Since Elon Musk was forced to buy twitter I have seen a bunch of social media friends migrate to Mastodon. I made an account and it does do much of what twitter does, but feels rough around the edges. I am interested to see whether it takes off or if this is a temporary bump.
Bear Case: The Mastodon Organization is Tiny
With one full time employee and a few freelancers along with contracts to build its iOS and Android applications, Mastodon is barely a blip relative to the size of Twitter’s workforce. It has been buckling under the load of new users. I spend over a minute waiting for the main page to load. Every criticism folks have made about twitter trimming its workforce easily applies to Mastodon. Without an aggressive CEO there is no way Mastodon can capitalize on this moment and is likely to collapse.
Bull Case: Mastodon is Federated and Open Source
Unlike Twitter’s proprietary model, anyone can contribute to Mastodon. In the past month 237 pull requests have been merged into the Mastodon code base. These growing pains are temporary, and maybe organizations will be excited to create their own Mastodon servers. Having individual servers that can enforce their own rules will create a better user experience and mitigate the issues facing twitter while distributing the work of moderating social media.
Challenge: Where are the Brands?
Mastodon has a great ethos and works decently, but has only a fraction of the users. The most noticeable difference is a lack of brands. One of the best use cases for twitter is customer support. It is hard to leave twitter when it remains the most effective channel of last resort when you have a customer support issue.