Ironically, the biggest thing that stops people from joining a Mastodon instance is the paradox of choice. If you want a Twitter account, there’s exactly one place to go and a newcomer has zero things to figure out before joining.
If you want to join a Mastodon instance, you have to grok the distributed nature, figure out why some instances block other instances, which code of conduct you endorse (or pick an instance without one). All those choices create a higher barrier new users have to overcome to “get in”.
Ironically, the biggest thing that stops people from joining a Mastodon instance is the paradox of choice.
And network effects. I am not very active on Mastodon, since most friends and colleagues (computational linguistics, ML) are not on Mastodon.
I also think that the default user interface, even though it is nice for advanced users, is not simple enough.
I think it largerly depends on how your interests match the instance you join.
I was invited to join mastodon.social social but I now realize that I mainly follow people from other instances.
Probably the fact that I’m mostly interested in software related matters (even if from a wide range of perpectives, including law and ethics) is what make the local timeline pretty boring to me…
Finding the right instance might not be simple.
Maybe a tag cloud representing the topics threated in the instance could help in the decision (together with the code of conduct obviously).
I can see why you’d think this, but my experience has been that it really doesn’t matter, other than obvious stuff like not picking a fascist-friendly place. If you’re on a small instance then your local timeline will be quieter, but personally I found the majority of people to follow thru IRC or threads like this, so the local timeline didn’t really come into it.
I have never depended heavily on the local or federated timeline for discoverability, but I joined during a wave of signups where lots of people I already knew on Twitter were already joining.
I imagine that, if the one person you know on the fediverse is also the person who told you about it, and that person is also a newbie or has mostly different interests, the local timeline matters a lot more. (And, if you’re reasonably ‘normie’ – if your strong interests aren’t geared toward witchcraft, furry fandoms, communism, and the internal politics of the FSF – you might have a really hard time finding an instance geared toward you anyway.)
I couldn’t be the one to do it, but I wonder if it would make sense to make a handful of sports-centric nodes. It would probably attract a lot of users.
And so instead of taking the time to make informed choices, these users would rather delegate that responsibilty to a corporation which then makes all sorts of important choices for them….
I think it’s a bit flippant to say that they don’t make an informed choice. Some people really do prioritize their time over other things.
or they have no idea what advantages a decentralised system would provide, and completely overlook its existence
or they don’t value the benefits the decentralised system provides, and consider the centralisation a pro.