So, I completely switched to FOSS federated social networks toward the middle of 2020. I love the Fediverse, but nobody I know IRL seems to care at all about it in any capacity, so I’m basically just screaming into a void full of other FOSSheads. How do I reconcile this? How do we get our IRL peeps on the Fediverse?

That’s a hard problem. “How do i get people interested in a thing”. People follow content.

  • start a club, and have the social stuff on lemmy.
  • be a popular blogger, and move to Lemmy

Create a thing that people want, only accessible on Lemmy.


i guess you need to ask them to switch, a thing i remember is “your true friends will follow you to whatever social media your on” this also applies to messaging apps. the example was “how to convice people to use signal” it was probably on a video by The Hated One.

I don’t know the answer, but I think it’s largely a matter of popularity. The fediverse does seem to be growing slowly, and I see more new communities popping up. One day hopefully it will be commonplace.


Content. Make interesting content and slowly they may come

Travis Skaalgard

I’ve grown to truly loathe the word “content.” Swipe up and subscribe to my Onlyfans to learn why :3

Any community I know has been built with efforts and investing. I believe the same applies to Fediverse.

yeah, barriers to entry, probs? i don’t consider myself super confident with computer things (despite my FOSS love) but i know there are people even less confident than myself, so if things aren’t on a par with the usual suspects in terms of ease/familiarity with UX/UI, you get that filtering effect where a lot of those folks are going to throw their hands up and say “i can’t be arsed with this” and stick to what they know, and where most/all their friends are. for example, my mother nearly went crawling back to whatsapp because she found element/matrix difficult to install & navigate (we got through that, thankfully, and she really likes it now!).

also different platforms and the spheres within them have different cultures, so those who aren’t willing to explore and feel things out for a while can feel quite out of place and lost.

like…i’m on mastodon now, but the first time i checked it out, i was so confused – mostly just because i didn’t know anyone there, or which instance to join, and i got stressed about “what if i pick the wrong one, everyone will hate me”. it doesn’t really matter (as i now know), but it was enough to throw me off for quite a while. i’m still getting a feel for it tbh, i still don’t know if the instance i’m in is the right fit, but i am a patient person so i can chill out and see how it goes.

ssb is another one, with i think even higher barrier to entry. it’s not very intuitive for people coming from those big social media places, and i have noticed occasional new folk trying to use it like twitter when it’s not well-suited for that kind of posting style, and it’s not really meant to be as fast-moving as that either. i suspect a few people get bored with ssb because it is slower-moving, and some may even feel intimidated because the content is often very niche/detailed/thoughtful/technical. i feel that way sometimes too, like i am not smart enough for it, but it’s still enjoyable for me as it is generally a very earnest vibe (within my hops, anyway!).

i guess you can try asking questions to your irl friends, like “what do you enjoy about [social media platform]?” or “what don’t you like about it?” and see if you can get them interested in suitable alternatives that way, provide some extra guidance setting up if needed.

i really liked @ufra’s post though, ssb got pounded with a bunch of new folk after parl got kicked from its hosting and the community had a very different feel during that time, i think people got a bit more cautious because of that. in a community where people want to feel like they can open up emotionally, and be vulnerable in that way, it’s nice to have a bit of self-selecting out happening so that level of quiet intimacy can continue.

(sorry this got unexpectedly long)

Travis Skaalgard

I do think that’s a big reason why there aren’t more people on FOSS-and-Federated (F&F, perhaps?) social media. I remember a time as well when picking an instance seemed like too much. My question was more about how to cope with and/or remedy this situation. And this isn’t just for myself, either. I feel like the Fediverse could use a little more diversity. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with programmers, but we need more other kinds of people in the Fediverse. That will also help us polish these tools.

some of it might come down to rather simple stuff, like how many clicks it takes for someone to actually get started. like with lemmy & masto there’s 3 just to get to a signup form (more if someone pokes about looking at instances), while reddit, fb & twitter just have 1. obviously there’s a reason for those extra clicks, but is there a way to reduce?

also making things like about/faq/guides easy to find and understand. masto’s guide is quite well-written and straightforward, but it’s located in the resources dropdown under ‘documentation’. that’s not going to be intuitive to find for a lot of folks. maybe that doesn’t matter too much, as they have a very cute video explainer, but it’s a thing to think about. the join.lemmy frontpage has straightforward language but quickly veers into mentioning more technical aspects (there’s a code screenshot immediately visible, for example), and that may be intimidating right off the bat – it conveys “this platform is for programmers” before a user gets an opportunity to see for themselves that there’s plenty of other stuff happening here. i don’t know if that truly matters, maybe people are only coming into a specific server link where they can see the variety of community posts for themselves? also the lemmy guide is mostly technical jargon, except the code of conduct. it’s important to have those details readily available, but i suspect the users who would want them would be seeking them out regardless of what is on a front page or newbie guide.

this is all ux psychology stuff, i suppose…a sticky business!

aside from that i guess continuing to foster (FOSSter?) a welcoming environment with pro-social behaviours, active caring. it can be a lonely feeling to look around and feel like you don’t have anything to share to the more active topics, or that you’re posting into the void, or that you’re picking up subtle social signals that accumulate to form a heavy burden (esp. heavy on those more diverse voices). maybe current users could take it upon themselves to post into more casual topics a little more frequently, and engage in earnest with those too? looking at the first page of the main lemmy community list it’s like…a whole lotta programming & politics, and very few casual topics. but that’s asking a lot of the existing communities, so idk. overall, balancing the labour of the existing community with the labour of those attempting to join in, and whether the existing community can take on some of that labour to alleviate the burden on newcomers, in order to encourage that diversity.


I’ve been wishing for a long time that “popular amongst the masses” sites had to be federated as that way anyone would be able to stay where they are and still follow you. But seeing FB, Google, and others shut down their XMPP that’s not going to happen unless legilstated I guess.

Maybe this is only my problem but my IRL are not FOSSheads or even really passionate about tech like I am, so I realised I could not rely on them following me in the Fediverse, and I’ve built up new followers and online frioends wuith those who share interests similar to mine. Certainly Mastodon has been my most successful with my follower count soon over takling my Twitter follower count, and I get way more engagement on Mastodon. Obviously follower count groiwes also with me engaging with others.

I have seen a few of my IRL coming across this last month but it seems that was due to privacy issues more than FOSS and tech. So it may be worth promoting to IRL the no ads, privacy, etc advantages.

Where a few more IRL went to is MeWe, which is not federated at all, although is privacy respecting. Because it has a centralised interest based group directory it is easy to be found, and I have a bit over 40,000 followers in one of my groups there. It’s not the ideal but it has pulled quite a few people away from Facebook itself.


Going on XMPP it is quite an interesting way to look at it. After all I like to contrast it to email. There must be a massive part of worldwide e-mail accounts on Gmail alone (and then when taking into account Hotmail, yahoo etc) and yet can I ever consider them defedering email?

The crux is to never let an overwhelming majority of users on one instance, nor have this majority communicate within that same instance. I remember when I used to use GTalk I never communicated with anyone that didn’t have a GTalk account. Whereas email? Just looking at my university classes emails I can see that we have adresses in several of the big companies but not a clear over 50% in any. On top of that the University has their own email server. That’s probably a good reason why PeerTube’s vision is to get as many companies and organisations host their own instance for their videos. It’s better in the long term.

XMPP was just never really that federated in practice.


XMPP does not really federate in the traditional sense of public posts to say Mastodon, as far as it’s chat standard goes. You connect with someone and then chat, and it pushes/pulls more like e-mail? It’s pub standard is again something others must subscribe to, to ever see the posts. And chatrooms work differently again. So maybe the thing is XMPP is not a single service, but many different standards depending on what type of service is being used. Different XMPP client apps all decide which standards they are complying with.

I can e-mail anyone if I know their e-mail address, but XMPP requires the other party to accept an invite to connect first. The similarity does come in how the addresses are formatted though. And just like e-mail, there is no central directory to find someone’s e-mail address, that person has to let you know what it is. Of course more people publish/share their e-mail addrses on business cards than an XMPP address (yes many don’t have). Another similarity they both have, is they are open standards, maybe though with XMPP evolving more than e-mail does as a stanadrd.


Look social media from whoever can never fulfill real life relations. After you use fediverse and see all the features, you realize all the social media is garbage and you actually have to talk to real people not semi talk, semi broadcasting as social media.


As a Muslim I wholly disapprove of this message!

Travis Skaalgard

I think you might have misread my post. I did not say “how can I replace IRL interaction with social media.” Please try again.


Sorry. The best way to get IRL people into fediverse is choose a instance for them and share your (curated) follow list with them. Then you may encourage them with hey there’s this social media with chronological orders and strictly follow only lists. Try it out! Also most clients are absoulutely tracking free. So, you only share what you want. etc etc. Most importantly encourage not force them.

Travis Skaalgard

Nah, I’m sorry for being such a dick


No, it was just that people these days are so engrossed in social media, I realize it’s all manufactured want. I actually don’t need to know what others are doing if I don’t care about them, I actually can’t affect other countries socio-economic condition by watching news. People are just so engrossed in these stuff we actually aren’t getting anything done. I vented at the wrong time. But I really wish people understand these danger, maybe even a mandatory psychology education in addition to science, arts might be the solution or maybe not.


Well the best conversations on mastodon were when I connected with some individual people who were really passionate and well informed about something really obscure that they could talk about at length.

It seemed like it was a bit easier to discover those people and have those convos back in the earlier days of mastodon though.

I suppose, more than anything, I just want to say I think you’ve asked a good question and I hope there’s some good answers here.


Same. I notice on the fedi people are also more sensitive to random followers. Feels like there’s nowhere for me to really find content.

I have blindly followed tons of people, just not those who ask to be asked first, without asking first. Never had a problem with that.

Also most people are totally fine with being followed…

I think one cultural factor to this is that many people joined from Twitter due to insufficient moderation policies there, so they may be more sensitive to potential harassment.

Here’s a different answer from the one i already gave.

It doesn’t matter. People who don’t need it, don’t use it. It’s not for people to start caring about it, it’s for the thing to make itself useful to them. If it’s useful for 1% of people, then 1% will use it and that’s fine. The others will keep using their existing tools

That is where we are right now, but it would be nice to have a full replacement for Facebook or Twitter. We will need the benefit of the network effect to move beyond a niche community. I would like to get to the point of using fediverse to connect to people IRL (and Jabber for instant messaging, etc.)

Okay so make this tool more useful to more people. I’m a believer that you need a “killer feature” really, something great that no other service has.

For me that will be following/blocking people. So i can choose to only interact with the people i like to hear from.


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Travis Skaalgard

I’m not one for mysticism, but I actually really like this.

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