, but nobody ever gets shown pages unless the admin pays for placement as far as I can tell.

I used to be a pretty regular Reddit user but the API change killed access from 3rd party apps and the default interface is shit so I just, stopped visiting and posting completely. I’m actually surprised how easy it was. I use a lot of Discord, but that has a whole host of issues of its own, like how homogenous every server is and how notifications are impossible to use ever.

There are also more niche sort of social websites, and forums on specific topics, like the old days before Facebook. I don’t use them much but there are also tracking websites like Letterboxd,, Goodreads, etc that all have their own little communities.

One that feels like it doesn’t come up in conversation much is Next Door. I didn’t even know this was a thing until I moved and got a random postcard. It’s essentially Facebook, but geographically focused. You are, by default, part of a “neighborhood”, but almost every post goes to “nearby neighbors” which as far as I can tell, encompasses my entire city. I actually do find it pretty useful, to point, but I also never every just browse it, I just, occasionally check notifications that come to my email.

Mostly because the actual interface is absolutely terrible. It’s like, an ad, every other post, maybe even more frequently. Also, the email notifications, tend to be useful posts, like, information from the City Offices, The posts you “miss”, are very low quality. At least in my area. They fall into a weird mix of categories.

  • I found someone’s dog/cat, with a photo.
  • Someone broke into my/a car.
  • Someone “suspicious” was walking through the neighborhood.
  • Someone posting a reply to another post as a main post, for some reason, how do you even fucking do that????
  • People advertising local services, usually handyman services or main services or transport services.

The really interesting ones are the “suspicious person” posts. They almost always have some night vision camera footage attached. I am convinced these are in fact, stealth advertisements. I became even more convinced because I looked up the address for one on Google Maps street view, and roamed up and down the street, for like an hour, and could not find any of the houses in the background of the video. It was a short street too, like two blocks long. \

The “broke into my car” is more often “I left my car unlocked.” Which is tragic but sorry, lock your car. The service advertisement ones always feel a bit shady because you know these people probably only take cash and aren’t running things as any sort of business.

Then there is that “Replies as posts.” A lot of Next Door really feels like “Old People Facebook” on steroids. Maybe it’s more just “Localized Facebook.” I will admit, I tried to follow a bunch of local news and pages once, and the comment sections were a complete cesspool of idiocy and arguments. Next Door is almost as bad, but not quite, because it’s used less, and the app seems to algorithmically dump posts that start to turn into shitty comment blackholes. I imagine people “follow up” less on Next Door as well.

There are still plenty of crazy nutballs, like this guy here, screeching about people being “woke”. I should add for context, this reply, was mad at the OP of a post concerned about traffic safety in an area where they are doing construction. It was a post that could have been made by anyone, regardless of political alignment, expressing actual, legitimate concerns.

Apparently, traffic safety is “woke” now? Hell if I know.

The real thing that this all confirms to me is, I don’t really care to know these random local neighbor folks at least 50% of the time. It’s much easier to make friends on other Social Media where there is a lot more ability to filter for interests and personality.

On Reddit Drama

Oh Reddit, how shall I miss thee. Maybe…

I should probably start off by saying, I have used Reddit, a lot, over a decade now, and I’m up over half a million Karma there, which is pretty high. I’ve probably participated in hundreds of communities.

Reddit isn’t quite as dead as Twitter is trying to be, not yet anyway, but it seems to be trying really hard. The CEO, Steve Huffman, aka /u/spez, has apparently stated he admires the work Musk has been doing at Twitter, which is kind of baffling, because Twitter is trying to speed run it’s demise.

Is this some sort of new Tech Bro Exit Strategy? Like, here’s the goals for a tech company, get bought by Google, failing that, get bought by Facebook, failing that, go full blown stupid and smash the website into the ground as hard as possible.

What’s Happening?

For a quick rundown of what has happened recently on Reddit, a month or so ago, Reddit announced it was changing how it handles it’s API, which is used for a lot of things, primarily Auto moderation tools and 3rd party clients. The issue isn’t really that they wanted to charge for the API, it’s that they want to charge an exorbitant amount for the API. It’s very clear, the intention is not for anyone to actually pay, but for everyone to abandon using it.

In response to this, a bunch of popular sub-Reddits (subs) went dark for a few days, or even permanently by going Private, meaning no one can see the content there. Others started marking everything NSFW (Not Safe For Work) because NSFW subs don’t have advertising. Others started posting meme content like only pictures of John Oliver.

Basically, a lot of the users revolted and complained, and nothing was changed on Reddit’s stance, in fact, reddit got more hostile with mods as things escalated. Reddit has threatened to or actually gone through with replacing moderators and forcing subs to reopen.

Spez says that Reddit needs to be profitable, and is not, which is fine, they deserve to make money off their site. The driver here seems to be the desire for an IPO (going public, ie stocks).

What’s the Problem?

The core issue here is, Reddit, is driven ENTIRELY by the users. Everything on the site is links to outside user created content. Everything on the links is user created discussion around the topic. The subreddits are ALL user created and user moderated. Moderators who are there voluntarily. Reddit doesn’t pay these people. Which is why they often use tools like Auto-Mod which is software used to automatically strip out the most egregious violations.

Yes, some mods are shitty people on a power trip, but they are still doing this effort, for free, on their own time. Reddit’s actually overhead is essentially only server costs, which I am sure are quite large, this is one of the most popular websites on the internet, but they aren’t paying for much else at the end of the day.

Reddit has money making mechanisms as well, advertising, they sell a premium subscription deal called Reddit Gold, etc.

This leads in a bit to what is probably the larger motivation for the API cost changes, to kill 3rd party applications, which often don’t show the advertisements.

The problem is, the cost proposed. There was an AMA with Spez who mentioned the API costs them around a dollar per user or something per month, but from what I gather, they want to charge devs roughly $20/user per month. Maybe it’s less, but it’s way more than $1 per user.

There would be a lot of better ways to handle this. Charge less per user for starters, let the 3rd party devs decide how to handle it.

Another soltution would be to work out the API so that ads are required to be shown, so 3rd party app devs have to put ads along.

My personal favorite is simply letting users subscribe and get an API key to use in 3rd party apps. If it costs $1 a month, let people pay $3/month (reasonable) and let them keep using their preferred app.

Why Not Use Official Channels?

Reddit is still up and going of course, you can visit and Reddit has an official app. So what’s the problem with just, using Reddit as intended? Well, they are kind of numerous honestly.

The ads are a problem. Like every website, and TV, and well, everything, Advertising on Reddit is a constant downward spiral to the lowest denominator of garbage ads. Dating Apps, Crypto Scams, Sketchy Bootleg T-Shirt sites, etc. Probably paying a penny for 10,000 impressions. There are also ads that look like regular posts for garbage constantly, which is really sketch.

The interface also sucks. I recently tried using the regular website, partially as an effort to just spend less time using the site in general, this was maybe a month before all this drama even started. The touch targets to do the most basic interactions are all weirdly small and unintuitive. I didn’t even figure out how to collapse threads on mobile until I had been using it for a few weeks, which is a super basic need to interact with the site.

It also has too many extraneous notifications. For example, Reddit has this chat feature they added, sometime. Many 3rd party apps don’t surface this feature at all, because many users, do not give a shit about Reddit Chat and it’s 100% just spam chats anyway. The main site also has all these weird crypto/blockchain things going on, like fancy avatar parts. You can upload anything you want as an avatar, I have no idea why you would want to pay for a hat for a Snoo (The Reddit Mascot).

One big one for me, it’s a pain in the ass to save things. The app I was using, Bacon Reader, makes it trivial to save any gif or image to my phone. Official channels block this. Reddit wants you to share the threat and link to share funny cat gif. I’m not exposing people to that crap. I can save the gif and send the file over through FB Messenger or Discord later.

So it’s Not Dead?

Reddit isn’t dead, it’s probably not even dying, at least not to the level of say, Twitter. But this really feels like a likely first step in what will likely be a downhill run to crap. There are a lot of other possible secondary things that can start happening without 3rd party apps, especially with the owners clearly stating they are profit motivated.

They might take away the ability to use your own avatar image, for example. They could start adding more and more shitty ads, to encourage buying Reddit Gold (Gold users don’t see ads). Subs will likely get worse without auto-moderator tools. In general, it means slightly less control for users, which makes the feed in general more susceptible to manipulation. There are plenty of 3rd party sites that monitor trends and activity across the site looking for things that are sus, that probably won’t work anymore.

The frustrating part is, there isn’t a real good alternative to this community yet. People keep pushing the Fediverse alternative Lemmy, but it’s in an even sadder state than mastodon was. As much as I like Mastodon, it’s still pretty jank compared to Twitter in a lot of ways. Discoverability is garbage for starters, due to the lack of a proper content based search.

Personally, I’d already been using RSS more again, which is good for finding interesting stories. In general, I’ll just slightly ramp up my use of other sites a bit more. I’m still trying to get the hang of Tumblr. There’s always Discord, but discord has it’s own issues. I’ve been trying to just, comment more, not just on personal blogs I follow, but on other smaller community based sites like Hacker News, Slashdot, etc.

Ultimately, things are probably better without Reddit.

People I Follow Online and Social Media

I actually wrote up a private journal entry about the whole Twitter mess, but I’m really really trying not to fuel that drama, so I’m refraining from actually posting anything about it. It’s gotten me thinking some about social media and following people online in general though. I’ve been online for a very long time and I’ve used computers almost my entire 43 years of life, and that is not an exaggeration. I am, and will forever be connected to technology as a core piece of who I am. And as such, I also flock to social websites. But the funny part is how each one sort of manages to slot into it’s own little place in my world. And how irritating it is when they try to change things and be something I don’t want them to be.

Take say, Instagram. I resisted Instagram for a while, and even once I started using it, I honestly have never been super committed to it. But I do like seeing other people’s photos. I have two accounts, one that is almost exclusively toys, and one that is “everything else”. Which is usually bands and musicians I like, family members, cats, food. In that order. Though lately, they keep trying to turn themselves into TikTok, which I hate, because I don’t want dumb video clips, I want photos.

Instagram of course is part of Facebook, though it serves it’s own purpose. Most of my actual contacts on Facebook are people I actually know. Family, all those people from High School I added when FB first launched, and friends, both from real life and online. Though I want to add that in this case, “Online Friends”, for the most part is, “Actual friends.” People I have been online friends for longer than I’ve been friends with anyone else. People I’ve been connected to cross platforms and in quite a few cases, people I have met with face to face at least once. I also use Facebook some for groups, but it’s pretty much limited to a couple of toy based groups and groups related to musicians I like. I tried using Facebook for news, but the comment sections are always cancerous idiocy so I had to drop all of the news sources I was following.

Beyond that, things get a bit more nebulous.

Take, for example, Reddit. I use Reddit a lot, probably more than is healthy, but i don’t have any friends on Reddit. I basically do not ever look at user names. I do follow a couple of accounts, but it’s mostly just people I actually know, and mostly for the sake of, “This is an easy way to remember who they are on Reddit”. I don’t actually look at their Reddit feeds, because I follow them all through other platforms where I will hear about things they want to say in a much more efficient manner. I do follow and check a shitload of subreddits and regularly browse posts on /r/all. My “Reddit Recap” for 2022 says i was in the “Top 1% of all Redditors”. I’m not sure I’m proud of that one. It’s probably the one place that’s great for getting good information from actual people on a wide variety of topics.

Then there are places like Twitter, which I’ve replaced the functionality of with Mastodon. These places, basically boil down to, “If your profile information meets any one of a dozen or so criteria, I will follow you”. Post about Video Games, Toys, Nerdy Tech shit, almost instant follow. Post snarky one liners about life that I emphasize with, that’s a follow. Post memes about cats or something frequently, but not so frequently it pollutes my feed, you bet, I’ll follow that. I treat Micro Blog platforms more like…. RSS for people’s shit takes and hot takes.

Which brings me to another way I follow people, RSS. I love RSS. RSS is so perfect for following and I am still fucking salty about Google Reader being closed and will always be because it basically killed RSS to the world. As of now, I follow around 500 blogs and news sites. I have a ton more bookmarks, waiting in a folder called, “Todo -> Add to RSS”. And i regularly go through this folder. The criteria for following a blog on RSS are similar to the Micro Blog criteria, but probably in a more broad sense.

I think in the end, I just like hearing people’s stories and random thoughts. Even if I don’t always give feed back with a comment or a like or whatever. I want to know what people think. Especially things that seem completely banal and pointless.

Twitter Drama and Mastodon

What a completely non eventful roller coaster the latest Twitter Drama is shaping up to be. I suppose it’s somewhat in the “early stages” and a lot of people, including myself, may be acting a bit over dramatic, but I don’t think Elon Musk buying Twitter will be anything good long term.

Twitter isn’t, wasn’t, whatvern’t that great. It was ok, personally, I’ve been kind of struggling to care about Twitter as a platform for a while. It’s probably just some sort of burn out, I’ve been there since essentially the beginning, in 2006. Back when good ol’ Leo Laporte was the number one most followed user, until Kevin Rose was. Then Leo again, it was sort of a competition. Those whopping follow counts were in the thousands as well back then. Twitter is definitely much larger and much more since then. And I find it hard to keep up with anymore.

I’ve tried using lists, but for some reason Twitter only lets you easily pin 5 lists. How useless is that? I have dozens of lists. Politics lists, tech lists, toys lists, music lists, transformers lists, also split across several sub lists, like “Toys – News,” and “Toys – Bloggers”, “Tech – News,” or “Tech – Cybersecurity”. Segmentation of content makes it much easier to follow and be in the right mindset for each topic.

Over time, it also became sort of a crazy place for politics and the spread of misinformation campaigns promoted by trolls and bots. These are the classic style trolls of the days of Ye Olde Usenet, where one person might be harassing another over something the latter was taking a bit too seriously. These are weaponized trolls pushed by people wish absolutely awful agendas against large groups of people. This was bad during the Obama Era of the US but made absolutely worse during the Trump Era.

It’s not entirely just a Trump thing, or a US thing, there is idiocy going on all around the world, but I’m still going to use the US as a frame of reference, since I am in the US. It’s also a problem across many Social Platforms. Lately there have been a lot of actual efforts to stem the spread of lies and stupidity on a lot of platforms, Twitter included. This is where we end up with more rift and part of Musk’s stated reasoning for pissing away billions of dollars on a platform that isn’t worth anywhere near that.

Free Speech.

Which is the real crux of the issue. Some are trying to confuse it with the idea that people angry over this don’t like that Musk is a Billionaire. How it’s hypocritical because Bezos bought the Washington post. The problem isn’t that Musk is a billionaire, it’s that he’s kind of a jackass. And he wants to open the platform back up to let other jackasses be jackasses. “Free Speech” isn’t at all about free speech to these people it’s about freedom to be an asshole. This is why people are upset. They are tired of people spreading lies and idiocy then just screaming people down when they are called out on it.

It was getting better.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of all this. I don’t think it’s going to be anything good. For one, every discussion about Musk buying Twitter on Reddit, seems to end up locked. Because just discussing the issue, people can’t keep civilized. There have also been a LOT of “Free Speech” platforms pop up over the past several years, and basically every single one failed. Some still limp along, but they all devolve into a bunch of jackasses calling for violence and spouting endless hate speech. They get kicked off their hosting platforms for violating TOS, sometimes the creators realize what a mess they unleashed and close things down themselves, sometimes they just fall apart because they can’t create any real way to financially support the platform.

Twitter may be big enough to survive for a while, but that’s not even real clear. It’s still one of the smallest social platforms in terms of users at around 350million. For comparison, Facebook and TikTok have Billions, with an s. Basically a measurable 25% of the entire world’s population. There is a greater than good chance that at least half of Twitter’s users are bot accounts, either actual scripted agent bots or sweat shop people in 3rd world countries clicking retweet buttons “bots”. Add this in with a lot of people leaving Twitter in disgust, and it will be interesting to see what the user base is in a month or two.

So what’s the alternative? A lot of people are pushing and moving to Mastodon. Mastodon isn’t quite the same as Twitter but it’s very similar, especially to old Twitter. For starters, it’s Federated, which means, anyone can host a Mastodon server (called Instances), and it can connect to other Mastodon Instances. This means there are many Instances themed around specific topics. It also means that if an Instance becomes full of idiots, then it can easily be blocked by other Instances.

This is not my first attempt at Mastodon either. I’ve used it off and on for a while and even ran a script for a long time that would sync my Twitter and Mastodon profiles, creating an illusion of activity. Now I’m trying to use it full time though. I have wanted to make it work for a while anyway, now, with all of the attention it’s getting, seems like as good of a time as any. I guess maybe it might be best to just treat it more like the “Classic Twitter” days, and just toss stuff out into the Ether and see if anyone reacts.

Currently I’m on the core, though I may look into moving elsewhere, but if you want to give me a follow, you can find me <a rel=”me” href=”“>Here</a>.