Bashing Identi.ca

I was going to post this as a comment, but I was replying to such a small part of the original article that I wanted to make a new article to hold my thoughts. This relates to Techrights/Boycottnovell – Bane or boon? An experience by Manish Sinha

Actually I don’t find any reason to be on identi.ca. Just because it runs FOSS? Identi.ca is the smaller brother of twitter which lacks wit and sarcasm. There is no humour in any dents. Twitter community rocks. identi.ca community needs to improve themselves. StatusNet software for running identi.ca is great, but that hardly matters if you don’t have a good community.

I wanted to pass some links on how identi.ca is sort of usless, but I would reserve them for further use.

You know that feeling when you read something that a friend wrote and it’s just so arrogant and condescending, that it makes you want to slap your forehead at how they could have possibly let such a statement pass their internal editor. Yea, that’s how I feel about this statement.

Personally I’ve never been a fan of identi.ca or twitter. But it grinds my nerves when normally affable people start beating on identi.ca or other FOSS online ‘services’ simply because as a individual it doesn’t deliver what they personally need at this particular time or the community they’ve associated themselves with are jerks.

This complaint they have normally starts with a failure of a network effect in the normally more desirable FOSS solution. And there isn’t usually much we can do about that except try to encourage more use. though we do have mitigating technologies; all those broadcast apps and built-into-the-desktop solutions for posting to multiple services? Those exact solutions should make it trivial for Ubuntu Members to be involved on multiple services or at least just make sure things are posted multiple places.

So far I’ve found most people do do just that. When I use broadcast, I do that. It just feels right to give services like identi.ca a chance and to be patient with FOSS services. Especially those tied so heavily to network effects. The other problem to do with jerks? Just don’t subscribe to anyone. I really don’t care that much what anyone has to say in their micro-blogging. If you can’t be bothered to spend the time writing a blog post then you obviously don’t have anything valuable to say *touch in cheek warning because some people don’t get humour*. But if you’re not like me and you like hearing what some people have to say and not others, as far as I know identi.ca doesn’t force you to subscribe to every ubuntu user registered.

I manage a number of communities, trust me, I understand that it’s really great to make good friends on closed networks. I get it. But that doesn’t mean that we need be quite so mean spirited about people who make friends on other more FOSS friendly networks. It’s just as extreme as those who want to force everyone to use only FOSS by martyrdom.

Your thoughts?

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18 Responses to “Bashing Identi.ca”

  1. Manish Sinha says:

    Martin,

    I am the author of that blog post and would like to answer your question.

    I have tried using identi.ca many times. Each and every time I fails on me. identi.ca needs to get out of their *exclusive* FOSS/Linux mentality if they want to be heard. I know there are great people on identi.ca, no doubt – but of the huge crowd how many are useful. I don’t want to be a part of social network which is subscribed to a RSS feed of various Planets

    I know I am committing blasphemy when I say that twitter is more valuable than identii.ca because I support a non-free service.

    I did not bash identi.ca community. I just said that it is not upto par with twitter. You can rewrite a software, creating a community is tougher than rewriting a software 10 times.

    People on twitter are more polite than on identi.ca. The only good feedback I got ever from identi.ca is from the ubuntu group. Outside it, is just noise. There has been many cases of such. The latest is
    http://identi.ca/conversation/61609881#notice-62282189
    and the context of this abuse is
    http://identi.ca/conversation/61594744#notice-62266545

    This is not an isolated event. There has been enough of such cases (not from this guy). I am sick of all these dogpiling.

    If identi.ca did not run on free software, would it be such an uproar that I did not support identi.ca community?

    If you want to know more, look at Stuart’s post on identi.ca community quality.http://www.kryogenix.org/days/2010/06/23/on-annoyance-and-free-software

    If people on identi.ca get offended every now and the, then no one can help. As I told in my blog post, people get offended for every random thing. If I/we try to cater to all of the, the whole FOSS world would see a huge drop in SnR.

  2. Juanjo says:

    I know the feeling.

    I felt quite the same when “Ask Ubuntu” was promoted from Canonical and some part of Ubuntu community. There are platforms like Shapado, that are 100% OSS, but instead Stack Overflow was chosen.

    It’s like sometimes we fail to eat our own dog food.

  3. Manish Sinha says:

    @Juanjo

    You should be knowing that stackexchange site for ubuntu was created long back before shapado for ubuntu was born.

    Why can’t the spapado people come up with such a Q&A for ubuntu before? Why play catch-up-game? Stackexchange seriously had a killer idea which Shapado copied completely. In this case 99% credit goes to stackexchange since they are the innovators. Just because shapado was FOSS doesn’y mean they got a right to overthrow stackexchange on humanitarian grounds

  4. Juanjo says:

    Manish: I don’t know if it’s OK to discuss this here, this is Owen’s home. I hope he doesn’t mind :)

    Think for a moment in your argument and tell me if Ubuntu would have existed if everybody followed your logic. And the same applies to other great OSS projects that have started after the privative and closed version was well established.

    I think that is a good idea to support the OSS version of ANY service, because eventually it’ll catch up the closed product. I would have expected people behind OSS to understand that.

  5. Jo Shields says:

    I don’t really care what anyone has to say in 140 characters. If you can’t be bothered to spend the time writing a blog post then you obviously don’t have anything valuable to say

    You know that feeling when you read something that a friend wrote and it’s just so arrogant and condescending, that it makes you want to slap your forehead at how they could have possibly let such a statement pass their internal editor. Yea, that’s how I feel about this statement.

  6. nixternal says:

    I too stopped using identi.ca about a year ago for the same reason the person you quoted states, but not as harsh. Right, the main reason I started using Twitter was to get the word out on Open Source. Then identi.ca came along and everyone in the open source world jumped on-board. Awesome right, but now trying to tell someone about open source seemed to be wasting my breath on there. There are more people on Twitter that need to know about open source then there are on identi.ca. Plus the spam on identi.ca was far worse than Twitter. It started reminding me of a forum that nobody was maintaining anymore. Plus I was tired of all of the open source hot heads and their rhetoric. Now on Twitter I have changed my focus from more open source to more cycling. I would like to stay 50/50, but seeing as I am not doing much in the open source world anymore, I don’t have much to talk about. My only open source comments now seem to be when I am laughing at the stupid decisions for Kubuntu/Ubuntu and how much this or that sucks. It is way more fun being a user than a used developer.

  7. doctormo says:

    @Manish – I’m not *really* complaining about your complaint that the community you’ve managed to get on identica isn’t as good as the community you’ve managed to get on twitter. I’m complaining because you post the blame on identica the service/technology and not with the people who you choose to associate with.

    We can’t stop trolls (just look at the comments here), but we can choose who to respond to and who to just ignore. And hell you could just completely ignore comments made on identi.ca. I don’t think anyone minds.

  8. jorge castro says:

    I stopped using identi.ca for mostly the same reasons as nixternal.

    Shame too, as I really like statusnet and the guys who make it.

  9. Manish Sinha says:

    @Jorge
    I like the software StatusNet and even have a friend working on it. Remember StatusNet != Identi.ca

    Identi.ca is a community which runs on StatusNet. I would surely give the credit where it is due. The threaded conversation is great, but that does not give it a free pass.

    @Martin
    I am not blaming the technology(StatusNet is a good software) as you can see but the community which is not as mature as Twitter.

  10. Manish Sinha says:

    @Juanjo

    Think for a moment in your argument and tell me if Ubuntu would have existed if everybody followed your logic.

    I would love to see Ubuntu grow using innovative products like stakexchange instead of forcing some other products just because they are free. I am giving where credit is due – complimenting stackexchange for their amazing platform and supporting it. This is how ubuntu should go – collaborate with innovative products.

    I think that is a good idea to support the OSS version of ANY service, because eventually it’ll catch up the closed product. I would have expected people behind OSS to understand that.

    I don’t oppose identi.ca or shapado, justs saying that more of my support goes to twitter and stackexchange as their were innovators of what they did.

    I did not exactly bash ideni.ca community. It is not as mature as twitter in my eyes.

    Lastly, my quote is taken out of context.
    When techrights people commented “many people at identi.ca are offended at omgubuntu”. Eh? If the apologizes have to go they have to go the entire community and not specifically to identi.ca community. Why a special status to identi.ca community?

  11. Jef Spaleta says:

    Martin,

    Web services in general, and their strong reliance on social network effects as a barrier to entry in the market place, present a very interesting challenge for the evolution of the Free Software ecosystem. Web services really turn the tables on economic/philosophical advantages previously understood in the freedoms inherent in the free software development and distribution model. Service builders will certainly leverage open source as much as possible to gain the economic advantages…but users of those services are going to have a hard time getting the understood benefits directly themselves. Even with the AGPL in play, the network effect will make it difficult to see services replicated successfully. I don’t think as a wider community of advocates that we’ve really collectively gotten our heads around how disruptive these service models are.

    In the past free software advocates could be shoehorned into a larger _maker_ cultural collective. A larger cultural context which finds it important that users can also be creators of technology across many many disciplines. A larger culture where the ideal of software user as software maker seems prefectly normal…to parallel the idea of DIY hardware maker culture that spans gear-head car enthusiasts to homebrew dog walking robot inventors. The maker cultural puts a premium on the ability to understand how the technology works in a way that makes it possible to extend technology capabilities beyond what was capable in retail off-the-shelf things.

    But the networking effect of social web services have a tendency to reinforce users as consumers…not makers. No matter how much we want to see open APIs and open service codebases, the inherent nature of the strong network effect makes it much more difficult for users to take control of their software and their data in a way that matches the ideals of the larger maker culture. We haven’t found a middle ground really that would allow a maker subculture to exist inside a established social network. We keep having to try to set a maker culture compatible social network service as completely different social networks.

    -jef

  12. doctormo says:

    @Manish: you seem to give more value to perceived innovation (because we can’t know for certain where ideas come from) than to moral or social rights inherent in Free and Open Source give to users. Perhaps this is what sets us apart so strongly.

    I refer to Jef’s excellent comment where he lays out the challenges.

    As for Ubuntu, Ubuntu’s story is inextricably linked with the story of Free and Open Source and support for services weaken Ubuntu in the far future even if they bring strength now. The decision needs to be made with a concerted effort to minimise the future weakening effects when adopting such services. I disagree most strongly with advocates of closed services who believe no checks and no consideration needs to be given to Free and Open Source principles at all.

  13. Manish Sinha says:

    you seem to give more value to perceived innovation (because we can’t know for certain where ideas come from) than to moral or social rights inherent in Free and Open Source give to users.

    I do give a lot of value to social and moral rights which doesn’t mean innovation can be kept aside. Where ideas come from? Martin, properly implementation and gathering a crowd of like minded people is also a challenge. This is where the stackexchange network excelled.

    Perhaps this is what sets us apart so strongly.

    Even I think so. We have different outlook at which should be given more preference. I personally find that stepping aside an innovative platform which created a ground breaking application for a FOSS platform a bit of biasness. I know the latter is FOSS, but arn’t am making those innovators feel a lil bad. No, not offended, just a bit sad.

    I disagree most strongly with advocates of closed services who believe no checks and no consideration needs to be given to Free and Open Source principles at all.

    I wont sideline FOSS alternatives, but wont make them in prime picture and tell the actual creators to go away.

    Martin,
    till when will we people be playing catchup with those services? First it was identi.ca for twitter and shapado for stackexchange. Can’t we create something new? I find flattr an innovative idea, not sure if it is free, but yeah it is a great idea.

  14. doctormo says:

    @Manish – See, you believe ideas come from individuals. I believe ideas are systematic results of dialectic interaction.

    I will not praise someone for being ‘innovative’, because they didn’t actually come up with most of the ideas. Ideas are made through mixing or mistakes, there is no way to generate ideas any other way. I can see value in good mixing and good mistake selection, but all of the ideas in twitter and stackexchange have been done many times before. Then the only thing you’re praising is their execution, and since their execution involves proprietary software, that’s minus a million points.

  15. vexorian says:

    @Mannish, you seem to be accusing people at identi.ca of getting easily offended, yet you show that you, yourself are also easily offended…

    I do not use either, I just found the discussion interesting. If you ask me, I think twitter is a danger against users everywhere because of its ability to lock in. It is not a protoccol, and we see just about everybody jumping into it as if it was the coming and a standard. If Identi.ca behaves as an alternative to twitter then it won’t solve the issue, because once people get hooked on twitter, they cannot leave without asking their followers to leave with them, which is just silly. Something similar seems to be happening with Facebook. It seems that these ‘social’ media are going to be a very big problem for consumers and competition in the future.

    When you decide between email providers, you do not suddenly become unable to send messages to hotmail accounts when you choose gmail instead (or become unable to get hotmail messages). The same happens with blog services. I think there is something broken in this whole social media fad.

    Regarding free vs. non-free, well, I do not have any experience with the named examples like stackexchange or twitter, but I have to point out something that bugs me about these discussions, it is that one side seems to excel at putting the FOSS-ness outside of the consideration of quality and thinks of them as separate things. Freedom has practical value in the long term and I think that just considering it a philosophical/political thing that does not have an effect on software’s quality is an easy way to cloud judgments, and for some people that really are intentionally promoting closed stuff, very convenient. But I think that it is better to give freedom its deserve place, it is a great factor affecting the reliability of a given software choice. You don’t ignore freedom when grading the quality of something, just like you don’t decide not to factor ease of use or innovation when making that decision.

    Anyway, I do not calling twitter and facebook innovative. The first thing that reminds me of facebook is loquesea.com a site in Spanish/Portuguese that was around in the 2000-2002 times. And twitter’s main innovation over alternative seems to be a text length limit…

    Regarding freedom fighters that use identi.ca exclusively, I think that in this case, identi.ca is holding your backs. twitter must be the same sort of hell for people pushing proprietary stuff in GNU/Linux as it is in identi.ca if not more because it is more mainstream, and I think that limiting yourselves to identi.ca is in reality limiting your own speech and letting people get away with just running away from identi.ca.

  16. vexorian says:

    PS: (also to ‘freedom fighters’) And it goes with out saying that being rude does not help your argument. It is perfectly fine and necessary to voice the opinion, and I think that at least in the case of Mono it is pretty necessary, but it is easier if when we make our opinion we do not give the other side the excuse that we are just angry or offended and let them dismiss the opinions and facts you post.

  17. Manish Sinha says:

    you seem to be accusing people at identi.ca of getting easily offended, yet you show that you, yourself are also easily offended

    Where did you feel I am offended? Which quote? Which statement? I simply do not care in cases when I should supposed to be offended. Simply don’t waste time on that unproductive thing.

    You don’t ignore freedom when grading the quality of something, just like you don’t decide not to factor ease of use or innovation when making that decision.

    Can’t we strike a fine balance?

    think twitter is a danger against users everywhere because of its ability to lock in.

    Last I checked, identi.ca API was the same as twitter, so I am not sure how one is lock-in and other is not. I can run my own instance of StatusNet,, which does not mean that your data is not locked in. I did not find any option such as “Export all dents”

    And twitter’s main innovation over alternative seems to be a text length limit

    That is one of the few feature with good implementation.

  18. Antonio says:

    I use both Twitter and identi.ca and prefer Twitter because of the people who use it. I do art and design and using identi.ca to find similar people feels like being at a very unpopular party. This is something that unfortunately software cannot change