Recently, the Anti-Meta Fedi Pact written by Vanta Black has gotten pushback from Hacker News, John Gruber, and others, decrying the fediverse as too insular and doomed and unlikely to be competitive.

From my perspective, this is absurd. But it speaks to a larger problem in that even relatively technical audiences just see Mastodon as a Musk-free Twitter clone. I am not sure how to bridge that gap to non-programmers. Maybe Ian Betteridge’s explanation here is helpful.

There are lots of reasons not to federate with Meta/Facebook. The signers of #FediPact disproportionately have “lgbt” or “queer” names and themes in their instances, which imply that protecting the online safety of their communities comes before “reach”.

I agree with not wanting to trust or federate with Facebook/Meta on principle, but don’t want to elaborate on why right now. The main reason I’ll never federate with them is simple– I wouldn’t be able to keep my instance online if I did. Not without more resources and more money.

I’m the admin of a single-user instance for myself alone. So I don’t have to worry about exposing my users to harm, or denying them reach. My only user is myself, so if I do something that hurts my users, I’ll instantly be able to recognize and grow from it. I’m specifically doing this as a way to experiment with whether I might ever want to host a larger community, possibly via Hometown, but at the moment I don’t have the time or energy.

I’ve already experienced downtime due to increased traffic and new user signups on the flagship instance when Elon Musk bought Twitter. Since I’d installed Mastodon on a VPS that also ran my file hosting server, git forge, and various other tools, and didn’t have the time to seriously debug the issue, I deleted Mastodon to preserve storage and bandwidth. Since being a Mastodon admin is a hobby, not a day job, and because I don’t have users I’m accountable for, it took months for me to restart. By then I’d lost all of my followers, and had to start from scratch. Since it was just me, I don’t depend on social media for my livelihood, this was perfectly fine. With even one user, just deleting their account for a few months while sorting out the mess would not be an option.

It certainly gave me perspective on what it’ll be like to have yet another major increase in traffic. I’m now running Mastodon on a dedicated VPS, but it’s a fairly small one. I’m not eager to pay for more storage and bandwidth.