Tinkering with the Fediverse

You can now find me on the Fediverse, at @[email protected], thanks to GoToSocial.

I find myself thinking about the Fediverse a lot these days. Probably a lot more than I should. I’m probably just easily influenced by all the chatter going on, and excited to tinker with something new.

tl;dr: I’m now on the Fediverse, at @[email protected].

I didn’t want to sign up for an account on an existing Mastodon instance though, for 2 main reasons.

For once, I’m more interested in the tinkering than actually posting; reminds me of all the time I have spent tweaking my different sites instead of actually writing blog posts.

Most importantly, I don’t want to sign up for yet another service, on yet another site that may or may not exist in 2 / 5 / 10 years. I want control over my data, on my domain.

I want my content to be in my home on the Internet.

As the years go by and the content piles up, I’ve realized how I enjoy going down memory lane on our private family blog to look at pictures from years ago. I want to be able to do that with all the content I publish online.

So I tinkered. I started by setting up my own Mastodon instance. I gave up after a day, seeing how heavy the app was, even for a single-user instance like mine.

I will let you guess when I set up Mastodon on that server :)

After that failure, I went back to WordPress. It is still a great tool for producing content, and with a few plugins (ActivityPub, Friends, WebFinger, Webmention), it can be a great place to publish and interact with others that have their own WordPress sites. It is limited to WordPress though. While you can easily write, read, comment, reply in your post, it is not the best tool for quick conversations, or answers to small questions.

Mastodon does this well, just like Twitter did, but wasn’t an option without setting up a new VPS. I looked at more lightweight alternatives and found a few:

  • Misskey seems good but not all documentation is translated to English yet, so not for me yet.
  • Friendica seemed like a good option for me, given that it’s developed with PHP. It does a lot more than what I need though.
  • Pleroma seemed interesting and lightweight enough, but was harder to set up for me (I know nothing about Elixir).
  • I looked into Hubzilla but it seems very different from Mastodon, so not what I need.
  • And more. There are dozens of options right there!

I picked GoToSocial.

It’s lightweight, easy to run, it doesn’t seem very resource-heavy so far. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you would find on Mastodon, but I see this as an advantage. It is mostly headless (it has a simple timeline view) but you can use apps and clients like Tusky or Pinafore and you get an experience that’s close to what you would get on a Mastodon instance.

It’s also under active development, and the team behind the tool seems like good folks!

All this to say, I am now on the Fediverse :) You can find me at @[email protected], and the timeline I was talking about above is available here, for those of you not on an instance yet.

I’ll keep playing. Overall, I’m really happy with what seems like a step forward for the open web. I’m looking forward to what the future will bring us!

2 replies on “Tinkering with the Fediverse”

“It is limited to WordPress though. While you can easily write, read, comment, reply in your post, it is not the best tool for quick conversations, or answers to small questions.”

This is true as of today but I think it won’t be in future. I can only speak for the Friends plugin but it is just moving along at hobby speed. Incoming likes? Not yet. Outgoing likes? Not yet. Boosts? Not yet. Incoming boosts? Work. Replies? Arrive as comment. Reply yourself? Should work as a comment but doesn’t yet. Use a generic Mastodon client? Working on it: https://github.com/akirk/friends-mastodon-api

All to say, I think it’s not time to give WordPress up on this but it still takes some time. I think ActivityPub is the right direction, so far subscribing to people on Twitter was painful and needs to be implemented with a special parser: https://github.com/akirk/friends-parser-fraidyscrape. This is much better with ActivityPub.

I am still working on enabling your own WordPress to be the center of your online activities.

I can definitely see myself going back to WordPress in the future! Thanks to folks like you and Matthias Pfefferle, WordPress already has a lot of the tools it needs. Thank you for that!

It’s not quite there just yet, but hosting my own instance should make it a bit easier for me to switch tools in the future if I want to try something new or go back to WordPress.

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