One thing that constantly surprises me on micro.blog is how nice people are. This has something to do with the barrier to entry being a bit nerdy, but everything to do with the scale of the platform. Although everyone seems to think that abuse and harassment is something unique to the main social networks, it’s actually a problem of scale.
You see I love micro.blog (it took me a while) with my main appreciation being that it’s not where everyone is. Sure, I’d like more people to post it, I’d love to follow more interesting people, but with all the noise comes issues. My feed is filled with thoughtful comments, far too much debate about what platform to publish too, and nice photos. There is a positive vibe to the place, so much so that there appears to be no movement towards thinking about moderation.
The platform can be independent of the publishing platforms, so a swift move to remove cross posting would be easy to do, as well as removing hateful comments. This lax approach seems to be shared by every new approach and always fails to work, at scale.
All social apps grow until you need a newsfeed
All newsfeeds grow until you need an algorithmic feed
All algorithmic feeds grow until you get fed up of not seeing stuff/seeing the wrong stuff & leave for new apps with less overload
All those new apps grow until…
— Benedict Evans (@benedictevans) January 22, 2018
I would already kill for better timeline organisation. Sure there is no incentive to move to algorithms that engage users more due to the paid nature of the platform. Stepping away from micro.blog, it’s obvious where the trend goes for almost every other social platform that attempts to be moderation free. I am lucky in the fact I have placed my eggs in a basket I trust, Manton and the team have no reason to do anything other that tend to this nice positive garden they have created. Others are not so lucky.
Almost every platform that attempts to be a safe place for a certain type of person falls flat on their face with this problem of scale. You can promise to be moderation free, or simply not have the time to do it, but the fact is it’s impossible to run a platform that doesn’t have to do moderation.
Start with the spam you’ll inevitably get once there are enough users. Then the things you legally have to take down — abuse, copyright material etc. Once you reach a critical mass of users, then comes the algorithmic feed decisions due to lack of engagement and inability for users to keep up. This too is an inevitability as users can’t decide if their posts will be seen or not and start to post less if action isn’t taken.
All platforms that need engagement or show adverts will devolve into the same state eventually. Nothing will ever ‘fix’ social media. Scale kills almost everything, there is a huge benifit to not being where everyone is. Stay small.