Thinking about how intimidating Mastodon can seem because you have to scroll through a huge list of instances and pick one and try your luck, rather than just going to "the bird website" or "the facebook" and signing up.

But then, like - that's how it always used to be? That's what forums were like, you found one randomly, you took your chances, and it worked out or it didn't.

How quickly big tech conditioned us to fear choice and mistrust the unknown, I guess. Anyway uhhh piss piss ass piss ass

@burgerdrome I hope password managers and can solve the ”too many logins” problem.

@burgerdrome most of the people who currently use facebook never were on forums.

And I mean there's also the fediverse where you scream into the void to really capture that whole birbsite feel.

i found most of the instances i've been on by meeting people on other instances which is very much how i found forums back in the day

except less intimidating in some ways, because you can talk to people on different instances before signing up

now i'm just waiting for the totally-not-a-harry-potter-ripoff pbp rpg invites to start rolling in

would a centralized social media website ask me to flesh out more details on my 3-page character description and writing sample before i can join

i think not

when i was 10 i used to lurk animal crossing forums for tips and cheats but now when i revisit that forum no one posts there anymore :(

I was so lucky the find the supporting and like-minded community of the forums when I was first beginning my forays into the internet.

Under the username "WhitePatrol" (I was seven and liked the color white, but later realized that sounds hella racist) you can still find some of the gold I left there, such as a poorly-spelled and constructed diatribe on the stupidity of the Tusken people.

Jk those forums are long gone lmao thank god

The good old days of 10 year old me hanging out on the the pre-Curse minecraft forums.

And later, the Bay12 forums. I really miss those days.

@burgerdrome And with forums, if you were on one and then found out that somebody on another forum was writing interesting stuff you had to register there too, with mastodon even if you are on a small instance with little activity you still have access to everybody else in the fediverse!

@burgerdrome why do you just have to pick one, I've got about five accounts on different servers so far.

@burgerdrome at least with mastodon if you pick the wrong instance for you then while the local timeline may not be to your tastes, and it may be harder to find people, you can at least find the people you want and talk to them.

@burgerdrome It’s how it used to be, yes, but it was a barrier to entry back then too. There’s a reason the big social media platforms went mainstream so easily.

@burgerdrome It is hard to find subject-based discussion on Mastodon vs Usenet. Matrix is easier for this. Blocked domains make searches and server choices harder.

@burgerdrome I feel like this is an area where the Internet Service Providers probably dropped the ball way back in the 1990s, and didn’t realize what the silos - or, for that matter, the BBSes - were actually doing, and it was compounded by the state of Usenet at the time.

ISPs often did have Usenet feeds, but I remember the onboarding flow for my local startup ISP in 1997 being… here’s a sheet of paper with our dial-up phone number, our DNS server IPs, our POP3/SMTP server configuration, and a pack of IE 3.0 floppies for Windows 3.1, have fun, call us if you get stuck!

Meanwhile, I think @LogicalDash, @flussence, and @ghost_bird have it exactly right - the silos like AOL, CompuServe, and MSN had flashy graphical clients, that lead you right into the discussions (in AOL’s case, even Usenet). Those users just kept paying the $21.95/mo and sometimes monthly hour cap/overage fees for their silo, instead of the $19.95/mo ISP service, because they wanted the silo, right up until broadband became popular.

My understanding is, though, even if the ISP were to promote their Usenet feeds… Usenet also had moderation issues due to its federation design - it was utterly dependent on there being a steep (thousands of dollars per year) paywall that rate-limited new users, in the form of universities being how you got an account with access to a Usenet feed. Once AOL took a Usenet feed in 1993, that went to shit. (However, I don’t actually recall using Usenet at all back in the day - I only used it after Google Groups came about.)

Forums (and mailing lists) were absolutely a thing, although the general discussion forums, in my experience, seemed to be mostly a thing for nerds who were what we’d now call Extremely Online. Topical forums absolutely thrived, though (and really, it’s the topical forums that still thrive in my experience).

But, back to the broadband thing. Broadband was so obviously superior to dial-up that, well, of course you were going to switch… but you ended up switching from your siloed online service, to an ISP that didn’t provide very many services other than the Internet itself. I think it’s no coincidence that the rise of broadband led to the rise in siloed social media - AOL users needed somewhere to go after they weren’t using AOL any more.

People weren’t conditioned to fear choice and mistrust the unknown, they always feared choice and mistrusted the unknown. (This means that the strategy for onboarding them is entirely different. Reminding them of the good old days of web forums won’t help, because for them, those weren’t the good old days.)

@burgerdrome it's even better than the small forum days — to continue the analogy, you can still talk to people on the other forums.

still, being able to migrate between instances would help a lot.

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Cybrespace is an instance of Mastodon, a social network based on open web protocols and free, open-source software. It is decentralized like e-mail.