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    Discord basically already serves this function with how easy it is to spin up and invite people to servers. Spawning channels within the server to focus on specific topics keeps the conversation focused. Sure, people frequently get invited to or join servers that are just too noisy to function, and they invariably get all traffic muted (and therefore fall into disuse) but I’m on a handful of servers that are just friends and they manage to keep my attention.

    There’s stuff in this post that just doesn’t matter to people.

    Per the post:

    you control the computer that runs the site

    you can modify the software that powers the site

    you get to make the rules and policies

    Nobody (at large) gives a shit about those first two things. Some of my friends might be convinced to get on some of the self-hosted social media options, but only because I bully them into it, not because they care that I would be the one administrating it. People really only need the third point, and discord already provides that agency. Any platform that lets you self-congregate does.

    The main reason to run a small social network site is that you can create an online environment tailored to the needs of your community in a way that a big corporation like Facebook or Twitter never could.

    You know what the needs of my community are? Posting text, links, and images. End of list. I’m sure there’s some communities out there with specialized needs, but I’d be interested to hear why existing solutions don’t meet them.

    Your small social network site can have its own rules about, for example:

    what speech is acceptable

    what actions are considered violence

    what actions are considered protected speech or expression

    Ah. I see where this is going.

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      Discord basically already serves this function with how easy it is to spin up and invite people to servers.

      I read the Discord privacy policy when LLVM started talking about it and there’s absolutely no way that I’d agree to it. Discourse is a lot better in this regard: the privacy policy for hosted instances is pretty reasonable and the system is open source so you can run your own if you disagree with it.

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        Ah. I see where this is going.

        And where’s that? I think that’s the best part about running your own social network. Discord on the other hand, is known to censor — both users, and entire communities that they deem as “bad”. They can literally nuke your “server” (that word still gets me) off the site without reason.

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          I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the communities they deem “bad” aren’t “bad” in scare quotes, but actually bad and harmful communities.

          Like, say, this kind.

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            If you want an example of the company’s moral code getting in the way of non-hateful communication, I have been personally affected by Discord’s ban on game hacking discussion & promotion.

            I would hardly call distributing trainer programs harmful.

            Ultimately, it’s their platform. I still use Discord regularly, and it’s easy to convince an already-technical group to switch to Matrix, which works just fine.

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              Would you say most NSFW communities are bad and harmful? Because Discord censors them on iOS. (Telegram doesn’t, there is a switch on Telegram Web to enable this kind of content on iOS.)

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          I absolutely love this. I run a matrix server for a handful of friends and it is really nice to have a slightly more private social media space. I hadn’t considered rollng my own entire app but that seems like the next logical step.

          I really think social media shines at this smaller scale and that maybe a more idealistic future would involve many many smaller social media platforms.

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            Maybe my friends are just lame, but there’s no way I could get them to use a private social network because everyone would need some largely disjoint additional set of people in order for the network to be “useful”. And, I assume that would apply recursively, so I’d have to convince an absolutely enormous number of people to commit before more than a handful of people would actually join. Failing that, the response would be that we ought to just use one of the networks we’re all already on to communicate.

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              Yes, people happy with the current state of affairs are unlikely to switch. This is obviously for those of us that aren’t.

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                Part of the problem is that convincing 80 or even 90% of your friends isn’t enough, especially if you want it to be a replacement rather than additional. You need to convince 100%.

                I used to be on IRC with a bunch of friends, which ended up moving to Slack and then Telegram. I didn’t use Slack so I kind of lost touch with people, although I do use Telegram and I’ve been back in touch since. But we did “lose” some other people in the process. These aren’t (and never were) very close/deep friendships, but it’s a shame nonetheless.

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                  I think that is the same case for my most of my friends however I have managed to create a nice little community with about 10 people who chat regularly on my matrix server.

                  I think to make this work for more people there would probably need to be some way to have a unified interface into many different social media “apps” along with a way to have some amount of cross communication between them. At this point you are dangerously close to just recreating Mastodon. I think the key would be to somehow enable entirely different social networking software as the backends to this unified interface.

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                  I mean, I’ve normal people already have it (thoughtleaders call it the “cozy web”) - they just don’t need to host a Matrix server to do it. They make Slack/Discord channels instead.

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                  I totally believe in this stuff, and have since basically before it existed, like 1997. But by now I’ve become very skeptical that many people can be pried away from Facebook. You can set up a little social site, but in my experience, when someone goes to post about something they’ll think about how likely someone is to see it on the little site, vs. how many people will see it on FB, and choose to post on FB instead. It’s network effects. I despise Facebook, but it won.

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                    And yet, Facebook’s network effects are imaginary. Your post is a lot less likely to be seen on FB as it tends to be filled with advertisement garbage. From personal experience, you are a lot more likely to be heard on a small site than on Facebook, even if the number of people following you on FB is an order of magnitude bigger.

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                      It’s less virality and more the fact your other friends are there.

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                        I know what you’re saying, but my posts have a zero percent chance of being seen by friends if they’re made on a site those friends never look at. :(

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                          Well then do as the submission suggests and move your friends to a new site :)

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                          I suspect you’re correct in terms of median exposure but the thing that people care about tends to be the upper bound. Posts on Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Whatever periodically ‘go viral’ and reach millions of people. It’s like the lottery: people get much more excited about the low-probability big-win of a lottery than a much higher-probability small win of a small-scale raffle. You will probably never be the author of a post that sees millions of views and ends up in news publications, but you might be on a big public advertising site, whereas you definitely won’t be on a small social space.

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                            Posts by people don’t “go viral” on Facebook. The only thing that “goes viral” there are ads paid up by companies. I’ve not seen anything that isn’t paid up go outside some community on FB, and I’d believe that’s the main reason they earn money from advertising. Organic reach is dead, any marketeer will answer you the same. Yes, maybe it’s the thought of the lottery, but in a lottery you at least have a chance. With Facebook, you don’t even get that.

                            Meanwhile small spaces are a lot more welcoming to grow. Take lobste.rs for example. I can, and sometimes do, look at everything submitted in a day, and give feedback on it if I have any. This feedback helps the authors improve. On the other hand, HN receives so many submissions, that it’s a roll of a dice (or notice of moderators) on whether your submission is going to get any feedback at all. And without feedback, you can’t improve those odds.

                            Also worth noting that using small spaces is not mutually exclusive with using big spaces. You can still try your odds with a big space, while getting the more consistent feedback from a small space.

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                              You may be right for Facebook, but I’ve seen a lot of stories on places like Buzzfeed with tweets from random people with random funny things or cute dogs in them and no corporate affiliation or product placement.

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                        I think custody of the data is the original & most relevant reason this kind of stuff is so important. Data and processes encode power, and I feel like people need to grab onto any scrap of power they can find in the sorta dystopic world we are living in. There is a reason why the author says:

                        …pick social media software that [allows local-only posting]. I would go so far as to say this is a necessary feature for group cohesion, and my hope is that implementors of decentralized social media software come to understand it’s important.

                        IMO, the data for everyone’s online life spreading everywhere uncontrollably, or worse, being locked behind a wealthy stranger’s razor wire and armed guards takes a huge psychological toll on people. A self-hosted server doesn’t have to completely replace the public corporate-owned web, it just has to offer a viable alternative so folks can try out something different and experience what it’s like, give them that outlet to post and otherwise use the server with peace of mind that ultimately, it’s operated by someone they know personally and can trust.

                        I have been using these sort of self-hosted social media and chat servers (matrix, jitsi meet, mastodon, gitea, etc) ever since the beginning of the pandemic and it has really helped me a lot in terms of social wellbeing and I think mental health too. I would definitely recommend it. If you are interested in an invite, DM me.