Fediverse Marketing Group?

Who is interested in starting a “Fediverse marketing” conversation / group? The need is clear:

“Meta is talking to celebrities like Oprah and the Dalai Lama about being early users. ‘We’ve been hearing from creators and public figures who are interested in having a platform that is sanely run,’ a top exec told employees.”

This is how you do marketing, #Fediverse take notice. We need to get our act together, otherwise Meta will be the default marketing department for the Fediverse, and that would be … suboptimal.

Send relevant people (including yourself if interested) my way.

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The is truth to this - but we would need some self reflecting “governance” to make a decision on this, yes we can do it as cats, but cats fight, so this would be “suboptimal”.

There is a huge HOLE in our infrastructure, currently we try and fill this with the #feudalism of #FOSS “governance”, and when this obviously does not work, we try liberal “common sense” when this does not work we go back to libertarian cats… meowww which is “suboptimal”

The #mainstreaming is coming, this is a good thing, but as @j12t clearly says we are not ready, this is “suboptimal”

I think we do need a #Fediverse “marketing” group.

I’m keen. I’m part of a co-op which is going to offer hosted fediverse servers as a service, So marketing the fediverse is already part of the my job and I’m keen to collaborate with others on how to do it well.

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This is how Meta does marketing. I do not think Fedizens give a damn about celebrity. Celebrity is one of the culprits of things not changing. If Big Names go to Meta, sheep will follow them there. I do not think it’s problematic that the Fediverse builds on other values. Actually, I do think that it’s a requirements that the Fediverse builds on such values as : allowing the unheard and the invisible to talk freely and be heard by those who are most affected by their voice. Honestly, I do not think Oprah nor the Dalai Lama are able to touch ground on this one — we would have noticed by now.

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For now, I just created a new Matrix room, feel free to join there: #fediverse-marketing:matrix.org

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You are missing the point. Whether or not celebrities have a role in the fediverse doesn’t matter for the point (I also note the weasel words “talking to celebrities A and B” in the article … they aren’t saying “have signed up celebrities A and B”).

What does matter is that Meta now has established in the mind of the Verge article reader that celebrities matter to the Fediverse. While the Verge has not written an article that says, to quote you, “allowing the unheard and the invisible to talk freely and be heard by those who are most affected by their voice”.

A marketing failure on behalf us who think the second point is important, and the first is not: there will be many more articles like this, as a result of which, the perception of the generic public of the fediverse will gradually shift in a direction that is away from its current values towards values that favor, say, our favorite surveillance capitalist.

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I think the word “marketing” sparks a lot of emotion when it’s mentioned. Marketing, within the realm of technology, is the subversion of public opinion of a service with the purpose of gaining more traffic to said service. What @j12t seems to be suggesting is a collectivist effort to provide shared messaging of the strength of the Fediverse. What I also interpret this to be (especially after reading the article) is explaining the benefits of the Fediverse without having to explain what the Fediverse is (or the Fediverse as a concept).

This is not a small project — Mastodon literally hired a consulting agency to help them brand (create a shared design and messaging for the service) and market (give more stories centering Mastodon and its capabilities in relation to people).

What I hope people can look towards is how we could work on sharing such said messaging (and potentially assets) to brand (help influence the design of) the applications and services surrounding the Fediverse such that people less familiar (or not at all) can have a starting point to work with. Frankly, if this works here — and if it worked well — this would make it harder for Facebook to interact with the Fediverse because we’d be in a more credible space to highlight the existing harms of Facebook (and general corporate advertisement-driven social networking platforms) and show why it’s imperative for people to leave. That doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be the goal but as a tangent, it’ll add a lot of strength to any project in the space.


Perhaps this citation is of interest to you, regarding the extent of the challenge:

The Star System

The idea of “structurelessness” has created the “star” system. We live in a society which expects political groups to make decisions and to select people to articulate those decisions to the public at large. The press and the public do not know how to listen seriously to individual women as women; they want to know how the group feels. Only three techniques have ever been developed for establishing mass group opinion: the vote or referendum, the public opinion survey questionnaire, and the selection of group spokespeople at an appropriate meeting. The women’s liberation movement has used none of these to communicate with the public. Neither the movement as a whole nor most of the multitudinous groups within it have established a means of explaining their position on various issues. But the public is conditioned to look for spokespeople.

While it has consciously not chosen spokespeople, the movement has thrown up many women who have caught the public eye for varying reasons. These women represent no particular group or established opinion; they know this and usually say so. But because there are no official spokespeople nor any decision-making body that the press can query when it wants to know the movement’s position on a subject, these women are perceived as the spokespeople. Thus, whether they want to or not, whether the movement likes it or not, women of public note are put in the role of spokespeople by default.

This is one main source of the ire that is often felt toward the women who are labeled “stars.” Because they were not selected by the women in the movement to represent the movement’s views, they are resented when the press presumes that they speak for the movement. But as long as the movement does not select its own spokeswomen, such women will be placed in that role by the press and the public, regardless of their own desires.

This has several negative consequences for both the movement and the women labeled “stars.” First, because the movement didn’t put them in the role of spokesperson, the movement cannot remove them. The press put them there and only the press can choose not to listen. The press will continue to look to “stars” as spokeswomen as long as it has no official alternatives to go to for authoritative statements from the movement. The movement has no control in the selection of its representatives to the public as long as it believes that it should have no representatives at all. Second, women put in this position often find themselves viciously attacked by their sisters. This achieves nothing for the movement and is painfully destructive to the individuals involved. Such attacks only result in either the woman leaving the movement entirely-often bitterly alienated – or in her ceasing to feel responsible to her “sisters.” She may maintain some loyalty to the movement, vaguely defined, but she is no longer susceptible to pressures from other women in it. One cannot feel responsible to people who have been the source of such pain without being a masochist, and these women are usually too strong to bow to that kind of personal pressure. Thus the backlash to the “star” system in effect encourages the very kind of individualistic nonresponsibility that the movement condemns. By purging a sister as a “star,” the movement loses whatever control it may have had over the person who then becomes free to commit all of the individualistic sins of which she has been accused.

by Jo Freeman aka Joreen
1970-1973 (depending on the version)

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There does need to be a conversation, but ultimately I think this is a place where a professional brand will need to be created with the help of very strong people who do this for a living. Open source is always about coding, but this is a place where we need marketing, design, and branding contributors who are from those disciplines and are at the top of their game. This will mean being humble in the face of their suggestions - right now a lot of obvious criticisms have been shut down by the greater Mastodon community in particular, and I don’t think it’s helpful.

So, who in the fediverse could be reached out to? Who is next level at this sort of thing and already engaged?

Or: who has money to engage a branding firm and publicist? I’m serious.


@indieterminacy mentioned the Tyranny of Structurelessness. I would highlight that you can market whatever you want, but if there’s no “buy in”, it is no use. These things are hardest in a “herding cats” grassroots movement. In a way it is part of its beauty and a certain resiliency comes with it.

But another aspect is that grassroots movements make themselves weak, by implicitly adopting a “we divide and be conquered” approach. All those different individualistic initiatives, that are unsustainable, don’t recognize other work or are unaware of it.

Before we talk “marketing”, maybe we should address collaborating and co-creating things. I have to say that my effort to bring more cohesion to separate small initiatives (which can fully retain their independence) is rather discouraging in the lack of follow-up. Eveyone is setting up their own shop, is my impression.

If we can’t be a “coherent thing” we have nothing to market.


Yep, this is a summing up of the good and the bad of the current “herding cats” path we keep fallowing.

But cats are cats, the last time we came together to be humane in this space was a few years ago with the #EU outreach EU outreach - If we dont tell our story am not sure who will, and we still have that story to tell.

There are well trodden paths out of this mess Funding application for RIPE - openwebgovernancebody - Open Media Network a group of us need to take one of these paths if we are not to be consumed by #mainstreaming, which is not a bad outcome - BUT ALSO NOT A GOOD OUTCOME anyone here wants.

It’s good we are talking about being more than cats, it’s a step, but if we keep walking on different paths we are still cats, not humane at all.

To do “marketing” we need to buy into what we are #openweb #4opens #OGB I have been talking about this here for meany years, have been working at the coal face of this for 20 years, are we building a consensus here or are we JUST going to be cats?

Practically, how do we “empower” the story of what the #fedivers is, and why it has value and relevance at all.

Very good point. “Marketing” suggests ‘bringing to market’, or in other words “commercializing”, and a lot of us came to the verse(1) specifically to avoid that. “Promotion” and “outreach” are perhaps more neutral terms for the what @j12t is talking about.

That said, some of us are building a business(2) around the verse (eg instances charging subscriptions, and hosting services like ours), and existing businesses are coming onboard (eg Automattic, SmugMug/ Flickr, and now Meta). So commerce has arrived, and those who really object to this will eventually move on to avoid it (eg to Nostr).

  • (1) The downsides of “the fediverse” as the generic term for the network become obvious as soon as you say it out loud. People hear me say it and either think it’s related to cheese (“feta-verse”) or kink (like Fetlife). I like “the verse” as it avoids those, and has connotations of poetry, and as well as being a subtle reference to Firefly (“I don’t believe there’s a power in the 'verse that can stop Kaylee from being cheerful”). I remember when there was genuine debate over whether the generic term should be “the fediverse” or “the federation”. These terms can change and sometimes they need to. Thinking about this is an example of a “marketing” approach.

  • (2) “Business” is another word that sparks a lot of emotion. But I’m using it here in a very broad sense, to describes any entity that pays people for the labour it directly depends on, and other overheads, primarily by earning revenue for good or services.

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To Ben’s point here, it’ll most likely have to come from instances/communities that already have a lot of visibility and could influence buy-in from other admins/community managers. That would allow them to speak truthfully to whomever’s running these campaigns without having to “hold back”.

The writing community on Mastodon has a few published authors on there, who could possibly help.

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Never a bad idea.

I’d need you to point me to some examples to know what kinds of suggestions you’re talking about. But with respect, I’ve seen a lot of naive suggestions being made that deserve to be shot down.

It’s worth pointing out that a lot of careful thought and consensus-finding has gone into how to stucture the fediverse, to prevent the sorts of situations that are leading to people leaving platforms like FB, Titter, and Reddit in droves. Suggestions to remove supporting walls to “open up the space” are not going to fly.

Newbies often seem to come in with a perception that the old school fedi community are a bunch of cyber-bumpkins, with metal straws in our mouths, and a myopic focus on tech to the exclusion of all else. There probably are a handful of us who fit that stereotype ; )

But most of us have been activists of one kind or another for at least a decade or two. We’ve been reading political-economic analysis of the evolution of computing and the net, from writers like Richard Stallman, Lawrence Lessig, Eben Moglen, Douglas Rushkoff, Clay Shirky, Yochai Benkler Stephan Kinsella, Cory Doctorow, Nathan Schneider, Trebor Scholz, Shoshana Zuboff, Zeynep Tufekci, and many, many more. We understand a lot more about where we’re trying to go - socially, politically, and economically, as well as technically - than we’re often given credit for.

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@aschrijver just shared with me this article on movement building by David Jay is so relevant to what we’re trying to achieve with the fediverse. Social media as a community-organised social movement, not a corporate product. It’s a long read but well worth it.

On this subject, I think we might be past stage 7 of the gathering http://hamishcampbell.com/2011/03/05/thoughts-on-alt-organising-from-2007/ it’s looking like the #Fediverse wins by being absorbed into the #mainstreaming by getting some of them to step to the #openweb

Then the next generation has to reboot this loop, what do people feel about this?

Now with the Meta Threads (talk about marketing and SEO… duh.) affair coming up, there’s something that can be done for ActivityPub in terms of… outreach (not to use the overloaded terms that constrains our thought to markets, where we’re talking about commons) — thank you @jackyalcine for this.

I will repeat myself. In this timespace of human history, it should be pretty obvious that markets are not going to solve issues brought up by climate change, brought up by markets. All right, I can hear in the back all the people claiming that we never had free markets and that’s why, and I could retort that we never had communism either. But the point is not in which ideology is better: the point in fact is that under our current brand of capitalism the world is going to shit. No profit-driven corporation, no lobby-driven government is going to help. Our only option at this point is the grassroots movements that have been playing inside the cracks of this bork system. The grassroots, as ActivityPub, were born from cooperation and compromise with the existing shitty situation towards a common goal: making it work for most people in the simplest and more respectful way possible. Why most and not all? Because there’s no universal technical solution to how people relate to the world. Simple as that. All in the previous sentence would entail an authoritarian regime, which is exactly what Fedizens dislike.

How is that about a marketing tune starter?


Agree, and:

It goes far beyond marketing. E.g.:

  • you are bringing up governance issues. If decisionmaking is not authoritarian, what does it need to be?)
  • funding/resource model that does not depend on the heroic sacrifice of many people, and produces enough “surplus” so actual investments can be made in better code, UX, governance, marketing etc etc

Agree that if we were to figure this out for the fediverse, this model could apply in a ton of other, including physical world, places.

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Two words; platform cooperatives. Check out social.coop, meet.coop, Loomio.org, etc.

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