The Fediverse is just Usenet 2.0. The trick will be if its design can keep enshitification at bay.

Kissaki, avatar

Isn’t usenet a closed - as in non-publicly-anonymously-accessible - platform?


No, back in the 90s, ISPs had local clones of the entire Usenet subscribers could access directly.


It was a great way to get porn!

Turn on the connection before you got to bed and wake up with a fresh batch


As someone who had to pay 13 cents per minute in the 90s, this sadly was not an option.


If we left our internet on over night they would cut us off for a few days for “internet abuse”. It would be so hard to connect at peak hours. The modem would make all the silly sounds but end in a busy signal.

ICastFist, avatar

Which always bewildered me whenever my dad would tell me to “search usenet” whenever I couldn’t find something. He got into the 'net early-ish, the first time I became aware of it was around 2004, it was already closed (no public registrations) by then.


The article makes a good point: academics/researchers are in a good position to build federated systems. They have slightly different needs than the population in general, but they’ve built good stuff in the past (eg smtp and http).

I don’t think many academic application protocols have hit widespread adoption since HTTP. Would Napster count? lol


HTTP did pretty well though. :-)


Yeah. Pretty well. 😂


Am I weird to think that the fediverse will eventually succumb to enshitification in its own ways? As in, if it does pick up then any easy to sign up and popular instances will have a certain concentration of power and if they try to cater to the masses, they might just end up becoming their own silos if defederated from other instances en masse.

I’m just kinda posting here to air some thoughts. I’m sure I’m not the first to think about this and of course I understand this is a feature not a bug.


I agree, the fediverse is not immune to certain types of problems that come with wider adoption and concentration of power in the hands of the most popular instances; however, the fact it’s rather trivial for other instances to sprout up is its own sort of booster shot against any kind of bullshittery that royally effs the users.


I think it could to a small degree but not to the degree Reddit went abusive to its users. If got weird, I’d just leave and go to another one. I don’t really care all that much what instance I’m on except that the trolls are kept down and the front page posts a lot of diverse stuff.

otter, avatar

I think the concern is more

  • LW works great, and it has most of the communities so most new people join there
  • LW starts running Lemmy + some extra features on top
  • time passes
  • LW closes off, but it still has the mass of users and new features, and most people don’t care about what this might mean because it still “works great”. There’s not enough friction to jump instances
  • it enshitifies, we’re back to June 2023

That’s why I’m already on different instances, it’s not hard at all to switch and compare.

tb_, avatar

But most users won’t care to do so.


Sure. But then I say “bye bye.

sour, avatar

no mainstream


I’m gonna start my own instance, with hookers and blackjack


Forget the blackjack.


What’s a good mirror instance that is federated with “everybody” to have an account with so you can access all the defederated communities and content if you want for a more liberal account?


Lemmy is basically guaranteed to fail the exact same way reddit did. More and more users flock to a few centralized instances (some of which are already starting to show very biased and manipulative administration…) which increases hosting costs and so forth. This leads to a need/desire to monetize and, no matter what people pretend, donations are not a viable path.

Which leads to shittier monetization approaches. Which get exacerbated by people being willing to pay a monthly subscription to the app creators to load the content, but not the sites that actually host it.

Peertube, at best, will be the phpbb to the vbulletins of the world, for subscription based websites for influencers. Sort of like how mastodon is the core of a few of the right wing shitholes. Not sure what the “educational” gun nuts are doing on their site, but I am sure it is only a matter of time until Ludwig or Toast try a premium site for their side hustles. They won’t federate and they’ll be behind paywalls but they’ll save a lot on licensing. And, more likely, peertube will go down in a mess of CSAM and gorn.

Mastodon I actually see surviving. In a good-ish world, we’ll see it being part of a decentralized social media that is resistant to corporate interests. News media and Brands will have their own instances that federate in to protect them from a deranged child of apartheid spamming swastikas everywhere. Is it facebook’s twitter that is also compatible with mastodon? And I can see a world where a couple dozen major “instances” carry on. And this also actually provides a venue (and honeypot…) for social activism and sexwork.

But… most likely mastodon will become like usenet. It exists, a few people love it, but mostly it is just something your ISP might forget they are offering.


More and more users flock to a few centralized instances (some of which are already starting to show very biased and manipulative administration…)

If the admins on a particular instance become too biased and manipulative, would users continue to flock to them? Or would they leave for another instance?

A bunch of us already left Reddit for Lemmy. The difference here is that users wouldn’t even need to switch platforms, just instances.


I addressed why the people who left reddit are more a taste of what is to come than anything else.

But that is the point of “certain instances” trying to get a significant percentage of market share. Because any instance will defederate from ten pedophiles. They will think a whole lot more about whether they defederate from 90% of the userbase.

Also: Take a look at The Site Formerly Known as Twitter and how likely people are to leave just because their site is being run by openly manipulative nazis.


No, you definitely aren’t alone in thinking that and to an extent I agree: it is likely for the platform to get shittier in some ways as it grows or matures.

I am hoping that a combination of the design philosophy of Lemmy/Fediverse, incremental improvements to Lemmy and both users and moderators continuing to engage as genuinely as they can, will slow the negatives while growing the positives, and further avoid the pitfalls that centralized social media fall into.

maegul, avatar

Absolutely. Arguably already happening with and depending on your values.

But this is where the open protocol, decentralisation and FOSS platforms kick in. The same or similar platforms can form their own networks or sub-networks with a hopefully high degree of flexibility in what connections are and are not made over the network. IE, enshitification can be routed around easily.

That at least is the aim. If you tune into the right people and conversations on the Fedi, there’s a little bit of concern about the place, IMO, that the current implementation of things, including the protocol itself, maybe is t good enough for this to become a reality. The centrality of instances rather than an architecture with more portable entities and data strikes me as an obviously central issue in this regard.

Personally I’m curious to watch for what happens when BlueSky open up next year and in particular how interested developers get in their system and building on top of it. If developers buy in and their system allows for organic innovation and growth while providing a more robust architecture, then it could be a rather interesting development.


I believe is to good for it’s own good. As one of the largest instances it is under constant attack. This sucks as a user but has lead to many improvements in the code.

I started out there and started a community there. Since then I’ve moved to a much smaller instance as my main account and contribute monthly. It would be really nice if I could move the community as well.


It’s a real risk. This is basically what happened with XMPP. Google became big enough to screw over the rest of the XMPP world.

Google took “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” right out of Microsoft’s play book, and at this point it’s just standard operating procedure for any major tech company.

Many people here and on Mastodon were afraid Meta was doing the same thing with Threads a few months back when there was talk of federation (I think they eventually backpedaled on that).

I think we’re okay as long as the big players are open source, and no one instance has an overwhelmingly large share of the user base. I would recommend new Lemmy/Mastodon/Kbin users to join an instance that is NOT the most popular (or even in the top 3), in order to maintain some balance in the ecosystem. and are many times larger than the #2 biggest instances, and that’s not ideal.


Google did not extend XMPP. They let it sit there for a decade, not changing anything. They still only supported SSL 2.0 when servers started to require TLS 1.2 for S2S connections. They didn’t implement any extensions, some vital to the ecosystem back then.


There’s an important difference, though, especially with Lemmy. You used XMPP to communicate with particular people. When Google convinced, whatever, 70% of users to use Talk and then slammed the door shut, the smaller instances were no longer viable. People on those instances lost contact with their friends. They aren’t going to just chat with whoever else happened to be left outside the walls.

But I don’t look for specific people on Reddit, or on Lemmy. Any large-enough instance is fine. Just like people moved from Reddit to Lemmy, they can move from one instance to another. A major rift could drop the quality of the experience, at least for a while, but the instances would still be viable. They’re not suddenly useless the way an isolated Jabber server was.

ech, (edited )

To be clear, that’s not “enshittification”. Just an undesirable development. Also not a worst case scenario, imo. The segmentation of Lemmy/the Fediverse is its biggest strength, tbh, where a problematic instance can be easily blocked or cut off by any individual admin.

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