I keep seeing open source projects saying "join the conversation" on discord or "stay up to date" with a link to twitter or a facebook group.

Have we really failed on messaging so hard that no one understands the cognitive dissonance at play here?

Or is it really just that Matrix is that bad, and the fediverse is that obscure?

I'm trying to get our media messaging set up for the maker space, and I keep finding temptations to reach for propritary crap, but ...

Why? Why would I set up a discord server when, as far as I can tell, Matrix will be fine.

Why would I use youtube when I can own my own peertube infrastructure? (And when yunohost exists to handle SSO and updates, I don't even have to do any real work to use it!)

Why would I ever let someone make money off of the private data of our members?

Maybe I have overestimated how ideologically aligned the various free software movements actually are.

I figured out why this bothers me.

I do my best to live my values.

To live my life in a way that is commiserate with the things I believe.

I use the fediverse because it is commiserate with my values. I use peertube because it is commiserate with my values.

Using discord to discuss free culture would be like using facebook to organize an antitrust enforcement action.

Which is to say that every choice is a political choice, an economic choice, a moral choice.

Every proprietary tool we normalize helps build or enforce a monopoly.

Every piece of DRM we accept is a blow to the right to repair, the right to own anything.

There are often good, valid reasons for doing this. There are also lots not great, but easy to justify reasons.

I feel a screed coming on, I should probably stop that.

@ajroach42 I suspect part of it is developers not wanting to leave what they use for "entertainment"

@ajroach42 The only reason I can come up with is wanting to reach the largest number of people and laziness. Where the laziness comes in is there is nothing stopping projects from doing their core chat and messaging on open platforms and setting up something automated to spit announcements and what not to the big proprietary platforms.

@ajroach42 It's easier as those are full of support and very known, moreover you do not have the responsability to explain to your customers how to use them.
Get a group of 80 years old and set up a matrix server for them to talk, if you want them to use it you will probably spend most of your work day doing technical assistance.

@rastinza @ajroach42 I dunno, I think I'd struggle to get a group of 80 year olds to talk over Discord too!

@ajroach42 I mean, yea. Good communication is meeting people where they are. That's why the network effect-driven hegemony of corporate platforms is so scary and dangerous; because of that specifically.

It might make some sense to split the channels. Post major announcements on all platforms it makes sense to, but point to the open platforms for details and minor announcements.

Like a tweet about a class or w/e that points to a fedi post for more info.

@rgegriff That's the strategy we're planning at the moment.

Blog posts, all primary channels pointing to infra we control. Cross post snippets and teasers elsewhere.

If getting people more acquainted with open platforms is an important side-goal, it might make some sense to also add CTAs on the posts to the infra you control asking people to follow there directly (If you aren't already).

"Subscribe to our email newsletter", "Add us to your RSS reader", "follow us on fedi", that sort of thing. Maybe even with links to pages explaining how to do that.

@rgegriff I'm working on an article right now about open platforms, and when I'm finished, we'll distill it a few times until it's just bullet points and a flow chart, you know?

@ajroach42 Sweet! Sounds like that might end up being a really good resource to point people to!

@ajroach42 That sounds really cool, and I look forward to seeing it. Is there a way of making sure I don't miss it?

BTW, the chart of this conversation grows:

CC: @rgegriff

@ajroach42 Thanks ...

I should find and install an RSS reader.

I hate all software.

CC: @rgegriff

@ajroach42 BTW, that gripe wasn't aimed at you, but I've realised that it feeds into your question. If someone says "Here, come over to XXX for the discussion" I just feel tired all over.

For me, if the discussion is on Mastodon then that's great. If it' on Twitter then it's tolerable, if it's on Facebook then it's possible but a complete PITA.

But then ...

CC: @rgegriff

@ajroach42 ...

... when someone says Slack, or Discord, or whatever, I just feel tired all over.

I can imagine other people feeling the same way whenever someone says: You really should have your discussions on Mastodon, or Matrix, or whatever.

The fatigue is real.

(PS: Bonus points if you can name the film that's vaguely referenced in these toots.)

CC: @rgegriff

@ColinTheMathmo @rgegriff the fatigue is real, for sure. That's the inertia that drives slack/discord utilization past the point it makes sense.

@ajroach42 I think the obscure part plays a big role too. As a project you tend to want to reach out to where the users are already. I mean the Debian project is here, and also on twitter. And you can easily guess which place gets more traffic and interaction. Same thing with Discord/Slack vs Matrix.

@ajroach42 Not at all! Or at least, not if you mean "aligned" in the sense of sometimes moving in roughly the same direction, when viewed from far away so you can't see the collisions. :flan_sad_laugh:

@ajroach42 And as much as I hate to admit it, mastodon and most of the activitypub decentralized software is really really niche and almost completely unknown outside a certain group. My peer group is pretty tech oriented....and they have only vaguely heard of mastodon. Peertube and matrix might as well be on the moon to them.

@stunder @ajroach42 I've been doing light evangelizing about takers so far. 😞

@gedvondur @ajroach42

Ive done full blown posting about it, loaded it on peoples phones, and even built accounts/servers for people.

The hive only likes what it's told to like I guess. ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯

@stunder @gedvondur I've had a decent success rate pulling folks over. More lurkers than posters, but they're around.

A sizable chunk of my coworkers are users on various servers, some of them will even occasionally mention seeing things I've posted boosted across their timelines (but they have the good sense not to tell me their handles. :-D)

The real downfall, for me, is Chat.

@ajroach42 @gedvondur

This is why i keep about 3 handles on 3 different servers. Then my coworkers never know the "real" me :)

@ajroach42 @stunder @gedvondur
speaking of Downfall, someone should make a version of the angry Hitler scene that is about federated chat.

(To be clear, I'm not trying to make fun of your issue - I too don't like the hypocrisy of FOSS projects using proprietary platforms for developmeer communication and coordination.
But I also see a meme opportunity here, and I can't just ignore it.)

@gedvondur @ajroach42 i don't really think we will fix this until someone else comes out with fediverse software that appeals to a group not already on the fediverse.

@oct2pus @ajroach42 Hmmm...I think that assuming software/UI is the issue is problematic.

It's about existing community. Once that is solidified...its very hard to transfer.

I mean, how many Tumblr users are still here?

@gedvondur i mean software/ui and presentation very much matter, activitypub is a protocol for how information is transfered. how you allow people to access and engage with others matters quite a lot. The default 500 character limit forces me to be a lot more sparse with my words, and twitters 140 is even more terse. Tumblr presenting posts in threads in oldest-first format also influenced why they seem to make so many good jokes but also why terfs seem to be able to proliferate.

@gedvondur the lack of functional search by any fediverse software also makes it harder for people to be discovered, which discourages artists/voice actors/creatives from coming over because unfortunately part of their social media presence is being seen. And if you want to participate in discussions everything is just, ephemeral in general so its very discouraging to 'fan' sorts of discussions.

@oct2pus Yes, it does matter...but if you don't get the audience/community the most beautiful UI in the world won't matter in the slightest.

The cruel truth is that the best technology rarely wins because humans. We do not make rational decisions most of the time.

@gedvondur i think when you're selling the fediverse to outsiders through the lense of new software i think focusing on existing community is actually a bad call. i don't think you can or really should completely cloak federation to outsiders but like, its absolutely completely confusing tech shit to them. Focusing more on what your software does different might be a better call.

@oct2pus @gedvondur re: the confusing tech bit: it's no more confusing than email IMO, which people seem to grasp just fine.

@doenietzomoeilijk @oct2pus Clearly you've not sheparded someone off of Outlook and onto something like gmail. 😉

Seriously though, people who are non-technical tend to react to a new interface like its completely foreign, even if the base concepts are the same.

But I get what you are saying and you do have a point. Its just one of the things hindering transition, however.

@gedvondur Oh, absolutely, and it's probably not limited to UI, but to household names, too. Outlook is what everybody knows (well, Gmail too, of course), get them to one of the far more privacy-friendly but lesser known names and you get blank stares.

And that's the same problem with what @ajroach42 started this hugely interesting thread with: developers flock to Discord, because it's the known entity.

UI and marketing, as others pointed out already. Both matter, both are lacking.

@gedvondur @ajroach42 There's that, but I think that another HUGE barrier is how often open source software is just how shit so many of the non-tech parts are. UX, marketing, user outreach, visual design. Even if a project says "we want everyone to use this!" they will often build it with no concern for usecases outside their own. It's almost like the attitude of "Lol, dumb lUSERs are dumb" still kinda persists from the 80s/90s, even if subconsciously.

@rgegriff @ajroach42 Yup. I've offered to help with marketing/messaging for a number of open source apps...but they don't want to consider other use cases/value propositions past what they assumed is important.

"Build it and they will come" is more "Build it and do no marketing and it will collect regretful dust forever."

@gedvondur @ajroach42
I am starting to think that, outside of a very specific set of circumstances, the opensource model of development, as it's existed over the last few decades, might actually be... idk, bad?

Most of the large opensource projects that actually get any sort of wide adoption are things with a well funded company as a parent who is the primary driver of development.

@gedvondur @ajroach42

Like, open up two browser windows side by side. In one, visit In the other, visit

Imagine you are familiar with technology, but you aren't a developer or ops person or whatever. You use technology, you build with technology, but you don't really build technology itself.

What does each of these sites do for you?

@rgegriff @ajroach42 You know what is pathetic? I've never looked at

The essential difference, at least to my competition oriented mind between discord page and matrix page: The discord page tells you what you can do.

The Matrix page tells you how they do it.

It's like selling a car with only the specs of the fuel injection system. Interesting, but for most, irrelevant.

@gedvondur @ajroach42 YES! Exactly! What's even more sad? There is exactly ONE call to action on the matrix homepage that's above the fold. "Try Now". Seems like it might be useful...

This is what someone sees if they click "Try Now":

@gedvondur @ajroach42 It's like if you are at a book store or whatever, and you express interest in something, and that thing's BIGGEST FAN immediately shows up and tells you LITERALLY EVERYTHING ABOUT IT, themes, characters, a fanfic they read about it, what the author had for lunch two weeks ago.

Like, I appreciate the energy, I really really do, but good lord is it overwhelming.

Well, matrix is only the protocol, so yes, they are addressing technical people. A fair comparison would be to compare
@rgegriff @ajroach42

@inso @rgegriff @ajroach42 Good point. seems to be for-profit, so their marketing is actually for real.

@ajroach42 I told my uncle this same thing in ~2000 when I dumped windows.
He said he'd switch if Linux ever got traction, and I told him: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -- Alan Kay

@ajroach42 At the time my uncle said "Windows will always be there, you'll never have to learn anything else". Nowadays my uncle wishes he had learned Linux twenty years ago.
Linux has been far more learning-stable than Windows.

@shapr This is such a funny argument to me. "The proprietary thing that the monopoly runs which costs me hundreds of dollars will always be available to me, so I won't learn the free thing that can be ported to any platform and uses the same paradigms as the dominant operating system in existence since 1971."

I mean ...

@ajroach42 The exception I make: When others want to watch something with me, but insists my DRM-free entertainment is too "weird". That's pretty minimal now though.

O.K., I'll concede Welcome to Night Vale is definitely weird! Have you heard the sale they advertised in the woods?

@alcinnz Convenience and peer pressure keep in in various proprietary spaces, but I'm doing what I can to limit that.

@ajroach42 That it is! I'm trying to push back on this peer-pressure, but I'm just one person fighting against the social power of bilboards & newspaper reviews.

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