TL;DR - Bluesky is an *incomplete* beta. It's fun, and the community is great, but the company has a HUGE amount of important (and difficult) work to do before they can be a viable global competitor to Twitter. By the time they're ready, the hype may have died off.
First off: I'm not here to trash Bluesky. I really appreciate the culture. It's fun. It's a little naughty. It's weird. It's certainly a breath of fresh air compared to the atmosphere on Twitter right now. Takes me back to my old messageboard/IRC days. I'd love to have it stick around as it is.
But... Bluesky is not ready for the big show.
The current version is lacking core functionality. The decentralized model alone will give them problems with privacy, development, consistency, and performance. They're a small team, and they have an insane amount to do.
So. Let's go over a list of a few things Bluesky will almost certainly need to figure out before they're ready to be a truly viable competitor to Twitter:
1) Public Protocol: Creating a successful social network is brutally hard already. Developing a _public_ protocol and a decentralized social network on top of it takes that difficulty to another level. It slows you down. Heck - they only added blocking to the protocol 4 days ago:
2) Blocking: Your list of blocked users is *public*. Anyone can see it through the API. Someone harassing you? They, and all of their buddies, will know as soon as you block them. People can build profiles of who's ripe for harassment just by searching for large blocklists.
3) DMs: There are none. None at all. I'm sure they're working on it, but it's not an easy task, even on a normal centralized social network.
Hell, on Mastodon, your server admins can read your messages any time they like. And this is where Mastodon is on implementing encryption:
4) App Features: A *lot* of basic features are missing right now:
- No videos
- No animated GIFs
- No bookmarks
- No groups/lists
- No ability to see QTs for a post
5) Ranking: The ranking algorithms right now are:
a) "most recent posts by people I follow"
b) "any post globally with over 11 likes"
That's it. I totally get that they're working on a cool new system, but the point is that the algorithm can be gamed trivially, *now*.
6) Spam/Ratelimiting: There are a growing plague of accounts who *auto-follow every account on the site*.
For free advertising: set your username to "Buy $ShibaShitCoinInu69" and do the same.
Mature social networks need rate/spam controls on every single product surface.
7) Content Moderation: You can moderate a group of 50,000 people with a team of a couple dozen people relatively easily if you've built up a decent culture (I've done it, and it was fun). But if they open the floodgates right now, they'll get drowned in a heartbeat.
(And as I've touched on elsewhere: content moderation is one thing you can't screw up when you're running a social network, and it's one of the hardest things to do right. Stakes are high, problems are extremely difficult, there are complex regulations all over the globe.)
8) Performance: The Bluesky app is sloowwww. Uploads, threads, posting. Everything feels sluggish. Totally fine for a beta. But at scale, remember: for every few milliseconds of lag, some people leave and never come back.
(Also: decentralization will not make this easy. At all.)
9) Reliability: In the last 24 hours on Bluesky, I've seen multiple outages and pieces of broken functionality.
And again, it's a beta. That's fine if things break. If you care, come back later.
But don't expect them to be able to go global like this. It's not going to happen.
10) Usability: The little things aren't tightened up yet. It feels clunky. You have to press a button to refresh the app each time you want to see new notifications, or comments you just posted. I think they'll get it all smoothed out - but it takes time.
(And once again: like I said in the Blue thread last week, these little things MATTER at scale. In beta it's forgivable, but in a product that's meant to compete with the TikToks and Twitters and Instagrams of the world, the little things add up FAST: https://twitter.com/MosquitoCapital/status/1650830695663583234)
11) Mr. Worldwide: Once you go global, you need moderators who speak local languages and understand cultural context. You need policy people who understand social media laws across the globe. You need relationships with regulators and law enforcement. It's not optional. At all.
12) Community: Right now, on Bluesky, The Vibes Are Good. The shitty app is an object of affection, people are nice, few/no haters. But maintaining a quirky fun atmosphere after exponential global growth is... not a thing. It won't happen, period. When that's gone, what's left?
So, I think that's enough for now. Let's wrap up. (I could go into more detail why I think decentralized platforms will face real problems in ever reaching/keeping Twitter's scale, but I think that's best saved for another post.)
> Taking all of it into account, do I think Bluesky is ready to replace Twitter now?
Not even close. They're very, very far from being ready.
> Do I think Bluesky has a chance of ever replacing Twitter in the future?
I don't know. The hype and momentum are real, and the product/personnel decisions being made at Twitter are REALLY helping out potential competitors.
But Bluesky's road is long, and hype decays quickly.
> Do I think Bluesky will fail entirely?
Nawww. I hope not. They seem like smart, driven, talented folks. The community momentum is real. There's an insane amount of hype. Twitter is bleeding.
I don't think they'll fumble the bag. I just don't think they'll take the crown.
Hope y'all enjoyed this one! Thank you all so much for the kind words in the last week, I really appreciate all of the love and support from everyone in the comments and DMs. Thanks for reading. Much love!
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interesting analysis and why I’m not yearning for a Bluesky invite...
I’m actually wondering why there’s so little attention paid in tech/media circles to Spoutible?🤔
I'm interested in seeing how Bluesky pans out. From what I've experienced of Mastodon onboarding and using within and across servers while not difficult is too hard for easy onboarding/replacing the overall feel of Twitter for many. Bluesky from what I've seen seems like it will be the easier place to go instead. I've signed up to the waitlist for Bluesky (not in the right circles to get an invite! 😞 🙃) - I'm in Europe - do you think Euorpe will have a longer wait time because of GDPR?